After buzz for the film began to ramp up to extreme levels, Warner no doubt wanted to make sure that they had something to market alongside its release. Cue Watchmen: The Complete Motion Comic, a title arriving on DVD and Blu-ray 3 days prior to the theatrical release of the Watchmen film. With Watchmen sure to be one of the biggest titles to come out of Warner this year, it’s a no-brainer that some merchandising be released alongside of it, although it is a bit strange for them to try so hard with it being an R-rated film. Still, fans of the long-praised comic will get their wish to add more merchandise to their shelves and they can start off with The Complete Motion Comic.
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.
This may be very well the strangest thing I’ve ever reviewed. And I’ve covered the spectrum: live action, animation, concerts, and even a broadway play. But Watchmen: The Complete Motion Comic is certainly a new outing for me as both a movie fan and a reviewer. The idea of motion comics was always something I skipped over on DVDs and Blu-rays whenever they popped up in the extras; they just didn’t appeal to me enough to actually get into them to the point where I genuinely was interested in the happenings of the story.
I’m an old-fashioned type when it comes to reading. I don’t like reading comic books in a PDF on the computer and I don’t want to hold a Kindle to read a book. I require the tactile feedback of flipping the pages to really get engrossed in a book or comic and that’s precisely what the original Watchmen graphic novel did: engross you. So while I was less than excited by the prospect of watching the comic, I did still hold some curiosity about how it would be expected. After all, Watchmen is a very lengthy comic book (with this “motion” comic being split into twelve episodes) and adapting it to motion form, shot-by-shot and with voice over…well, it would be interesting, to say the least.
And..well, it was interesting. For the first ten minutes. Then I glanced at the timer: 5:25:26. Wait…five and a half hours? Seriously? What amounted to a book on tape set to sliding pictures and the occasional very basic flash-style of animation was going to take the better part of five hours to get through? I could read the original graphic novel at a faster pace. On top of that the narrator provided the voices for everything (yup…even the women), so there was little differentiation between…well, everything. It really was nothing more than a glorified book on tape and I felt rather suckered for assuming it would be anything more than that.
Of course it was nice to see the comic book panels brought to life, so to speak, with limited animation, but still in 1080p. It was certainly a crisp and clean looking adaptation of the comic book, with the entirety of it overseen by original illustrator Dave Gibbons. Really…it’s a fantastic graphic novel and I’m sure the film is going to kick all kinds of ass, but this motion comic…it’s something that’s more akin to a bonus feature. Granted, it’s over five hours so that’s not really possible, but…I just don’t know one would have the patience or desire to watch this for five hours.
Watchmen is a fantastic graphic novel, a fantastic story and this…well, since it’s technically both the preceding things, it is by proxy also a fantastic thing. But I just don’t know how anyone, diehard Watchmen fan or no, would sustain a viewing of this. Okay, one viewing is interesting to see how they pulled it off (and to witness some of the changed dialogue—it’s been awhile, I freely admit to not remembering what I read years ago), but aside from that? Five hours is a hard thing to sit through, especially when you have it in a much more comfortable graphic novel form. Worth a Rental at least for the fans…otherwise…well, if you aren’t a comic book fan, could you really imagine convincing anyone else to spend that much time in front of a TV on one story?
Instant bonus: movie cash! Yes this movie cash in comes with $7.50 towards a ticket (sadly I think that might not even cover a matinee here anymore) for the film and a few extras on top of the five hour feature. The set itself comes in a standard two-disc Elite Blu-ray case (second disc is a digital copy…for, you know, those loooooooooong plane rides) as well as an advertisement for the graphic novel and the upcoming video game. Surprisingly no firmware notice is included and there are no menus automatically either, as the comic auto-starts.
Video is a VC-1 encoded transfer and…well, it’s basically a bunch of still images with limited animation for the entirety of it, so there’s not a whole lot here to expect. It’s fantastic looking for what it is, with only a twinge of compression showing up here and there. The included TrueHD 5.1 track is surprisingly active, although not enough so that you would want to blast this in your home theater for…well, I won’t mention the run time again, I’m sure you all know what it is by now (FIVE HOURS!).
Extras include a quick Watchmen Production Diaries #4 (2:48, HD) (what, you couldn’t include all of them? Lame), an exclusive scene from the film via BD-Live (which I skipped viewing so as to not spoil myself for the eventual viewing in a few days) and a look at the Wonder Woman Sneak Peek (10:26, SD) DVD/Blu-ray release that sees release the same day as this motion comic.
And that wraps up this release. Diehard Watchmen fans need only apply, and even then the dialogue changes and overall longevity of it all may just make you grab the book instead. Once again, a Rental only.
Watchmen: The Complete Motion Comic is now available on DVD and Blu-ray.