FTMN Quickie: Watchmen Director’s Cut
Similar to what I did with the Punisher Extended Cut a few months back, I finally got around to watching the Director’s Cut of Watchmen that I’ve owned on DVD for well over a year now. And similar to the Punisher cut, this version doesn’t have a huge amount of changes, instead there are many small additions to the film that adjust the pacing and shift the tone a little bit here and there. If you want to read my thoughts on the theatrical version of the film, you can find that right here.
It’s difficult to really quantify the differences between the two versions without looking at some site or another that actually goes through them all minute by minute, in some cases even frame by frame where there are literally dozens of shots that are extended in the director’s cut by a single second or less. The most obvious result is that the director’s cut feels like a much longer movie as it is a full three hours and six minutes long. Not only that, but it’s been a couple years since I’ve watched the theatrical version of Watchmen so it’s a little bit more difficult for me to make note whether a certain scene was brand new, or just one that I didn’t remember.
Really, the most notable difference comes towards the end where we actually get to see the death of Hollis Mason, the first Nite Owl. He’s attacked by a group of Samurai inspired gang members who heard about the prison break where the guy was “dressed like a bird”. Just before the attack, we also get a brief scene where Hollis calls Sally Jupiter to let her know about her daughter’s return to crime fighting and also to show a bit of how they had their own unrequited love for each other to some extent. Something that’s explored a little bit further in either the graphic novel and/or the Under the Hood mockumentary. When the thugs attack Hollis, he also gets flashes of memory of his former glory where he sees himself punching his old enemies instead of the actual thugs before getting bashed in the head with a trophy. On top of that, there’s also a scene shortly afterwards where Dan finds out about Hollis’s death and takes his anger out on a random member of the gang who just happens to be sitting at the bar. He brutally knocks the guy’s teeth out before Rorschach chastises him by saying “not in public”.
Ultimately, it’s difficult to quantify how much of a difference this cut makes to the film. I’m still very curious to see how things change with the ultimate cut where the Under the Hood and Tales of the Black Freighter are intercut within the movie, but that version has been a bit more difficult to track down without dropping quite a bit of money for a film that I would likely only watch once. This version does add extra elements to the characters and events, including a bit more of the investigation into the scheme surrounding Pyramid, it also pushes the envelope just a little bit further into the R rating with slight extra moments of gore and nudity. The change in pacing isn’t entirely noticeable, but when almost none of the extra 20 minutes or so are action beats, it will slow things down slightly. I suppose that’s actually a bit of a good thing when I’ve always said that this feels like a very dense film, so the ever-so-slightly slower pace takes away just a hint of that density and allows the film to be grasped a little bit easier on a first time viewing. I still wouldn’t say that it’s a necessary replacement for the theatrical cut, but if you have the choice between the two, there isn’t really a bad way to go. Until next time, this has been Bubbawheat for Flights, Tights, and Movie Nights.