Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Watchmen: The Ultimate Cut

One of the things I noted in my original review of Zack Snyder's Watchmen movie was that I would wait for a DVD that contained all the footage filmed that the director wanted to include, as well as a complete integration of the parallel "comic within the comic" Tales of the Black Freighter. Well, that DVD version has been released as "The Ultimate Cut." If you want to read my take on the movie as it appeared in theatres, you can find that here.

If you're a fan of the comic, and enjoyed the movie, then "The Ultimate Cut" is a must own. The additional filmed material adds depth to the story, and except for a few transitional quibbles, the inclusion of the Black Freighter animation works pretty damned well as a alternate media metaphor for Adrian Veidt's savior complex. In revisiting my original review, all the criticism and praise for the film is still pretty accurate for this expanded version. A few updated thoughts:

  • I was pretty harsh on Matthew Goode's portrayal of Veidt (C+). Upon further reflection, I would probably up that a bit (B-). I saw more shades in his performance the second go round, though I still think he telegraphed his motivations more than he should have, and his arrogance wasn't quite as "altruistic" and "pure" as the comic depiction.
  • Malin Ackerman's Laurie is still lovely, still poorly written, and still woodenly acted. Amy Acker would have been a fantastic choice to play Laurie, and would have completely rocked the mix of self-loathing and powerlessness necessary to make Laurie something more than a cardboard cutout.
  • The music choices are still too obvious and jarring, and become more so on a second viewing.
  • The old age makeup, while still problematic, isn't as bad on the small screen.
  • I wanted more scenes with the newstand vendor and the kid reading the comic, and this was one of the major additions to this cut. The characters raise the "human stakes" of the film's conclusion, as well as giving us a reason to transition into the Black Freighter comic.
  • Speaking of which, I think the hand drawn, animated version of Freighter was well done, and ably performed by Gerard Butler. I would have preferred a more graphic filmic transition into and out of the comic (ostensibly, using computer animation to morph to the comic prop into the world of the pirate cartoon).

Other than that, the film still remains an ambitious, if slightly flawed, passion project that probably comes as close to realizing Watchmen on the screen as we could have hoped for. I haven't yet listened to the commentaries (from Snyder and comic co-creator and illustrator Dave Gibbons), but the other DVD extras are simply stellar, particularly the "Under the Hood" faux-documentary (which features a brilliant and heartbreaking performance from Stephen McHattie).

All in all, a great addition to the DVD collection and a definite "buy" for fans of the property. Movie: A- DVD: A+

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