DVD: Watchmen, Superhero Gets the Blues

The most popular graphic novel ever finally makes it to DVD *** Three Stars
By Gabrielle Pantera

Watchmen superhuman, not human?

Watchmen superhuman, not human?

BEVERLY HILLS, CA (Gosh!TV) 8/7/2009 – “They’re all just fundamentalists, in a way,” says Watchmen star Billy Crudup. “They see a threatening world where their only recourse is to take matters into their own hands, and their desire to order a disordered world overcomes morality. But Jon believed in the goodness of his country, in following the designs of his leaders.”

Crudup plays Dr. Manhattan, a character who’s naked and blue. Could it be if you’re a superhero you can find nothing that fits and are always cold?

Watchmen is set in a post-Vietnam War era in which America won the war with superheroes and nukes. Watchmen is the most popular graphic novel ever written, and this long-to-get-to-the-screen adaptation sticks rigidly to the graphic novel adaptation at the cost of sometimes looking dated. In an era of Homeland Security, the hippie paranoia of government control is met by modern audiences with a shrug rather than as a call to arms.

Crudup is Dr.Manhattan, the only superhero with true superpowers. Although Manhattan chose to join the group the Masks, the others are, by comparison, people who play dress up. “They’re vigilantes,” sasys Crudup. “They don’t believe in the stability of the government. They don’t believe in the community’s capacity to take care of itself. Jon Osterman was the exact opposite, someone who was by the book, believed in the stability of his country and the morality of his government.” However, the powers of a superhero make him just as unconcerned for the rights of others as the rest.

“Manhatten has apathy for almost everything, except for the inner workings of the atom,” says Crudup. “He sees the way the universe works. Humanity has a variable that physics doesn’t seem to have. Physics is an ordered world to be discovered. And human interaction is a chaotic world to be taught through harsh experience. It becomes frustrating and burdensome to the point that I think he just doesn’t care anymore.”

“Laurie was head over heels in love with Dr. Manhattan,,” says Watchman star Malin Akerman. “But, as he grows more and more distant, there’s nothing left for her in the relationship. His work comes before her in her eyes. She feels him falling out of love with her and the more he drifts away, the more she loses her identity.”

“Reconnecting with Dan gives Laurie back her sense of being a woman,” Akerman affirms. “Someone is looking at her, for the first time in God knows how many years, as one human being to another. That reconnection reignites the fire that used to be there as Silk Spectre, the need for the adrenaline rush.”

In Watchmen, all the superheroes have been forced to retire. The superhero known as the Comedian, played expertly by Jeffrey Dean Morgan, is murdered, putting the other retired superheroes on high alert. Is someone out to knock off the retired supers? Have they seen The Incredibles?

The angry superhero Rorschach, played by Jackie Earle Haley, leads the investigation into the Comedian’s untimely demise. “About three years ago, people on the ‘Net were suggesting me for the role of Rorschach,” says Haley. “At the time I didn’t know the novel. I looked it up and was fascinated by it. So when I heard the film was going ahead, I was very pumped and fought like hell to win the part. It explores what the world might be like if people really did dress up in costumes and went into the vigilante business. What are their weaknesses, their morality, the beliefs driving their behavior?”

“People always said Watchmen was the unfilmable graphic novel,” says Watchman director Zack Snyder. “The story itself is a pretty straightforward mystery, but inside of that, there’s this huge plot that has international intrigue and a super-villain and everything you want from a superhero story. There is a tonal quality to every bit of it, from the interaction of the characters to the design structure, whether it be a flashback or a flash forward, or a parallel story being told. It’s at once very traditional and also unusual in the way that it’s structured. It doesn’t owe anything to any specific genre; it’s just its own, true to itself and all of its characters.”

“With all these characters, you feel that they are deeply loved by their creators, regardless of their flaws or how they’re viewed in a real-life context, or what they point to in other icons of superhero mythology,” says Snyder. David Hayter and Alex Tse adapted the screenplay. They stayed with the graphic novel’s depiction of superheroes as human characters subject to the same social and psychological pressures as anyone else.

What’s different about the DVD is it’s an extended director’s cut with 24 minutes added back to the story. The first Night Owl, Hollis Mason, is added back in. The many extra details will appeal to fans of the graphic novel.

The second disc has eleven video journals, The Phenomenon: The Comic That Changed Comics, 29 minutes. This is a look at the ground breaking original graphic novel. There are interviews with artist Dave Gibbons, DC Comics executives Jenette Kahn and Paul Levitz, and cast and crew of the movie. The musical video My Chemical Romance’s Desolation Row is alos on the second disc. The digital copy of the film is usable with iTunes and Windows Media.

Warner Home video
DVD 2 disc
Rated R
Release date July 21, 2009
Run time 186 minutes

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