Needless to say that Zack Snyder‘s congenial adaption of Alan Moore‘s cult comic had a difficult start at the box office. With over $130 Million Dollar production costs (promotion not included) the movie worldwide hardly made $190 Million Dollar at the box office. It is nowhere near enough to break even. Even the $75 Million Dollar from the DVD sale and rental don’t help any further. Anyhow one can state even after several times viewing: The microcosm WATCHMEN is a cinematic pleasure definitively belonging to the masterpieces of the last decade.
On the 3rd of November 2009 the "Ultimate Cut" has been released in the US where the Tales of the Black Freighter has been accurately inserted from the original into the Director’s Cut. Also available in this marvelous collector’s box is Watchmen - The Complete Motion Comic (on 2 DVD), a bulky bonus disc amongst others the pseudo-documentation "Under the Hood" as well as a digital copy of the movie itself. This bargain box for fans is definitively a point of honor and apart from that one can mention that due to the insert of the comic the movie measures up to the origin and adds this already dark movie more darkness.
Furthermore should be mentioned that Gerard Butler has got an extra start credits because he is the voice of the Sea Captain in the Black Freighter Tales.
After visiting Nite Owl II Rorschach walks through the streets and his inside monologue can be heard. In the Ultimate Cut he says a little more: "But there are so many deserving of retribution and so little time." Then the first insert of Comic Tales of the Black Freighters begins: the destroyed ship, the Captain tries to rescue another survivor who however dies. Amidst this chaos the Black Freighter surfaces, the Captain horrified looks after the boat hauling up on the figurehead which drifts in the water, then falls exhausted asleep. Cut onto the real world where the boy reads the Comic at the kiosk. The vendor says to him: "Hey. What do you think, kid? We ought to nuke Russia and let God sort it out. Or at the very least, send Dr. Manhattan over for a visit. You know what I'm saying? I mean, I ain't trying to be an asshole or anything, but they're the ones who are agitating us. Now this is just my opinion. But I'm a news vendor, you know, so I am informed." In the meantime Walter Kovacs arrived, the vendor knows him: "Yeah, I know, the new Frontiers-Man. Well, it's not here yet. I'd appreciate if you didn't stand around waiting because I don't know when it's going to be here." The boy interferes: "I thought you said you were informed." The vendor and Kovacs are looking at him. The vendor angrily: "Are you gonna buy that (Comic)?" Boy: "No." The vendor takes the comic out of the boy’s hands running into Kovacs while turning around. "Oh, Jesus. Just try again tomorrow, okay?" With a last empty glance Kovacs leaves. The vendor heaves a sigh and with the following scene in Veidt’s office both versions run again synchronic.
( 206 sec. )
After Rorschach has been at Blake’s tomb at night the next insert has been made after the cut-backs. Cut onto the vendor (Bernie) and Hollis Mason standing in front of the kiosk. Hollis: "Hey, Bernie." Bernie: "Yeah?" Hollis: "Can I get a Time magazine from you there?" Bernie: "Sure." Hollis: "How much you want for it now?" Bernie: "For you, 2 bucks." Hollis: "Two bucks. Going up, huh? There you go. Thanks." Hollis moves on while Bernie is calling after him: "Hey, I like your book." Hollis turns around: "Hey, thanks, Bernie. I appreciate it." He then walks on. The boy still reading the Comic in the foreground. The camera moves into the Comic and there’s a change into the animation movie. The Captain wakes up on a beach where parts of his mens dead bodies are washed ashore. Short monologue, the Captain drags the figurehead on the beach. Then he walks along entertaining dark thoughts. With the love scene between Dr. Manhattan and Laurie both versions run again synchronic.
( 157 sec. )
Dan & Lauries fight in the street. At the end they bid farewell and without warning the next animation insert starts. The Captain sits fantasizing on the beach before he notices the silhouette of a raft on the horizon. He jumps into the water – it is the dead body of Ridley. The Captain pulls the cadaver out of the sea onto the beach and recognizes the rope around the body. He makes a sail out of this rope and a cloth. Meanwhile the other dead bodies have been swollen and are filled with gas. The Captain decides to use the bodies as a raft and binds them together. When he’s done he sets sail on the dead bodies. He gets into a storm which he survives save. The next morning there are many sea-gulls aboard picking at the bodies. The Captain can catch a bird and biting into it because he’s very hungry. Change into reality, the camera moves back from the Comic to the boy. In the background a man came running down the street exitedly shouting to everybody: "He's gone. He's gone." Bernie: "Who's gone?" The man: "Dr. Manhattan." Bernie stunned: "What? What'd you say?" Again the man: "Dr. Manhattan's gone. He's left us." He walks along Bernie calling after him: "What? Gone where?"
( 349 sec. )
Rorschach is imprisoned. Before the talking with the psychiatrist again more material in the Ultimate Cut. It starts with the headline of the Times and Bernie talking to himself: "I knew this guy was a kook. But Rorschach... usually I got an intuition about these kind of things." The boy looks on the paper too: "Thought the dude would be bigger." Bernie: "It goes to show you, kid, you never know." A customer passing by: "Hey, let me get a Gazette." Bernie shows him the headline: "Yeah. Hey, you see this? He was a customer of mine. Used to come here all the time." The customer is impressed: "No shit?" The boy again starts reading the Comic and in the background there is another customer talking to Bernie: "Hey, Bernie. Any good news?" Then the animation movie: The Captain hallucinates talking to his dead friend Ridley who is bounded at the mast. Cut-backs onto the combat and the Captain gets some imaginary morbid news from his friend.
( 249 sec. )
Dan Dreiberg awakens from a nightmare where he gets atomized together with Laurie in an explosion. Directly after, again the Black Freigther Tales. The Captain apathetically sitting on the cadaver raft when suddenly sharks appear starting to gorge the bodies. He struggles and can kill a shark but is not able to prevent the bodies eaten up by the sharks. The skull of his dead friend Ridley ist he only thing he can save. At last he swims away on the sharks cadaver hanging in ropes still hallucinating. He has visions of his crew’s death, his family and the ghost-ship passing him by. He can see the skulls of his wife and daughters at the stern, becomes desperate, swims after the ship and finally let sink himself in the dark depth. After a short time he reaches ground and with "Hey Man. What you reading?" there is a change back to the kiosk where the boy gets spoken to by the "Knot Tops". "Nothing, Man." The gang laugh and one of them means: "Nothing, huh?" Bernie from the background: "Hey, hey! You leave that kid alone!" He gets warned: "Shut up, old man!" The leader turns back towards the boy, takes the Comic out of his hands and laughs. "You're reading a comic book? What are you, retarded?" The boy gets up and runs off, one of the Knot Tops calls after him: "Aw, hey, where you going, short bus?"
( 293 sec. )
Rorschach’s diary ends up in the mail entrance of the Newspaper. Directly after again additional materila in the Ultimate Cut. The kiosk getting delivered new papers. Bernie is reading the headline. "Oh, God help us." The young comic reader arrives and Bernie addresses him: "It's a little early for you, huh?" Boy: "Yeah. I wanted to finish the story before school." Bernie mugs but gets the Comic out fort he boy: "Listen, now you just keep it, okay?" The boy couldn’t believe it. "Huh?" Bernie: "It's yours. I mean, life's too short, right?" The boy amazed: "Yeah. Uh, Thanks, man." Then he sits down and continues reading the story. The Captain has sunk into the sea shortly before the shore. He stands up and his gaze lingered on Davidstown his hometown in the distance. Visions annoy him and he hides from an approaching couple. Sensing betrayal he kills both then rides – carrying the dead woman along – into the town. Now it’s getting more and more obvious that he has hallucinated because he ingresses into his house and kills his wife in delusion. When he recognizes his fault he gets frightened, leaves the house running directly into the arms of some citizens who found the dead woman. The Captain escapes in the direction of the beach...
( 256 sec. )
After the monitors showing the atomic explosion follows the rest of the Black Freighter Story. The Captain reaches the beach realizing his visions and catches sight of the Black Freighter anchoring at the shore. He goes aboard, getting restrained and the ghost captain with the upraised saber approaches him. Cahnge back to reality where the boy lost in thoughts looks at the Comic and then slowly turns towards Bernie: "Man, this shit don't make no sense." Bernie: "You're telling me." The boy stands up reaching Bernie back the Comic: "Sorry, but you can keep this garbage. Wasting all my damn time." Bernie: "Hey, hey. You know, all this time you've been coming here I never caught your name." Boy: "Bernard." Bernie: "Bernard? You're kidding. That's... heh. That's my name too." Boy: "Not that big a deal. There's lots of people called Bernard." A rumbling can be heard, a pedestrian (the psychiatrist of the jail) looks at his watch which seems just having stopped.
( 157 sec. )
And of course are the end credits a little more comprehensive.