Who watches the Watchmen? In alternate 1985, superpowers are reality, Richard Nixon is still president and nuclear war rears its ugly head more than ever. A gang of superheroes called the Watchmen serve as saviors for the human race, but after decades of being in existence, the human race has grown more reluctant of the Watchmen saving the world… and more scared of them being involved in destroying it.
I lined myself up in the movie theater when “Watchmen” originally premiered this past March, expecting not only a badass action flick, but a thinking movie as well. It half delivered. The movie’s overall style was well done (mostly thanks to director Zach Snyder of “300” fame) but the heavy-handed plot and message bogged the movie down. Sitting in the theater for nearly three hours, I felt a bit disappointed.
Would “Watchmen” redeem itself on a second, more intimate viewing? I plopped down my twenty bucks on the Director’s Cut on Bluray. Not only chock of features and HD goodness, the Bluray Disc also included Maximum Movie Mode. This feature allows you to not just watch the movie, but also receive some screen-in-screen commentary, fun facts, behind-the-scenes featurettes and more during the movie. Despite my hesitations on buying “Watchmen”, this feature was way too cool sounding to pass up.
You might think that watching the movie with this stop-start commentary would be a bit intruding on the viewing experience. Well, it will be on your first viewing, so I suggest you watch the actual movie first. But on a repeat viewing, it’s just a treat. Scenes will stop and a variety of things might happen. Zach Snyder might pop on screen and explain why the scene was filmed a certain way, or he might point out something interesting that you’d miss. Interviews with special effects coordinators and other creative minds give you more information on exactly how the movie was made.
Not all of the tidbits in Maximum Movie Mode are this intrusive. A real/alternate timeline will popup showing the differences between the movie and how things went in real life. And, to me the coolest of them all, panels straight from the graphic novel will appeal as a popup – allowing you to do compare and contrast certain shots and scenes from the film as they appear directly in the novel.
Overall, I’d say that Maximum Movie Mode is a very nice addition to the Bluray format, and will leave movie buffs delighted. (If only they included this on other past Bluray films such as “The Dark Knight”.) I can only hope that Fox and other studios experiment with this mode on other Blurays in the future. Because I know I’ll be interested.
As for the movie on another viewing, I found my opinion didn’t really change. But if it did, it was slightly for the better. There’s no doubt that “Watchmen” is magnificently made (it’s awesome looking at most points) but the message gets muddled towards the end. I give Zach Snyder props for getting what I think is the closest honest interpretation of this “unfilmable” novel. Perhaps I just don’t like the message. Watch the “Watchmen”, awe at the action, but don’t get mixed up in the message.
3.5 out of 5