Note: This is a review of "The Ultimate Cut" of "Watchmen".
As with anything great in the realm of fantasy, whether it be just straight up fiction, science fiction, horror, or even a superhero tale there are two sides to the coin. Entertainment and intelligent film depth. It's rare that a movie of the fantasy realm can navigate the two sides let alone do it as brilliantly as "Watchmen" did. This film is both an entertaining romp into another 'time and place' and an intellectually stimulating and morally challenging film that will have you chewing on its contents for a long time.
Zack Snyder has made his true film crowning achievement with "Watchmen". I know that many people probably don't want to see a character study on the human condition when they go to see a 'superhero' film (I know a handful personally), but I find this film to be amazingly swift at making it seem as though we are watching a true life experience instead of watching superheroes try to save the world. The script is tight as hell, the characters insanely deep and intriguing, and Snyder's knack for visual snappiness is in top form. "Watchmen" has my money as the best hero film of all time - even though the concept of hero is claimed loose in the film.
Of course what I enjoy best about this film is its lack of regard to being 'watered down'. The content of the story is emotionally jarring, disturbing, and fairly extreme, as we have discussions of the value of human life, the concept of sacrifice, loyalty, and whether or not the act of doing nothing is as evil as the sin committed by humanity. So its only fitting that this film would continue in this manner. The violence is extremely brutal and nudity is included with the romantic elements. I'm glad they didn't pull back for it as it would have lessened the impact of the conceptional parts of the film along with its moral food for thought for the audience. Hell, most every controversial aspect of human society is touched: rape, killing in the name of God, killing to save another's life, abortion, adultery, the existence of an afterlife, the Vietnam war, and even the cause of cancer and its impact. This film isn't afraid of anything. One more reason I love it.
Granted, the Ultimate Cut of the film is extremely long (I think I read somewhere that it clocks in at around 215 minutes) with the addition of the cartoon adaption of the comic within comic story "Tales Of The Black Freighter" and the already released 'director's cut' of the film. "The Black Freighter" is nice to see - especially if you are a fan of the graphic novel to begin with - and for the most part is nicely edited where it needs to be in the film adding that whole new depth to the film as it parallels the tension and moral ambiguity of the film. Although, I understand why they left it out originally with its pacing influx, it was still nice to see that as a fan.
"Watchmen" is visually stunning, the writing is intense and tight, the acting is borderline brilliant, and the story is something everyone should watch (or read) as an adult. This is one of the best films ever made, let alone one about costumed heroes.
Written By Matt Reifschneider