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Watchmen Director's Cut (Arrow Recommends)

Watchmen Director's Cut (Arrow Recommends)
03.19.2018by: The Arrow
9 10


"Arrow Recommends is a column that has my sorry ass advise older movies to your royal asses. I will be flexible in terms of genres i.e. I will cover whatever the bleep I want. For now, it will be the way to keep my voice on the site."

PLOT:  In an alternate 1985, a gang of retired superheroes, regroup and get back into action when one their own is assassinated. As they investigate their comrade's mysterious death, they uncover a seedier plot behind it all. The shit hits the shan quicker than you can spell "masterpiece"!

"None of you seem to understand. I'm not locked in here with you. You're locked in here with ME! " – Rorschach

LOWDOWN: Being a huge fan of Zack Snyder’s MAN OF STEEL and BATMAN V. SUPERMAN (the extended cut i.e. the version before the Studio got cold feet about the run-time weeks before opening and chopped it down for release), JUSTICE LEAGUE was top of my list as THE must-see film of 2017. I couldn’t wait to witness how Snyder would wrap up his bold Superman trilogy. But that was not to be. As we all know, the Studio shoved their noses deep up Snyder’s ass, got that Avengers dude to rework the script, fired Snyder as director (he didn’t quit – I know that for a fact) and then had that Avengers dude re-shoot much of the film. As-is JUSTICE LEAGUE is a McMess, an obviously compromised vision and is pretty much the only movie with Snyder’s name on it that I will not own. I’m still holding my breath for a D.Cut though. We’ll see if that ever nade-drops…

Which brings me to Snyder’s 2009 WATCHMEN, a film adaptation of Alan Moore’s insane comic book series put out by DC in 1986-1987. If I learned one crucial thing over the course of following Snyder’s career thus far it would be that if there’s a director’s cut of one of his movies out there – it's the version to see. Dawn of the Dead, Sucker Punch and Batman V Superman were all proof of that. So being that I didn’t get my true Snyder Justice League and I had never seen the WATCHMEN DIRECTOR'S CUT (get the Blu-Ray here)– it felt like the right time to down a couple of shots and dive in there. How did it go down? Boy I didn’t regret that choice!

Now this is a superhero movie I can get into! Don’t get me wrong, I get easy kicks out of everything Marvel, I watch them, I have fun, (for the most part, that new Spider Man grated me) and then I forget them (Winter Soldier aside). But much like Christopher Nolan and his Batman trilogy - Snyder’s visionary take on superheroes goes further than that for me. By rule of middle finger up, I like films that venture beyond the mold and that embrace the bleakness of sour situations, even in my superhero parties, which is why Snyder’s work tends to resonate with me. I adored the heavy handed contrast that was found in WATCHMEN. Yeah we got heroics and bright/colorful superhero costumes and all – but on the flipside, the flick slyly deconstructed the subgenre while being nihilistic, sexually overt and violent as f*ck . And for me that was a winning combo!

And Snyder’s visually arresting signature style served this story well! The aesthetics were jacked up to f*ck yeah and were a huge plus in terms of making this ride such a visceral watch. Am talking impact-charged imagery, all kinds of badass slow motion bits, slick angles and kinetic camera shots. The same panache was applied to the striving and beautifully choreographed action set pieces/brutal & loving it fight sequences. For example, lets face it, nobody else can shoot an arm being viciously broken so gorgeously. I was in slick style heaven over here!

On that, none of it would have mattered without characters to care for and WATCHMEN banged that nail in hard. I so dug the layered exploration of our heroes and what made them who they are, qualities and flaws in tow. There was a mucho fine line between hero and villain in this Zoo – and our “good guys” often crossed over that line to then cross back, constantly. That resulted in some fascinating peeps to follow around with Jackie Earle Haley’s Rorschach probably being my fav of the lot and Jeffrey Dean Morgan’s show stealing sociopath “The Comedian” coming in a close second.

That’s not to say the rest of the cast wasn’t on the money. Malin Akerman (as the naïve yet strong heroine), Billy Crudup (as the enigmatic blue dude with a wee-wee too small for his body), Matthew Goode (as the stoic smartest man in the world), Carla Gugino (as a retired heroine with a secret), and Patrick Wilson (as the nice guy that you don’t want to push too far) all owned in their respective roles! The chemistry of the ensemble was “on” and I couldn’t get enough of them.

Add to all that; ASTOUNDING production designs, a tantalizing mystery, brilliant use of sound, a solid score by Tyler Bates, an eclectic soundtrack, (with artists like Nat King Cole, My Chemical Romance, Bob Dylan,  Philip Glass, Leonard Cohen gunning out tunes, shit, even that tacky 80's song 99 Luftballons by Nena popped up), eye popping visual effects and the fact that the story used real people (like Nixon) and events from our history (Vietnam) as pillars for its sordid tale and you get one hell of an ambitious, unique and transgressive celluloid experience!

Granted there was maybe way too much going on for its own good and pacing issues did surface– but that didn’t tarnish the wow experience for me. When compared to the theatrical cut – the Director’s Cut gave me a tad more of everything for good measures. Further character development, more emphasis on the graphic violence (like the comedian teaching rioters a lesson – old school), further trippy/artsy tendencies and more in your face sexuality. So that was all good news for me!

In closing, films that aim high and go for the jugular like WATCHMEN are the reason I love cinema! I’ll take brash and dangerous, over by the numbers and safe any f*cking day of the week! And that's the thing I realized about Snyder. He's an auteur filmmaker bathing in the "by the numbers" pool that is blockbuster filmmaking. So it was a matter of time before the type of director he is would fully clash with the business side of things. I guess Justice League was his D. Day on that front. Quite the loss if you ask me when it comes to the superhero genre. I'll miss his voice in that field. At least you can still discover or re-discover this gem before the now planned Snyder-less TV series surfaces. Watch WATCHMEN!

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