has an average rating of 7.9 on IMDb
1080p in VC-1 on a 50gb disc
DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio
are really nice and ALL in Hi-Def!
– 186 minutes
Street Date: July 21st, 2009
Overall Verdict – Highly Recommended
— Review written by: Justin Sluss —
The Movie Itself is based on the popular graphic novel of the same title that DC Comics published in 1986 and 1987 originally as a 12-issue set, making it a graphic novel with essentially 12 chapters. The story was written by Alan Moore (even though he isn’t credited here) and Illustrated by Dave Gibbons (who is credited as co-creator) with John Higgins serving colorist. The film adaptation of this very popular story was Directed by Zack Snyder who’s previous film was an adaptation of yet another graphic novel, Frank Miller‘s “300“.
The story here revolves around two generations of real-life “super heroes”, the older group called “The Minutemen” was comprised of the following: “Nite Owl” (played by Stephen McHattie), “The Comedian” (played by Jeffrey Dean Morgan), “Silk Spectre” (played by Carla Gugino), “Hooded Justice“, “Dollar Bill“, “Mothman“, “Captain Metropolis” and “Silhouette“. This group of masked vigilantes were the first back in the late 1930′s to start taking crime-fighting into their own hands. They paved the way for another group that would exist nearly 40 years later called “The Watchmen“, from which we get our title.
The second generation of “super heroes” we get is comprised of only one of the original members, “The Comedian” (a.k.a. “Edward Blake“) who this whole story really revolves around because of his murder that we witness at the beginning. The other members of the “Watchmen” group are “Nite Owl II” (played by Patrick Wilson), “Silk Spectre II” (played by Malin Akerman), “Rorschach” (played by Jackie Earle Haley), “Ozymandias” (played by Matthew Goode) and “Dr. Manhattan” (played by Billy Crudup). This group disbanded after a law was put into effect by President Richard Nixon (serving yet another term and not being impeached) in this parallel universe to ours where he had J.F.K. (John F. Kennedy) assassinated by “The Comedian“.
The law put into effect by the President outlawed masked vigilantes and hence our group disbanded, yet “Rorschach” still decides to do what he thinks is his job. A few years after the group has been apart, “The Comedian” (a.k.a. “Edward Blake“) is murdered. He’s thrown out his apartment building glass window and lands in the street many, many floors below. This murder triggers the remaining members of the group to think that a serial killer has picked former masked vigilantes as their prey. This causes our friend “Rorschach” to start investigating the murder and from there really begins our real story. Keep in mind it takes well over an hour or so into the film to get to this point, so be forewarned if you are impatient that this film is almost 3 hours long in it’s “Director’s Cut” form.
Overall, “Watchmen” is very true to the graphic novel and pays a lot of great close attention to detail in every scene of the film. Director Zack Snyder did an excellent job bringing this from pages to the big-screen in this film adaptation. Fans of his previous films like his adaptation of Frank Miller‘s graphic novel “300” are going to absolutely love this; but with that being said, this film is NOT going to be loved by everyone. It’s by no means a “superhero” movie like even the very dramatic and at times disturbing “The Dark Knight“. This film is more dramatic, more disturbing and just flat-out a harsh dose of reality that some of us need but will likely ignore and dismiss the film as “bad”. I’m sure that all comic fans will agree with me that it is a shame that the original author Alan Moore wasn’t involved, or better yet credited in this adaptation but it is nice to see the original co-creator/illustrator Dave Gibbons was very closely involved with the film.
Video Quality on this release is in full 1080p using the VC-1 codec on a BD-50 (50 gigabyte dual-layered Blu-ray Disc) in the 2.4:1 aspect ratio. This was shot on Super 35mm film using a combination of PanArri and Panavision Panaflex cameras and makes for a really nicer than expected transfer to Hi-Def. The black level is strongly solid and this gets pointed out early on when the film starts and we zoom out from the smiley face pin worn by the character “The Comedian” and then witness the scene of him being murdered in his apartment. Speaking of that scene, there’s a huge amount of detail to be found there when the character “Edward Blake” (a.k.a. “The Comedian“) is thrown straight through his apartment window, the glass shatters into thousands of pieces in slow motion before your eyes, a close focus on the smiley face pin and then the camera follows his body on the massive drop to the street. It’s stuff like this which proves that there really is some good cinematography here on the part of Larry Fong, director of photography which translates really nicely to Hi-Def.
The color palette is very unique much like that found in the original graphic novel itself (illustrated by Dave Gibbons) and it works very nice here. Fleshtones are perfect with the lovely “Silk Spectre II” (played by Malin Akerman) to serve as a good example. The presentation does have a few issues and it seems likely that Warner may be holding out on us because they plan on a “double dip” rather soon of this release in an ultimate collectors edition. It’s safe to say that they (Warner) want there to be a reason to “double dip” (a.k.a. purchase the exact same film again on the exact same format). Now don’t get me wrong here. They don’t let it receive any real compression problems or anything I just found there to be some scenes that didn’t seem to get enough treatment and had some “jaggies” or weren’t “touched up” thoroughly enough to earn it a flawless rating. Regardless though it does the film enough justice for now and earns an impressive “4.5 Star Rating” for overall video quality.
Audio Quality on this release is presented in DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio. This is a definite first to see the DTS-HD MA codec actually used on a Warner Blu-ray Disc release. This choice of lossless codec comes as a surprise and with great welcome. First and foremost, you’ll notice that dialogue is delivered very distinctly here throughout the presentation and that’s very important as this story really revolves mostly on it’s dialogue and occasional narration by the character “Rorschach” as he reads out his journal entries. The background is filled for the most part with the original music done by Tyler Bates which makes great use of the 5.1 DTS-HD MA mix with rear channels and bass getting some nice action. Other music such as the intro montage with Bob Dylan‘s song “The Times They Are A-Changin’” and even other songs like “99 Luft Balloons” all sound excellent and again get great 5.1 use in the soundscape. Sound effects here are very intense and really are what pushes this over the top for me and gives it the perfect “5 Star Rating” for overall audio quality. I have to again say it’s very cool that Warner finally is using the DTS-HD Master Audio format on their Blu-ray Disc releases, even if it does require the request likely of the director himself (in this case Zach Snyder).
Bonus Materials are ALL presented in full 1080p High Definition video quality using the VC-1 codec with Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo sound.
Disc 1 includes:
- BD-Live is included on this Warner Blu-ray Disc release which allows users on a “Profile 2.0” capable Blu-ray Disc Player to access online content such as connecting your Facebook account with your BD-Live account to reflect your status. This is something new on this release and it does contain the other things you’ve come to expect from Warner‘s BD-Live experience such as live community screenings, the ability to record your own commentary tracks, index your library of Warner Blu-ray titles, access trailers for upcoming and current releases and much more.
- “Maximum Movie Mode” requires the user to be on a “Profile 1.1” capable Blu-ray Disc Player to access Picture-In-Picture content. In this case it’s a very unique experience that is hosted by the film’s Director Zack Snyder as he guides you through the film and gives you information on behind-the-scenes efforts. Also you’ll be treated to the occasional Picture-In-Picture (PIP) pop-ups of graphic novel page comparisons to scenes or behind-the-scenes footage. Sometimes you’ll even receive the option to look through Zack Snyder‘s original storyboard sketches which allows you to view a slideshow at your own pace and then return to the viewing experience (movie). Also featured are the 11 Watchmen Video Journals that are included as “focus points” throughout the “Maximum Movie Mode“. More details on them below, just wanted to mention that they are accessed from this section.
- 11 Watchmen Video Journals are included and are as follows:
Disc 2 is comprised of the following:
- “The Phenomenon: The Comic That Changed Comics” (28:46) takes a semi-in depth look at the original graphic novel and the impact it has made on comic books over a decade later.
- “Real Superheroes, Real Vigilantes” (26:17) is a featurette that focuses on the real life “vigilantes” out there that exist, be it people in funny outfits or real people making a difference like the Guardian Angels.
- “Mechanics: Technologies of a Fantastic World” (16:49) takes a realistic scientific look at how realistic the original graphic novel actually is and such.
- My Chemical Romance‘s – “Desolation Row” Music Video (3:15) is included. This song is featured on the film’s Soundtrack and has a “Watchmen” theme to the music video but I can’t really see much other than that it has to do with the film itself, aside from the very convenient fact that the band just-so-happens to be on the studio’s record label.
Disc 3 contains a Digital Copy of the film which is compatible with both iTunes and Windows Media, both Mac and PC.
Overall, the bonus materials we get here are truly impressive with the “Maximum Movie Mode” hosted by Director Zack Snyder. Plus you have the second disc which includes 3 featurettes and a music video, all of which are in Hi-Def video quality. The only problem with the second disc is that it is a BD-25 (25 gigabyte) disc and it only ends up using 5.52 gigabyte. They could have filled this disc with some other great Hi-Def content such as “Under the Hood” which is found as bonus content on “Watchmen: Tales of the Black Freighter” Blu-ray Disc release. Plus, we all know that they plan to do yet another release of this soon in the form of a “Ultimate Collector’s Edition” which will obviously contain much more bonus content and such. Still, you get a really great amount of supplemental material here in it’s first release and even a Digital Copy of the “Director’s Cut” of the film. Fans will be pleased for now, until they are likely tempted to “double-dip” with a re-release.
Blu-ray Disc packaging:
NOTE: The full-sized 1920×1080 files are in a .PNG file format and uncompressed. Bare with the slow loading times, keep in mind these files are at least 1MB (1 megabyte) in size each.