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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

Watchmen - Director's Cut [Blu-ray]

 

(Zach Synder, 2009)

 

  Re-issued March 15th, 2011

 

 

Review by Gary Tooze

 

Production:

Theatrical: Warner

Video: Warner Home Video

 

Disc:

Region: FREE! (as verified by the Momitsu region FREE Blu-ray player)

Runtime: 3:08:01.173

Disc Size: 42,719,511,176 bytes

Feature Size: 33,254,178,816 bytes

Video Bitrate: 17.41 Mbps

Chapters: 44

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: July 21st, 2009

 

Video:

Aspect ratio: 2.35:1

Resolution: 1080p

Video codec: VC-1 Video

 

Audio:

DTS-HD Master Audio English 3461 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 3461 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)
DUB: Dolby Digital Audio French 448 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 448 kbps
DTS Express English 192 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps / 16-bit

 

Subtitles:

English, English (SDH), French, Spanish, none

 

Extras:

• Immersive 'Maximum Movie mode' with director Zack Snyder

Disc 2

• Watchmen: Focus Points (30 minutes)
BD Live
The Phenomenon: The Comic that Changed Comics
Real Super Heroes, Real Vigilantes
Mechanics: Technologies of a Fantastic World (BD Exclusive)
Parts I and II of “The End Is Nigh” for PS3
Music Video: My Chemical Romance Desolation Row
Disc 3

 Digital Copy – Theatrical version

 

Bitrate:

 

 

Description: In an alternate reality, it's 1985, costumed superheroes are part of the fabric of everyday society, and the "Doomsday Clock" - which charts the USA's tension with the Soviet Union - is permanently set at five minutes to midnight. When one of his former colleagues is murdered, the washed-up but no less determined masked vigilante Rorschach sets out to uncover a plot to kill and discredit all past and present superheroes. As he reconnects with his former crime- fighting legion - a ragtag group of retired superheroes, only one of whom has true powers - Rorschach glimpses a wide-ranging and disturbing conspiracy with links to their shared past and catastrophic consequences for the future. Their mission is to watch over humanity...but who is watching The Watchmen?

 

 

The Film:

“Watchmen” focuses on the contradiction shared by most superheroes: They cannot live ordinary lives but are fated to help mankind. That they do this with trademarked names and appliances goes back to their origins in Greece, where Zeus had his thunderbolts, Hades his three-headed dog, and Hermes his winged feet. Could Zeus run fast? Did Hermes have a dog? No.

That level of symbolism is coiling away beneath all superheroes. What appeals with Batman is his humanity; despite his skills, he is not supernormal. “Watchmen” brings surprising conviction to these characters as flawed and minor gods, with Dr. Manhattan possessing access to godhead on a plane that detaches him from our daily concerns — indeed, from days themselves. In the film’s most spectacular scene, he is exiled to Mars, and in utter isolation reimagines himself as a human, and conjures (or discovers? I’m not sure) an incredible city seemingly made of crystal and mathematical concepts. This is his equivalent to 40 days in the desert, and he returns as a savior.

The film is rich enough to be seen more than once. I plan to see it again, this time on IMAX, and will have more to say about it. I’m not sure I understood all the nuances and implications, but I am sure I had a powerful experience. It’s not as entertaining as “The Dark Knight,” but like the “Matrix” films, LOTR and “The Dark Knight,” it’s going to inspire fevered analysis. I don’t want to see it twice for that reason, however, but mostly just to have the experience again.

Excerpt from Roger Ebert at the Chicago Sun-Times located HERE

 

 


Image :    NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were ripped directly from the Blu-ray disc.
 

Firstly, this is the Director's Cut at just over three hours eight minutes long and it includes extended and deleted scenes that didn't make it onto the theatrical cut which were removed for presentation on IMAX projectors. It's 24-minutes longer. A second Blu-ray of extras and a Digital copy are included although initially advertised as 2-disc (it's obviously 3) - there is still a larger package, entitled 'Amazon Exclusive Nite Owl Ship and Digital Bundle + Digital Copy and BD-Live'. It appears to have all of the same features as the standard Blu-ray Director’s Cut that we are reviewing but includes the model of the Nite Owl Ship. At $80 I say 'pass'.

 

The Blu-ray image from Warner is flawless. The feature size is over 33 Gig and the video bitrate is somewhat modest but the visuals produce has some impressive moments. It's seamlessly branched with "Maximum Movie Mode" - the Zack Snyder hosted supplement. The extensive effects are all supported well by the 1080P VC-1 transfer but later in the film I found some of the digitizations become a bit tiresome - although this is more the film and certainly no fault of the competent transfer. Contrast is strong but there is not a lot of depth. Watchmen is expectantly dark and colors are realistic and passive with some period-looking pastels. Detail is healthy in close-ups and this Blu-ray probably replicates the filmmakers intentions as well as can be reproduced on digital at this time.  I doubt much more could be done. It produces some mesmerizing and impressive visual scenes - and I wouldn't expect there will be any displeased viewers in regards to this hi-def appearance.

 

CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Audio :

Of the 3 tracks offered - the DTS-HD 5.1 at 3461 kbps (the other 2 are a French DUB and a less robust DTS track) has some intensely explosive moments. 'Wow' is an understatement. Even before the title comes up I felt I was blown right out of my seat. What is good about this track is that, while it remains aggressive, I never felt it was over utilized. Sometimes in dynamic mixes you often feel the need to tap down the volume levels - while here it just seemed to snap you back to attention. What is also a huge bonus to the viewing is the soundtrack which includes Nat 'King' Cole's "Unforgettable" to Simon & Garfunkel's "The Sound of Silence" from Wagner's "Ride of the Valkyries" to KC & The Sunshine Band's "I'm Your Boogie Man", Philip Glass' "Prophecies" - notable for inclusion in Koyaanisqatsi (1982) to Leonard Cohen. It all sounds so toe-tapping cool with a crispness that adeptly defines the film's many moods. I wanted to re-watch scenes just for the music. There are optional subtitles in English, French or Spanish and my Momitsu tells me this is, typical of Warner, region FREE!   

 

 

 

Extras :

On disc one is the “Maximum Movie Mode” which seems to include the information of a commentary (and is full length) but has split-screens and tons of specific discussion with Snyder detailing production effects - often highlighting information through clips on two screens behind him. He often compares it to the graphic novel with examples. This is a great idea. So, it's like a commentary but more interactive as you feel the supplemental visual tools help diverge from re-watching the film again cold. I hope others expand to this new method - it's a winner.

 

It's extremely complete and I'm no where near through the 2nd disc (a single-layered Blu-ray) supplements which are more appropriately described on the Watchmen website HERE:

Watchmen: Focus Points” will be, as Matthies describes, a “2.0” version of the production journals that were released in the months leading up to the film’s release. Most of the content will be the same, however they will be re-edited to contain elements that if were included when these journals were originally released, would have shown too much, too soon.

“The Phenomenon: The Comic that Changed Comics” will be an in-depth look at the Watchmen comic series and will have several interviews with some of the staff at DC Comics as well as some others.

“Real Super Heroes, Real Vigilantes” was an idea that started back when we were in Vancouver, out of a conversation about the fact that there really are folks who dress in costume and go out to fight crime. Growing public interest in this topic is apparent in recent CNN and Rolling Stone stories about these people. We took it a bit further and interviewed experts in law enforcement and psychology to explore the history of vigilantism and it's ramifications. It was an important piece to Debbie Snyder and I think we did it justice — er, no pun intended.

Another BD-Live exclusive will be entitled “Mechanics: Technologies of a Fantastic World” featuring University of Minnesota physics professor James Kakalios. Kakalios was invited to the set in Vancouver during production as a consultant to help the effects team get Dr. Manhattan, as well as other scientific points of Watchmen, “right.

Excerpted from the Watchmen website HERE

 

 

BOTTOM LINE:
This film is a lot of fun although, personally, I think it goes too far at the end. You don't mind the length as the enjoyment level is so high with that similar 'Frank Miller' stylistic buoyancy that you just want to prolong. The action, adventure, characters and timeframe have appeal on so many artistic levels. I'd find it hard to believe that anyone couldn't find at least something titillating in Watchmen. The Blu-ray really has no flaws - even the price is extremely reasonable for what the package contains. It looks and sounds perfect and we, do indeed, endorse for purchase.

Gary Tooze

July 9th, 2009

 

 

  Re-issued March 15th, 2011

 

 


 

About the Reviewer: Hello, fellow Beavers! I have been interested in film since I viewed a Chaplin festival on PBS when I was around 9 years old. I credit DVD with expanding my horizons to fill an almost ravenous desire to seek out new film experiences. I currently own approximately 7500 DVDs and have reviewed over 3000 myself. I appreciate my discussion Listserv for furthering my film education and inspiring me to continue running DVDBeaver. Plus a healthy thanks to those who donate and use our Amazon links.

Although I never wanted to become one of those guys who focused 'too much' on image and sound quality - I find HD is swiftly pushing me in that direction. So be it, but film will always be my first love and I list my favorites on the old YMdb site now accessible HERE.  

Gary's Home Theatre:

Samsung HPR4272 42" Plasma HDTV
Momitsu - BDP-899 Region FREE Blu-ray player
Marantz SA8001 Super Audio CD Player
Marantz SR7002 THX Select2 Surround Receiver
Tannoy DC6-T (fronts) + Energy (centre, rear, subwoofer) speakers (5.1)

Gary W. Tooze

 

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