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DVD Review: ‘Watchmen’ Director’s Cut (Blu-ray)
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The Movie God   |  @   |  
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Watchmen
Director’s Cut Blu-ray
Directed by Zack Snyder
Starring: Jackie Earle Haley, Billy Crudup, Patrick Wilson, Malin Akerman, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Matthew Goode
Warner Home Video
Release Date: July 21, 2009

This city is afraid of me. I have seen its true face. The streets are extended gutters and the gutters are full of blood and when the drains finally scab over, all the vermin will drown. The accumulated filth of all their sex and murder will foam up about their waists and all the whores and politicians will look up and shout ‘Save us!’…and I’ll whisper, ‘no.’

What would you do in order to ensure the safety of all mankind? Would you sacrifice millions of lives if it meant saving billions of other lives and creating a perfect and peaceful world? This is the impossibly difficult scenario placed in front of a small group of crime fighters known simply as Watchmen.

Watchmen is based on the timeless graphic novel of the same name by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons. The book is the only graphic novel on Time magazine’s top 100 novels of all time — a truly epic feat for its platform. For many years, the novel was also called “unfilmable” by most people who strongly believed that no one could faithfully and accurately adapt the complex story and characters into a movie. Director Zack Snyder was the man to finally try and accomplish this impossible feat, and even better, he did it because he didn’t want to see anyone else try and fail miserably. Any time a director takes on a project simply to protect the legacy of of the film’s source material, you know you’re in for some top-notch passionate filmmaking.

The story takes place in an alternate/parallel 1980s New York City where times are bad and crime is high. With the ever-growing threat of a full-on nuclear war with the Russians seeming more and more likely every day and anarchy taking over the streets, a man known as the Comedian (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) is murdered. His real name is Edward Blake and he is a former superhero-type (known as “Masks”), best known for their costumes and vigilante justice. It was a long time ago that the Masks were banned, but one, known as Rorschach (Jackie Earle Hayley), still walks the streets, refusing to follow the rules, a most-wanted fugitive. When he discovers that someone as prestigious as Comedian has been murdered, he immediately knows that something isn’t right, and he begins his own personal investigation to find out what exactly is going on. His search brings him to other well-known and long-retired Masks like Nite Owl II (Patrick Wilson), Dr. Manhattan (Billy Crudup), Ozymandias (Matthew Goode), and Silk Spectre II (Malin Akerman). Before long, these Masks realize that whether they like it or not, something big is going down, and they need to do what they can to help before the feared Doomsday Clock strikes midnight, and the world ends.

This was an exciting review for me to undertake: I wasn’t able to see the 162-minute theatrical version when it was making its run, but word-of-mouth lead me to believe that this 186-minute Director’s Cut of the movie was even better. While I can’t compare the two yet, I also can’t think of one thing that should be removed from this version, which is a lot to say for a three-hour-long movie. In fact, most fans would happily welcome MORE content in the addition of the Black Freighter animated short segment, which will be infused into the super-duper-mega version of the DVD that will be released this December.

To be pretty straight-forward, Watchmen is simply astonishing. If you’re a fan of the graphic novel, you know how good an accurate film would be, and this is it right here. If you’ve yet to read the book, I highly recommend that you do — there’s something so surreal about reading it, and then seeing this painstakingly detailed replication of that world. The crew of this movie did such a praise-worthy job, they deserve to be showered in awards. The fact that this was on Blu-ray just adds a whole new layer of breathtaking visuals.

For me personally — being someone who didn’t read the book until a short time before the movie’s release — I went against the grain and stated that I believed this movie could be even BETTER than the novel if it was done properly. This is something I now am sure of. Of course, I’m a movie fan above all other things, so even when it comes to the greatest books of all time, so long as the movie is well-done, I’ll likely prefer it. Most won’t agree with me here, but that’s where I stand on the whole party.

While watching Watchmen, you really feel like you’re watching the book. Forget the motion comic, this IS the motion comic. The world, the performances, the politics, the music — all of these things immaculately recreate this parallel New York world we had ever only known in print. Just looking at the outside New York street block that they built for the movie. If you weren’t told, you would 100% believe it was a real city street somewhere; it’s a spectacle to behold.

One key thing that I found myself really loving more than I expected to was Dr. Manhattan. When looking at a drawing or reading the dialogue of this man of infinite powers, you would imagine that he might have a booming god-like voice. When we first saw a trailer for the movie and heard that the voice would actually just be that of Billy Crudup’s, some were a little skeptical that it wouldn’t work. But seeing the movie, and keeping in mind that Manhattan was a man before he was a god, I realized that the voice was perfect. Crudup did an amazing job keeping it at a pretty emotionless, but soft tone; he was above all things in the universe, but still sounded like there was some humility hiding deep down inside of him somewhere.

Again, if you’ve yet to read Watchmen, I suggest that you do as soon as possible. And when you’re done, be sure to check Zack Snyder’s movie out. This is one of those movies that takes you to another world — a world you enjoy being in, no matter how dark and violent it can be — and one that (if you’re like me) you’ll want to revisit as soon as it’s over.

Now the only left to do is to get Alan Moore to watch this movie. I never knew exactly why he was so against seeing it in the first place, especially after reading about the old script that he was completely in approval of. The fact of the matter is that this is a beautiful and faith reproduction of he and Dave Gibbons’ masterpiece, and to stubbornly refuse to see it due to Hollywood’s other glaring blemishes is simply not fair. A genius is not a genius if he refuses to appreciate the work of other geniuses.

Special Features

The Watchmen Director’s Cut Blu-ray is a hefty 3-disc offering with some great special features and movie viewing options.

Maximum Movie Mode — On the special edition of Terminator 2: Judgment Day way back when, a very cool special feature was included that basically shot off countless facts about the movie while you were watching it, while also having certain points where you could push a button and be taken to a short featurette video for the movie. Watchmen has something similar to that, but its something on a whole new level.

Basically, the movie plays as normal, but at certain times, you’re brought to a little room with two screens — one continues playing the movie while the other plays special behind the scenes footage and specials. Director Zack Snyder will show up in between these two screens as well, and talk about the movie, production, and all kinds of little fun facts and Easter Eggs you may have missed.

If you like seeing and learning everything about a movie, this special option is your Blu-ray heaven!

Watchmen: Focus Points — I love the Maximum Movie Mode mentioned above, it’s a wonderfully innovative option to have. Personally, though, I have trouble watching movies all the way through with features like that and commentary on. For people like me, all of the segments used in the Maximum Movie Mode are included here for you to check out directly.

The Phenomenon: The Comic that Changed Comics — This feature talks about the creation of Watchmen. It has many people, mainly from DC Comics, who talk about the process and finding Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons, and the progress throughout production. This is a great feature for those who aren’t as familiar with the graphic novel and how important it was when it was made.

Real Super Heroes, Real Vigilantes — Believe it or not, there are actual people out there who have adopted the Watchmen style of vigilante justice. This feature looks at those people and what exactly they do.

Mechanics: Technologies of a Fantastic World — Most of the things you see in Watchmen seem unlikely and sometimes impossible. With this feature, Dr. James Kakalios (who worked on the movie as an adviser) actually talks about many of the sciences of Watchmen, and how many of them might not be as impossible as they seem.

Music Video: Desolation Row — Music video from the band My Chemical Romance, who covered this Bob Dylan tune for the movie.

Digital Copy — A regular version of the movie that you can download to your digital video player to watch online or when you travel.

BD-Live — Another innovative new feature. With this movie and surely many more to come, the feature allows you to connect with friends and others on Facebook and even hold screenings of the movie. Zack Snyder even held one of these screenings recently, allowing him to watch and talk about the movie with many fans.

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