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Blu-Ray Review: ‘Watchmen: The Complete Motion Comic’ New Way to Read a Great Book

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HollywoodChicago.com Blu-Ray Rating: 3.5/5.0
Blu-Ray Rating: 3.5/5.0

CHICAGO – Reviewing “Watchmen: The Complete Motion Comic” is extremely difficult. The source material is absolutely fantastic, one of the best graphic novels in the history of the form and one of the most influential books of any kind from the last few decades. And the “Motion Comic” is incredibly loyal. But it’s hard not to say “just read the book”.

Alan Moore & Dave Gibbons’ “Watchmen” is an absolute masterpiece. Read it as soon as you possibly can and definitely before you see the Zack Snyder movie opening on March 6th. As great as that film will hopefully be, it can never have the cultural impact that the graphic novel did.

Of course, most of the millions who will go and see “Watchmen” won’t have read the book. It’s just a fact of life that even the most critically acclaimed novels can’t compete with flashing pictures in a darkened theater. So, Warner Brothers has produced a hybrid Blu-Ray release that allows you to “watch” the graphic novel that changed the form forever.

Watchmen: The Complete Motion Comic was released on Blu-Ray on March 3rd, 2009.
Watchmen: The Complete Motion Comic was released on Blu-Ray on March 3rd, 2009.
Photo credit: Warner Brothers

The most celebrated graphic novel of all time that broke the conventional mold breaks new ground again in a five-and-a-half hour digital version of the original that adds limited motion, voice and sound to the book’s strikingly drawn panels. The narration and dialogue is all from the book, but not every line from the printed version is included. Watching it and following along with the original makes it look like maybe one out of three lines - mostly just mood-setting narration and character asides - is missing.

Some of the detail may be missing but all 12 chapters of the story are here in this unusual “HD Cliffs Notes” version of “Watchmen”. All of it is read by one narrator, Tom Stechschulte, who does different voices for the characters. It’s a little unusual. Kind of like your uncle reading you one of your favorite books. Why not just read it out loud to yourself?

The biggest problem with “Watchmen” is that Stechschulte isn’t that good. He’s rushed and unemotional. It sometimes feels like the project is one of obligation more than passion. “We respect the source material and we want you to know about it, so we kind of have to do this project.”

But it all comes back to that initial question - how do you review something so loyal to one of the best books of the last few decades? The actual story, the meat of “Watchmen: The Complete Motion Comic” is just as riveting as it is on the page. And there are a lot of people out there who will never pick up the actual graphic novel. If this is the only way for them to get the unedited version of the story, then who am I to judge?

As with most animated Blu-Rays, the video on “Watchmen: The Complete Motion Comic” is beautiful. Seeing Dave Gibbons illustrations in 1080p High Definition 16x9 1.85:1 is something an old “Watchmen” fan never thought he would see. Lennie Moore’s lovely score sounds good in Dolby TrueHD English 5.1 as well.

The special features for “The Complete Motion Comic” are seriously disappointing. Why not include a featurette on the influence of the book? Why not a fan’s perspective? Even a behind-the-scenes look at the making of this project? Instead, all we get is “Watchmen Production Diaries #4: Dave Gibbons” and a sneak peek at “Wonder Woman”.

The former is just a 147-second featurette that basically serves as a preview for the movie - “Like this? The movie is really loyal to it.” The latter is a ten-minute b-t-s look at another product for you to buy. Basically just a long commerical.

Will “Watchmen: The Complete Motion Comic” start a trend? Graphic novels given motion, voice, and sound on Blu-Ray? Maybe one of the most influential pieces of fiction has found a new way to influence a new medium yet again.

‘Watchmen: The Complete Motion Comic’ is released by Warner Brothers Home Video. It was directed by Jake S. Hughes. It was released on March 3rd, 2009. It is not rated.

HollywoodChicago.com content director Brian Tallerico

By BRIAN TALLERICO
Content Director
HollywoodChicago.com
brian@hollywoodchicago.com

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