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Watchmen: Tales of the Black Freighter Review (blog)

Category: Watchmen Reviews
Article Date: June 17, 2009 | Publication: | Author: Editor

Posted by: stagewomanjen


This delectably dark animated short tells the gruesome tale of a shipwrecked sailor (voiced by Gerard Butler) forced to go to horrific lengths — including building a raft of corpses — to return home and warn his family of an imminent attack by an evil pirate ship. Based on a story within the graphic novel Watchmen, this release was originally part of the script for director Zack Snyder’s 2009 live-action adaptation of the comic book.

The Tales of the Black Freighter DVD also includes Under the Hood, a documentary detailing the characters’ backstories, which takes its title from that of Hollis Mason’s memoirs in the comic book. Under the Hoodis rated PG because of the friendly public image of the characters. The actors were allowed to improvise during filming interviews in character. Bolex cameras were even used to film “archive” footage of the Minutemen.


This DVD consists of two short films that very well could have been included as special features on the forthcoming Watchmen DVD. Neither is strong enough as a stand alone feature.

The “feature”, Tales of the Black Freighter,is a strong enough story with some nice animation. Apparently, it was meant to be included in The Watchmen, but was cut due to time constraints. Maybe its because I’m not very familiar with the graphic novel, but I don’t see the correlation between this and the Watchmen. This may be the reason I didn’t care for it, or it could just be that the story seems to just coast along without engaging the audience in any shape, form, or fashion. Gerard Butler does an excellent job as the voice of the sea captain, but that is not enough to keep the audiences interest.

Under the Hoodis more entertaining, even if it just a faux-documentary. The brilliance of it lies in the decision to pull out recording equipment from the 70s to get the authentic look. Not to mention, it ties into the feature film, what with the subject being the original Nite-Owl’s book and much of he cast reprising their roles. Still, it’s not enough to justify being anything more than a special feature on a DVD.

I was highly disappointed with this film. I expected to see something akin to previous animated interpretations like Wonder Woman, Hulk Vs., or the upcoming Green Lantern. I guess if you’re a die hard Watchmen fan, this will appeal to you, but for the casual fan, this is nothing more than a let down. It’s only redeeming qualities are the innovative retro look of Under the Hood and Gerard Butler’s voice in the title feature.

2 1/2 out of 5 stars


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