Watchmen Review and Bluray Features
21 Jul 2009
Behind the Scene and other Major Plot Points
Zack Snyder based his storyboards for the film on the panels of the actual graphic novel. He has stated that in order to be true to the source when adapting a graphic novel to the screen, the original visual art should be respected as much as the written portion. Snyder personally asked Dave Gibbons, the novel’s artist, to design the first teaser film poster. Gibbons enthusiastically agreed and designed the poster to have subtle visual clues hinting at the film’s plot. When casting the film, each actor was presented with a script and a copy of the book. They were allowed to carry the latter on set and re-write dialog to better match that of the source material. Dozens of scenes reenact panels from the novel. A good example is Rorschach squatting on the windowsill about to enter The Comedian’s apartment near the start of the film
Bob Dylan’s Song
Three Bob Dylan songs are used in the movie. “The Times They Are a-Changin'” for the opening credits, “All Along the Watchtower” near the end, and “Desolation Row” for the closing credits. All three songs were referred to in the original graphic novel. “The Times They Are a-Changin'” is the only one where the Bob Dylan version is used as the other two are covered by Jimi Hendrix and My Chemical Romance.
Role offered to various actor and their reaction
Jeffrey Dean Morgan plays Edward Morgan Blake, the Comedian. Morgan initially turned down the role after reading the first 3 pages of the script, assuming the character was only a cameo. His agent persuaded him to read the entire script and then make a decision.
When Patrick Wilson was offered the role of Dan Dreiberg he called one of his best friends who is a huge comic book fan and asked him what he knew about the Watchmen comic. He told Patrick that if Patrick was ever to do a superhero movie that this was the one to do. Having got the part, Patrick invited his friend to visit the set when filming the prison escape scene.
When offered the role of Adrian Veidt, Matthew Goode had never read the graphic novel. He called a friend who had and asked if he should even bother to read the script. Not only did the friend say yes, he insisted that Goode immediately read the graphic novel and accept the role without question. Later, after he read both the script and the novel, Goode admitted his friend was right to make him take the role without delay
Silk Spectre II:
Åkerman described her character as the psychology and the emotion of the film due to being the only woman among the men. The actress worked out and trained to fight for her portrayal of the crime fighter
A superhero with genuine superpowers who works for the U.S. government. Crudup plays Osterman in flashbacks as a human and is replaced for his post-accident scenes with a motion-capture CG version of himself. During filming, Crudup acted opposite his co-stars, wearing a white suit covered in blue LEDs, so he would give off an otherworldly glow in real life, just as the computer-generated Manhattan does in the movie. His body was modeled on that of fitness model and actor Greg Plitt. The crew then 3D-digitized Crudup’s head and “frankensteined it onto Greg Plitt’s body. Snyder chose not to ELECTRONICALLY alter Crudup’s voice for Manhattan, explaining the character “would try and put everyone as much at ease as he could, instead of having a robotic voice that I think would feel off-putting
Rorschach & Rosrach’s Mask:
A masked vigilante who continues his extralegal activities after they are outlawed. He takes his name from the Rorschach test, as the shifting black-and-white patterns on his mask resemble its inkblots. Unlike the principal actors, Haley had read the comic in his teen years and was keen to pursue the role when he heard he had become a favorite candidate among fans.[Rorschach wears a mask with ink blots: motion capture markers were put on the contours of Haley’s blank mask, for animators to create his ever-changing expressions. Haley has a black belt in Kenpō, but described Rorschach’s attack patterns as sloppier and more aggressive due to the character’s boxing background. Rorschach appears several times in the movie without his mask before he is apprehended, carrying a placard sign proclaiming, “The End is Nigh,” but not until he is unmasked by the police is it made apparent that the sign bearer is Rorschach.
A retired superhero who has since made his identity public
Nite Owl II:
A retired superhero with technological expertise.
He compared Dreiberg to a soldier who returns from war unable to fit into society
A superhero who is commissioned by the U.S. government.
Morgan found the role a challenge, explaining, “For some reason, in reading the novel, you don’t hate this guy even though he does things that are unmentionable. My Job is to kind of make that translate, so as a viewer you end up not making excuses to like him, but you don’t hate him like you should for doing the things that he does.” Of his casting, Snyder said, “It’s hard to find a man’s man in Hollywood. It just is. And Jeffrey came in and was grumpy and cool and grizzled, and I was, like, ‘OK, Jeffrey is perfect!
Other Major Plot Points
CGI used for Dr. Manhattan
Traditionally, CGI characters such as Doctor Manhattan would require two shoots for every scene the character appears. First, the scene would be filmed with a placeholder instead of the CGI character. Then the character’s movements would be recorded on a “motion capture” stage to provide a reference in creating the CGI character. Given the amount of screen time Doctor Manhattan has, this would have been an expensive process. Instead, Billy Crudup simultaneously provided Manhattan’s placeholder and motion capture on set. Crudup wore a specially-designed motion capture suit and face markers, and was constantly filmed by at least two cameras, one for all-over movement and another trained on his face to follow his expressions. This way, his on-set performance as the placeholder could be used directly in creating the CGI character. To provide the effect of Doctor Manhattan’s eerie glow, Crudup’s suit was studded with 2500 blue lights, so that he could act as an “exotic lighting instrument”. Therefore Manhattan’s glow follows his movements more closely than an on-set light could, and illuminates his surroundings in a more convincing manner than a computer effect would.
Nite Owl Airship
Archie (Nite Owl’s airship) on display at the 2008 Comic-Con.
Dr. Manhattan in Mars
During Dr. Manhattan’s recitation about Martian non-biologic type of life, the pan over the Martian surface begins with a close up of something looking like the Cydonia Face on Mars. The Martian “Smiley Crater” is shown in the last scene. Both are real Martian surface features.
Jets used during Vietnam Conflict
Based on the speed, wingspan, and size of the jets seen during the Vietnam sequence, they are F-105 Thunderchiefs; the default Fighter/Bomber of the Vietnam War. The helicopters are, of course, UH-1 Iroquois; frequently referred to as the ‘Huey’
No Batman in Watchmen Universe
In the beginning, during the opening credits, we see the original Nite Owl I stop a thief. There are Batman/Fledermaus posters hanging on the wall of the alley. We can assume the people he rescues are Mr. and Mrs. Wayne, the parents of Batman, coming out of the theatre. Thus, there’s no need for Bruce Wayne to become Batman in the Watchmen’s Universe.
Popularity of Watchmen Graphic Novel
The first trailer for the film, which premiered with The Dark Knight (2008) sparked so much interest that it sent the graphic novel back onto the bestseller list. Barnes and Noble Bookstores reported selling out of the novel nationwide.
The clip the Comedian watches on TV is a remake/homage of the famous “Share the Fantasy” Chanel No. 5 ad directed by Ridley Scott, the actual commercial does not contain the song ‘Unforgettable’ on its soundtrack.
RT/Meta Critic Review
Snyder has done a good job of staying true to the source material.(Click here to see)
Snyder’s film is a breath-taking epic, a compelling thriller and an ensemble character piece, far beyond our expectations of the genre. (Click here to see)
A magnificent attempt at Alan Moore’s saga and a moving working of art…(Click here to see)
This is not just a great superhero film, it’s an important political debate. (Click here to see)
Perfectly captures the brilliant graphic novel. YonatanJ (MetaCritic)
I know more than a few people who were blown away by The Dark Knight‘s arrival on Blu-ray, but I was one of those sad saps who couldn’t get past its alternating aspect ratios, its overheated contrast, and the rampant edge enhancement on display. As such, I approached Watchmen with a bit of hesitation, worried Warner’s 1080p/VC-1 transfer would suffer a similar fate. I’m pleased to report that isn’t the case. Not only does Watchmen retain all the brooding grittiness Snyder intended, it boasts a filmic presentation complete with unobtrusive grain, clean object definition, revealing textures, and striking skintones. That’s not to say the film’s absorbing gloom and bottomless blacks have been tempered — just as Gibbons used heavy inks in 1986, Snyder uses similarly stark shadows in 2009 to bathe his rendition of Moore’s city in darkness — but, in my humble estimation, the somber elements of the picture never appear overcooked or artificial. Witness the pores dotting Rorschach’s unmasked face, the flecks of blood splashed across the Comedian’s stubbly chin, the remnants of a devastated metropolis, the bits of rubble raining down from Jon’s emerging fortress, the controls in Dan’s ship, the… I could go on and on, but I’ll save you three paragraphs.
If I have any complaint it’s that the image isn’t quite perfect. While artifacting, aliasing, and unintended noise are nowhere to be found, the blue glow of Doctor Manhattan’s skin is the source of some faint banding and other minor digital anomalies. Likewise, while it’s kept to a bare minimum, slight (almost negligible) ringing appears on occasion. Regardless, the encoders at Warner have outdone themselves with Watchmen, creating a high definition transfer worthy of legitimate praise. I’m sure some viewers will inevitably gripe about Snyder’s aesthetic choices but, as far as technical presentations go, this one is stunning
Warner makes its long-rumored leap to DTS-HD Master Lossless Audio with Watchmen, and what a leap it is. While a Dolby TrueHD track would have delivered an equally impressive sonic payload, the DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround track included on this release is a marvelous, memorable endeavor that captures all the power and fury of Snyder’s ode to dark superheroics. Dialogue is crisp, clean, and impeccably prioritized in the mix, imbuing Dan and Laurie’s hushed conversations with the same care afforded to their less-than-subtle prison break. LFE output is refined as well, adding heft and presence to every potent punch, gut-churning teleportation, and deafening explosion. Rear speaker aggression rounds out the lossless trifecta with enough ambient effects, musical score support, and atmospheric acoustics to satisfy the needs of a dozen separate audio tracks. Not only are pans as smooth as they come, directionality (while intentionally skewed at times) is precise and the resultant soundfield is eerily enveloping. Even key cues from the soundtrack resonate: Leonard Cohen’s baritone lulls in “Hallelujah” are deep and satisfying, Bob Dylan’s nasally whine is sharp and stable in “The Times They are A-Changing,” and Simon and Garfunkel’s “Sound of Silence” has never sounded better.
Despite its comicbook roots, Watchmen is as much an aural experience as it is a visual one. To that end, Warner’s faithful DTS-HD Master Audio track fulfills Snyder’s every demand and the film’s every need. Fans will be bouncing in their seats at the sheer sonic majesty of this one.
The 3-disc Blu-ray edition of Watchmen not only includes a 186-minute Director’s Cut of Zack Snyder’s love letter to Alan Moore and David Gibbons, it offers an absolutely magnificent Picture-in-Picture track (unlike anything I’ve ever seen), a collection of well-crafted documentaries, and a Digital Copy of the theatrical cut. The only downside? With Warner’sUltimate Edition looming on the horizon, it’s likely that Snyder and the studio have even more content up their sleeve (a filmmakers’ audio commentary has already been announced). That being said, the supplemental package on hand adds tremendous value to this release, and should easily please fans and newcomers alike.
- Maximum Movie Mode: I’ve returned from the future, dear readers, and I can tell you it’s a bright and wonderful place. Warner’s Maximum Movie Mode isn’t just another Picture-in-Picture visual commentary, it’s a sprawling, multifaceted, interactive minefield of information that never relents or grows dry. Director Zack Snyder appears throughout the film, standing confidently in front of two large screens — one plays the feature itself, and one serves up behind-the-scenes footage and other goodies — that he uses to immerse viewers in every conceivable aspect of his production. He comments on specific details, pauses the film to point out things fans might have missed the first (or fifth) time around, and takes complete advantage of the rare opportunity presented to him, controlling both the paceand direction of the proceedings. At the end of each chat with the director, the camera darts over Snyder’s shoulder towards one of the screens, either returning to the film or engaging in a more traditional PiP experience.Moreover, as the track barrels along, trivia, timelines, side-by-side comicbook-to-screen comparisons, featurettes, and interview segments pop up for your viewing pleasure. Did I mention the presentation is seamless? Nay, flawless? That’s right, there aren’t any hiccups, annoying load times, or awkward delays in the track’s progression or the film’s playback. In fact, the shockingly fluid experience is only put on hold if a user presses enter (when prompted, of course) to access storyboards, interviews, or other supplemental video content. In short, Warner’s Maximum Movie Mode is an astounding addition to this release that obliterates every other PiP offering I’ve ever encountered. The future is an amazing place, my friends, and I hope to return to it again and again for years to come.
- Watchmen Focus Points (HD, 36 minutes): You can also view some of the Maximum Movie Mode’s individual featurettes from the menu. Included are informative shorts like “The Minutemen,” “Sets and Sensibility,” “Dressed for Success,” “The Ship Has Eyes,” “Dave Gibbons,” “Burn Baby Burn,” “Shoot to Thrill,” “Blue Monday,” “Attention to Detail,” “Girls Kick Ass,” and “Rorschach’s Mask.”
- The Phenomenon: The Comic That Changed Comics (HD, 29 minutes): This exceedingly thorough, unexpectedly revealing retrospective delves into the creation of Alan Moore and David Gibbons’ acclaimed graphic novel. Even though the notoriously reclusive Moore is missing from the mix, the film’s cast and crew, a handful of DC Comics executives, Gibbons, and other notable figures dissect the groundbreaking comic, discuss its influence, and its timeless relevance. I would normally cringe at the endless adoration on display, but considering they’re talking about a revered work like “Watchmen,” the praise rarely seems overenthusiastic or unwarranted.
- Real Superheroes: Real Vigilantes (HD, 26 minutes): An in-depth and refreshingly serious examination of vigilantism throughout American history, particularly the ’70s and ’80s, and even the 21st century. It digs into New York’s Guardian Angels organization, the actions and trial of Bernard Goetz, the realities of the Old West, volunteer border patrolmen, overzealous police officers, and an amusing pair of “real” superhero vigilantes (one sporting a low-rent T-shirt, the other a black helmet) in need of immediate counseling. Along the way, the documentary continually turns its attention to Rorschach and the characters ofWatchmen, Moore’s use of vigilantism as a fundamental launchpad in his original graphic novel, and society’s temptation to romanticize and justify such behavior.
- Mechanics: Technologies of a Fantastic World (HD, 17 minutes): This secondary featurette is definitely lighter in tone, but remains as informative and candid as the material preceding it. It follows the film’s director, production designers, and department heads as they attempt to make the science and technology that appears in the film as plausible as possible.
- Music Video (HD, 3 minutes): My Chemical Romance’s “Desolation Row.”
- BD-Live Interactivity and Exclusive Downloadable Content
- Digital Copy: Theatrical Cut