Release: 25th November 2019
See Watchmen: The Ultimate Cut like never before in this exquisitely remastered version that intertwines the animated “Tales of the Black Freighter” into The Director’s Cut of Watchmen. The year is 1985, and society’s most famous superheroes are in danger. After the mysterious murder of Comedian, his former colleagues team up for the fi rst time in years to investigate – and survive. The secrets they uncover could jeopardise the entire world, but can they save us if they can’t save themselves? Dive into this acclaimed, thrilling adaptation of the graphic novel that forever changed how we look at heroes.
It has been a long time coming, but for those who dare to care; Watchmen: The Ultimate Cut is finally available on blu-ray. A seemingly direct lift from the 2009 release in America, this ‘ultimate cut’ is essentially the director’s cut with the addition of Tales of the Black Freighter. For fans, this is likely the closest they will ever get to seeing Alan Moore’s graphic novel in its most realised form. For others, it is just nearly four hours of Zack Snyder geeking out.
You couldn’t necessarily say that the ultimate cut of Watchmen is a different or new viewing experience, but you may say that it is a more complete one. Tales of the Black Freighter has always served as a nice partner narrative to that of Ozymandias; and thus, the overall plot of ‘destructive protectionism’. It is a decent bit of animation, and possibly the last good performance from Gerard Butler. So, as an overall package, this is easily the ‘best’ way to watch the film. But then again, this version of Watchmen strives so hard to become the graphic novel, that you have to question if one isn’t just better off reading that instead!?
What is most striking about Watchmen now is that its central plot device (attacking civilisation to save it), has moved to and beyond the point of cliché. Even in 2009, when the film was made, the premise was fairly unique, but now everyone is at it! This makes Watchmen somewhat distinctive in that its tone, style, and now, narrative form has become a yardstick in the cinematic history of superheroes. As we approach a new age where audiences are more interested in the world of the villains, and we enter a politically neutral arena of character traits being more exciting than the powers they possess; it is interesting to see Watchmen as a film that was once considered “dull”, “bloated” and “pretentious” make a resurgence. It still catches 99% of its substance just by emulating the source material, rather than on its own merits, but dare I say it, age has been kind to this fanatical opera of a music video. It seems that audiences now want to see more than just grey area. They want to see their own muddled political agendas play out in fantastical environments. The ultimate cut of Watchmen has come at the perfect time….and I am not sure if that makes for an interesting future in commercial cinema, or a terrifying indication for the current state of reality.
Film Grade: B-
Elephant-in-the-room alert; Alan Moore hates this film. And you can learn more about it in The Phenomenon: The Comic That Changed Comics. Then there are some webisodes, a music video, and a half decent documentary on the historical figures who inspired some of the film’s memorable moments, that is oddly super serious.
Special Features Grade: C+
Who watches the Watchmen? Well, apparently people who have 4 hours spare. But it won’t be an experience easily forgotten.