Thursday, March 26, 2009
Watchmen: Tales of the Black Freighter, Written by Alex Tse and Zack Snyder and Directed by Mike Smith and Daniel DelPurgatorio
Review by Chris Clow
Comic book films are, more often than not, very tricky beasts. The fans want a great adaptation, but if the slightest details about the characters we love aren't exactly right (even though the filmmakers may have changed these things to try and give us a great adaptation), then they will shout, "Blasphemy!" to the skies above and jump on the message boards to cram the film down the dark path of rejection. When it finally looked like Watchmen was going to be made under the helm of Zack Snyder, many fans (including this one) were polarized.
"What if the cast sucks?"
"What if they don't highlight [insert Alan Moore tool of social commentary]?"
"WHAT IF THEY PUT PANTS ON DR. MANHATTAN?!"
Now, the film has been in theaters for nearly a month, and while it has it's detractors and has hardly been the darling of critics, we can safely praise or damn the piece as we see fit; As is our God-given right as fans. BUT, one noticeable omission was made to the final cut of the film. The tale of a man so torn by grief and fear that his mind fractures because of it. The tale of a raft of corpses attempting to warn the righteous of an impending invasion. A tale of suspense, and ultimately a tale of madness.
The Tales of the Black Freighter.
Adapted in animated form, this adaptation was released as a companion piece to the main Watchmen film, and I found it stunning. Horrifying, contemplative, visceral, and grotesque, Tales of the Black Freighter lets the animators stretch their legs and show us just how far this fair Sea Captain can take such physical and psychological trauma and the lengths he will go to not only to preserve his own survival, but the survival of his crew's already disgustingly disfigured corpses. I was able to view the film on the high definition Blu-ray format, and initially skeptical of the format's ability with animation, I will now never go back. The already stellar animation seemed fluidly enhanced by the clarity of 1080p resolution If you have access to view this film on this format, I heartily recommend it.
I found the real treasure of the disc, however, to be the new spin the team put on Hollis Mason's tell-all autobiography Under the Hood. Presented as an old-style news magazine show, such as 60 Minutes complete with period commercials, Under the Hood features interviews with the characters that explore the same themes as the chapter portions in the actual Watchmen graphic novel. By immersing us into the history of the Minutemen and the "modern" fate of the Crimebusters (sorry, or "Watchmen" as they're referred to in the film), this provides a great addendum to Watchmen the film and allows for a complete experience.
Now, here's where you probably skipped to in the review: do I think you should buy it? Well, if you're a huge fan of Watchmen, or even a casual one, then...no. Yes I do love both of these works and their adaptations on this disc, but I personally find this release redundant since all of the disc's contents are going to be integrated into Zack Snyder's almighty Director's Cut of Watchmen out in probably August or September.
So, I'll give this disc a grade of B. Rent it, watch it, but I'd say wait to own it when we can have the entire kit-'n'-caboodle under one roof with the Director's Cut of Watchmen.