Recently, the Fanboy Comics staff has been trying to keep their social scene extra geeky by hosting movie nights at Fanboy Comics HQ for staff and friends. We usually discuss current geek culture, chow down on appropriately geeky snacks provided by FBC Managing Editor Barbra Dillon (she’s like Martha Stewart, if Martha Steward was also a Jedi!!!), and get the chance to casually watch a film as we socialize. We have found that humorous or goofy movies selections seem to work best, so that our guests can fade in and out of the film while enjoying the others in attendance (hence why our first event was a screening of the hilarious Roger Corman Fantastic Four film!!!). That was not the case for the last evening. While I loved Zack Snyder’s Watchmen, I had yet to tackle the three-and-a-half hour long Ultimate Cut. Given the film’s controversial standing in the geek community, I was unsure of how it would play for our crowd, but I proceeded undaunted. I am proud to report that everyone, myself included, seemed glued to the screen, no matter what their feelings of the film may have been afterward. Yes, we may have had to pause mid-way through the film for a blue penis cake break, but the geeky die-hards that make up Fanboy Comics and its followers made it to the end! Nice job, gang!
The first thing I noticed about Watchmen: The Ultimate Cut was how easily I forgot that I had seen this film five or six times in theaters, as I got lost in its world once more. I know there’s a lot of criticism out there for the film and I have my own issues with certain parts of the film, but damn is it a good film! The first scene where The Comedian meets his end followed by the amazing opening credits sequence set to Bob Dylan’s “The Times They Are A-Changin’” is honestly worth the price of admission, alone! Anyways, let’s get to the unique pluses of the The Ultimate Cut. (But, if you have the opportunity, I would implore you to give Zack Snyder’s Watchmen a second viewing… and then, go read the graphic novel again just for good measure. You know you want to.
-The Comedian Brings The S@#% To Vietnam! While the events in the Watchmen graphic novel that took place in Vietnam left a seriously powerful impression the first time I read them, the film didn’t seem to have time to fully explore them. While I could understand the obvious reference to Apocalypse Now through Snyder’s use of Richard Wagner’s “The Ride of the Valkyries,” the scene seemed to have less dramatic weight than necessary. Apparently, some of The Comedian’s viciousness was left on the cutting room floor! While in the theatrical release, we saw The Comedian dispatching Viet Cong with a flamethrower, we missed the real “meat” of the scene! In The Ultimate Cut we see The Comedian follow behind the gigantic figure of Dr. Manhattan, taking gleeful pot shots at the fleeing enemy soldiers. On the ground, The Comedian uses his flamethrower, but when he pauses to light his cigar, it’s because he wants to savor the moments as a legless Viet Cong tries to drag himself away before being engulfed in flames courtesy of The Comedian’s weapon. This harsh scene, followed by the one where The Comedian guns down a pregnant mother, add a real punch to the events in Vietnam.
-The Original Night Owl’s Glorious End! The original Night Owl’s demise at the hands of the Top Knot gang was another juicy scene added to The Ultimate Cut. Not only does it add to the dramatic arc of the story, but it gives more screen time to the wonderful character of Hollis Mason. Snyder uses the moment, much like the opening credits sequence, to reinforce the audience’s feelings of nostalgia for the original costumed heroes and their plights. While we watch the elderly Hollis Mason put up a short fight before being overcome by the gang members, Synder cuts in flashes of a young Hollis mirroring his elderly version’s swings and strikes. While the old Hollis fights gang members, his younger apparition takes on Night Owl’s greatest villains from his glory days, ending on a spectacular shot of Moloch in his prime. Then, it’s all cut short with the sickening sound of the old man’s head being caved in with his own trophy. It’s a brilliant little addition and the only real flaw may be the slightly cartoonish acting by the Top Knot gang members.
-Two Bernards And The Tale of The Black Freighter! Being a die-hard Watchmen fan, I had already viewed the previously-released versions of The Tale of the Black Freighter and Under The Hood in the months leading up to Watchmen’s theatrical release. Both shorts had proved tasty for the uber-fan but lacked the depth that either had when incorporated within the graphic novel. The Black Freighter, in particular, looked amazing in its new animated form, but it also felt especially hollow without the Watchmen story to reflect. I’m happy to say that the Ultimate Cut solves all of these issues. Cut back into the film, along with the short scenes involving Bernard, the newsstand clerk, and his young companion, The Tale of the Black Freighter is an enjoyable and unique addition to the live action film. Snyder manages to sneak his King Leonidas, Gerard Butler, into the Watchmen lineup. The moment where Bernard, newsstand owner, and Bernard, comic book reader, hug each other as they are vaporized during the destruction of New York City also hits stronger given that we’ve spent time with the two characters and have seen them interact with each other and the main characters of the story.
All in all, I’d say that Watchmen: The Ultimate Cut is one of the best “special edition” DVDs that I have ever owned, right up there with The Alien Anthology and Sin City: Recut-Extended-Unrated. Including the three-and-a-half hour version of the film, an entire disc of detailed extras and featurettes, a digital copy of the film, and the complete Watchmen motion comic, this is really the only version of Watchmen that any fanboy really needs! I hear that the Blu-Ray has even more thrilling additions, including scene to scene commentary options with Zack Snyder, so check that out if you’ve left DVD behind.