Watchmen / Director's Cut : 5 of 5
Although I'm totally crazy about the Watchmen graphic novel, somehow I missed seeing the movie at the theater, so I rented the theatrical release from iTunes to watch with my pals. Regardless of the changes made to the plot and various editing choices, I really enjoyed the film, and I think it's one of the most incredible and visually stunning superhero movies ever made. I knew I had to see Watchmen on Blu-ray, so I opted for the Director's Cut rather than the Ultimate Cut (since I knew I could watch the animated Tales of the Black Freighter on Netflix), primarily because of the amazing Maximum Movie Mode that I had heard about. I can't think of a better, more immersive way for a fan to completely get into viewing Watchmen, and I was absolutely stunned by this Blu-ray feature! Maximum Movie Mode is like a "hyper-commentary" that combines all of the typical behind-the-scenes features into the movie itself, so they can be experienced completely in context. While the movie plays, director Zack Snyder often walks on to discuss various scenes (even freeze-framing when he wants to point out some detail). Picture-in-picture video is used to show on-set filming while the scene itself plays, still image galleries are highlighted during the appropriate segment, and there are even comic book frames from the graphic novel displayed to show similar cinematography. I can't praise this feature enough, since it's brilliant to be able to dig deeper into something at the exact moment you're thinking of an aspect of the film, which is so much more exciting than viewing hours of bonus material after the movie is over! I learned a lot about the movie using this mode - I enjoyed Dr. Manhattan's LED suit (for lighting effects), the huge backlot sets, the nice use of the secondary color palette to match the graphic novel, and even Synder's rationale for the changed ending (which truthfully, I have no problem with). It also goes without saying that this longer cut of the film (now around three hours in length) is fantastic and really adds depth to the story. However, after experiencing the spectacular first disc of this set, I was shocked at the lame second disc, which only contains three 30-minute documentaries that hardly focus on the film at all. The history of the Watchmen graphic novel is interesting, and I enjoyed the physics professor explaining some of the technology in the story, but they don't even begin to compete with Maximum Movie Mode. If you're a fan of Watchmen at all, or just enjoy some of the cool experiences that only Blu-ray can provide, I definitely recommend the Director's Cut!