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Gift of Hindsight

22 Jul, 2009 By: Billy Gil


Haters and supporters of director Zack Snyder’s film version of the Watchmen graphic novel have plenty more fuel for their arguments with the release of the film on disc.

The Watchmen director’s cut includes 25 minutes of extra scenes, including the death of Hollis Mason (the first Nite Owl). In another scene, which does not appear in the novel, a news report gives the who and why of Rorschach; it was cut from the theatrical version but is back in the director’s cut.

“The big debate was, ‘is it a commercial experience?’ That’s why we ended up shortening the film a little bit, so it might be more accessible,” Snyder says. “But as far as the fans go, the longer version will definitely be more satisfying because it’s a more complete story and also closer to the graphic novel.”

Watchmen was released on disc July 21, with the theatrical cut available on a single-DVD version ($28.98), with the director's cut on a two-DVD special edition (34.98) and Blu-ray Disc ($35.99).

Although fan response to the film remains mixed, one fanboy in particular, founder Josh Flanagan, defended the film for meticulously following the graphic novel, despite a few excised scenes.

“In a movie you are trying to do a relatively short experience, and in a comic book, a longer one,” Flanagan says. “They made choices. I think the additional scenes are icing on the cake.”

The Watchmen Blu-ray uniquely offers behind-the-scenes material, side-by-side comparisons with the graphic novel, a timeline of world events, photos and “walk-ons” from Snyder in which the director shows viewers subtle details that pay homage to the book.
“We’re taking the clothes off the movie,” Snyder said at a press conference of the Blu-ray Maximum Movie Mode. “[We] may as well expose everything.”

Perhaps the coolest feature is a BD Live function allowing users to stream Snyder’s 2009 Comic-Con appearance July 25 live and chat with the director, or later archived. It also will connect to Facebook through BD Live.

Snyder also confirmed rumors of a mega “Black Freighter” version of Watchmen hitting Blu-ray in the fall (coming in December according to an insert in the Watchmen DVD) with the pirate-story side-plot worked back into the film. Tales From the Black Freighter was previously released as a standalone disc.

“The fan experience is something I wanted to make sure was complete,” Snyder says.

The same goes for 300: The Complete Experience, released July 21 on Blu-ray at $39.99, which Snyder calls the “perfect version” of the film. It includes picture-in-picture featurettes with Snyder, webisodes and a 38-page book.

Movie vs. Graphic Novel

With the director’s cut of Watchmen on Blu-ray and DVD, fans can pore over some of the changes Snyder made from the graphic novel in his film — and hear why, with the Blu-ray’s picture-in-picture technology. In the film:

• Janey Slater appears at a news conference in the film to say she got cancer from Dr. Manhattan. In the novel, the implication is made by a reporter. In the director’s cut, Dr. Manhattan transports the entire audience outside as in the novel; in the theatrical cut, Dr. Manhattan transports himself to Mars.

• The film makes small changes in Rorschach’s origins and cuts down the role of his psychiatrist, Dr. Malcolm Long. His roots are further explained in a deleted scene. The origin stories in general, such as those of Ozymandias, are a bit reshuffled overall.

• The film cuts the backstory on the Minutemen, offering fans a montage at the film’s outset and snippets of information throughout, but it cuts Mothman’s scenes, most mentions of Dollar Bill, most of Captain Metropolis’s scenes and his love affair with Hooded Justice. The elusive Silhouette is represented by a lesbian kiss and a shot of her untimely death.

• The newsstand characters mostly were not included, but they will make their way back with the Tales of the Black Freighter Blu-ray version.

• Many of Laurie Juspeczyk’s lines are gone, as is a flashback scene in which she flings her drink at the Comedian for trying to rape her mother.

• Nite Owl witnesses Dr. Manhattan kill Rorschach.

• The ending changed significantly. Snyder confirms there was no “alternate squid version” filmed.

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