The Review at a Glance: (max score: 5 )
Audio/Video total rating:
( Max score: 100 )
Studio and Year: Warner - 2009
MPAA Rating: R
Feature running time: 186 Minutes
Disc Format: BD-50
Video Aspect: 2.35:1
Audio Format(s): English DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio, English/French Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish
Starring: Patrick Wilson, Malin Akerman, Billy Crudup, Matthew Goode, Carla Gugino, Jackie Earle Haley, Jeffrey Dean Morgan
Directed by: Zack Snyder
Music by: Tyler Bates
Written by: David Hayter & Alex Tse based on the graphic novel co-created by Dave Gibbons
Region Code: A
Blu-ray Disc release Date: July 21, 2009
"Who will save us now?"
Someone’s killing our super heroes. The year is 1985 and super heroes have banded together to respond to the murder of one of their own. They soon uncover a sinister plot that puts all of humanity in grave danger. The super heroes fight to stop the impending doom only to find themselves a target for annihilation. But, if our super heroes are gone, who will save us?
Back in March I reviewed Watchmen – The complete motion comic. My comments regarding the motion comic which is based on the graphic novel are similar when discussing the aspects of Watchmen the film. Here are my comments from that review:
"Watchmen is a twelve-issue comic book limited series created by writer Alan Moore, artist Dave Gibbons, and colorist John Higgins. Set in 1985 at the height of the cold war between the United States and the Soviet Union, costumed avengers have been banned with the exception of two, the Comedian and Rorschach. During this time the mysterious murder of a U.S. government official named Edward Blake occurs in New York City, possibly by Soviet Communists. It is later confirmed that Blake is actually a costumed avenger – The Comedian. The news of the murder is discovered by his fellow costumed avenger, Rorschach, who sets out to discover the murderer. As Rorschach’s investigation unfolds it is initially unclear whether he is maniacal or has truly uncovered a plot to murder super-heroes and perhaps millions of innocent civilians. He reunites with his former teammates in a desperate attempt to save their lives and the world. What they reveal in the process will shock them to their very core and change the face of the planet. This is a wonderfully developed and complex story that impressed me. Its layers are evenly peeled back to reveal an intriguing plot that I found hard to stop watching.”
Watching this film I had very much the same experience. I love the characters (Rorschach is my favorite) and even though the film can be cryptic in its narrative, it is still quite engaging. Being familiar with what is occurring would be helpful but I don’t see it as a prerequisite. I watched it with my teenage kids, neither of whom was familiar with it, and they both loved it. Director Zack Snyder did a great job in creating the look and feel of the graphic novel. This 186 minute director’s cut adds 24 minutes to the theatrical version’s runtime. I didn’t catch this while in theaters so I can’t comment on the theatrical components. I found that this three plus hour offering felt as though it captured the integral essence of story and characters which was enough to lend stability to its retelling. While the film doesn’t stay exactly faithful to the graphic novel I feel that any sticking points that were left out weren’t detrimental. I thought that the cast did a credible job in their respective roles. Pretty much any film that stars Carla Gugino is worth seeing and I have noticed that she has been quite busy of late. Jeffrey Dean Morgan and Jackie Earle Haley (The Comedian and Rorschach) both gave strong performances and stood out well from the pack. This is a film that I look forward to revisiting again.
The rating is for strong graphic violence, sexuality, nudity and language.
AUDIO/VIDEO - By The Numbers:
REFERENCE = 92-100 / EXCELLENT = 83-91 / GOOD = 74-82 / AVERAGE = 65-73 / BELOW AVERAGE = under 65
**My audio/video ratings are based upon a comparative made against other high definition media/blu-ray disc.**
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- Low frequency extension:
- Surround Sound presentation:
- Dialogue Reproduction:
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- Black level/Shadow detail:
- Color reproduction:
Watchmen comes to Blu-ray Disc from Warner featuring 1080p VC-1 encoded video that has an average bitrate of 19 mbps and lossless DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio sound that has an average bitrate of 3.5 mbps.
First and foremost this is a dark film (as it should be) and its ability to clearly render its elements under those conditions is essential to getting the most out of it. Well you can rest assured that this Blu-ray disc delivers some of the richest, deepest and velvety textured blacks that I have seen. The nighttime cityscapes look breathtaking. Images are gradationally adept and three dimensionally depicted so that the long drawn skylines, unevenly lit interiors, and shadow laden environs have a seemingly infinite level of depth. Shadow detail is consistent and is probably as good as I have seen. Images are crisp with subtle refinement, resolute sharpness and exquisite three dimensional definition that can be visually arresting. Contrast is strong and dynamic which energizes colors, empowers whites/grays and engages blacks. Colors are appreciably delineated with natural rendering and punchy primaries that stood out among those within the varied range used. Fleshtones are beautifully textured with subtle description and lifelike complexional depiction. The video has a pleasing, grain splashed texture, that coincides nicely with it gritty storyline. Other than some very minor banding I found little to complain with respect to fidelity. This plays hand in hand with the film’s stark visual style and provides an incredibly entertaining experience that looks superb regardless of the size of your display.
This represents Warner’s first foray into the world of lossless DTS-HD Master Audio sound and the results are spectacular. This soundtrack is demonstration quality and is sure to please those who like to play their systems loud. This recording has wide dynamic range and boasts superlative clarity and high level detail that is truly impressive. Dialogue is definitive and appreciably lucid through the center channel as it reaches far into the room. It’s located just slightly in front of the left/right speakers within the acoustic space it occupies in the soundfield. I never had any trouble distinguishing even the slightest changes in the pitch or inflection of voices. Front channel separation and imaging was excellent. This drew out both large and small sound elements and allowed their directional correlation based upon the onscreen events to be definable. The mix makes effective and often aggressive use of the surround channels to elongate the front soundstage and reproduce the spatial and discrete sounds of this demanding soundtrack. The listening position is submerged into a 360 degree web of sound that is sometimes riveting as it bombards the senses with a combination of well placed sound effects and musical ambience. The low frequency effects are applied authoritatively to underscore the bombastic and aggressive aspects of this soundtrack and it does so quite effectively. This mix delivers bass that is truly prodigious as it extends down into the upper 20 to lower 30hz regions at times. Its palpable presence is never in question as it fills the room with refined bass quality that is appreciably superior and on occasion skin tingling. This is a sophisticated sound design that is loaded with various sound effects, spatial cues, music, and dialogue. Each was clearly represented with enriching clarity, detail and appropriate sound field placement.
This is a reference quality audio/video presentation that truly enhanced the enjoyment of this film. Those who like playing their systems at reference levels will want to exercise caution as there are transient peaks and extended dynamic range in this recording capable of testing the limits of lesser systems. Enjoy!
- Disc 1:
- (HD) Maximum Movie Mode - An uncompromising 360 degree look at the film and its production as described by Director Zack Snyder as the film plays out. It includes trivia, facts, inside/behind the scenes information and is far from your everyday run of the mill BonusView track. It is broken down into 11 segments that can also be viewed independently. Outstanding.
- Warner Bros. BD-Live access
- Disc 2:
- (HD)Behind the story: The comic that changed comics - 28 minute featurette
- (HD) Real superheroes: Real vigilantes - 26 minute featurette
- (HD) Mechanics: Technologies of a fantastic world - 16 minute documentary
- (HD) “Desolation row“ - Music video by My chemical romance
- Disc 3:
- Digital Copy Bonus Disc - Contains a standard definition version of the film that can be downloaded from a compatible PC to a portable media playback device
Watchmen represents this superb graphic novel’s film debut. The result is a strong adaptation that does a good job at capturing the essence of the story and its complex characters. Warner has gone the extra mile with its release in high definition on Blu-ray Disc. It delivers reference quality video and superlative DTS-HD Master Audio that is capable of testing the limits of your surround sound system. The bonus features include the excellent Maximum Movie Mode which is one of the best Bonusview implementations that I have seen. BD-Live access and a digital copy bonus disc round out this wonderful package that deserves a place in your collection. Highly recommended.
AVS Forum Blu-ray Reviews
Reference Review System:
JVC DLA-RS20 1080p High Definition Front Projector (Calibrated by Jeff Meier)
Carada Precision Brilliant White 96" Screen
Oppo BDP-83 Universal disc/Blu-ray Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
Toshiba HD-XA2 HD DVD Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
Sony Playstation 3 Blu-ray disc Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
Oppo 970HD universal disc DVD Player (480i HDMI)
Denon AVR 5308CI THX Ultra 2 Preamp/Video Processor
Sherbourn Technologies - 7/200 Seven Channel Amplifier
Philips TSU9400 Pro Series Touch Panel Remote Control
Canton "Ergo" Series speakers
Axiom Audio QS8 Quadpolar speakers
SV Sound PB-13 Ultra (Rosenut finish)
APC AV S15BLK Power Conditioner/Surge Protector
Furman SPR-20i Stable Power Regulator
Wireworld, VizionWare, Audioquest, Best Deal Cables - Audio/Video/Speaker Cabling
Cool Components - CP-CP102 cooling package