Friday, July 10, 2009

MOVIES- Watchmen on Blu-Ray (Twice, like Dr. Manhattan)

WATCHMEN* is being released on Blu-Ray in a couple of weeks. It’s billed as the Director’s Cut but in a strange piece of pissing-right-there-in-your-Wheaties marketing an advertisement for the Ultimate Double-Secret Super Director’s Cut is included in the box! At least there’s a $10 coupon for the more complete edition included. Or is it a coupon for K-Y Jelly?

It’s easy to be snarky about DVD marketing. Rarely is a movie released nowadays that doesn’t have at least two variations on disk. First there were the widescreen/pan-and-scan variants (disk has two sides = problem solved). Then there were the theatrical/director’s cut flavors (DVDs have this thing called Branching technology that allows them to random access different parts of the disk so different versions of the same movie can co-exist on the disk). Then there was just the constant re-release of movies, often with little or no difference even in the special materials, just new cover art. I believe much of the problem of slow acceptance of HD disk formats such as Blu-Ray and HD-DVD is due to consumers having been so burned that they figured it was just another way for Hollywood to re-sell them movies they already owned again. After years of VARIANT COVER nonsense even comics fans figured out they were being played for fools (thought Marvel and DC are still in there swinging at the low hanging fruit), can movie fans be that much stupider?

I used to say that if I wasn’t buying a movie on DVD, just licensing it’s use, then whenever a new edition came out I should be given that version either gratis or at a substantial discount. After all, I already hold a license to use it.

And that’s why it’s easy to be snarky, but it isn’t exactly fair to be, when it comes to the new WATCHMEN release. True, Warner Bros. isn’t exactly advertising that they already plan for a bigger version of the same movie to be released in less than six months but you can’t really blame them for that. And they are softening the blow for anyone unaware of the later edition by including the coupon (which harkens back to my “I already own a license” idea). There are some value-added advantages to owning the earlier Blu-Ray- such as participating in the 2009 Comic Con showing via BD Live, in addition to satisfying the childish ‘I want it NOW’ feeling we all succumb to from time to time. The special features look fantastic, it does include 24 minutes of added footage (although not the Tales of the Black Freighter story-within-a-story from the graphic novel) and Amazon is even sweetening the pot by allowing you to watch the movie via internet on the day of release if you’ve pre-ordered the disk.

My first impulse was to wait for the expanded edition. I’ve vowed that I wasn’t going to repurchase any more movies that I already own except in extreme circumstances. (Do you have any idea how many copies of Terminator 2 or Blade Runner I’ve bought since owning them on LaserDisk? Neither do I.) But since buying the version with the Black Freighter included and commentary by Dave Gibbons** is a certainty and since the net cost of the first version is only $13 on Amazon when you consider the coupon, I have to say that somebody will be getting a slightly used copy of WATCHMEN- the Director’s Cut on BD for Christmas and I’ll be buying two copies of the same movie this year after all.

* Original review of WATCHMEN here. I honestly have never figured out what all the hate was for this movie (except for the possible reasons mentioned in the review). Sure, it’s not Citizen Kane, but it’s a damn fine comic book movie and had it not been an adaptation of such a revered graphic novel I can’t imagine that it wouldn’t have done better. I loved Dark Knight, but Watchmen was everything everyone said about DK- moody, serious, literary, visually fantastic, morally ambiguous, and nuanced- only more so. Sure, I could quibble too. The soundtrack was much maligned but nobody I’ve read picked out the biggest soundtrack mistake I noticed- that if you were going to play Simon and Garfunkle over the Comedian’s funeral scene you should have played The Boxer rather than Bridge Over Troubled Water. Watchmen is one of the ten best comic book movies ever made. (In no order they are: Batman Begins, The Dark Knight, X-Men, Iron Man, SpiderMan II, SpiderMan, X-Men II, Superman II, and Road to Perdition.) If you can’t enjoy it then you need to examine why.

**…and all I have to say to Alan Moore about being such a party pooper about the whole thing is that I would have loved to hear you talk about the movie on the audio track and I would have been proud for you to be financially improved by a small bit of the money I’ve spent and will spend on the fruits of your imagination. But seriously, you’re taking yourself way too seriously. You wrote some entertaining comic book stories and, yeah, you may even be the best writer comics have ever seen. But get over yourself. Lighten up. The world would be a much better place if self-important assholes like you would just try to contribute to the total amount of fun that exists instead of going all teen-aged angsty and pouting for the last half of your life. William Faulkner went to Hollywood and wrote screenplays! Sure, he was a drunken reprobate, but in my experience drunken reprobates are more fun than egomaniacal goth “wizard” shitheads any day of the week. Why don’t you crawl up J. D. Salinger’s ass and then have him crawl up the ass of James Joyce’s rotting corpse so all of you can consider yourselves kings of infinite space there in your nutshells? In short- Fuck you, Alan Moore. What a crybaby!

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