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Ultimate cut or Director's Cut ?
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