'Watchmen (Director's Cut)' 2-Disc Special Edition
(Jackie Earle Haley, Patrick Wilson, Carla Gugino, Malin Akerman, Billy Crudup, et al / 2-Disc DVD / R / 2009 / Warner Bros.)
Overview: Someone’s killing our super heroes. The year is 1985 and super heroes have banded together to respond to the murder of one of their own. They soon uncover a sinister plot that puts all of humanity in grave danger. The super heroes fight to stop the impending doom only to find themselves a target for annihilation. But, if our super heroes are gone, who will save us?
DVD Verdict: Not as good as the book, but as well done as it could be. As I reviewed recently when I read Watchmen before seeing the movie, I found the graphic novel experience more akin to browsing an art exhibition than the cinematic experience I was expecting. And while well done, the movie confirms this expectation. The inexorable element of time, the need for serialized viewing and the tyranny of attention in the cinema experience (the film must keep winding through the projector, and you must watch what the director puts on the screen), result in stripping away some of the multi-level complexity of the graphic novel experience.
The movie is still good. Key characters Rorschach, Laurie, Jon/Manhattan, and Dan/Night Owl are strongly acted and add to the characterizations from the book. The only miss among the main characters was Viedt/Ozymandias. The actor playing this part is too young, callow, and insubstantial in appearance to provide the reassuring presence that Viedt appears to be early in the book, before he reveals his true hand in the events that the book has been documenting. Because of this, he immediately appears to be a potential bad guy in the movie, which takes away from some of the impact of the revelations that come later in the movie. And in the interests of maintaining a realistic running time (that serial cinematic experience again) key minor characters like the news-stand operator and his young comic-book "customer" are edited almost completely out.
One element of the movie that can be off-putting is, to put it as politely as possible, Dr. Manhattan's big blue wiener. While in the book it is basically a (necessarily) static vestigial organ, in the movie it moves (necessarily, again) and detracts the viewer's attention away from the key point of the scenes in which Manhattan appears naked. There's a reason God invented clothes. Not sure how the director could have addressed the issue and stayed true to the book, so it's there. Consider yourself warned.
One element of the movie experience that does add to the content is the soundtrack. The songs are well-chosen and really drive home the character of the novel with their lyrics, tune, and tempo. The raucous version of "Desolation Row" played over the end credits (and the My Chemical Romance video of it) provides an immediate review and comment on the movie's ending.
Recommendation: Read the book first (the movie won't seem coherent without it), then watch the movie (you'll immediately recognize scenes directly from the book), and withhold judgment on both until you see which media you like best. [TS] This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.85:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Features of:
Director’s Cut (additional 24 min.)
Newly included footage contains more Rorschach and a scene of Hollis Mason’s death.
The Phenomenon: The Comic That Changed Comics [Learn how the subversive, thematically complex, award winning comic that changed literature, inspired analytical debate, and won countless fans, was created]
My Chemical Romance Desolation Row Music Video