Watchmen: The Complete Motion Comic (US - BD)
Who Watches The Watchmen? Marcus Watches The Watchmen and on BD too
‘Who Watches the Watchmen?’ Well now we all can and not only in the new big screen adaptation by Zack Synder. We lucky masses get to see this new motion comic version of the classic graphic novel by Alan Moore, Dave Gibbons and colourist John Higgins, and frankly it’s a staggering piece of work.
Set in an alternative 1985 where Nixon is still President, cars run on electricity, airships fill the sky and a super powered being works with the US government, Watchmen begins with the death of Edward Blake (AKA the Comedian). Blake is thrown from his high-rise apartment window and this begins a series of events that leads to the literal changing of the world.
I shall start by saying that I am a massive fan of Watchmen and have been for a long time. I’ve read and re-read the graphic novel countless times and every time I do I get something else out of it. I feel that Watchmen is one of those perfect stories, with its many dense elements and high level of detail all coming together exquisitely for a comic book finale to top all comic book finales. So how does this all translate in this motion comic form?
Well, for starters, for those of you who don’t know, a motion comic is literally just that—the original graphic novel with ever so slight animation to give it motion. The speech bubbles and boxes are all intact. Nothing is overly animated in regards to mouths speaking or liberties taken with new frames to fill the gaps between the original work’s panels; this is literally the graphic novel coming to life with a narrator reading the dialogue in all of the characters voices.
The Watchmen narrator is Tom Stechschulte and for the most part he does a grand job providing enough thought and understanding of the work to make the entire experience very rewarding. His Rorschach and Dr Manhattan voices are great representations—and let's face it, if those two are done well that's half the battle. Generally every voice he does fits the style of how I'd imaged them in my head, though it's admittedly sometimes a little weird when he’s doing the female characters' voices and as it goes with these sorts of things, but sometimes the emphasis on lines sometimes doesn’t feel like it has the right intent you placed on it as a reader, but none of this is enough to take away from the whole —and what a whole Watchmen it is.
With the story split down into the twelve chapters as in the graphic novel, barely a frame or line of dialogue is missed and unlike in Snyder's current big screen version this includes the Black Freighter elements, which is a subtle but hugely important part to the entire Watchmen experience, giving that extra pinch of insight into the story's fallout without you even realising it until it's importance hits you.
Sometimes the small moments of nudity are ever so slightly edited from the original artwork, dropping the odd nipple out of frame and what not and once in a while a line or two of dialogue is missed out or passed over for the sake of flow of the story. The only real exclusion from having the entire Watchmen experience are the extracts that are included at the end of each chapter in the novel. Which considering they are made up of autobiographies, book extracts or written reports is an understandable omission (for a die hard, they were still a little missed though).
To see all of this artwork so beautifully realised in another medium is a delight, but the added fact it remains so engaging and as powerful as the graphic novel is surely a rare occurrence in the history of these sorts of thing. Dave Gibbons supervised the project and the entire team behind it have done a respectful and outright stellar job of keeping Watchmen, well, Watchmen. The little tweaks on key moments with the ever so slight animation works wonders, the subtle score that's been added to it captures the tone perfectly and just seeing it all this bright and clear and frankly big, is a Watchmen fans dream come true. I’ve watched it a couple of times already and I can imagine that I’ll no doubt leave it playing on my TV screen through a day, providing one of the greatest background art shows I could imagine, so all in all I’m happy as Nite Owl getting his swing back on his Owlship.
If you know the graphic novel well or have even glanced at it, the motion comic is every panel captured on the screen as bright and beautiful as it has ever looked. It's Gibbons art shining off of the TV screen with John Higgin's colours popping like they've never popped before.
In some scenes, the boldness of the artwork is a joy. There are large areas that are one colour or deep blacks and this holds up extraordinarily well. You'll notice some dancing grain in the blue of Dr. Manhattan's skin and initially I was a bit miffed as to why he was the only element showing this, maybe it was the shade of blue he was or something? After a few scenes with him I concluded this had to be intentional to give Jon Osterman's blue self a different feel to everything else around him and frankly it works well for the character.
In all honesty this probably didn't need a 5.1 mix at all. All of the audio sits in the front speakers and other than adding a slightly fuller feel to the audio, the rears are barely used.
Saying that, the narration is clear and as I mentioned before the music is great and sits well in the mix even if it all resides largely in the fronts.
I'll start by saying the cover art and general look of this release is great. The spine is exactly what I'd want from a Watchmen product and while this isn't an extra as such, it has to be said that having such satisfactory packaging for a product is enough to be deemed an 'special feature' as far as I'm concerned.
Unfortunately there's not a big blow out Watchmen documentary on this release—a shame because Warner normally spoil us with their other animated projects.
Watchmen wise they've included one of the online Video Journals for the Watchmen movie, that focuses on Dave Gibbons but running at a mere two minutes and forty seven seconds it's not exactly rich with detail.
Other than that there's access to a scene from the movie via BD-Live and while I'm usually pretty down on the use of BD-Live, the Warner Bros. version of this was actually quite good and easy to look around. Oh, and there's a Digital Copy included too.
Lastly, in a bit of cross promotion, the sneak peak at the new and frankly great Wonder Woman animated feature (00:10:26)is thrown in.
Anyone who loves the Watchmen really should seek this out. I don't know how much better it is than the much cheaper standard definition DVD as I haven’t been able to compare, but I can say compared to the downloadable version I had been watching over the last few months it's a solid step up in quality.
Having seen the Zack Snyder movie on the big screen and not wishing to throw any negativity towards it, I can whole-heartedly say that I found The Motion Comics to be a far more rewarding and satisfying Watchmen experience. This represents a genuine alternative to experiencing the story in its entirety outside of the pages and really is a great way to quite literally watch the Watchmen and fans should eat it up.
* Note: The images on this page are not representative of the Blu-ray release.
Review by Marcus Doidge
Release Date: 3rd March 2009
Disc Type: Blu-ray Disc
Audio: Dolby TrueHD 5.1 English, Dolby Digital 5.1 English
Extras: Sneak Peak at DC Universe's Animated Wonder Woman, Watchmen Production Diaries 4: Dave Gibbons, BD-Live
Easter Egg: No
Director: Richard Gaubert
Cast: Tom Stechschulte
Genre: Action, Adventure, Animation, Crime, Drama, Fantasy, Mystery, Sci-Fi and Thriller
Length: 325 minutes
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