Just ahead of the release of the Watchmen live action feature, an animated version of the highly acclaimed comic book hits the shelves Tuesday in the form of Watchmen: The Complete Motion Comic, available on both DVD and Blu-ray. I’ve had the chance to see the DVD release, so Read More for details and a review. Wanting a little more interaction? Warner Bros. Digital Distribution will launch Watchmen: Justice is Coming, an MMO for iPhone and iPod Touch, on Friday to coincide with the movie’s release. G4TV has a preview video with interviews and gameplay footage.
At over 5 hours this is LONG – it has all 12 chapters of the novel across two discs. That doesn’t leave a lot of room for special features – and the only one it comes with is a sneak peek at the animated Wonder Woman which is also released on March 3rd. English is also the only language, with English subtitles.
The first DVD opens with several previews, including a general WB Blu-ray “experience”, trailers for the movie and game, and Wonder Woman. This then leads to static menus done like comic book panels. Each chapter of the novel is a chapter on the DVD, playable individually or all together (although credits still appear at the end of each chapter).
I wasn’t sure what to expect from the animation on this. I thought it might be in the “Warner Bros. Superhero” style, much like the recent Justice League and similar to the 70s-80s style. But I had a suspicion that this might be more like the pages of a comic book with some movement. And that is what it was.
Imagine taking the pages of a comic, separating foreground from background, and doing slight animation to the foreground characters. Even dialog bubbles and narration boxes in the “standard” comic font appear – which means I guess the subtitles are more for description of sounds than the dialog.
At first I thought this would be a distraction, and at times it was pretty “comicky” for lack of a better term, but it actually didn’t bother me as much as I thought. I admin, I haven’t yet read the graphic novel, but I expect this is an incredibly faithful (and possibly complete) rendition of the novel, utilizing the original art (and the production overseen by illustrator Dave Gibbons). The addition of the voices and sounds seems to give a little more life to the characters, and perhaps allows their emotions to come across better than just reading pages.
The one thing I didn’t really like though was the voice. There was only one voice actor (Tom Stechschulte) doing all the roles – both male and female. At times the changes in voices reminds me of when my kids have watch Thomas The Tank Engine when the narrator also does the train voices. And at times the mostly monotone voice can be, well, monotonous. In some cases the dialog bubbles actually help let you know who is talking. And at least a couple of times the dialog delivery seemed to stutter in order to allow the dialog bubbles to stay in sync.
The material is decidedly mature, but the DVD itself is Unrated. I don’t recommend it at all for younger viewers, despite its “comic book” heritage.
Overall it appears to be a totally faithful adaptation of the original (since it appears to BE the original, with sound and motion) that should appease Watchmen fans and may appeal to those who’d like the whole story without necessarily reading it for themselves.