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Watchmen

4K Ultra HD

Blu Ray

  • Score
    80
    from 4 reviewers
    Review Date:
  • Ultimate Cut's 4K release divides fans but offers rich audio and mixed visual upgrades.

    Watchmen 4K UHD Blu-ray Front Cover

    Disc Release Date:

  • Video
    76
  • Watchmen's 4K UHD release delivers mixed feelings with its detailed but darker, atmosphere-enhanced visuals, suffering from some color and tone issues compared to the Blu-ray.

  • Audio
    86
  • The Dolby TrueHD 5.1 track on the 'Watchmen' UHD release excels in immersive clarity, dynamic range, and precise effects, offering an engaging audio experience despite lacking a Dolby Atmos upgrade.

  • Extra
    76
  • Watchmen's UHD set offers the Ultimate Cut & Director's Cut sans extras, with a second Blu-ray comprising detailed features, including the immersive Maximum Movie Mode and explorative documentaries, hosted by Zack Snyder.

  • Movie
    81
  • Watchmen, a dark satirical superhero drama, challenges vigilantism and morality in an alternate reality, faced with criticism and adoration alike for its loyalty and deviations from the comic, now extends its complex narrative in an 'Ultimate Cut'.

    Video: 76

    The Ultra HD Blu-ray release of "Watchmen" presents an intriguing yet divisive experience for fans and newcomers alike, primarily due to its adherence to the Ultimate Cut without options for the theatrical or director's cuts in 4K. Shot on Super 35mm film using the Arriflex 435 camera and finished with a 2K Digital Intermediate, the transition to 4K was achieved through upscaling, leading to a presentation that boasts enhanced clarity and detail. Scenes showcase improved texture, from the intricate designs of costumes to the gritty streets of New York, maintaining a filmic grain that respects the original stylization aimed by Zack Snyder. However, viewers may notice inconsistencies in sharpness across various segments, with some areas barely distinguishable from the Blu-ray version.

    The most controversial aspect pertains to the HDR-enhanced color grading and dynamic range adjustments from the Blu-ray counterpart. The 4K rendition opts for a significantly dimmer palette, intensifying the film's already dark atmosphere. This choice results in deeper shadows and more pronounced contrasts, albeit at the expense of the vibrant hues present in the Blu-ray edition. Scenes on Mars and Dr. Manhattan glow with newfound vibrancy, yet this enhancement often leads to other colors becoming oversaturated or lacking in boldness. Moreover, black levels are commendably rich, providing a depth that adds a comic book-like quality to the visuals, though instances of crush occasionally detract from this effect.

    Ultimately, "Watchmen" in 4K UHD provokes a disparity of opinions, hinging largely on personal preference for visual style over technical perfection. While it succeeds in rendering some aspects with remarkable beauty—such as the exceptional sharpness in daylight scenes and a handful of well-executed color enhancements—the overall experience can feel inconsistent. The film's noisily debated color scaling down and varied detail capture suggest a presentation that, while occasionally surpassing its Blu-ray predecessor, does so selectively rather than uniformly. This creates a viewing experience that might not justify an upgrade for existing owners of the Blu-ray version until perhaps a prospective offer arises, leaving it as a potentially polarizing choice for enthusiasts seeking the definitive home cinema rendition of Snyder's ambitious work.

    Audio: 86

    The audio presentation of "Watchmen" on 4K UHD Blu-ray delivers a Dolby TrueHD 5.1 surround track which, despite not being upgraded to the Dolby Atmos or DTS:X formats, impresses with its clarity, depth, and immersive sound design. From the outset, the mix places the listener right in the center of the action, perfectly balancing effects like weather phenomena, urban sounds, and the unmistakable clarity of breaking objects during fight scenes. Such effects are steered precisely around the room, with dialogue remaining clean, clear, and directionally accurate when necessary. The bass, while deep and tight, supports the stereo effects and provides substantial weight to the physical confrontations, although it's selectively emphatic. The musical score by Tyler Bates utilizes the full range of speakers, enveloping the listener in a soundstage that's both warm and expansive.

    Despite the film's relatively moderate action sequence frequency, moments of heightened tension such as the prison break illustrate the sound mix's capabilities beautifully. The audio track shines in its subtlety, creating ambience and a believable environment whether in live-action or animated segments. Dynamics play a crucial role; quieter moments are as impressively handled as the louder ones, providing an authentic sound reproduction that elevates even the smallest actions to significant auditory events. The low-frequency extension (LFE) channel exhibits versatility, being both discreet and overwhelmingly powerful when the scene demands it, hence enhancing the overall immersive experience.

    Surround sound presentation notably excels in scenes featuring active engagement, with rear channels effectively contributing to a fully enveloped audio experience. The dialogue remains front and center, ensuring every word is understood—an essential aspect of such a dialogue-heavy film. In summary, "Watchmen's" audio presentation on 4K UHD Blu-ray maintains its reference quality status through meticulous sound design and dynamic range, even if it notably lacks an upgrade to the latest audio formats. This audiophile-worthy effort underscores the atmospheric and thematic gravity of the film with exceptional finesse.

    Extra: 76

    The "Watchmen" 4K UHD Blu-ray set delivers a generous portion of extras spread over two Blu-ray discs, offering a comprehensive dive into the movie's creation, its comic origins, and the technology behind its fantastic world. While the 4K disc focuses solely on presenting the Ultimate Cut in pristine HDR, the real treasure trove lies in the accompanying Blu-rays. The Director’s Cut Blu-ray not only features the film but also includes the Maximum Movie Mode, led by Zack Snyder himself. This immersive experience overlays the film with a PIP commentary, behind-the-scenes footage, and storyboard comparisons. A separate Extras Blu-ray compiles engaging documentaries like "The Phenomenon: The Comic That Changed Comics," and "Real Superheroes: Real Vigilantes," alongside the faux-documentary "Under the Hood" and the detailed exploration in "Mechanics: Technologies of a Fantastic World." Additionally, fans are treated to multiple behind-the-scenes video journals and a music video, offering over two hours of content that deepens the Watchmen experience.

    Extras included in this disc:

    • Maximum Movie Mode: Zack Snyder hosts this Picture-in-Picture movie experience for an in-depth look at making the film.
    • The Phenomenon: The Comic That Changed Comics: A look into how Watchmen revolutionized comic book storytelling.
    • Real Superheroes: Real Vigilantes: Examines the concept of vigilantes in reality and how it parallels the themes of Watchmen.
    • Mechanics: Technologies of a Fantastic World: Explorers the science and technology depicted in Watchmen, with input from physicists.
    • Under the Hood: A faux-documentary providing a historical perspective on Watchmen's characters and their influence.
    • Story Within a Story: Discusses the additional narratives within Watchmen and their relevance to the main storyline.
    • Watchmen: Video Journals: A series of behind-the-scenes featurettes exploring different aspects of the film's production.
    • Desolation Row Music Video: My Chemical Romance covers Bob Dylan's song for the Watchmen soundtrack.

    Movie: 81

    Watchmen," a visually arresting adaptation of the critically acclaimed comic book by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons, receives an ambitious 4K UHD Blu-ray presentation that attempts to cater both to purists of the source material and newcomers to the gritty world of its characters. Directed by Zack Snyder, known for his meticulous attention to visual detail and faithful adaptations, the movie is offered in its 'Ultimate Cut' on UHD, spanning an epic 215 minutes. This edition integrates "The Tales of the Black Freighter" directly into the narrative, aiming to mirror the original graphic novel’s structure more closely. While this cut of the film favors narrative depth and thematic complexity, incorporating these segments may test the patience of some viewers, as it disrupts the pacing and cohesion of the storyline. The film's presentation on the UHD disc does not offer alternative versions such as the theatrical or Director's Cut in 2160p, focusing solely on delivering the most expansive version available with an unchanged yet competent Dolby TrueHD 5.1 soundtrack carried over from the previous releases.

    Set in an alternate version of the 1980s where superheroes have influenced key historical events, "Watchmen" examines the moral dilemmas and existential angst of its characters. It unfolds a mystery that begins with the murder of Edward Blake/The Comedian, spiraling into a complex narrative that questions the very nature of heroism in a flawed society on the brink of nuclear war. Snyder's adaptation is ambitious, aiming to balance faithfulness to the comic's narrative richness and visual style with the demands of cinematic storytelling. However, this faithfulness brings its share of challenges, as it inevitably invites comparisons between the film and its revered source material, making it difficult for "Watchmen" to stand independently without being overshadowed by expectations set by its comic origins.

    The technical achievements of this 4K presentation should not be understated; Warner Bros.’ effort showcases the visual spectacle and intricate detail of Snyder's vision with clarity and fidelity. The decision not to alter the film's audio presentation might disappoint some audiophiles craving an Atmos upgrade but ensures that the film's original audio dynamics are preserved. Supplementary materials are split across additional discs, reinforcing the package's appeal as a comprehensive collector's item even as it might leave technophiles yearning for more innovation in its auditory experience. This release represents a definitive version for enthusiasts, though opinions will undoubtedly vary on whether "The Ultimate Cut," with its inclusive but potentially cumbersome integration of "The Black Freighter," elucidates or muddies the core narrative and thematic concerns that make "Watchmen" a divisive yet intriguing pillar of superhero cinema.

    Total: 80

    Watchmen: The Ultimate Cut" on 4K UHD Blu-ray presents a divisive offering, catering to a niche that reveres Zack Snyder's intricate adaptation of the iconic graphic novel. This release, exclusive in its Ultimate cut for 4K enthusiasts, embodies a leap into high-definition home cinema, albeit with its set of shortcomings that can't be ignored. The integration of 'The Tales of the Black Freighter' into the live-action narrative, while a noble homage to the source material, has received mixed feelings for its disruptive impact on the film's flow. The absence of the Director’s and Theatrical cuts in 4K format limits this edition to a very specific audience, sidelining fans who prefer alternative versions or seek the comprehensive Watchmen experience.

    The technical aspects of this release exhibit a paradox of advancements and setbacks. While the Dolby TrueHD 5.1 audio track envelops viewers in an audibly immersive experience, fostering a rich soundscape that compliments the film's dramatic intensity, the 4K video presentation struggles to fully capitalize on the format's potential. The HDR application leans heavily towards extremes, pulling brilliant colors such as Dr. Manhattan’s signature blue, yet failing to consistently elevate mid-tones and some primary colors, leading to a visual experience that varies in satisfaction. Additionally, the set’s extras, primarily recycled from previous releases, leave a bit to be desired for those craving fresh content or insights into the film's evolution.

    In conclusion, "Watchmen: The Ultimate Cut" in 4K UHD is a commendable yet imperfect endeavor. It's an acquisition poised more for the fervent Snyder aficionados and those devoted to expanding their 4K collections than for newcomers seeking their first foray into the Watchmen universe or fans hoping for a definitive high-definition package. While it showcases moments of visual and auditory brilliance, it stumbles on fully delivering a universally gratifying viewing experience. This release, much like the film itself, will likely engender debate amidst its audience, standing as a must-have for some while others yearn for more complete and less contentious versions.