Watchmen: Tales of the Black Freighter and Under the Hood


Watchmen: Tales of the Black Freighter and Under the Hood

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Two thrilling tales from the graphic novel blending animation and live-action include a rousing pirate saga and a look at Nite Owl's account of the establishment of the group of masked avengers known as the Minutemen.


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Critic Reviews for Watchmen: Tales of the Black Freighter and Under the Hood

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Audience Reviews for Watchmen: Tales of the Black Freighter and Under the Hood

  • Jun 12, 2012
    (This is a review of "Tales of the Black Freighter" only) "Tales of the Black Freighter" is a wonderful adaptation of the pirate story of the same title embedded within the already complex narrative of "Watchmen" and is also a great reminder of how powerful this parallel story really is wherever you may look at it and whatever medium one may use to tell it. The hellish tale, about the captain/lone survivor of a destroyed sea vessel and his nightmarish odyssey to return back home, can be merely seen as a side story that may or may not add to the overall effect of "Watchmen's" story. But thanks to Zack Snyder's utter dedication of giving just cinematic life to the "Watchmen" universe through his great attention to detail (which resulted in this animated feature and the "Under the Hood" short),"The Tales of the Black Freighter's" sustaining power as a stand-alone narrative that seemingly evokes Joseph Conrad's like-minded take on madness and futility (see "Heart of Darkness") was shown in all its power and doomed glory. Inserting the DVD into my player to view it in a very 'watch it just for the sake of completion and a hint of curiosity' kind of way, I was immensely surprised as to how well "The Tales of the Black Freighter's" story has flowed while also retaining Alan Moore and Dave Gibbon's surreal combination of doomed yet poetic narrative and otherworldly illustrations. On the other hand, some technical deficiencies include the slight out of synch between the dubbing and how the characters on-screen open their mouths and maybe some subtlety missing in Gerard Butler's voice performance (just a little bit). But all in all, those meager cons are still overshadowed by the immense vision that was contained and perfectly captured within this fine animation short. At the end of the day, I'm still quite critical about Zack Snyder and company's choice of changing the plot twist in the film adaptation of "Watchmen", which, in my opinion, pales in comparison to the one that was shockingly revealed in the source graphic novel. But still, though I must say that Alan Moore has a completely valid and understandable point on preferring complete high-brow apathy towards Snyder's "Watchmen" or any other cinematic adaptations of his works for that matter, I think he needs to check out "The Tales of the Black Freighter" for the simple artistic reason that it did channel his hypnotic and nightmarish vision of tragedy, despair and, ultimately, fatalistic madness, with great conviction and considerable justice.
    Ivan D Super Reviewer
  • Apr 02, 2011
    I'm really glad that Tales from the Black Freighter was put into a medium that made me enjoy it. While it was my least favorite part of the comic, this is really a great cautionary tale/horror story. The animation is beautiful looking and matches the style perfectly. Gerard Butler's outrageous Scottish accent is perfect for something like an animated movie about a deranged Scottish sailor; who'd of thought? I also thought the retro "Under the Hood" tv special was really well done, especially for a glorified special feature. It really helps you get that sense of a believable world.
    Conner R Super Reviewer
  • Sep 23, 2009
    The Tales of the Black Freighter series in the book of Watchmen was linked to the actual plot of Watchmen with merely one line (I won't mention by whom, but it's by one of the main characters, towards the end) that ties into what and why the story is in the book thematically. But on its own the story and art in Tales of the Black Freighter is done in the source like a real old-style pulpy comic with the underlying lines going across the panels, touched up with some really gruesome images and a moral that is about next to none - the guy is sent to damnation. As a short animated film Zack Snyder and his team decided to up the ante on the style, to make it a 2-dimensional stand-alone effort with the translation almost identical to that of the source (save, perhaps, for Snyder's penchant for ridiculous amounts of bloodshed, which are more appropriate here than in the actual Watchmen film). The animation here is gorgeous, doomed, and totally haunted. It might be considered a horror movie in some moments - the main character is on a beach and ties a bunch of his fallen dead shipmates onto a raft with body parts falling off and gas rising out from the intestines - but it's also about insanity and an unamicable downward spiral. Even having read the book and knowing it was a sad and disgustingly surreal piece of work I was not prepared for how the animation kicked my ass, so to speak. It's a startling expression of a descent into hell, a poetic fever dream done with some striking flashes of color, character, violence, and the whole disjointed but logical mood of the sea itself; when the seagulls and sharks come around it brings some of the most memorably savage bits in recent memory anywhere. Only once or twice did the action feel a little stilted, as animation can sometimes be, but it overall was a kind of minor triumph (Gerard Butler, I should add, also did very well as the voice of the pirate). I regard this more as something stand alone than something that accompanies The Watchmen. It is the perfect example of an animated short. The entire plot is chilling from start to end especially with Butlers sterling performance as the Sea Captain. The animation i was quite surprised how much i actually liked it as i did not expect a great deal of detail- but it looks extremely effective. I can only hope in the directors cut of Watchmen that it makes an appearance between the film as it did in the graphic novel. Though it is unfair to constantly relate this back to the film as it is its own work and has its own merits. An unnamed Mariner is thrust into a nightmare when his ship is attacked by the notorious pirates of the Black Freighter. The only survivor, he is marooned on an island and agonises over the thought that the Frieghter's destination is his home port Davidstown. Too late to save his family or anyone else, he is nevertheless determined to get back to Davidstown at least in time to get revenge on the Black Freighter's crew. But during his desperate journey, his deteriorating mind could lead to a worse fate than any he could have imagined. A mariner survives an attack from the dreaded pirates of the Black Freighter, but his struggle to return home to warn it has a horrific cost. Bloated corpses buoy a castaway's life raft in TALES OF THE BLACK FREIGHTER, a grisly parable taken from the pages of Alan Moore's WATCHMEN. One of the book's most riveting detours, the comic-within-a... read more -comic (read by one of the book's characters) ominously paralleled the main events of the graphic novel. Although the beloved story was cut from Zach Snyder's big-screen version of WATCHMEN, it's recast here as a standalone animated program aimed at mollifying completists and ramping up interest in the adaptation. Paired with the macabre take on ROBINSON CRUSOE is another lopped-off limb from the comic: UNDER THE HOOD, a mix of live action and CGI that looks back at the salad days of Nite Owl and the Minutemen.
    Sergio E Super Reviewer
  • Aug 31, 2009
    It's hard to rate this animated horror story on its own, since it has to be seen as part of the whole Watchmen film, where a kid is reading it as a comic and where it adds a certain depth, as pointless as it seems as first. The animation may look dated and basic at times, but the story and monologues (spoken by Gerard Butler) are wonderfully creepy and the solution to the story accordingly unsettling.
    Jens S Super Reviewer

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