Now that I think about it, maybe this isn’t right at all. Maybe I should reserve the “Animation Sidebar” series — which is anything but a “sidebar” at this point, for which I must sincerely apologize to grindhouse and exploitation fans out there who read, or at the very least check in on things at, this site, either religiously or occasionally, but rest assured I’ll return to treading more familiar territory in the very near future — should be reserved solely for flicks that are, well, animated. Which this isn’t — not fully, at any rate.
Not that it’s not good — it is. in fact, it’s really good. But then, so is Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons’ original Watchmen comic, and that’s pretty much exactly what this is. Only it’s narrate. And the pictures move — a little — courtesy of an animation studio called Juice Films, who pretty much took Gibbons’ art “as is,” threw in a few motion effects here and there, and called it a day. All of which is my by-now-traditionally roundabout way of saying that even if you love the book on which this — errmmm (sorry, Rorschach) — “film” is based, you might not actually need to ever watch, much less own or rent, this so-called “motion comic.”
Don’t get me wrong — it’s cool to see Rorschach’s mask moving and shit, but beyond that there’s really nothing about watching a semi-animated Watchmen that reading the printed Watchmen doesn’t offer. In fact, it gets a little weird in that actor Tom Stechschulte, who provides the narration, voices all the characters, and while that’s gotta be something of a tall order and he does the best he can to differentiate them in ways both subtle and obvious, he really doesn’t pull of Silk Spectre very convincingly because, well, he’s a guy and she’s (obviously) not.
Still, if even Zack Snyder’s celluloid riff on Watchmen didn’t hew close enough to its source to satisfy you, there’s no doubt that this will, because it’s not so much an “adaptation” as it is a beat-for-beat, note-for-note, word-for-word, image-for-image translation of said source into a new medium. And that’s pretty cool — even if the novelty wears off , for the most part, after a handful of its 20-or-so-minute “chapters.”
If it’s all the same to you, dear reader, I’m not gonna bother with a plot recap or anything like that here, not so much out of laziness as because I covered Watchmen so extensively when it came out in theaters (and later on DVD and Blu-Ray), and because most of you are probably so familiar with the story already, that there’s just not much point.
I won’t skimp on the background info, though,how does that sound? This was released in a two-disc DVD set and as a single-disc Blu-Ray by Warner Premier in late 2008 as part of the promotional run-up to the at-the-time-still-forthcoming Watchmen movie. I’ve seen bits and parts of it on both formats, and for the life of me can’t really tell the difference between them apart from the fact that the Blu-Ray crams it all onto one disc. Widescreen picture and 5.1 sound for both are outstanding. Neither iteration features any extras, and in fact this was included as an extra with both the DVD and Blu-Ray versions of the Watchmen : The Ultimate Cut package, and that might be the most natural home, all told, for material of this nature.
Oh, and it’s worth pointing out that even this was too “Hollywood” for Alan Moore and he asked to have his name removed from the credits for it, as is generally his custom these days. Love him or hate him (you know where I stand, the guy’s an absolute genius in my book), you have to admit there’s absolutely no slack in his act.
Inna final analysis, then, as the news vendor in Watchmen would say, this is an interesting and cool thing to watch through at last once, I suppose, but only if you’re a die-hard fan of the original work — and only then if you’re feeling too lazy to pick it up and actually read it.