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Watchmen: Tales of the Black Freighter & Under the

The DVD companion piece to the 2009 graphic novel to film adaptation.

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  • Apr 28, 2009
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By this point we all know about the new live action super hero movie, Watchmen. We have all experienced the hype around it and even if we haven't seen it yet, we all have the urge to see it eventually. Those who, like me, have not read the comics will be very unaware as to what "Tales of the Black Freighter" is all about.

Within the comics, Tales of the Black Freighter is told as a comic within a comic which within the Watchmen series is known as "Marooned". This short animation focuses around a Mariner Captain who is the soul survivor of his ship which is attacked and destroyed by the murderous crew of the Black Freighter. Stranded on an island amongst the dead, rotting corpses of his fellow sea men, he becomes desperate to get to his homeland before the Black Freighter to warn his family of their impending arrival.

He proceeds to construct a raft out of the corpses and the broken pieces of his destroyed ship. On his journey, thanks to the starvation and reclusion he endures during his trip, the captain delves deeper and deeper into insanity to the point if which he starts to have conversations with one of the corpses that make up his raft.

Gerard Butler of "300" fame lends his voice to this feature as the captain who narrates the entire piece, as well as lending a bit of voice acting to it in the dialogue between the captain and his dead friend. The voice acting is haunting, yet effective. It remains almost monotonous throughout and somehow helps to maintain this idea that, thanks to his desperation to get home before the freighter, his mind seems to deteriorate more and more.

The animation is also something that is used to its maximum potential in a way that presents a realistic picture, without becoming overly detailed. There are a number of moments that I think the depiction of gore is a bit much, but I believe that the Watchmen movie and its accompanying short film keep extremely loyal to the comic, so it's understandable why it would be depicted in a way.

The whole idea about the way in which the mind of the captain is displayed in this feature is ultimately very clever. The reason it's frightening as it's not just a focus on the individual character, but more of an observation into human insanity in general and what levels we would stoop to in situations of pure desperation. This engagement of the captain's mind is also made that much more effective in the way the entire story is narrated by the fantastic Gerard Butler.

I would say that you're best waiting until the Watchmen movie DVD comes out as I believe this will be included with it as a sort of set. As a stand alone DVD I don't really see the point, but it certainly was an entertaining watch, even if it is only about half an hour long.

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More Watchmen: Tales of the Black F... reviews
review by . April 01, 2009
posted in Movie Hype
There are all kinds of things that make WATCHMEN a unique graphic novel. One thing is the comic book story within the comic, TALES OF THE BLACK FREIGHTER. Even though the comic within the comic is important to WATCHMEN, it's not crucial to the story's plot. However, Zach Snyder really was dedicated to bringing the complete novel to life and had TALES OF THE BLACK FREIGHTER filmed separately as an animated short. The short follows the story from the comic extremely well. Also included on the DVD …
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Steven Stewart ()
Currently studying Law at University, my main interests revolve around Politics. I read quite a lot and love learning about History. Not just the history of a specific time, place and person, but I'm … more
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About this movie


When filmmaker Zack Snyder realized that he could not include two important segments of Alan Moore's story in his 2009 film adaptation of Watchmen, he decided that the best way to tell these stories and satisfy fans was to release them on DVD. The two segments will be animated. Tales of the Black Freighter chronicles a desperate sailor whose ship is attacked by savage pirates and in his attempts to survive and race home to rescue his family, he descends into violent savagery that is not only self-destructive but also endangers the very people that he wishes to protect. Under the Hood is based upon the fictitious auto-biography of Hollis Mason, a costumed vigilante best known as the original Nite Owl, and details his career as a superhero before retiring and becoming a car mechanic.

Now, as promised the DVD makes its way to stores on March  24th and will feature the voice talents of Gerard Butler, who had previously starred in 300, which was also directed by Zack Snyder.
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Genre: Animation
MPAA Rating: R
Runtime: 26 minutes
Studio: Warner Bros. Independent, DC Comics, DC Studios
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