Watchmen: Midnight

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Watchmen Midnight is a 3.5 hour magnum opus and easily my new preferred way to watch the Watchmen (which I haven't seen since theaters).

Much of the stated purpose is to bring the film closer to the original graphic novel, and it achieves that in spades. Re-editing the film so that the Black Freighter and pieces of the Under the Red Hood documentary at the end of every chapter, the depth and density of the novel and it's themes are fully encapsulated. We look back into the past as well as the present, we fully understand this world and the pull of vigilantism on the greatest generation. It's not unlike looking at WW2 and Vietnam, the original minutemen of WW2 era had it cleaner, simpler, good vs. bad, while this new world is gray. The film jettisons some weak pop cultural music choices (Halleluiah and the gratuitous sex scene is gone) to make this whole thing more powerful. Also gone are the feats of superhuman violence, everyone here is human except the one and only super, Dr. Manhattan.

The meta commentary on superheros, along with commentary on media, politics, and society all come to a head far better in this version. Certainly the Black Freighter material still feels superfluous and primarily it's because we rarely see the character who the allegory is about. But once one extends that allegory to represent the world rather than a single character and some neat intercutting with the world helps, it becomes a bit more powerful, but only a bit. The added depth of more scenes with the original Nite Owl, and the history of the superheroes in this world with the mockumentary, show how we move through both the past, present, and future, not unlike Dr. Manhattan, seeing all things at once.

The movie is so much stronger for many of the changes, Jackie Earl Hayley and Jeffrey Dean Morgan stand out the most as the two most bizarre characters, but the rest of the cast is also very strong in their roles. By re-editing the whole sequence on Mars with Silk Spectre and Dr. Manhattan as one sequence rather than intercut with other activities it works far better. And people don't give enough credit to the Dr. Manhattan scenes in general, his origin in particular. Jeffrey Dean Morgan's The Comedian is an enigma, a scary one, a psychopathic killer and rapist that got caught up in his own power and the scenes with him are powerful. And obviously Rorschach, the man who only believes in justice, to the bitter end. Nite Owl and Silk Spectre's relationship is also stronger and in a way sweet, Dan's neuroses really coming through, the only regular guy in this wacky bunch of weirdos. This is an incredibly dense psychological and sociological study of the world of vigilantism and it remains fascinating.

Certainly this film is a bit slower, as we extend a lot of scene and lose some of the action, so from a pacing perspective there's something to be desired. But I loved every minute of it, because it's absolutely so thematically dense, that if you're paying attention there's just so much to see and unravel. The juxtaposition between the Under the Red Hood mockumentary and the present is just so vivid, and the different characters' neuroses and issues - just so beautifully realized. I love this version.

One thing that didn't work for me, were the titles, I didn't like them overlayed in the movie itself. It didn't feel necessary.

Finally the beautiful opening credits are popped in at the end, it's the one choice that I'm not a fan of (especially since we lose The Comedian killing JFK), but I understand it and can appreciate the execution, particularly that now we have the context we review everything that happened that got us to this point, much like Dr. Manhattan.

What a movie. I'll probably try and watch my blu-ray of the Director's Cut at some point to compare as I haven't seen a version of this film since theaters. But thank goodness this version exists!

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(Updated: June 25, 2020)
Overall rating
 
9.9
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9.0
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10.0
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10.0
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10.0
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10.0
Straight out the gate. This fan edit has its spot in the magnum opus fan edit universe.

The TV show is miles away better than the movie. But also it's not the same, it has a different story and acts as a sequel to the movie.

So let's go back to our review. This fan edit has been more globally comprehensive and attempts to reshape the theatrical version of Watchmen to more closely resemble the narrative structure and characterizations of the comic book.

Regarding the editing, I really enjoyed the new from “chapter” narrative structure of the original comic book. Also, the colors have been heavily changed to be more like in the comic book.

Finally, the Tales of the Black Freighter edited was well dispersed throughout the movie.

Fantastic job. Just wish there as an HD version :)

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(Updated: May 03, 2020)
Overall rating
 
9.0
Audio/Video Quality
 
9.0
Visual Editing
 
10.0
Audio Editing
 
10.0
Narrative
 
8.0
Enjoyment
 
9.0
There have been some very detailed reviews of this edit already, so I will try to keep this short.

Does this edit do what it sets out to do? Absolutely! This follows the flow of the book as perfectly as you can get! I loved the edit over all and would highly recommend this for sure!

Subjectively, there are things I could do without, but everyone is going to have there own feelings on things. So if there was anything I would change personally it would be: 1. I don;t think the Black Freighter needs to be in the movie. I think it's more if a distraction and takes away the focus from the main story. 2. The chapter subtitles are not necessary. People who are watching this and not realizing that it's just more closely following a comic wouldn't understand what that is for.

Things I liked a lot: 1. The overall flow of the main narrative is just way better. 2. I also like the addition of the documentary in the movie. It's a nice way to add context to the story. 3. I even enjoyed the addition of the black title cards throughout. 4. The musical changes were great! 5. The general snips that were made were perfect. Not too much and not too little. Even the (for lack of a better term) slow-fast-slow-fast fighting has been cut back. That always kind of bothered me in the original cut. I think it works well in 300, but not in this movie.

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Overall rating
 
9.3
Audio/Video Quality
 
10.0
Visual Editing
 
10.0
Audio Editing
 
10.0
Narrative
 
9.0
Enjoyment
 
9.0
Hands down one of the most thoughtful and most enjoyable edits I've seen. I do have to say that this is still not the perfect version for me, but before I get to those quibbles, let's talk about what it does very well.

The first and most obvious point to me is the changing of the music. The Watchmen story is incredibly deep and has a lot of subtlety and layers to it. What Zack Snyder's theatrical cut did was a pretty good representation of the story, but often stripped away the subtlety . This was particularly notable in the use of soundtrack music which 9x out of 10, was incredibly on-the-nose. "Hey, everyone's quiet at a funeral, let's play Sounds of Silence!", etc. Flixcapacitor has replaced these choices with equally-fitting yet more subtle songs, or with score that fits the scene perfectly.

There are a lot of additional narrative edits which limit the "in your face" approach of Snyder as well. While I think Flixcapacitor went a little heavy on the edits of sex and violence, I am thankful he took out most of the egregious "superheroics" that leave you wondering how all these characters came to have superhuman strength (while none of the comic characters have powers except for Dr. Manhattan). Sadly, there's no way to edit out Ozymandias' superhuman feats, but at least they're more limited here.

Now, on to some elements I was more mixed about. Firstly, the Black Freighter animated scenes: I'm not convinced it's a better film with them included. Always the most contentious part of the original story, it seemed rather an indulgence of writer Alan Moore's, but at least you could read through them quickly on the page. In the movie, we're forced to spend those minutes on a tale that looks totally different than the rest of the film, and really only serves to double-down on Ozymandias' theme. It's unnecessary, takes away any subtlety that was there, and adds a lot of time to a film that is already lengthy. Worse yet, despite the placement of the scenes being artful, it really does suck the momentum out of a story which is already slower in this edit for the more limited use of sex and violence. I would prefer a version without these scenes... they just work better in a comic than in a film.

The other big narrative addition is the Under the Hood 'documentary' scenes. These aren't the most scintillating, and Stephen McHattie's performance as Hollis can drag a bit in these, but I do think the added background about the Minutemen is welcome. They're also good in paying off Holis and Janet, who would be minor characters, and giving more motivation for Nite Owl's decisions at the end of the film. On the other hand, I don't really see the need to edit out all the mentions of "The Watchmen" and associated scenes. However, the movie is already struggling with length and I can't say I missed a specific scene. So overall the narrative is much improved and enriched in this edit.

Finally, as others have noted, the credit sequence at the end ultimately didn't work for me. While I appreciate it as a kind of "nostalgic review" of the story, I think it's much better served by its original intentions. It piques our interest in this group of long-ago heroes, tells us that they weren't the cheesy "gosh golly" 4-color heroes of comic strips, and transitions from the downfall of that era into our "modern" era of the 1980s. While the original Dylan song is totally guilty of being on the nose for the scene, it's also pretty perfect. I think the Smashing Pumpkins song also works incredibly well, and fits the look and tone of the film better, though. So I could deal with either song, but I'd prefer the credit sequence to be an actual opening credit sequence.... probably best placed just less than 5 minutes in, after Rorscach's opening investigation scene that ends with him saying "Somebody knows..." and looking at the picture of the Minutemen...then cut to the black and white credits of said Minutemen.

Technically, this edit is nearly flawless, with incredible audio and video quality. The edits are extremely well done, with subtle fades and transitions, both audio and visual, and I think the title cards fit well. There was only one jarring edit for me, which was in the conversation Dr. Manhattan has with Silk Spectre on Mars. When editing that scene together, it was apparent that some time was supposed to have passed in the middle, but they're standing in the same place and there was just a fade to black and a fade back up. It's very odd, and I think needed an insert scene, maybe just a few seconds of people moving around NYC and Ozymandias watching monitors or something like that. The edit was clearly made to bring their conversation together, like the comic, which is in the end, better. Overall, this would probably best be labelled "the comic book loyalist version", as it is the closest we'll ever get to that. Personally, I'm okay with small changes to even that phenomenal story, in acknowledgement that film is a different medium. But this is definitely a better version than what Snyder put together, and it replaces the original on my virtual Blu-Ray shelf.

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Overall rating
 
9.8
Audio/Video Quality
 
8.0
Visual Editing
 
10.0
Audio Editing
 
10.0
Narrative
 
10.0
Enjoyment
 
10.0
Absolutely spectacular stuff. The 215 minute running time is perfect for the Watchmen story, the tone and structure are captured flawlessly, and you've managed to pull off the definitive film version of the brilliant graphic novel with flying colors. Jaw-droppingly good.

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