Blu-ray Review: Watchmen (Director’s Cut)

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Watchmen arrives on Blu-ray in the first of at least a known two releases as an Ultimate Watchmen edition will be released this December. The Blu-ray release comes equipped with the director’s cut of the film only (the theatrical release can only be found on single-disc DVD) introducing 24 minutes of footage not seen in theaters along with an impressive Blu-ray exclusive feature and a second disc with approximately 75 minutes of making-of features boiled down to three featurettes. Those that enjoyed the film in theaters should be quite happy with this release, but in that case why buy it now when you could save some money and wait for the Ultimate edition? Those that didn’t necessarily like the movie the first time around, myself included, won’t find a whole lot to cheer about here. While the new footage does improve on the overall story, it drags down what was a rather dull and disjointed exercise to begin with.

When I reviewed the theatrical release of Watchmen I blamed a lot of the film’s problems on director Zack Snyder’s dedication to bringing the award winning graphic novel to life and not doing what was necessary to actually tell a compelling adaptation. However, the second time around I began to realize there was a problem that even outweighed the adaptation. The acting. Outside of Jeffrey Dean Morgan as The Comedian and Jackie Earle Haley as Rorschach there is hardly a single performance to be found in this film. Why did each scene seem to last forever with absolutely no life breathed into them? Because the actors inside of them appear to be dead.

I will give Billy Crudup as Dr. Manhattan a pass since his character is one that has lost all emotion. What made him human hardly exists anymore so when he talks in a boring monotone voice throughout the entire film it is understood. However, what excuse do Malin Ackerman, Patrick Wilson and Matthew Goode have? These three are so dead dull boring their scenes seem to go on forever. Of course, this film also suffers extremely from some of the worst music choices I can remember in a film. What good does it do to create a dark anti-hero film if you are going to fill that world with bubble-gum generic crap? “Hallelujah” is the best you can do for your soft core porn scene? Really? “99 Luftballons”? Are we not supposed to laugh at that and not with it?

As for the new footage, some is easily noticeable, but I’m positive I didn’t catch all additional 24 minutes and perhaps only remember about four minutes or so. The much talked about Hollis Mason death scene (shown to the right) comes out of nowhere and doesn’t fit the narrative flow whatsoever, not to forget the street toughs doing the killing are laughable at best as the scene opens. Additional gore has been peppered throughout, but when you remain as uninterested in this film as I was it doesn’t really matter as much as you see it and go, “Oh damn. Nite Owl just busted that guy’s tooth out,” only to be followed by more morose, colorless and downtrodden dialogue to bore you into a stupor.

I am not the one to give any deeper of a rundown on the new scenes, especially considering a couple of fans have already done it for me. There is one here at Ain’t It Cool News and another at CHUD.

As for the special features, the first disc includes the “Maximum Movie Mode” Blu-ray extra, which really is quite impressive, it’s just too bad they don’t do this for better movies. There is a video example of this feature to the right, but what it essentially includes are moments where the film will minimize into the background and Snyder will walk on screen and discuss the scene, point out a variety of details and explain some of the choices he made. On top of this you get some in-movie behind-the-scenes looks, comic-to-film comparisons, storyboard galleries and so forth. It really lives up to its name, and the fans should be impressed. Even if you didn’t necessarily like the film I am sure you can find something of interest.

Like I said earlier, the second disc contains a trio of featurettes, the first being what boils down to a commercial for the graphic novel titled “The Phenomenon: The Comic That Changed Comics.” For nearly 29 minutes people are shown on screen telling you how great “Watchmen” is with such mind-bending quotes from the likes of Malin Ackerman saying, “It is the Citizen Kane of graphic novels.” Great… let’s move on.

“Real Super Heroes: Real Vigilantes” is a 26-minute featurette that is almost good for more of a laugh than to be taken seriously as you get a look at such characters as those that make up the New York’s Guardian Angels organization as well as two doofuses that actually think they are superheroes, one named Ecliptico and the other is Tothian. Both need to have their heads examined. Tothian goes really deep telling us his “primary mission in life is to protect the innocent and defenseless” because there is so much “evil, crime and wars” in the world. Good luck bud, I hope the guy with the gun is more afraid of your black leotard and your buddy’s hockey mask than you are of a .45.

Finally, “Mechanics: Technologies of a Fantastic World” is a look at the physics in Watchmen from the perspective of James Kakalios a Professor of Physics, School of Physics and Astronomy at University of Minnesota. Kakalios takes a look at such things as Can the Nite Owl ship fly? Can a man catch a bullet? Can you explain Rorschach’s mask? And after all that, to summarize the experience he pretty much says they didn’t need him because if it happened in the book they weren’t going to change it because they were afraid of upsetting the fans rather than concerning themselves with upsetting a physics professor. Neat.

The recommendation process on this one is simple. If you liked the movie in theaters and don’t want to wait for the Ultimate edition later this year then by all means pick this up. If you didn’t like the film in theaters and hope the director’s cut will add more to the story I recommend a rental before you fork over any dough. Warner Bros. has created a nice little package, but the film just isn’t that good. I would, however, like to add that I respect Zack Snyder for his vision and his attempt to create what he thought would be an excellent Watchmen adaptation, but unfortunately it just didn’t work. It is nice to see some ambition as opposed to watching a director settle for explosions and female skin to sell a film without any thought or passion.

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