Watchmen: Limited Series Blu-ray Review

Set in an alternate history where masked vigilantes are treated as outlaws, Watchmen embraces the nostalgia of the original groundbreaking graphic novel of the same name, while attempting to break new ground of its own. Ralph Potts reviews the Blu-ray release of the HBO Limited Series from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment.

The Review at a Glance:
(max score: 5 )

Film:

Extras:

Audio/Video total rating:
( Max score: 100 )

90

Details:

Studio and Year: Warner – 2019
MPAA Rating: NR
Feature running time: 527 minutes
Genre: Fantasy/Sci-Fi

Disc Format: BD-50
Encoding: AVC
Video Aspect: 1.78:1
Resolution: 1080p/24

Audio Format(s): English DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio, Spanish/French Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish
Starring: Regina King, Jeremy Irons, Jean Smart, Tim Blake Nelson, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Hong Chau, Sara Vickers, Louis Gossett Jr., Andrew Howard, James Wolk, Tom Mison, Frances Fisher, Don Johnson
Directed by: Various
Music by: Trent Reznor, Atticus Ross
Written by: Damen Lindelof, Dave Gibbons, Jeff Jensen, Claire Kiechel, Cord Jefferson, Alan Moore
Region Code: A

Release Date: June 2, 2020

“It’s Time”

Synopsis:

“Set in an alternate history where masked vigilantes are treated as outlaws, Watchmen embraces the nostalgia of the original groundbreaking graphic novel of the same name, while attempting to break new ground of its own.” – Warner Bros. Home Entertainment

My Take:

Based on the celebrated graphic novel by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons, the exciting and dark “Watchmen” takes place in Tulsa, Okla., 34 years after the original story. After a white supremacist attack on the local police department, which leaves only two surviving cops on the beat, laws are passed that allow the cops to hide their identities behind masks. One of these cops, Angela Abar, adopts the identity of Sister Night and fights racists while dealing with the decades-long legacy of the vigilantes.

I have never read the graphic novel but, enjoy the feature film based on it. My daughter has seen the film, read the novel and watched Watchmen which is a limited series that is set in an alternate time/history that incorporates elements from the novel/film and tells its own unique tale. I was sure to speak with her before sitting down with it and, over the course of its nine episodes touched base with her a few times in order to ensure that I was correctly gleaning its references.

Strict attention to detail is important as the narrative is dense and utilizes many flashback/present sequences to render its eclectic storyline. I didn’t find that to be problematic or thematically disingenuous as it effectively supported the layer peeling aspects of the primary and secondary plots. The script is busy, featuring a series of characters that revolve around the primary one played by Regina King (who is terrific in the role), several of whom should be familiar to fans of the film/novel.

I found Watchmen to be compelling both artistically and narratively speaking as it drew me in with its context, action and melodrama. Being a fan of the film, I reveled in the essence of its alternate style and timeframe. There is a tangibility to its themes which is underscored by its visceral edge and engaging characters. There is a hint of hokum but, that never rises to objectionable levels. I can’t say that when it was over that I was thoroughly satisfied with the outcome of each plot point but, I found the series as a whole to be quite good. I would say that if you’re going in cold with no prior knowledge of the world of Watchmen you may find that getting the most out of Watchmen will be difficult.

Here is the series’ episode listing:

• It’s Summer and We’re Running Out of Ice
• Martial Feats of Comanche Horsemanship
• She Was Killed By Space Junk
• If You Don’t Like My Story, Write Your Own
• Little Fear of Lightning
• This Extraordinary Being
• An Almost Religious Awe
• A God Walks Into Abar
• See How They Fly

Replay Value:

Parental Guide:

The series contains mature thematic material, sensuality, violence and racial epithets.

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.**

Audio: 90
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

  • Dynamics: 
  • Low frequency effects: 
  • Surround Sound presentation: 
  • Clarity/Detail: 
  • Dialog Reproduction: 
  • DSU/DTS Neural:X Rating * (non-rated element): 

Video: 90
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

  • Resolution/Clarity: 
  • Black Level/Shadow Detail: 
  • Color Reproduction: 
  • Fleshtones:
  • Compression: 

Watchmen comes to Blu-ray Disc from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment featuring 1080p AVC encoded video and lossless DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio sound.

This television series effectively uses visual aesthetics to set the tone based upon the subject matter or mood of a particular scene. In all respects there is a pleasing blend of primary colors that are capably offset by delineated secondary hues. Fleshtones are natural and lifelike in depiction. Resolution is estimable as close ups and midlevel pans have appreciable depth while exhibiting varying levels of refinement.

Fine detail isn’t always copiously on display which results in images appearing less delineated at times. On the contrary there are many instances where the video has defining sharpness and lucidity. Contrast is stable and blacks are dynamic with excellent perceptibility in shadowy areas within the image. I didn’t see any obvious signs of video related anomalies.

The DTS-HD MA soundtrack features crystal clear dialog, robust dynamics and a subtle, yet enriching surround sound mix. I was pleased with its use of spatial dimension and directional cues to create an apropos and occasionally immersive sound field. This worked hand in hand with show’s music and accentuated the show’s thematic elements. I thought it sounded quite good.

Bonus Features:

  • Exclusive Hooded Justice
    • Exclusive The Colossal King – Adrian Veidt
    • Watchmen: Unmasked
    • 2019 New York Comic Con
    • Watchmen: Masked and Dangerous
    • Watchmen S1: Trailer
    • Character Trailers: Sister Night, Blond Man and Looking Glass
    • Becoming Sister Night
    • Notes from the Watchmen graphic novel artist Dave Gibbons
    • Rorschach Featurette
    • Watchmen: Alternate History
    • It’s Raining Squids
    • Squid Shelter with Tim Blake Nelson
    • Andrij Parekh on Directing
    • Sadiqua Bynum runs, jumps and falls for Sister Night
    • Anatomy of a Fight Scene
    • Glimpses – The Visual Effects of Watchmen
  • Digital Code

Final Thoughts:

Set in an alternate history where masked vigilantes are treated as outlaws, Watchmen embraces the nostalgia of the original groundbreaking graphic novel of the same name, while attempting to break new ground of its own. It successfully achieves it goal, making for an engaging, well-crafted and entertaining limited series. It comes to Blu-ray from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment featuring excellent technical merits along with a fan friendly assortment of extras. Watchmen requires a bit of commitment in order to glean the most from it but, the payoff is well worth it.

 

Ralph Potts
AVS Forum Blu-ray Reviews

Reference Review System:

JVC DLA-RS2000 4K Ultra High Definition Front Projector
(Calibrated with Calman color calibration software and Portrait Displays C6 HDR2000 colorimeter from Portrait.com)
Stewart Filmscreen – Studiotek 130 G3 100” 16×9 Screen
Carada Masquerade Electronic Horizontal Masking System
Marantz AV7704 Audio/Video Processor
Emotiva XPA-7 Gen 3 Seven Channel Amplifier
Emotiva XPA-11 Gen 3 Amplifier
Panasonic DP-UB820 Ultra HD Blu-ray Player
Oppo BDP-203 Ultra HD Blu-ray Player
System Controller: Apple iPad/Roomie Remote V6 Universal Remote Control
SVS Ultra Tower Speakers (Gloss Finish)
SVS Ultra Center Channel (Gloss Finish)
SVS Ultra Surrounds (Gloss Finish in Bipolar Configuration)
Dual SVS PC4000 Cylinder Subwoofers
Niles Audio In-Ceiling/In-Wall Series Speakers
Panamax M5400-PM Power Conditioner/Surge Protector
Wireworld, Better Cables (Silver Serpent) – Audio/Video/Speaker Cabling
AC Infinity Aircom T8 Component Cooling Systems