The story was originally created by writer Alan Moore, artist Dave Gibbons, and colorist John Higgins. The series was published by DC Comics back in 1986 and 1987. The original series was released in a twelve (12) issue comic book limited series and was subsequently re-printed due to a growing demand and fan base. The story was very complex and dark. Not only did it capture the attention of the media but the movie studios as well. The rights to the motion picture were obtained first by 20th Century Fox. When they failed to produce the film, the project went under. Universal tried bringing the comic book to life but also without success and the project remained untouched. Back in 2006, Warner Bros. stepped up to the plate and impressed by the previous work of Zack Snyder on the comic book adaptation of 300, decided he was the best choice to lead the directing of Watchmen.
With Snyder attached to the project, the filming began. Soon enough the fan boy in him began to give life to this marvelous work of literature. Snyder often claimed that he would follow the comic as much as he could and would not alter the Watchmen; by the way, he was often seen carrying a copy of the comic book during the production of the film. Zack Snyder sought the blessing of Alan Moore, one of the three creators of Watchmen, but unfortunately Moore has refused to have his name attached to any film adaptations. With all this, Snyder created something that often was labeled as un-doable and brought Watchmen to the big screen. So let’s see what this title has to offer!
The film from the beginning is very dark. It begins with the killing of the Comedian/Edward Blake (Jeffrey Dean Morgan). This leads Rorschach to begin an investigation regarding the Comedian’s death. The starting credits begin and the viewer is shown the very roots of the hooded vigilantes. Watchmen is set in an alternate reality which closely mirrors the 1980s and iconic stages of American history are portrayed with a slight change of events. For example, the viewers witness a second shooter (the Comedian) on the grassy knoll in the Kennedy assassination and Dr. Manhattan is seen assisting Neil Armstrong with the landing of the Apollo, to name just two.
The story continues with Rorschach/Walter Kovacs (Jackie Earle Haley) trying to convince the ex-Watchmen that a killer is trying to murder former heroes. As Rorschach and the other superheroes, Nite Owl/Dan Dreiberg (Patrick Wilson) and Silk Spectre/Laurie Jupiter (Malin Akerman), begin to uncover the conspiracy they begin to feel like they are in over their heads. A former superhero, Ozymandias/Adrian Veidt (Matthew Goode), has created a machine to harness Dr. Manhattan’s (Billy Crudup) powers and manipulate them to simultaneously deploy nuclear like explosions in different cities around the world in order to bring peace to humanity.
The film is by no means perfect. Snyder’s faithful adaptation lacked in the acting department. While the sex scene was laughable, the lack of emotion in a few of the characters was a bit disappointing. Malin Akerman’s portrayal of Silk Spectre was bland at times. The ending was different from the original comic book which sure caused a few grumpy faces among the hardcore fans. A few other changes were made to the film but ultimately made it more streamlined.
The video is gorgeous and perfectly encompasses the vision of the director. The palette was “ugly” as some of the visual directors of the film said (nothing close to ugly.) The greens, yellows, pinks, and purples are very distinctive and colorful just like in the original comic book material. This brings to life exactly what Dave Gibbons imagined decades ago. The blacks are very inky, fitting the gritty look of the film. There are various scenes which display a high level of detail, for example the pores on Rorschach’s mask or Dr. Manhattan’s very detailed skin texture.
There is some grain on the film, but there’s nothing to fear since it’s barely noticeable and it adds to the detail of the movie. There are a few digital issues whenever Dr. Manhattan appears on screen, but they are very minor and don’t really take away from the attention of the viewer.
This is one of the best DTS-HD Master Lossless Audio tracks I have ever heard and this has to be the easiest part of my review. The dialog is prioritized, very clean and crisp. The track catches all of the bone crunching from the visceral reactions of Dan in an alley fight, to body explosions, and the attention to every sound is what makes this track top notch. The rears are also mixed perfectly; being able to deploy the ambient effects that bring depth to the picture, atmosphere sounds and the musical score with such preciseness that they extend the soundfield. This is a top notch track, worthy of reference material!
Warner worked very closely with Director Zack Snyder to deliver the best Watchmen experience the viewers can possibly get. There’s so many extras included that 2 entire discs are needed to fit them all in.
• Maximum Movie Mode – This isn’t just another picture-in-picture mode that some of the content creators threw on a disc just to please those who actually care about this stuff; this IS the picture-in-picture mode that every fan would love to have on their favorite film. Director Zack Snyder starts by introducing himself, standing in front of what seems to be 2 huge screens. From time to time the film pauses and Zack appears on screen and effectively provides details about what’s on the screen and why he took the direction he did in the film.
This is not all; the entire feature is filled with featurettes at the touch of your fingers. During the film, the viewer is given the opportunity to view sketches, drawing boards, set featurettes, timelines, live film with comic book comparisons (using strips from the original comic), technical difficulties, character creations, building the sets, actor comments, and also allows the director, Zack Snyder, to pause the film from time to time to provide an insight on the scene the viewer is watching (he also points out the meticulous details he added to closely resemble the comic book). This is all done without any problems. There are NO LOADING TIMES. It’s all seamless. This is by far one of the best features I’ve have seen on any film to date.
• The Phenomenon: The Comic That Changed Comics – This is a look back on the creation of Watchmen. Dave Gibbons, actors, and several other figures discuss the influence of Watchmen and the overall impact the series made in the comic book world.
• Watchmen Focus Points – This feature includes the shorts “Sets for Sensibility,” “Shoot To Thrill,” “Girls Kick Ass,” “Burn Baby Burn,” “Rorschach’s Mask,” “The Minutemen,” “Blue Monday,” “Dressed For Success,” “Attention To Detail,” “The Ship Has Eyes,” and “Dave Gibbons.”
• Real Superheroes: Real Vigilantes – A look into real life vigilantism throughout the history of America. Provides a look into the story of Bernard Goetz, a pair of real superheroes, and more.
• Mechanics: Technologies of a Fantastic World – The production team discusses how they managed to make the film and the difficulties they encountered.
• Music Video – “Desolation Row” by My Chemical Romance
• BD-Live – Access exclusive content.
• Digital Copy – This is the theatrical cut of the film.
While the hardcore may complain about the smallest comic book details being missing from the film, those who are willing to see past them will find themselves surprised. Zack Snyder not only managed to bring a comic book to the big screen, he managed to do it with the highest quality possible. This is the best comic book to movie adaptation. Unfortunately, those who have not been exposed to the Watchmen might find it hard to follow. However the goodies included in the film should be more than enough for the fans of the film. Kudos to the studio for the enormous amount of work done on this release. This is worthy of reference material and is a must for any Blu-ray enthusiast.
Watchmen is available on Blu-ray at Amazon!
Watchmen (Director’s Cut) (Amazon Digital Bundle + BD-Live) [Blu-ray]
There’s also a special edition available on Amazon. See the pictures below!