On DVD: ‘Watchmen’ released with added footage

Monday, July 20, 2009 at 5:40pm
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The highly-anticipated film version of 'The Watchmen' comes to DVD this week in a two-disc set packed with extras.

Few films in recent years have been more anticipated than Zack Snyder’s Watchmen, the cinematic version of the hugely popular graphic novel series.

Details began filtering out about the production at least three years ago, and when the trailer was shown during a screening of The Dark Knight there was nearly as loud a roar for it as for anything that occurred during the film.

Likewise, it did a steady and healthy box office business, though it didn’t quite reach Transformers levels. But the Watchmen (Director’s Cut) (Two-Disc Special Edition) package (Warner) with digital bundle and digital copy that will be released Tuesday has a shot at being one of the season’s top DVD sellers.

The extra features alone are quite appealing. These include a 186 minute director’s cut with added footage, plus 38 minutes of webisodes on the second disc, the video of “Desolation Row” by My Chemical Romance and a half-hour special on the history of the graphic novel and series. The digital bonuses also include a copy of the theatrical version that can be legally reproduced for computers and/or other digital devices.

The film was a visual marvel, and stayed faithful to the source material, something that upset some critics who felt too much attention to the original storyline failed to inform casual fans about what was happening. But the basic plot of an alternate universe and a world turned upside down is easy to pick up. It’s both a mystery and a superhero/Sci-Fi workout, and will no doubt look even more splendid in Blu-ray.

Those who just want the film can also purchase a separate regular DVD without the added attractions.
The Great Buck Howard (Magnolia), which also comes to DVD Tuesday, is a film that should do much better on DVD than it did theatrically. It’s a well-made, tight 90-minute specialty piece about the illusions of magic and family ties wrought with conflicts and secrets — all with a topflight cast of John Malkovich, Colin Hanks, Emily Blunt, Tom Hanks and Steve Zahn among others.

If you’re a fan of entertainers like The Amazing Kreskin or just magicians and mentalists in general, The Great Buck Howard will be a real treat.

TV on DVD

For its first two seasons, Fox’s Prison Break was a gritty, can’t-miss, weekly excursion into a universe of dubious alliances, macho posturing and great sleight-of-hand maneuvering.

Then the crew broke out of jail the first time, and things went downhill from there. There were more arrests, another prison break, then a final year when the show turned into a bad updated version of Mission Impossible minus Peter Graves and the exploding device containing the mission for the week.

Fortunately, the show did have a good final episode — one that tied everything together and even had a strong and somewhat shocking ending. But that’s not what’s covered in Prison Break: The Final Break (Twentieth Century Fox) that comes out Tuesday.

Instead, this presents the material that Fox omitted from the series finale. It chronicles the last escape of Michael Scofield (Wentworth Miller) and his comrades (Dominic Purcell, Amaruy Nolasco, Robert Knepper, Wade Williams and others) plus some events (Michael and Sarah’s wedding, the fate of Gretchen) that longtime show watchers wanted to see, but only later heard about through online sources.

In many ways, this DVD is better than much of what was in the finale. It fills in some gaps and provides a fitting goodbye to a show that definitely had its moments, but ultimately stayed on the air too long.