Watchmen Expanded: Andy B Reviews Tales Of The Black Freighter and Under The Hood

This weekend Watchmen dropped down the box office chart again, and still hasn’t made its way past the $100 million mark. No doubt it will eventually make back the investment Warner Bros. made, even if it underperforms in the theatres. Whether you like the film or you don’t, I think few fans of the original graphic novel will dispute the fact that director Zach Snyder made Watchmen with the best of intentions, adhering amazingly close to its comic book origins. In fact, Snyder has been so reverential with Watchmen that he made sure to honour some core pieces of the text, even though they didn’t make it into the final product. That’s what we’ve got DVD for.

Out tomorrow on Blu-Ray and DVD is Tales Of The Black Freighter/Under The Hood, an hour long double feature. TOTBF is the animated comic within a comic from the original Watchmen. The story of the only survivor of an attack by the pirate ship The Black Freighter, the animated short (it only runs about 21 minutes) is supposed to work as an allegory of the character of Ozymandias. For many readers (this one included), TOTBF was an unwelcome interlude during the comic book. I certainly didn’t miss it when I saw Watchmen in theatres. However, as a stand alone, stylishly animated piece, narrated by Gerard Butler, the story is much more appreciated. You watch as the survivor’s attempts to get home turn him into the depraved evil that attached him in the first place without interruption, and it’s a pretty intense experience. TOTBF shares the same violent tendencies of its cinematic brother, and definitely has its share of cringe-inducing moments, but that’s exactly what the audience is looking for. The DC/Warner Bros DVD division is on a roll with its straight-to-video animated properties, and Tales of The Black Freighter should leave Watchmen fans satisfied, at least until Zach Snyder’s ultimate edition of the film is released later this year with the animated sequences incorporated into the live action film.

Also included on the DVD is Under The Hood, a live-action mock documentary that reveals the origin of the original Nite Owl (played by Stephen McHattie) and the Minutemen, the original superhero group which would eventually spawn the Watchmen. Under The Hood is a real gift to fans, as it expands upon the world only briefly hinted at during the opening sequence of Watchmen. Characters like Hollis Mason and Sally Jupiter, who were really just bit players in the film, are fleshed out, as is the Keene Act which sets so much of the Watchmen story in motion. Plus any chance to see more of Jeffery Dean Morgan as the Comedian, even if only just for a few seconds, is well worth the price of admission alone. I actually enjoyed this more than the main feature of Tales Of The Black Freighter.

Even if the masses aren’t gobbling up Watchmen the way many anticipated, Zach Snyder has made sure devotees to Alan Moore’s and Dave Gibbons work will be satisfied. And for them, picking up Tales Of The Black Freighter/Under The Hood on DVD or Blu-Ray is pretty much a no-brainer.

2 Replies to “Watchmen Expanded: Andy B Reviews Tales Of The Black Freighter and Under The Hood”

  1. I, too, skipped the reading of “The Black Freighter” when I first read Watchmen back in the day. Upon subsequent readings, however, I’ve come to appreciate the “comic-within-a-comic”. I look at it now as a stand in for the character of Ozymandias, who is largely absent from the main telling of the story. In regards to the disappointing box office take – shed no tears! A lot of people made a lot of money off of this film: huge sales in the graphic novel over the last year, installment sales of the motion comic, a video game, accessory books, a CD, figurines, posters, 2 distinct DVD’s and a future Director’s Cut of the film!Perhaps it was just the fans who saw the film at the cinema. Still, they got everything they wished for in the theatrical cut and ancillary products. No complaints here at all.

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