Blu-ray Disc Review: "Watchmen Director's Cut"

Warner
Movie •••½ Picture •••• Sound ••••½ Extras ••••½

If you don't know the seminal graphic novel about vigilante superheroes - written by Alan Moore and illustrated by Dave Gibbons - on which this film is faithfully based, you won't be able to decipher the movie completely at first.

No matter. Zack Snyder crams oodles of arresting visuals and funky set pieces into this 3-hour Director's Cut - so much so that you're likely to find yourself drinking in the dazzling imagery and pounding soundtrack without pausing to decode the intricacies of the story. Sometimes, you just have to let art wash over you.

With this excellent Blu-ray Disc, the larger your high-def screen, the better. Luxuriate in the deep, wide color palette, the fat black levels, and the generous grayscale. Snyder clearly loves what he can do with Gibbons's work via CGI, and the transfer here is more than up to the task. The amped-up picture detail is always clean, never distorted.

In the DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix, Tyler Bates's powerful score is interspersed with plenty of gritty rock & roll (and a dollop of Simon & Garfunkel). Yet there's still enough space here to render a realistic 360º soundstage, with lots of involving surround-channel effects. And bass isn't just punchy but stupendous.

Among the extras, three featurettes (totaling 75 minutes) offer compelling looks at the original graphic novel, the history of vigilantism, and the movie's fantasy science. But best of all for hardcore fans is Warner's Maximum Movie Mode. Here, Sny-der serves as a guide/avatar of sorts as the movie plays, allowing you to click around to find various tidbits and nuggets, including storyboards, making-of footage, and trivia. You can also view triple-M extras in sequence (totaling 30 minutes). Great stuff.

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