Watchmen: The Complete Motion Comic

"Excellent"

Watchmen: The Complete Motion Comic Review


With all the hype surrounding Zack Snyder's adaptation of the seminal graphic novel, it's interesting to see how little focus there has been on the literary aspect of the release itself. Oh sure, Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons get name-checked frequently, their brilliant 12-installment comic creating the basis for this anticipated geek event. But with the anticipated blockbuster waiting in the wings, it would be nice to give the masterful, multilayered novel its full due. Now, thanks to Warner Brothers and DC, we are being treated to an inventive "motion comic" of the entire Watchmen tome, and aside from a couple of creative choices, it's a magnificent way to get introduced to this compelling, complicated work.

When Edward Blake, otherwise known as masked hero The Comedian, is killed, one of his former colleagues, Rorschach, decides to investigate. Rorschach soon uncovers what he believes is a plot to destroy all costumed vigilantes once and for all. Ever since the United States passed the Keane Act, effectively outlawing caped crusaders, individuals like himself, female fighter Silk Spectre, good guy Nite Owl II and media star Ozymandias have had to give up the cloak. Only Jon Osterman, aka the radioactive mutant Dr. Manhattan, has been cleared by the government to continue protecting the planet -- and he senses something horrible in the air. As Rorschach gets closer to discovering the truth, he is framed for murder. It is up to Silk and Nite Owl to save him, before Dr. Manhattan's horrific hunches come true.

Using an audio book setup that sees one person doing all the character voices (yes, including the females) and a fluid Flash-based cartooning style, the Watchmen Complete Motion Comic is quite wonderful. It captures the glory of Gibbons' old school panels with the music of Moore's language to accurately highlight the graphic novel experience. Told in a dozen 28-minute-plus episodes and including almost everything from the original source, this is an inspired way to prepare for the film. Sure, some might complain about the lack of legitimate character acting (though as a narrator/interpreter, Tom Stechschulte does do a good job here), it's the ideas that really sell this storyline.

Like The Dark Knight did two decades later, Alan Moore took the entire superhero concept and reinvented it for the real world. Watchmen is loaded with anti-war sentiments, No Nukes posturing, psychological struggles, and one of the most interesting and arcane subtexts ever. Symbolized by the story-within-the-story Tales of the Black Freighter, Moore deconstructs human nature in such a way that the entire fatalistic tone of his narrative is amplified several times over. It's an atmosphere accurately captured by the motion comic. Thanks to the use of Gibbons' designs (including character reactions and backdrops), the dark and downbeat mood is maintained.

While nothing can compare to actually sitting down and getting lost in Moore's prose, the motion comic is still a very satisfying experience. It allows one to free associate on the mental image they've created while reading the book with the way in which director Jake Stride Hughes realizes said imagery. The action is not overdone, but it's also not static or stodgy. Some of the visuals are softened to create a kind of perspective, and the reliance on inspired sound effects brings everything to life. In some ways, this feels like a calculated commercial tie-in aimed at appeasing Moore and Gibbons (the former having made his negative feelings about "filmed" adaptations of his work very clear). While you really should go out and buy the book, this alternative means of access is just as good... and gratifying.



Facts and Figures

Production compaines: warner home video

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 4 / 5

Cast & Crew

Director: Jake Stride Hughes

Producer: Wesley Coller, Jake Stride Hughes

Also starring:

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