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Watchmen: The Complete Motion Comic(2008)
Watched any great books lately? Now you can. The most celebrated graphic novel of all time that broke the conventional mold continues to break new ground WATCHMEN illustrator Dave Gibbons oversees this digital version of the graphic novel that adds limited motion, voice and sound to the books strikingly drawn panels. All 12 chapters of the story are here nearly 5 hours spanning everything from the mysterious demise of the Comedian to the crisscrossed destinies of loosely allied superheroes to their fateful impact on the world. Be in the know. Be watching. With Watchmen: The Complete Motion Comic.
For more about Watchmen: The Complete Motion Comic and the Watchmen: The Complete Motion Comic Blu-ray release, see Watchmen: The Complete Motion Comic Blu-ray Review published by Kenneth Brown on February 28, 2009 where this Blu-ray release scored 3.5 out of 5.
Watchmen: The Complete Motion Comic Blu-ray Review
A fantastic companion release for fans of Moore and Gibbons' original series...
Reviewed by Kenneth Brown, February 28, 2009
What hasn't been written about controversial comic writer Alan Moore and artist David Gibbons' 1986 genre-bending jaw-dropper, Watchmen? Not only did the 12-issue miniseries subvert the rosy superheroics of its comicbook brethren, it satirized the politics and socioeconomic practices of the era, stunned industry insiders and outsiders with its bleak vision and shocking developments, and won lofty praise from respected publications like Time magazine and The New York Times. The series' legacy only intensified over the years, earning the graphic novel a coveted spot on Time's 2005 list of the best English-language novels of the century. Perhaps one of the only comic stories to ever reach legitimate literary acclaim, Watchmen is nothing short of a masterpiece.
For anyone not in the know, Watchmen tells the sprawling, brooding tale of a group of grim-n-gritty superheroes whose aid has been rejected and outlawed by society at large. Set in an alternate '80s America (where Richard Nixon is serving his fourth term as president after relying on a particularly powerful hero named Doctor Manhattan to end the Vietnam War), the story opens with the murder of the Comedian, a government-employed superhero whose death draws the attention of several former colleagues. The first to learn of the Comedian's death is a borderline-psychopathic vigilante named Rorschach, a Batman-esque crime fighter operating beyond the boundaries of the law. As he sets out to warn other ex-heroes -- a washed-up Nite Owl, a perpetually victimized Silk Spectre, a financially successful Ozymandias, and Manhattan himself -- of a possible conspiracy being mounted against them, he encounters far more than he bargained for.
When the oft-labeled "unfilmmable" miniseries finally gained traction in Hollywood with 300 director Zack Snyder at the helm, fans began to revisit Watchmen, demanding new ways to experience the now-classic series. Warner Brothers responded in 2008 with a collection of Watchmen: Motion Comics, stirring productions that reinvigorated the original print format with animation, narration, sound effects, and a musical score. More than a simple cut-and-paste presentation, the motion comics featured intensive overhauls of every panel, intricately mapped character movements, shifting perspectives, and imperceptible CG renderings, all produced under the watchful eye of Gibbons himself. The results are nothing short of staggering -- each panel springs to life, virtual cameras descend flights of stairs, viewpoints push over characters' shoulders to gaze at every locale, word bubbles drift alongside their sources, and ink blots swirl on Rorschach's mask. The Blu-ray edition of Watchmen: The Complete Motion Comic collects all twelve chapters of the animated production in a tidy package that fans and newcomers alike will find to be easily accessible and thoroughly engrossing.
My lone complaint about Watchmen: The Complete Motion Comic is that all of the voicework falls to a lone narrator, Tom Stechschulte. While he does an outstanding job throughout the production with many of the characters' distinct deliveries, accents, and tonal qualities, his feminine voices are a bit cheesy. Audio book regulars will shrug off this as an inherent (and relatively minor) problem, but I really wish the producers had hired a separate actress to voice Silk Spectre and other women that appear in the series. Still, Stechschulte is a fine addition to the production and generally elevates the motion comics as readily as the music, effects, and animation.
As far as I'm concerned, there isn't a Watchmen fan on the planet -- casual or diehard -- who shouldn't have this release sitting on their shelf. I can't recommend it enough.
Watchmen: The Complete Motion Comic Blu-ray, Video Quality
When I first learned about Watchmen: The Complete Motion Comic, I wasn't sure what to think. Would Gibbons' artwork stand up to close scrutiny? Would his composition be undermined by animated panels? Would technical shortcomings spoil the proceedings? Thankfully, Warner's 1080p/VC-1 transfer quickly put all of my fears to rest. Not only has the series' original lineart been lovingly reproduced from each issue, color fills are bold and stable, edges are impeccably crisp, and inky blacks add tremendous depth to the panels. Detail is incredibly revealing as well. The various sequences may not feature many textures, but every background element, sample of text, and word bubble is impeccably sharp and refined. And while there are a handful of scenes that look a bit distorted when the camera pushes in on Gibbons' at-times simplistic artistry, I never attributed any of the motion comic's negligible flaws to its technical transfer. Better still, despite a five-plus hour runtime, the presentation doesn't fall prey to any distracting artifacts, unintentional bursts of source noise, or any debilitating banding. Granted, minor edge enhancement has been applied throughout the production, but it rarely drew attention to itself or caught my discerning eye.
All things considered, Watchmen: The Complete Motion Comic is a sight to behold. It certainly doesn't have the impact of a fully-animated production, but it sufficiently surpassed my expectations and left me eager to rediscover my favorite scenes from the original series. Watchmen fans will not be disappointed.
Watchmen: The Complete Motion Comic Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Of course, the very nature of Watchmen: The Complete Motion Comic limits the impact of Warner's otherwise proficient Dolby TrueHD 5.1 surround track. Tom Stechschulte's narration and voicework is evenly distributed across the front soundstage, the production's sound effects are well represented in the mix, and the LFE channel adds a naturalistic, earthy weight to the motion comic's omnipresent score and rousing action sequences. Admittedly, aside from some light acoustic support and fleeting ambience, the rear speakers are largely silent and lend very little to the presentation. Likewise, pans and directionality are often a moot point as the entire experience is more akin to an audio book than a feature film. Ultimately, your enjoyment of the track will come down to personal expectations. If you're hoping for an involving and immersive soundfield, you'll be underwhelmed by this lossless mix. However, if you're looking for an impressive technical presentation that goes above and beyond what's required of it in every regard, you'll be exceedingly pleased with the results.
Watchmen: The Complete Motion Comic Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
The Blu-ray edition of Watchmen: The Complete Motion Comic only offers two brief extras: a 3-minute featurette about the upcoming Zack Snyder adaptation and a 10-minute extended preview of Bruce Timm's Wonder Woman. Still, with more than five hours of Watchmen to dig through, it's tough to complain about an anemic supplemental package.
Watchmen: The Complete Motion Comic Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
If you have any love, any curiosity, or any affection whatsoever for Watchmen, you absolutely must pick up this release. High production values, a superb technical video transfer, and a commendable lossless audio track combine with a timeless masterpiece to produce an experience everyone should sample. Sure, there aren't any major special features to be had, but, frankly, who cares? More than five hours of content, twelve complete issues, and a thrilling classic make this release one to own.
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