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[DVD Spotlight]

Watchmen: Tales of the Black Freighter/Under the Hood

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Yet another way to consume the Watchmen franchise. This one goes down fairly smooth.

If any modern movie seems suited to the DVD format, it’s Zack Snyder’s Watchmen. The intricacy of its source material guaranteed that much would be lost in translation, and few doubted that Snyder would release a director’s cut. This straight-to-DVD compendium provides a look at what that cut will likely entail, although whether it’s worth spending 20 bucks on is another matter.

The animated Tales of the Black Freighter, the comic book woven throughout the storyline of the Watchmen graphic novel, is well enough re-created in all its gory glory, with solid voice work from 300’s Gerard Butler. But purists are sure to question how it will fit into Snyder’s Watchmen universe, which has had its ending so radically altered as to render Freighter—and its missing-writer sidebar story—almost pointless.

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Watchmen: Tales of the Black Freighter/Under the Hood
Three stars
From the Archives
Review: Watchmen (3/5/09)

Not so for Under the Hood, a faux 1975 newsmagazine show interviewing Hollis Mason, the author of the superhero tell-all book excerpted at the end of some Watchmen chapters. There’s a striving for authenticity that’s borderline obsessive (what’s with the commercial for Seiko?), but its interviews with Silk Spectre, the Comedian and some of the more minor characters from the book, along with period footage, provide a sense of depth that’s sorely missing from the movie. Watching this only reinforces the realization of how far short the movie really fell.

Completists will appreciate the effort on display here. Still, given that the DVD amounts to a grand total of about an hour’s worth of entertainment, they may just want to wait for the director’s cut and save some dough.

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Ken Miller is Las Vegas Weekly's associate editor, having previously served as assistant features editor at the Las Vegas Sun ...

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