With a new TV show currently gaining rave reviews it seems the perfect time for the 2009 movie version of the American comic book maxiseries Watchmen to come to Blu-ray in the form of an Ultimate Cut to celebrate its 10th anniversary.
Combining the Director’s Cut of the movie with the animated “Tales of the Black Freighter” the film is now even closer to the original 1987 graphic novel which was written by Alan Moore, drawn by artist Dave Gibbons and coloured by John Higgins.
Perhaps one of the greatest comic series ever created Watchmen is set in an alternate 1985 where superheroes have become a firm part of society shaping the world we know into something very different.
Having taken part in events throughout America’s history from the late 1930’s onwards including the Second World War and the Vietnam war which America won, the masked vigilantes help fight crime and corruption until they were outlawed by Richard Nixon in the late 70’s and forced to either join the government, retire or go underground.
Part of all of this as a member of the Minute Men in the 40’s and the super hero group known as the Watchmen which was formed latter on, the Comedian (Walking Dead’s Jeffrey Dean Morgan) is now a hired gun for the president, tired and bitter and haunted by the less than moral life he has led.
As the Cold War wages all around the Comedians’ sudden and brutal death at the hands of an unknown assassin prompts past team mate Rorschach (Jackie Earle Haley from Preacher) to begin an investigation. Although unhinged and psychotic the vigilante starts to believe someone is targeting masked heroes and in search of answers and assistance he visits his old associates including Nite Owl (Insidious Patrick Wilson), Ozymandias (Stoker’s Matthew Goode), Silk Spectre (Final Girls Malin Akerman) and her all-powerful partner Dr. Manhattan (Alien: Covenant’s Billy Crudup).
Jumping through history and expanding on the world around them the main mystery builds and blends with examinations on the life and times of each individual hero until all the clues and characters come together in a catastrophic climax that will change everything.
An exceptionally well cast film the avoidance of any major Hollywood names means the audience can concentrate on the great characters rather than the actors playing them which is vital seeing as the relationships between the heroes and their separate journeys throughout the twisted, troubling tale are so important.
Overall Watchmen is excellent predominantly because of the phenomenal source material but credit is due to director Zack Snyder for remaining so faithful to the original comic in the story and imagery. Although his film adaptation, which was scripted by David Hayter and Alex Tse, does alter some elements Snyder’s visual flair and ability to translate 2D comic panels into moving motion pictures, as he did so well in 300, enhances the experience and reminds us why he was given the control of DC’s catalogue of iconic characters however you feel about the results.
Running at over 3 and half hours the Ultimate Cut is perfect for Watchmen fans giving them the most complete version of the movie imaginable. Although strange to anyone who did not read the source material the insertion of the animated pirate horror story “Tales of the Black Freighter” works well and like in the original it both informs and offers a break from the main story subtlety echoing the themes raging on around it. Morality, power, responsibility and humanities urge to destroy are all touched on as well as what people are prepared to sacrifice in order to make the world a better place.
A dark and disturbing movie full of extreme violence and unsettling moments Watchmen tries to imagine what a reality with superheroes would be like for both the civilians living in it and the masks themselves most interestingly and tragically in the case of Dr Manhattan whose vast power increasingly alienates him from the people he is supposed to protect.
If you are already a fan then this is a must have but if you know nothing about Watchmen I thoroughly recommend reading the original graphic novel first and then rushing out to get this brilliant Blu-ray.
Whatever you do you should definitely watch Watchmen.