on January 24, 2010
The Ultimate Cut package includes 5 discs on DVD and 4 discs on Blu-ray. The actual Ultimate Cut is the Director's Cut with the Tales of the Black Freighter animated footage woven in (approximately 25 minutes and sold separately before). I don't know if it's possible to watch it without the animation but I don't think so. However, there's a digital copy of the theatrical release (not the director's cut) in the package. What's new in the Ultimate Cut compared to the Director's Cut is two commentaries : one by Zack Snyder (director) and one by Dave Gibbons (penciller of the Watchmen comics) as well as "new" special features entitled (not really new since they were on the blu-ray version of the Director's Cut) :
- Real super-heroes, real vigilantes (27:28 minutes)
- Mechanics : technologies of a fantastic world (16:46 minutes)
- Story within a story : the books of Watchmen (26 minutes)
You also have a live action interview/documentary about the Minutemen called Under the hood (previously available in Tales of the Black Freighter DVD) and the special features of the Director's Cut. Finally, you have the Complete Motion comics on 2 discs (also available separately before this release). Seems to me that if you already have the Director's Cut of Watchmen, the Tales of the Black Freighter DVD and the Complete Motion Comics DVD, you have to decide whether or not you want to pay again for the commentaries and roughly an hour of new special features. If you only have the Director's Cut dvd, then the Ultimate Cut is quite a deal.
If you're interested in reading my review of the Watchmen movie (seen in theaters) and whether or not it's for you, then please read on (there are no spoilers to my knowledge).
I'm wondering whether I should restrain my enthusiasm for fear of raising expectations too much for potential viewers. Keep in mind that Watchmen got mixed reviews and that it's not for everyone. I'm a huge fan of the original graphic novel, I had my doubts but this movie really impressed me. The director probably did the best adaptation that could have been done and I still wonder how he got away with it, how it did not get more "hollywoodized" in a negative sense. Throughout the projection, I was in awe at the world that was created and any negative aspect I could find here (because no it isn't perfect) would be nitpicking (one of them being the choice of music during the owl ship scene in a soundtrack which I otherwise found quite good). Watchmen is great in so many ways: rich in plot, visually stunning, smart, original, philosophical food for thought, shocking unpredictable twists (for those who didn't read the book), exciting action scenes, very good performances and memorable anti-hero characters (especially Rorschach and Dr. Manhattan) to name a few highlights.
It's far from your typical super-hero movie; it's a bold, dark, complex and magnificent of work that will certainly become a cult film if not the masterpiece of the director Zak Snyder whether or not it's a financial success (kudos to Andrew Salmon for his great review here on Amazon comparing Watchmen to Blade Runner). The opening montage showing the history of this alternate world where costumed heroes appeared is not only useful but bloody brilliant and deserves special recognition if not an award of some sort. The storyline itself is fascinating and very well told through layers of flashbacks and a personal journal (heard as the narrator) while also being a murder mystery. More interesting though are the characters themselves, portraits of what multi-faceted costumed "heroes" might be like in the "real" world. You might not like them but you'll likely find them interesting. Some might find the film meandering and too long but to me it's because there's so much good material and there's no way you can catch everything with just one viewing (another incentive to get the DVD). From a cinematography point of view, it's a wonder with amazing camera work, brutal yet graceful action choregraphy and atmospheric set designs. It's peppered with beautiful visual signatures (the first being the iconic smiley face in the puddle) that often are hommages to comic book panels.
There are a few warnings to go with my praise though. If you're allergic to graphical violence (there's a few quick gory scenes), expect something similar to Spider-Man or Batman, want something family-friendly, want typical "super-heroes" (notice the quotation marks) or can't get beyond seeing a blue penis (which by the way is faithful to the graphic novel), then you won't like Watchmen. If you want to see an original intelligent dramatic superhero action film and excellent adaptation of a seminal work in the comic book medium (originally published in 1986-87) that was extremely influential and changed the perception of what super-hero stories could achieve, then you might like it. You don't need to read the book to appreciate the movie but you'll appreciate and understand it more if you do read it either before or after (I would suggest after so the movie is more visceral and surprising to you). The movie is self-contained and will not have sequels. It's definitely worth getting but choose your edition carefully so you don't end up buying it twice and encouraging the publisher's money grab.
Rating: 4 1/2 stars out of 5
The greatest comic book movie of all time? Yeah, I do think so. I've seen a lot of them. There's quite a few I haven't seen as well, but from Watchmen to Spider-Man to Ghost World to even spoofy things like Comic Book: The Movie, nothing has satisfied me like the Ultimate Cut of Watchmen.
I won't get too much into the movie itself -- check out reviews of the regular DVD editions for that. (I can't sum up a story so rich in just a few sentences, and I want to discuss what makes this set special.) I will say, being a fan of the graphic novel, that I was very happy with the way that Zack Snyder captured Watchmen. It was done with love and care. The things that are discarded, I didn't miss so much. The things that he changed, I understand why it was done. The things that are reverently exactly the same made my jaw drop in awe. And the soundtrack is one of the best in recent memory. Outside of Wes Anderson, I haven't loved a soundtrack this much in a long time. The acting performances are what they are, but I have to give special mention to Jackie Earl Haley as Rorschach.
This ultimate cut weaves the comic-within-a-comic, "Tales Of The Black Freighter" (previously available on its own) into the main body of Watchmen. Also included are live action linking segments so that you go to the animation (voiced by Gerard Butler) to the main story much like it worked in the graphic novel. People who haven't read the graphic novel might not understand what "Black Freighter" is doing there, but be patient. It will make sense by the end. Essentially "Black Freighter", aside from being a really cool and gruesome pirate tale, echoes the journey of many characters in the main film, such as Ozymandias and Rorschach.
Five discs, beautifully packaged. Hardly a complaint to be registered. The box is heavy and sturdy. Also included is Watchmen: The Motion Comic, packed in its own case, 5 hours long, and taking up 2 of the 5 discs. One disc is the digital copy of the theatrical cut (digital copies don't interest me) and another disc is loaded with special features. Best of these is Under The Hood, which is based on the graphic novel segments covering Holis Mason's (Nite Owl I) autobiography. It is presented as a television program from 1975 and 1985 including comercials and scratchy footage. At 35 minutes, this is an absolute must. Other special features include brand new audio commentaries, although I haven't delved into those yet. This set is just loaded.
Having said that, I'm not going to discard my Director's Cut of Watchmen. Clocking in at almost four hours, watching this version is a commitment. I know that occasionally, I will want to watch the "shorter" version of the film. Having said that, since a digital copy of the theatrical (shortest) cut is included here, maybe you won't feel the need to double up on Watchmen purchases.
This set is essential to all fans of the film and graphic novel. If you hated the film, then avoid this -- you'll probably hate it even more. For an enriched viewing experience, set aside the four hours one afternoon and enjoy.
One little side note: For me this set was extremely hard to find. Everywhere I went, I was told:
"It's not out yet."
"It only exists on Blu-Ray."
"We don't have a listing for it."
I had to order it in from the States.
Good luck getting yours. Enjoy! Five stars.
on July 11, 2009
This is not a superhero movie meant to sell soft drink and popcorn.. This is not a superhero movie about "getting the bad guys".. This isn't even a superhero movie "how they got these powers, or the weight they bear".. This is a DECONSTRUCTION of the super hero.. What would happen if you took masked heroes, and put them IN OUR EARTH ?? What would happen if we woke up one day, and found out, man CAN BE GOD ?? Is our society ready to greet THE FANTASTIC, or will we huddle in fear ?? If you don't like superhero movies that ask questions, then pass on this.. BUT if you're ready for a different kind of take on superheroes, beyond "men in costumes", then see what all the hubub is all about..
on July 19, 2009
The question has been raised if it is wise to buy this Director's Cut version of Watchmen when the Black Freighter Version is coming later this year.
It is my understanding that the Black Freighter version will combine the BF animation with the Director's Cut movie but WILL NOT have the option of watching without the animated footage. The Freighter version will also have the exclusive comentary, the Motion Comics and Under the Hood Feature included but WILL NOT include all of the bonus features that come with this Director's Cut version. (Detailed information on the Black Freighter Version is online if you look around)
Update: I have found some information that states there WILL be 2 Hours of bonus features with the Black Freighter (or Ultimate) version, but it does not specify what they are...
Director Zack Snyder has stated that the Director's Cut is his preferred version of the film...I guess I'll decide for myself when my copy arrives! (I'll probably end up getting the Black Freighter version too as I really enjoyed this movie!)
on January 24, 2015
I have seen this film seven times now. This is my first viewing of the director's cut. Although the additional material does fill-in some minor gaps in the story I can understand why the editor left it out of the theatrical release. It's a long movie and the deleted bits don't really improve the story so much as slow it down. The scene where Dr. Manhattan is overwhelmed at the TV studio is so much more powerful without the additional footage. The second disc of bonus material seems somewhat thin. I enjoyed the documentaries but expected more content. How is the music video even related to the film?
on June 23, 2009
This movie is a masterpiece in my opinion.
I can't really review the DVD yet as it isn't out yet. But the Director's Cut is about 30 minutes longer than what was shown in theaters and I'm dying to see it.
My own view as to why it didn't clean up at the box office is because the movie is ahead of its time. When the graphic novel came out in the 1980s, comic readers were tired of the same old same old in comics. WATCHMEN came along and blew up the traditional superhero stereotypes.
A lot was said in interviews by the creators of the film that MOVIE audiences were tired of "typical" superhero movies (just as those comic readers were back in the 80s) and the timing was right for WATCHMEN to blow people's minds.
Well, it did and it didn't. For those who "got" the movie, mission accomplished. For most fans of the novel, mission accomplished. But for the "masses", it didn't quite work. I've read a lot of complaints about the film and there is a common thread running through them. Folks who didn't like the movie complain that it was not what they expected. In other words, it was not a typical superhero movie.
From this, I think it's safe to say that movie goers WEREN'T ready for a different kind of superhero movie.
When Blade Runner came out it was a dismal failure. Many of the same complaints being made now about WATCHMEN were made about Blade Runner: it's too long, it's too slow, there's no action... Now Blade Runner is generally considered (not by everyone, I know) one of the best science-fiction movies ever made. It has become a classic. It was ahead of its time and audiences eventually caught up.
I think the same will be said of WATCHMEN. Hollywood is cranking out superhero movies faster than we can watch them. Movie goers are loving the CGI and action sequences. We're eating it up! But the time is coming when you'll see a trailer for one of these and groan: "My God, not ANOTHER superhero movie."
And that's when it'll be time to check out WATCHMEN again. You might just see the movie a little differently then.
I'm convinced that WATCHMEN, like Blade Runner, will become a classic. I loved the movie. Saw it 5 times in the theater and will probably wear out the DVD. Zack Snyder stayed true to the source material, he didn't dumb it down. And the movie looks stunning! In my mind it is already a classic.
Let's see what time does to the general regard for the film.
There is a lot of Superhero action in this movie. The who-dun-it aspect is simple to figure out. What really bogs the movie down is the stiff acting by everyone and the ever constant heavy themes of blurring good and evil. I ask you, can the Watchmen really be good guys if they allow Nixon to become president 5 terms and disco music to survive?
The movie does a poor job of introducing the characters. You are fed a pseudo history of the US with Watchmen during the opening credits. Once Bob Dylan is done playing, the movie starts and you are confused who the characters are. The relationship of the characters and their past deeds are relayed through flashback scenes, which in many cases were more interesting than the rest of the movie. The lack of character introduction wasn't as bad as "Final Fantasy VII" movie, but it is worse than what Tolkien did to us.
The Superheros, a vigilante group who murder women and children for their country (an early good/evil blur) are semi-retired as wearing masks became outlawed. Someone is killing off the Superheros and superhero Rorschach is the most determined to find out.
Dr. Manhattan (big blue guy, clothes optional)can't see into his future and has assumed we have annihilated each other. Meanwhile, Nixon and Kissinger are in the war room, in a scene which reminds us of Dr. Strangelove. They are debating a first strike.
If you like your superhero action mixed in with pseudo history, political statements, blurred good/evil themes/ atheist statements (The watch has no watch maker), and the slinky Silk Spectre being zipped out of her costume (some nudity) then this movie is for you.
If you like good acting, a well written chronological story, good dialogue, and a need to know the characters, and film editors past the third grade- go elsewhere.
on April 28, 2015
After the Comedian has been murdered, lone remaining vigilante Rorschach begins an investigation into his old acquaintance’s death. Since most superheroes were banned from existing after some legislation several years before, he looks up old allies and even old enemies in his quest for the truth. Slowly, he begins to unravel a plot that could bring about a disaster unlike anything the world has ever seen before.
Based on what some would argue is the greatest graphic novel and superhero story of all time, Watchmen written by Alan More and Dave Gibbons, this movie adaptation was years in the making. Not this specific rendition, but from what I know, the book was optioned way back when it came out in the ’80s but never got off the ground. One of the reasons was very few filmmakers had the guts to touch it because Watchmen is such a revered work amongst comic fans and even in some literary and academic circles.
Enter director Zack Snyder (Dawn of the Dead (2004), Man of Steel, 300 and more), whose eye for detail and a knack for visual storytelling takes on the gargantuan project and does his best to faithfully adapt Watchmen to the big screen. Him and his creative team nail it, in my opinion, and adapt the book the only way something like Watchmen could be adapted: panel-by-panel. It was the safest route but also the smartest. Some changes were made—like the ending—but for the most part, the book is translated completely as is to the big screen. Even the director’s cut includes additional scenes and animated clips from Tales of the Black Freighter interspersed throughout just like the graphic novel has bits of the pirate comic peppered throughout the main narrative.
Watchmen asks the question: what would superheroes be like if they existed in the real world? Whether they are of the superpowerless variety or something more Superman-like ala Dr. Manhattan, you get an honest portrayal of superheroes in real life, all centered around the mystery of the murder of one of their friends.
This story is about as down-to-earth as you get regarding superheroes in real life, and depending on the angle you’re coming from, can be equal to or more so than Kick-Ass in that regard.
Each character in the flick matched their character in the book, all the way from the crazy-yet-cynical Comedian (Jeffrey Dean Morgan), to black-and-white-justice-seeking Rorschach (Jackie Earle Haley), to idealistic-yet-obsessed Nite Owl (Patrick Wilson), to insecure-but-strong Silk Spectre II (Malin Akerman), to misguided-but-you-can-see-how-he’s-right Ozymandias (Matthew Goode), and a supporting cast that makes every moment believable.
The Watchmen story is so dense that the fact they were able to take the twelve-part series and showcase nearly all of it in around three and a half hours—I’m talking about the ultimate cut of the movie, which includes Tales of the Black Freighter and a bunch of additional footage not seen in the theatrical release—is pretty impressive. What’s amazing about the Watchmen narrative and thus the movie is the incredible amount of history for the characters that needed to be shown without bogging down the main story, which was the Comedian’s murder. You get to know these characters intimately, their pasts, their present and in some cases, their future.
Zack Snyder’s knack for visuals gave this flick its own flavor and tone thanks to the color filters on the film. The score is fantastic. The action scenes were well done and quickly-paced, using brutal fighting techniques and the right amount of blood.
Watchmen is certainly not your traditional superhero flick. It’s a superhero drama and is meant for an audience who likes to have some thinking along with their superhero slugfests. As a comic book fan, I appreciated the movie’s faithfulness to the graphic novel, the overall story of Watchmen, and how each person involved really seemed to take this movie seriously. Nothing was tongue-in-cheek.
Watchmen ranks right up there as one of the greatest superhero movies of all time. If you consider yourself a superhero fan, then you should check it out. It’s a serious look at the genre through the lens of a clever story with amazing characters, all of which you feel like you’ve known for ages instead of just for a few hours on the screen.
Highly recommended. Not for kids.
on April 19, 2015
Oddly enough, I hated this film when I saw it in theatres, but I decided to give it a second shot, and I'm glad I did.
My only complaint is a very confusing music choice, and the casting choice of Matthew Goode as Ozymandias. While overall, the soundtrack was wonderful, I'm still baffled by the choice of "Hallelujah" during a sex scene. It served only to make an intimate, character-changing moment unintentionally hilarious. And the flamethrower at the end? Really? Ugh. Honestly, I still ignore this scene when I watch the film.
As far as Ozymandias goes... I don't know. He was a picturesque, brilliant, charismatic Adonis in the graphic novel, and Matthew Goode just does not live up to that character. He came across more like an idealistic geek who lucked out a few times, got rich, and now wants to change the world. Both physically and mentally, Goode's portrayal did not live up to the comic's depiction of Ozymadias, and with the release of the prequels, this is even more evident.
So having said that, why do I give this movie 5 starts?
BECAUSE THE REST IS FREAKING AMAZING!
Snyder's ability to rip scenes from the comic and bring them to life on screen cannot be overstated. All other casting choices, every single one, were bang-on and it was a delight to watch The Comedian, Rorschach, Dr. Manhattan, all of them beautifully depicted. The dark yet somehow hopeful atmosphere of the comic was maintained throughout the film (with the exception of the stupid sex scene) and while the ending deviates from the source material, I both support and enjoyed Snyder's interpretation.
Get this movie.
on May 8, 2014
It is fairly typical that one will enjoy the original presentation of a story and then spurn other renditions. Speaking as one who did not follow the original comics, I can only say that this has a lot of wow(!) supported by very intelligent storytellers. And I'm not sure what is different in the director's cut, but that AWKWARD sex scene in the owl-craft is not so bad here. If you thought the violence at the bars of Rorschach's cell was bad, you ain't seen nothin' yet. This is one of those rare occasions wherein the violence was appropriate to the situation, and so must be excused in its abhorrence. When people get hit, there are consequences equatable to what they would be in real life. To the purist naysayers, I say: there are a lot of challenges involved in making a story of another medium into a movie (even if the whole thing HAS been story-boarded for you, there are factors such as not making the movie five hours long) and I very much enjoy the result of the movieization of Watchmen.