I’m a fan of the Watchmen comic. Fans of the book, like me, know if the movie was good or not. I mean, come on! Who is this movie for if not for us loyal and devoted fans? You know the ones who’ve read and reread, multiple times, this groundbreaking masterwork. Delving into the superbly crafted, multi-layered story, one cannot help but to question how a comic book is supposed to be perceived.
Yeah, I’m a fan of the Watchmen comic. I’ve read it two weeks before it premiered! I still consider myself a fan despite that. How could I not? It is quite simply a brilliant piece of literature. I’ve been reading comics selectively for over 20 years. I was aware of Watchmen then, but being only seven years old kind of meant that if it wasn’t Batman, then it wasn’t anything I can get into right now. Throughout my teen years, and even my twenties, I continued reading comics but still managed to always pass up Watchmen. I finally decided to do it when it was announced that 300 director Zack Snyder was set to direct a Watchmen adaptation for Warner Bros. but still didn’t bother to pick up the book until I saw that infamous first teaser trailer attached to The Dark Knight back in the summer of 2008. So me and about 900,000 other people went and bought the book. And then became fans.
In 1986 DC Comics published Watchmen. Written as a twelve issue limited series by Alan Moore and illustrated by Dave Gibbons, it garnered rave reviews, won many awards and gained an enormous following. It has since been collected into a single book and pretty much coined the term “graphic novel”. In over twenty years it has never been out of print.
Originally intended by Moore to use existing characters from DC’s acquisition of Charlton Comics, the decision was ultimately dropped when it was realized that Moore would deem these characters pretty much unusable after Watchmen. So, original characters were created to inhabit this alternate 1985 setting. Watchmen also featured a pirate comic within the comic, read by one of the characters, called Tales of the Black Freighter which story mirrored that of the main book. As well as excerpts from Under the Hood, which is an autobiography written by another character.
It’s 1985 and Richard Nixon has been elected into his third term as president of the United States. The Keene Act is passed and masked vigilantism is outlawed. Cold War paranoia clutches the U.S. and the doomsday clock has been pushed forward closer to midnight. Despite the U.S. having a real life super hero on their side, the world is on the brink of nuclear war.
Rorschach (Jackie Earl Haley) is investigating the murder of Edward Blake a.k.a. the Comedian (Jeffrey Dean Morgan), believing someone is out killing former “capes”. He contacts his former colleagues Dan Drieberg a.k.a. Night Owl (Patrick Wilson), Dr. Manhattan (Billy Crudup), Silk Spectre (Malin Ackerman) and Ozymandias a.k.a. Adrian Veidt (Matthew Goode) and sets off to solve the mystery.
Almost an hour longer than the theatrical version released in March 2009, Watchmen: The Ultimate Cut is as close to the comic book as you can get while still considering this to be a movie, and not a mini-series. This is the only version you should watch. Period. I’m sorry if you’ve spent the money on the Director’s Cut (already a half hour longer that the Theatrical). Even more sorry if you bought Tales of the Black Freighter on DVD earlier this year. This version presents Tales of the Black Freighter as an animated story, narrated by Gerard Butler intercut within the movie in the moments that they appear in the book. It is even complete with the transition scenes bridging the two.
The fact that it took more than 20 years to adapt this movie only worked in its favour. It’s much better seen as a period film and I’m glad the filmmakers didn’t try to update it to modern times. The unique structure of the book truly is more about the telling of the tale than the tale itself. Watchmen the comic was meant for people to read again and again, catching details and experiencing new things upon revisiting. Unfortunately that didn’t seem to transcend well in the theatres. Also, how are you supposed to adapt Watchmen into a two and a half hour movie? What makes this Ultimate Cut so special is that on DVD you have the option to pause, flip back and forth between scenes, and point out all the easter eggs that Snyder has laid out throughout this movie. Kind of like the book. You actually don’t have to watch this movie in one sitting. Well done. This fan is happy.
-Under the Hood
Hollis Mason’s (the original Night Owl) biography presented as a documentary.
-STORY WITHIN A STORY
How Tales of the Black Freighter and Under the Hood connect to/expand the world of Watchmen.
-REAL SUPER HEROES, REAL VIGILANTES
Explore the fascination and psychology behind real-world vigilantes and where that behavior crosses over into actually donning the hood and behaving as super heroes.
-THE PHENOMENON: THE COMIC THAT CHANGES THE WORLD
How the subversive, thematically complex, award-winning graphic novel that changed literature, inspired analytical debate and won countless fans was created.
-MECHANICS: TECHNOLOGIES OF A FANTASTIC WOLRD
How the creators’ understanding and application of engineering and science plugged into crafting the world of Watchmen.
-11 WATCHMEN VIDEO JOURNALS
-MY CHEMICAL ROMANCE DESOLATION ROW MUSIC VIDEO