Watchmen: Tales of the Black Freighter (4 stars)

Watchmen: Tales of the Black Freighter

(15) 109min (Paramount DVD rental/retail)


Tales of the Black Freighter, or ‘the pirate story’ as it’s also known, is the comic-within-the-comic that threads through the narrative of the Watchmen graphic novel. Excised from the film adaptation, it appears here as a 25-minute 2D animation featuring the voice of Gerard Butler (apparently it’s going to be cut’n’pasted into a longer version of the film for a forthcoming absolute edition DVD). While it works well enough as a gruesome revenge yarn, it should really been seen as originally intended, providing metaphorical commentary on the superheroes story. More satisfying in a single sitting is the back up featurette, Under the Hood, a 38-minute moc-doc that purports to be a 1975 edition of the current affairs television show, The Culpepper Minute, in which the retired first Nite Owl (Stephen McHattie) is interviewed about his career as a masked crime fighter and his titular tell-all memoir. Beautifully made, it’s full of sardonic references to the film. Extras: Story within a Story: The Books of Watchmen, Watchmen Motion Comics: Chapter 1 plus a first look at The Green Lantern feature.