on 8 July 2009
I know a number of people are trying to decide whether to order the Directors cut from the states, or to make do with the British theatrical cut. It's a little hard to do when you've no idea which is better. Well thankfully ive been able to see the Directors cut version and here's what I think.
Essentially, most of the extra running time is made up of 5 seconds here and 10 seconds there. The most prominent additions are, a battle scene with the original Nightowl when thugs go to his home. This is superbly merged with flashbacks of fights from his heyday. As a result of this the bar scene with Nightowl and Rorschach is extended. I did enjoy this violent scene but I can see why it was cut, it didnt really fit in with Nightowls character at all, neither did Rorschach's reaction come to think of it.
There are extended/extra scenes of Rorschach without his mask as he watches his fellow Watchmen. He's much more prominent at the funeral and we see him taking his "face" out of a dumpster after watching Daniel. I imagine these scenes were removed as it takes away any mystique of who Rorschach is under the mask.
Laury has a few extra/extended scenes, and almost a subplot where the FBI are always keeping tabs on here to ensure Dr Manhatten is kept happy.
Also, there are a few moments of extra gore, which is always nice. We see more footage of the newspaper stand where a young man is reading the Tales of the Black Freighter comic. Overall though, the rest is mainly an extra line here and there. A few are superb, others not so worthy. Rorschach is certainly the main beneficiary of these added scenes, and seeing as he was most peoples favourite, thats not a bad thing.
Is it worth importing though? If your a Watchmen fan then yes, go buy it and im sure you'll love it, theres enough added there to make you happy. If your a film fan though? I wouldnt say the extra scenes made the movie any better to be honest, but I couldnt say they made it any worse either. While some of the extra moments were good, just as many felt out of place or unneccessary, not to mention the movie now runs over 3 hours long. I enjoyed it, but I could easily live with the Directors cut and the deleted scenes on a bonus disc.
Ive tried not to spoil the new scenes for everyone, but hopefully theres enough info here for you to make up your own mind on which version to go for.
THIS IS A REVIEW OF THE 5DVD US-ONLY ULTIMATE CUT : NOT THE 1-DISC, NOT THE 2DVD, NOT THE BLU RAY, NOT ANY OTHER VERSION. THIS IS A REVIEW OF THE 5DVD US-ONLY ULTIMATE CUT. (The UK 2 BR Directors Cut is very good, mind you).
Whether this purchase is worthwhile depends on what you have. Avid fans who bought everything as it was released will benefit only from the commentaries and the extra few seconds integrated back in. If you've bought everything else, the only `new' content is on the first disc ; all you get extra is a fraction of new footage and two commentaries for your big splashout. If you have no release of "Watchmen" at all, or held out, then this is the Big Enchilada, and get it now.
Britain, and the DVD format, get a bum deal. Britain isn't important enough to get the luxurious 5DVD set of "Watchmen : The Ultimate Cut". So in the end, I had to wait until the transatlantic postmen crawled through the snow to deliver this epic, but short-changing set.
THE ULTIMATE CUT
And what a Cut it is. The Ultimate Cut is exactly that : an enormous ambitious film that is, by any standard, a classic. It's not perfect in the slightest, but what it lacks in narrative it makes up in big brass balls. The pacing is often erratic, but then again - so was the original novel - and the small cinematic conceits of pacing and re-ordering of the narrative are for the benefit of the film.
What's different? Most of the "Black Freighter" is integrated back in, alongside some touching dialogue between the two Bernards that turns their previous cinematic incarnation - as two extras - into a symbolically important, wider universe. The "Black Freighter" exists in two or three minute increments spread out through the film as a whole - however the jarring change in visual style, from the rough animation to a pristine CGI-fest - can pull the viewer out of the cinematic trance despite the richness of the parable running in parallel with the main narrative. Overall, as per "The Directors Cut", many scenes are expanded with extra dialogue and nuance. And Everything feels just a little bit more real.
FEATURE DVD 1 :
On the DVD Edition, this disc is crammed with a 215m running time and two commentaries. Technically it's a slight disappointment, there were definite examples of slight blocking and pixellation, albeit only on occasional shots and lasting fractions of seconds. The commentaries are well wortha listen, albeit with a combined running time of over 7 hours, you would expect - and ye shall receive - moments of dead air. Zac Snyder's commentary is more technical than informative, and explains the occasional deviations from Alan Moore's Sacred Canon of work.
Dave Gibbons provides the second commentary, and, as the visual artist, it is fascinating to hear one of the creators thoughts on the work. His track is geared towards the visual, but its still chock full of fascinating nuggets
EXTRAS DVD 2:
The Special Features disc contains everything on the previous TC and DC second-discs, minus a three minute TV News Special. The disc has been reauthored, so the brilliant "Under The Hood Documentary" is included.
The special features themselves? Four half-hour documentaries that micromanage elements of the production, as well as 11 three minute webisodes.
Where the disc does fall down is in that every sense, a film this important, epic and loved deserves a truly loving documentary that chronicles the life of the film : including the numerous failed attempts. There is no equivalent of the enormous, covers-all-bases documentaries that accompany "Blade Runner", "The Alien Quadrology", or even "1941". A film like this deserves beter than a handful of featurettes, even if they do total three hours, they lack the over-arching narrative sense of the importance of this film to those invested in it.
Finally, "Under The Hood" is included, which makes the purchase worthwhile on its own. If you don't already have it.
THEATRICAL CUT DOWNLOAD DVD3 :
Here's a DVD disc you cannot watch on your DVD player, but only download to your computer, only watch on iTunes, and can only download for the first 12 months since it was first released. (That is, before 3rd November 2010). Worse than useless, to be honest.
COMPLETE MOTION COMIC DVDs 4+5:
Lets get the usual clichés out of the way : Unfilmable. Epic. Too long. This proves them all : it is a vaguely animated attempt at telling every frame and panel of the original comic, with scant animation that resembles primitive `South Park', and follows the structure of the original graphic novel exactly. An exact transference of one medium to another simply does not work in the majority. It is a brave flawed experiment that is certainly not the way you should experience Watchmen. Not only that, but the single male narrator provides the female characters a considerably more gruff demeanour, and it is often difficult to discriminate between say, Ozymandius, Roarsarch, and Dr Manhattan, when they are all voiced by the same person. For heavens sake, if you haven't got it, read the original book
Released in the US as a Region 1 only uber mega box set "Watchmen : The Ultimate Cut" is... exactly that. At 3 hours, 35 minutes, it's not so much a film as the most expensive, and grand, miniseries ever conceived. At it's bum-numbing length, it's practically impossible to sit down and digest in one sitting. This megaset is all the "Watchmen" you will ever need - and plenty you don't. If you have bought the other versions (aside from the standard Theatrical Cut), think long and hard before investing in this. It is by no means perfect, but near enough to comprehensive as to satisfy even the most obsessed Watchman... for now.
on 2 November 2009
So we've had the theatrical cut when America got the 'Director's cut'.
Now we get the 'Director's cut' just as America gets the 'Ultimate cut'
What the hell is wrong with film companies? I am sick to death of their attempts to rip us off with dearer prices and inferior extras. With this film they can't use the BBFC as an excuse - it's already an 18!
Five stars to the film, but a bunch of fives to the UK distributors for their ridiculous attempts to try to make people buy the film more than once.
I have deliberately resisted buying this yet. You should too.
on 26 November 2009
For anyone who is after this but unsure about whether it is region encoded, I ordered the US version from Amazon.Com and it plays fine on a European player.
By the way the prices quoted here in sterling are crazy - I paid about £23 taking into account fx.
This is an excellent version of the film, although I couldn't manage it in one sitting.
This U.S. Blu-ray release is a 3-disc set. Disc 1 has the extended version of the movie with 24 minutes of extra footage taking it to 186 minutes. The additions simply move the movie closer to the graphic novel with extra dialogue between characters, more explicit violence and the added scene in which Hollis Mason dies. The Maximum Movie Mode enables viewers to view timelines, behind-the-scenes footage and director and actor insights while watching the movie. Storyboard comparisons and inserts from the graphic novel are also included.
Disc 2 includes three documentaries. The Phenomenon is a 29 minute feature exploring the Watchmen graphic novel. Real Super Heroes is a 26 minute feature about real-world vigilantes. Mechanics is a 17 minute feature exploring the science behind Watchmen. Disc 3 is a digital copy of the director's cut. You will need a PC with DVD-Rom drive. This digital copy may not be compatible with U.K. systems so check your systems spec.
It must be said that the theatrical release is no less enjoyable without the additional footage. The Director's Cut is probably for completists only. Although a five disc set is due for release in December 2009. This must cater for the ultra-completists. If you are going to buy The Director's Cut, Amazon.com is the way to go. There were no import charges and it works perfectly on my U.K. PS3.
on 18 March 2009
'The Dark Knight' is a fantastic movie.
But if I had to go by how much a movie has affected me? 'Watchmen' wins hands down, for consider: never before has it occurred to me to go to the cinema twice to see the same movie. After seeing it on the Friday of its release, I needed to go back again that Sunday.
When I Read Clive Barker's 'Galilee' some years back I was stunned and amazed... and strangely gutted: I would never have the joy of reading that book again for the first time.
That's how I felt about 'Watchmen' when I first saw it.
It is not like any other superhero movie. Not like any other movie, period. I was amazed they got away with it. How did they get away with it?! For 20 years they tried to bring the original graphic novel source material to the big screen. After so many false starts (remember when Arnie - the now Governor of California - was going to be Dr. Manhattan?!) all anyone had a right to expect was a movie that had nothing much to do with the comic at all. That's why I'm stunned: It's so faithful I cannot help thinking, "How did they get away with it?"
Even if you don't like the movie, you will still think to yourself, "Well I definitely ain't never seen a movie like that before..."
For me 'Watchmen' is more layered than 'The Dark Knight', thus making repeated viewings so enriching.
Sure, 'The Dark Knight' is layered also, but its intentions are transparent, meaning you 'get it' the first time you see it. Its moody cinematography clearly marks it as a serious 'mature' movie.
'Watchmen' is far more subversive:
Here you have a movie which is bright and colourful and - gosh! - doesn't it look fun?! So why does it make some people uncomfortable? Because, on the surface, the movie taunts its audience by appearing to be yet another 'X-Men'.
The visual style of the movie may feel like a comic book, but the brutality of its violence honours the irony of The Comedian character's name: this is all a bad joke - me, you, this world's politicians, this petty thug whose face I'm smashing in, and yet ain't a one of us getting punished by the law for beating someone up cos we're wearing stupid costumes and that makes it all right.
Whereas every other Superhero Movie - including 'The Dark Knight' - celebrates the genre, 'Watchmen' gleefully deconstructs it. And it doesn't need shadow and smoke and dim lighting in order to do so.
On the surface everything is there for yet another formulaic Superhero Movie. After all, it looks the part...
... but this is where the genius of Watchmen's subversion comes in, for although the movie can be enjoyed on purely a visual visceral level, woven through its stock superhero tropes you have tales of rape, cancer and impotency -
- you even have one of the 'Good Guys' assassinating John F. Kennedy in the opening credits.
Compared to that 'The Dark Knight' seems positively pedestrian.
Even the movie's flaws (with the exception of President Nixon's large prosthetic nose) unintentionally work in its favour by holding up a spotlight to its own absurdity of grown men and women dressing up in Hallowe'en costumes.
One purpose of the movie's frequent slow-motion motif that I immediately noticed is that is gives the character Rorschach and Dr Manhattan's voice-overs room to breathe, whilst at the same time lending the movie its comic book look; and yet deliberately confounds your expectations by not being a comic superhero movie.
It's as if The Comedian (a thinly disguised 'Captain America') directed this movie -
A female protestor gets punched in the face without hesitation... by one of the 'Good Guys'. A pregnant woman gets shot at point-blank range... by one of the 'Good Guys'.
It you were to take The Dark Knight's premise of a 'gritty' superhero-movie-for-adults to its logical next level then 'Watchmen' would be the result. Be careful what you ask for because you just got it.
And you thought 'The Phantom Menace' 'raped your childhood'. You'll never look at 'Iron Man' and 'Spider-Man' the same way again.
The Nite Owl character (a thinly disguised 'Batman') is so hung up he becomes impotent the first time he's with Silk Spectre (a thinly disguised 'Wonder Woman'). And yet later - after cracking some heads - ? No problem. That's what makes the 'love scene' in the Nite Owl's airship so hilarious and appropriate: these people get off on beating up some poor schmucks in order that they can become 'whole' and connect. Even this is made blatant by the way the characters grin and mug at each other after fighting the Bad Guys: they're turned on by the violence they're dishing out and they're not ashamed to admit it. The song choice for that love scene?! "Hallelujah" right enough!! LOL!!! That's some serious screwed up Freudian stuff right there...
The Comedian is definitely behind the lens of this movie, chomping on his cigar.
Critics point to the lack of experience in the unknown actress who plays Silk Spectre. Yet, unintentionally, that works in the character's favour: she has an out-of-her-depth naivety, only 'coming alive' when fighting the 'Bad Guys'. Dr Manhattan (a thinly disguised 'Superman') shows the viewer logically what would happen if someone really was superhuman: a guy so powerful that his intelligence has caused him to lose his ability to relate to his fellow man.
"God help us all," right enough as The Comedian says upon noticing this.
And the coup de grace of unintentional flaws which work in the movie's favour? The Osymandias superhero character who ultimately 'saves the world' is flat, bland and totally uninteresting.
Just like they say: bad guys are so much more interesting to play. And this movie makes its 'Good Guys' so flawed that you can't tell them from the 'Bad Guys'.
As to the graphic violence -
As much as I love horror fiction I detest horror movies: they're nothing more than torture-porn.
At the same time, however, I believe the director Jack Snyder is deliberately shaming the audience into guilt because of its lust for violence. Watchmen's violence is not meant to be realistic - the slo-mo effect makes sure of that, whilst simultaneously glorying in it because, hey, that's what you want, right? The Good Guys and The Bad Guys duelling it out? Sure you do, that's what Superhero Movies are all about. You like to hear the crack of bones breaking? Okay. We'll show you it too. We'll show you it in such a way that you feel it, with slo-mo effect to rub your nose in it. After all, that's what you want.
But why do this?
A one point The Comedian character gets punched repeatedly in the face by a fellow 'Good Guy' superhero, until he falls to his knees.
With burst lip and bloody nose The Comedian looks up, grins, and says, "This is what you like, huh? This is what gets you hot?"
The movie is taunting its audience, The Comedian looking into camera and speaking directly to them: you like punch-ups in Superhero Movies, don'tcha? So, we're giving it to ya, whatcha complaining about?
The violence is more graphic than it needs to be in order to make its audience uncomfortable, and thereby shame it.
Remember, 'Watchmen' is an anti-Superhero Movie.
'Watchmen' doesn't 'update' the Superhero Movie so much as crush it beneath its heel.
Welcome to the world of post-'Dark Knight'.
The film is great. This DVD is not, by any standards, recommended. The uS DVD contains a 178 minute Directors Cut : THIS DOES NOT. There will be a 5 DVD SuperMegaUltraSet near Christmas with alternate versions and a ton of documentaries - wait for that if you want to see this film as it was shot and intended for home release. BUY THAT, NOT THIS CASTRATED SET.
The film? Yes, it's great. But this DVD is abusive, incomplete, useless double-dipping. Wait for the 5DVD set due at Christmas. UPDATE : The DVD version of this product lacks several features and about an hours worth of bonus material only available on the Blu-Ray. The Industry may think it's pushing us to buy fancy new expensive player - this kind of abusive practice, in delibrately crippling and stunting the product, and penalising/punishing those of us who do not have Blu-Ray players is costing them sales. We're waiting. Treat your customers with respect, not contempt. A business without sales goes out of business.
And of the film? It's 85% Genius, 15% Zac Snyder.
Considering it is the only comic, sorry, graphic novel to ever make Time Magazines "Top 100", it must have something great at the heart of it. And it does. And this is all up there on the screen.
But is The Watchmen any good? In a word, yes. But also, no. Above all, it is, unfortunately, a Zac Snyder film. There are only three directors worse than him on the face of the planet : Uwe Boll, P Anderson, and the risible McG.
At best, and I try to see the best in everything, Watchmen is 85% as good as the novel. The 15% that is missing? It's all Zac Snyder. There's blaring, wildly inappropriate music, shoehorned song choices, constant, and alienating jumpcut slo-mo/hyperspeed action sequences devoid of context and style, and an overall feeling of someone grasping to reach a level far beyond their artistic ability. Still, with source material this good you can't mortally wound it, and the film is overall a very good adaptation of a brilliant book. These moments rip the attentive viewer out of the film, where you become aware that you are watching a film, and not an experience. The slo-mo should only used once, during the apocalyptic finale, not every 192 seconds.
The 85% that is perfect? Everything else. The casting feels right, and to the novice, the casting is sufficiently loaded with talent so that the disconnect between the screen and the action does not happen. Put it this way, in some films, you know you are watching Al Pacino pretending to be someone else. In this, you aren't watching Billy Crudup, but you are watching Dr Manhattan.
Still, this gritty remake of The Incredibles is something to behold. In effect it is a grand who-dunnit, revolving on a conceit that thankfully eschews the usual narrative closure and happy ending in favour of a darkly naughty theme tailored towards a Black Ops conspiracy theory. That said, the ending is a rather different experience. I prefer the comic book ending, but the filmed version works effectively in the context of the film and is an acceptable and effective alternative.
Well, lets be honest. There are moments where the film veers off the path. Unfortunately, what this does mean is that film does itself no favours because there are two useless, if not utterly boring, sex scenes that could be truncated to a fraction of their current length and are gratuitous and tedious.
It's a bloated mini-series of a film, clocking in at 161 minutes (and that's the shortest version of the film that remains cohesive). Given the large amount of material cut from the page, it's still surprising that the movie is still, in my eyes, at least four minutes too long. (We'll get to those four minutes later). I've always found sex scenes boring mind you, unless they actually communicate something to advance the plot. Hallelujah.
Like 300, Watchmen is a faithful but also faithless adaptation. Like the book, it's insane and far beyond the rational, but also, it only goes halfway balls out to bugnuts. It is a great experience and one that has so much going on within it it's probably impossible to fully grasp until you are on your third viewing... but still, there's an awful there to admire at even one glance. A very good adaptation of a brilliant book slapped into a careless and incomplete DVD.
on 7 October 2009
Set in an alternate 1985 where costumed crime-fighters stalk the streets and the Cold War is on the brink of nuclear armageddon, Watchmen portrays a society that is more morally complex than depicted in traditional superhero fiction, a society where it is more difficult to tell the difference between right and wrong, good and bad.
Whilst the Theatrical version of Watchmen was still a faithful rendering of the source material it omitted several integral elements, most notable the book-within-the-book concept: `The Tales of the Black Freighter'. By re-integrating `The Tales of the Black Freighter' as animated interstitials into the Director's Cut of the movie, the Ultimate Cut is a much more layered, satisfying and complete adaptation of the landmark graphic novel that deconstructed the superhero genre. This creates a truly remarkable vision that is something more special than the previous versions. In this respect, the Ultimate Cut should be considered the "Definitive Edition" - if not quite the masterpiece for which we were hoping. The main thing that spoilt the suspension of disbelief for me were Moloch's massively distracting Orc-like ears: 'Spock meets Nosferatu'.
Disc 2 imports the bonus material provided with the Theatrical and Director's Cut releases. The Four main documentaries are all worthy of inclusion and concentrate on the origin of the graphic novel, its themes, and subsequent impact.
The pseudo-documentary `Under the Hood' is a fun 60-Minutes-style pastiche that provides more backstory and details from the graphic novel that are missing from the feature films.
The Video Journals deal with the making of the movie but (putting the lack of a PLAY ALL option aside) it would have been nice if there was a more in-depth making-of feature to take us through all the stages of this ambitious production - Especially one that covered the casting of the movie, its troubled release and the abandoned previous incarnations. (The inclusion of a few trailers would have also been welcome.) So this cynic suspects a Deluxe-Ultimate Anniversary Edition in the pipeline at Warners.
Instead of the obligatory, annoying Digital Copy, just a simple DVD of the Theatrical Cut would have been better (like Disney includes with all of their blu-rays), or even nothing at all. Hopefully film companies will abandon the Digital Copy fad altogether. Personally, I'd prefer no additional copy and a few pennies shaved off the price instead.
Rounding off the package, at 325 minutes, is the exhaustive (arguably gimmicky) Motion Comic - But at least it's broken into 12 episodes, like the 12 chapters of the novel, and should satiate completists' appetites.
On a final note, the 3 main discs come packaged in a fold-out card case (with the Motion Comic in a slim plastic blu-ray case) inside a card box. The only problem with this nifty packaging is that the matt finish tends to flake away on the edges and creases of the box. ("Somebody call Quality Control!")
These disappointments aside, Watchmen: The Ultimate Cut is definitely the version fans have been waiting for and as all of the discs are REGION FREE, it is available for everyone to make up their own minds. It is certainly an adaptation Alan Moore should be pleased with...but he probably won't be.
DISC 1 - THE MOVIE
- Commentary track by director Zack Snyder
- Commentary track by graphic novel co-creator Dave Gibbons
- Video - 1080p High Definition 16x9 2.4:1
- Audio - Dolby TrueHD: English 5.1, Dolby Digital: English 5.1
- Subtitles - English SDH, Francais & Espanol
DISC 2 - SPECIAL FEATURES IN HIGH DEFINITION
- Under the Hood
- Story Within a Story: The Books of Watchmen
- The Phenomenon: The Comic That Changed Comics
- Mechanics: Technologies of a Fantastic World
- All 11 Watchmen Video Journals
- My Chemical Romance Music Video
DISC 3 - DIGITAL COPY OF THE THEATRICAL FEATURE
DISC4 - WATCHMEN THE COMPLETE MOTION COMIC
on 28 September 2016
I am a big fan of the original film and was keen to see what extra material would be included. From one perspective, this is an ideal directors cut for fans of the film, as it adds so many more scenes compared to the original movie. So thumbs up in terms of quantity.
However, the overall effect of these additional scenes on the film itself is negative. If I was asked to recommend a version to someone new to the Watchmen then I would definitely recommend the original. While I really liked the original version it certainly had issues with being slow and somewhat disjointed in parts and sometimes the comic book dialogue comes across as rather clichéd.
The extra material does the pacing of the film no favours at all. Similarly with the dialogue - those bits that were added (or removed from the original) seemed to be particularly prone to cliché or being just too stereotypical.
Perhaps the film is also suffering from the passage of time as it has been a few years since I last saw the original. When it was made it was unique with its combination of superheroes and ultra dark backdrop. However, there have been a slew of good quality super hero films since then and perhaps my expectations were higher second time round.
on 29 September 2010
Not a review, but just a quick note for those thinking of buying the digital copy version of Watchmen on blu-ray - the digital copy redemption code expired on 27 July 2010 so don't waste your money, you can't use the digital copy any more. Get the normal Watchmen blu-ray instead. Great film by the way!