Watchmen (2009) - Director's Cut [Blu-ray]

Genre(s): Action / Crime / Drama / Fantasy / Science Fiction
Warner Brothers || R - 186 minutes - $35.99 || July 21, 2009
Reviewer: Brian Oliver || Posted On: 2009-07-10


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.:: F I L M ::.
The Film

S P E C I A L
.: F E A T U R E S :.

Special Features

.:: V I D E O ::.
Video

.:: A U D I O ::.
Audio

B L U - R A Y
.:: EXCLUSIVES ::.

Blu-ray Exclusives

.:: O V E R A L L ::.
Overall
.::MOVIE INFORMATION::.
Director: Zack Snyder
Writer(s): Dave Gibbons (graphic novel); David Hayter and Alex Tse (screenplay)
Cast: Malin Akerman, Billy Crudup, Matthew Goode, Carla Gugino, Jackie Earle Haley, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Patrick Wilson


Theatrical Release Date: March 6, 2009


.::DVD INFORMATION::.
Supplemental Material:
  • Maximum Movie Mode
  • Focus Points
  • 3 Featurettes
  • Music Video
  • BD-Live
  • Digital Copy


Technical Information:
  • Number of Discs: 3
  • Widescreen (2.40)
  • English (DTS-HD MA 5.1), French (Dolby Digital 5.1)
  • Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish

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.::THE FILM::.

Alan Moore’s popular graphic novel comes to life in Zach Snyder’s dark superhero movie, Watchmen, a film about regular and severely flawed humans making a difference in a world that is crumbling before their eyes.

The movie primarily takes place, in between flashbacks, in the year 1985. It’s an alternate universe of sorts where President Nixon, because of a decisive victory in Vietnam – thanks to Dr. Manhattan (Billy Crudup) aka Jon Osterman – is serving out his fifth term in office. The United States and U.S.S.R. are close to a doomsday scenario that could wipe out millions of lives. The only thing holding the Russians from a nuclear strike back is Dr. Manhattan.

In the 1940s, some mild mannered and well intentioned individuals, calling themselves “Minutemen”, fought crime dressed as superheroes against a plethora of equally mild mannered villains including Moloch the Mystic and others. Amongst the superheroes you had people like Hooded Justice, Nite Owl, sexy Silver Spectre (Carla Gugino), and... The Comedian played by the invaluable Jeffrey Dean Morgan. A new group was tentatively formed in the 60s/70s called the “Watchmen” before being dismantled by Nixon. That group included The Comedian, Silk Spectre II (Malin Akerman), Dr. Manhattan, Ozymandias (Matthew Goode), Nite Owl II (Patrick Wilson) and Rorschach (Jackie Earle Haley).

And that’s where the story, in 1985, begins when The Comedian, aka Edward Blake, is brutally murdered, shoved out a glass plate window, down the streets below. Rorschach investigates and begins to believe that someone is aiming to kill masked heroes. Now he must warn the others before the killer strikes again and uncover their true motives.

Coming strictly as a movie fan and someone who previously never even read the graphic novel, Watchmen is a great film that balances Zack Snyder’s cool directing style with an intriguing story and fascinating characters that are flawed and, for a couple of them, downright psychopathic at their very core. I also liked the world Snyder – via Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons – created: a mixture of the Cold War 1980s with a bit of Dr. Strangelove dark political satire. It was a combination that before, especially in regards to the latter, that I didn’t care much for, but it seemed to work better this time around.

The only problem I had, and it’s certainly a unique flaw, with the movie is it was perhaps too faithful for those outside of the fan base. I know some took issue with what Snyder did or did not translate to the big screen, but from what I could tell, both with the story and visuals; this is as close to a live action comic as we’ll ever see. But this is the problem because as an outsider I never really could appreciate the effort and at the same time, didn’t have an emotional connection of any sort to characters that I would categorize as 2½-dimensional.

The performances are all actually pretty good especially given how much time was split between each member but the obvious standout is that of Jackie Earle Haley as Rorschach. He has most of the memorable scenes and lines and even though he plays a sociopath through and through, you can’t help but enjoy his intense performance. If this hadn’t be released in March, I’d say he could get a best supporting actor nomination. This isn’t to say the others don’t hold own but Haley is brilliant.

But even though it’s hard to really (and truly) “like” and of these characters, you will be able to identify with them on a certain level that may scare you... For instance, I know many people took a liking to Rorschach, a sociopath who has deep psychological issues dating back to his troubled childhood which has driven his thirst for a violent vigilante justice and a cynical existence. And one doesn’t have to get started on The Comedian or Dr. Manhattan... From what I’ve read, though, these seem to be faithful adaptations to the graphic novel, which leads me to...

Alan Moore.

To put it mildly, Moore has a tenuous relationship with DC Comics dating back to the early 80s and after various moves such as creative control, mature ratings on his books and money disputes, not to mention retaining control over the “Watchmen” and “V for Vendetta” graphic novels, he had had enough. Things were futher instigated after the release of the feature film release of V for Vendetta. Before he was content with film adaptations but wanted nothing to do with them, with V, things changed. Since he has stated he will never see Watchmen, we’ll never know what he thinks, but perhaps simple he doesn’t care.

DIRECTOR’S CUT
This “director’s cut” is about 24-minutes longer than the theatrical version and to be honest, it all flows so well I couldn’t tell what was new and what wasn’t. So even though the movie is now over three-hours (with end credits), it still is well paced. I never once was bored and each minute was effectively used. As for the differences, I believe there was a bit more with the Adrian Veidt (Goode) character. Unfortunately because the Director’s Cut is the only version I currently have, I cannot easily compare, but if I can get a copy, I will of course post a scene by scene breakdown.



.::SPECIAL FEATURES::.

DISC 1:
WB Maximum Movie Mode (Profile 1.1/2.0) – Very cool feature that combines pop-up trivia (their world, our world) with live-action commentary (of sorts) where Zack Snyder appears onscreen with one panel showing the movie and maybe other panels with the graphic novel comparisons, production photos or behind-the-scenes footage. What’s really cool is with this feature, Snyder can pause the film if he wants to point something out and then continue it. You can also go out of the movie by pressing the enter button and go into production stills or featurettes. I sure wish The Dark Knight had this feature... ** Blu-ray Exclusive **

Note about the Maximum Movie Mode, I first watched this feature at 11:00 at night and since it’s over 3 hours, I decided to stop for the night and noted the time and chapter, but when I went to start the mode, it asked if I would like to resume to my previous place. Very cool and convenient.

Focus Points (36:09; HD) – These are 11 video journals that cover a variety of topics and some of them were incorporated with the Maximum Movie Mode as well. Topics include: “The Minutemen”, “Sets & Sensibility”, “Dressed for Success”, “The Ship Has Eyes”, “Dave Gibbons”, “Burn Baby Burn”, “Shoot to Thrill”, “Blue Monday”, “Attention to Detail”, “Girls Kick Ass”, “Rorschach’s Mask”.

There is also a BD-Live ** Blu-ray Exclusive ** portal for Warner’s standard selection of features (record your own commentary, trailers, etc).

DISC 2:
The Phenomenon: The Comic That Changed Comics (28:46; HD) – Immersive featurette about the groundbreaking graphic novel and how it began. This features interviews with the cast, crew and those within the comic industry talking about how great the graphic novel still is to this day.

Real Super Heroes: Real Vigilantes (26:17; HD) – Explore the psychology behind real-world vigilantes and when that behavior crosses over into actually donning the hood and behaving as super heroes. This is a cool featurette that has interviews with psychologists, those involved with law enforcement about vigilante justice (and interviews with the Alliance of Guardian Angels) plus the world of “Watchmen” and how it was super heroes in reality. ** Blu-ray Exclusive **

Mechanics: Technologies of a Fantastic World (16:49; HD) – Through interviews with consultants, engineers and designers, see how the creators of Watchmen turned engineering and science into cinematic reality. For those interested in science and the technology used within the movie will find this interesting, others may find it a tad boring with some techno jargon. ** Blu-ray Exclusive **

Lastly, is the music video (3:15; HD) for My Chemical Romance’s “Desolation Raw”.

DISC 3:
Digital Copy – Standard Definition of the movie that is compatible with iTunes and WMV.



.::AUDIO & VIDEO::.

Watchmen makes its anticipated appearance on Blu-ray with a 2.40 aspect ratio on a single 50GB Blu-ray disc (VC-1 codec) and 1080p high-definition. The video, while not perfect, is still a marvel to look at. There is absolutely no hint of grain, noise or any imperfections whatsoever. Colors are absolutely rich from Dr. Manhattan’s royal blue glow to Silk Spectre’s yellow rubber-like tight suit. This is just as I remembered it when I saw it in the theater in March. Black levels are also excellent as is the general detail of the film overall. Facial details and background objects both look great as well.

The only drawback I would say is, there are some banding issues which apparently is almost the norm now on most Warner Blu-rays. Some say it’s the VC-1 codec they use others disagree and say it’s an issue with master down conversion. Either way, it’s present but not at all distracting to the viewing pleasure.

On the audio side of things, Warner has released its first Blu-ray with a lossless 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track that is excellent. Of course, Warner’s normal Dolby TrueHD track probably would’ve been equally as good, so it’s more of a brand name than quality with DTS-HD. Now, for my system, I did have to raise the volume a tad, but overall this is an amazing sounding track. From the beginning of the movie when shards of glass hit the floor to the explosions as a house is torn apart, this is one hell of a track. I’m not prepared to say it’s the best I’ve experienced but it’s pretty damn close and you will not be disappointed! The score and interesting song selections – Bob Dylan’s “The Times They Are A-Changin” and Simon & Garfunkle’s “The Sound of Silence” are highlights – all sound great with a great dispersion across all channels.



.::OVERALL::.

While even upon my second viewing I don’t feel the movie is a masterpiece, Watchmen is still a film that has a good story to tell (even when the end result isn’t as aspiring) with amazing set pieces, unique costume design and great performances. The Blu-ray features top notch audio and picture and although the features aren’t incredible with the highlight being Warner’s new “Maximum Movie Mode”, I still highly recommend buying this title. Be forewarned that there is an “Ultimate Collector’s Edition” set for released in December (2009) but it apparently will not carry over all the features from this set.