The one thing that can be said for the Watchmen film is that its devotion to the source material is impressive. Well, there is one major part of the book that was left out of the film completely. Now that tale is told here in the animated short story of the “Black Freighter”.
This may be a little complicated if you’ve never read the Watchmen comic so I’ll spell it out (if you have read the comic then you know what The Black Freighter is and can skip to the next paragraph.)
Within the Watchmen comic there is a side story about a young kid sitting at a newsstand reading a comic. This comic is Tales of the Black Freighter, the story of a man fighting to save his family from demon pirates but in the end succumbing to the demons within himself. The Black Freighter comic is interlaced with the Watchmen story in such a way that it mirrors what is happening within the story on many levels. Since the comic within the comic is basically just commentary on the events that are happening around it, it is not meant to stand on it’s own. So how does it stand up now that it has been animated into a short?
It’s not bad. Like the film, the cartoon is very faithful to the comic only adding some dialogue here and there so that there is not only voiceover as the original comic has. Gerard Butler is the star and he’s pretty good. But as stated above, the story isn’t meant to stand on it’s own; so without the Watchmen story happening around it, Black Freighter feels like it’s missing a lot.
It’s very well animated and certainly worth checking out. But if you’re a Watchman completest and feel you need to own this keep in mind that there are rumors going around that there will eventually be a DVD that combines the Watchmen film with the Black Freighter cartoon as it was done in the comic. So you might want to just hold out for that.
The film is presented in 1.85:1 widescreen and 5.1 surround sound. It’s damn good looking cartoon if nothing else and it sounds good too.
Under the Hood: (38 min.) In addition to The Black Freighter you get this live action TV show that exists in the reality of the film wherein we are taken back to 1975 where we get to see an interview with Hollis Mason (the original Nite Owl) and other minor characters of the film talk about superheroes and their place in the world. This is really cool and comes complete with a commercial for one of Veidt’s products.
Story Within A Story: (25 min.) This spells out what I talked about above. Telling what role The Black Freighter and Under the Hood play in giving the Watchmen comic it’s amazing depth. It also looks at the character arc of Adrian Veidt and how it relates to the Black Freighter story.
Watchmen Motion Comic Episode 1: (25 min) This is the first episode of the Watchmen Motion Comic which I’ve already reviewed.
Exclusive First Look at DC Universe’s Animated Green Lantern DVD: (10 min.) Same one from the Wonder Woman DVD.
This is an okay DVD, certainly worth renting if you want to delve more into the Watchmen world without reading the comic. But if you’re a die-hard fan you’ll most likely want to hold out for the ultimate DVD edition that is coming eventually that will include everything. Unless you don’t mind double-dipping that is.
Warner Bros. presents Watchmen: Tales Of The Black Freighter. Directed by Daniel Delpurgatorio and Mike Smith. Starring Gerard Butler. Written by Alex Tse and Zack Snyder. Based on the comic by Alan Moore (uncredited). Running time: 26 minutes. Rated R for violence and grisly images. Released on DVD: March 24, 2009. Available at Amazon.com
Tags: Alan Moore, Gerard Butler, Watchmen