horror and science fiction DVD and movie reviews and previews from curledupdvd.com - curled up with a good dvd
Blu-ray reviews and previews from curledupdvd.com - curled up with a good dvd
DVD reviews, previews and info - blu-ray
  action movies on DVD
  animation on DVD
  art house and international / foreign language films on DVD
  comedies on DVD
  documentaries on DVD
  dramas on DVD
  children's and family DVDs
  horror and sci-fi on DVD
  suspense on DVD
  television series on DVD
  Blu-ray DVD reviews


Watchmen (Director's Cut) - Blu-ray DVD / drama DVD / suspense DVD / adaptation DVD review
WATCHMEN: DIRECTOR'S CUT (AMAZON DIGITAL BUNDLE + DIGITAL COPY + BD-LIVE) Rated R by the Motion Picture Association of America curledupdvd.com rating: 3 1/2 stars
Featuring: Malin Akerman, Billy Crudup, Jackie Earle Haley, Patrick Wilson, Jeffrey Dean Morgan
Director: Zack Snyder Distributor: Warner Home Video
DVD release: 21 July 2009 Runtime: 186 min.
(3 discs)
Format: Color, Director's Cut, Special Extended Version, Subtitled, Widescreen, Blu-ray
DVD features: 1080p High Definition, Aspect ratio 2.40:1, Audio tracks ( DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 Surround - English; Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround - French), Subtitles (English SDH, French, Spanish), The Phenomenon: The Comic That Changed Comics, "Real Super Heroes, Real Vigilantes," Mechanics: Technologies of a Fantastic World, All 11 Watchmen video journals, My Chemical Romance "Desolation Row" music video, Exclusive features via BD-Live

It's 1985. Nixon has just been re-elected for his third term, and costumed vigilantes have been outlawed for the last 10 years after a 40-year run. A former masked avenger, or 'Mask', is killed in his home. Edward Blake (Jeffrey Dean Morgan), formerly known as The Comedian, is severely beaten and thrown from his apartment. This puts Rorschach (Jackie Earle Haley) on the case. Is someone out to get former costumed adventurers? If so, why? We take Rorschach's theories with a grain of salt - he's the only mask left fighting crime outside the purview of the law, and he seems a bit... off.

Rorschach takes it upon himself to warn former masks that someone may be out to get them. He starts with Dan Dreiberg (Patrick Wilson), who used to be Nite Owl II, a sort of Batman-esque gadget-oriented hero and Rorschach's former partner. He goes on to warn Laurie Jupiter (Malin Akerman) and Jon Osterman (Billy Crudup). Laurie took over after her mother as Silk Spectre II, and Jon is and always will be Dr. Manhattan: a glowing blue man capable of manipulation of anything at an atomic level. This gives him the power to transform anything into anything else. He can make people explode with a thought and has the ability to see the future most of the time, although he can't do anything to change it.

The death of The Comedian brings the old heroes together again to rehash their memories about him and their glory days. Truths are revealed as the threat of nuclear annihilation grows. The heroes discover that Rorschach may not be as far off his nut as he seems, at least on his theory of a mask killer. The nature of the villain and the reasons for his villainy are not quite what they expected, and this makes for an out-of-the-ordinary superhero adventure.

Watchmen was born a comic by Alan Moore, David Gibbons, and John Higgins in the mid-1980s. The creators sold the rights to it at the time, and they've been trying to make it into a film ever since; Terry Gilliam tried to make the movie in the late '80s but found the material un-filmable in the form of a feature film. Director Zack Snyder (300, Dawn of the Dead) got his hands on the project and has done an admirable job of bringing the story to the big screen. I have to say that it could have been a couple of hours longer in order to do justice to the source material.

Perhaps the missing element is the oppressive feeling of the times - the feeling that at any moment the powers that be could push the button. The feeling that we really were just two minutes to midnight on the nuclear clock. The Cold War shaped the lives of those who lived through it. The music, the movies, the culture at the time all contributed to make us feel a hair's breadth from doom. The comic tapped into that oppressive feeling and built on it to bring the reader even closer to the end. I don't know if that feeling could have been brought out in any film after the fall of the Iron Curtain.

The Blu-ray edition of Watchmen uses the technology to great advantage, especially when watching the Maximum Movie Mode, the interactive commentary mode of the film in which picture-in-picture interviews come up with cast and creators, telling us more about the film. Those who want even more can often push the enter button on their remote to bring up full interview featurettes. The most impressive bit is when the film goes into the background and Snyder steps into the foreground to pause the film, zoom in on areas of interest, and point out specific details of interest before allowing the film to come to the foreground again to continue. This feature is technologically amazing and a wonderful tool for those who love film. However, the commentary overall seems fractured. Many of the video asides were originally seen as video journals released little by little as the film was in production. They seem to be tacked into the right places, but it makes for a not-quite-cohesive commentary experience.

The extra features disc features three featurettes and a music video. Most of the drool-worthy features are accessible on the main disc. A featurette on the phenomenon of the Watchmen comic lays plain how it affected the world of comics and entertainment; a bit about what goes into being a vigilante includes interviews with a couple of real-life costumed crime fighters from Pennsylvania. There's a fascinating interview with James Kakalios, a professor who has written a book on the physics of superheroes.

On the whole, the film is good. If you liked it, it's a good introduction to the comic. If you liked the comic, it's a good attempt to bring the source to life. The director's cut is 24 minutes longer than the theatrical version. No major revelations there, just padding. Good padding, though. The theatrical version is available as a digital copy only. While it's nice to have a digital copy, it's be nice to have access to the theatrical version in high-def. Also included in the package is a coupon for $10 off of the Ultimate Collector's Edition. We'll see how that one does.
  buy this DVD now or browse millions of other great products at amazon.com
reviewed by Eric Renshaw
    action | animation | art house/international | comedy | documentary | drama | family | horror/sci-fi | suspense | television    
    browse DVDs alphabetical by title    
    contact | home