Review: The Complete Motion Comic DVD may be a better Watchmen than the movie

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Dec 14, 2012, 3:54 PM EST

If you've ever wondered what a true adaptation of Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons' Watchmen would look like, forget about that live-action version coming soon to theaters and pick up Watchmen: The Complete Motion Comic.

A panel-by-panel re-creation of the original graphic novel series, the two-disc, five-plus-hour DVD and Blu-ray leaves nothing out and, most importantly, changes nothing, offering fans an animated epic that revisits the visionary artwork and storytelling that made the Watchmen such iconic figures in the comic-book world.

Rather than creating a straightforward animated series that might be considered another interpretation of the material, the folks at Warner Premiere literally take original panels from the graphic novels and turn them into moving images. While this might sound static or unexciting, the end result is quite the opposite, not only bringing to life character movement that we've previously only imagined, but highlighting angles and "directorial" flourishes that direct the reader's eye across the panel. Where previously Ozymandias' toppled action figures were but an afterthought to the character's pensive meditation, for example, they now punctuate the tone of the moment as the camera pans across what was once a single, all-inclusive shot.

If a painstaking presentation of the original series isn't enough, the Blu-ray also comes with "Watchmen Production Diaries #4: Dave Gibbons," in which the artist gushes over the amount of detail that is contained in the live-action film. At the same time, because the set contains more than 325 minutes of material, it's quite a time-waster unless you are either a die-hard fan of the original series or plan on skipping the other Warner Premiere releases (Tales of the Black Freighter is coming soon as its own animated adventure).

Additionally, voice-over artist Tom Stetchschulte plays all of the characters, including the female ones, so while he does a terrific job re-creating many famous moments, the fact that he can provide only so many different versions of his own voice means that some characters sound similar to one another.

Overall, however, what's most important about this set is that it's an erringly faithful re-creation of the events in the comic book; for example, those disappointed that the squid was cut from the movie will be relieved to know that it shows up here. In fact, it's probably going to be a good resource for folks interested in looking at what was changed, what remained, and just plain what happened after they see Snyder's big-screen adaptation.

Ultimately, Watchmen: The Complete Motion Comic is not a substitute for either the original series or the Watchmen movie, but a supplement that celebrates the source material, and a reminder that the printed page is often just as exciting as the moving image.