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Mr. Beaks Sneaks A Peek At Zack Snyder's WATCHMEN: DIRECTOR'S CUT!

Was the theatrical release of WATCHMEN essentially a trailer for the Director's Cut? Judging from the select footage I saw Wednesday morning at Warner Bros. Home Entertainment (which included a peak at the three hours of supplementary material), I think it might've been. "It's almost the reverse of a paperback/hardback version," said Snyder, who was on hand to answer our questions about the WATCHMEN BD and 300: THE COMPLETE EXPERIENCE. "It used to be that the cinematic version was the hardback, and then, when you bought a DVD, it was the paperback version, right? I think that's getting turned on its ear. Now, the deluxe version of the movie is the Blu-ray, and the theatrical version is, in some ways, the paperback. This is a lot more custom. It's a custom experience on a massive level." By now, you know what's coming: on July 21st, Zack Snyder's 188-minute Director's Cut of WATCHMEN will hit Blu-ray and DVD. It is, as Snyder said today, basically what he "wants the movie to look like". And for those of you who are despondent over not getting to see this version of the film in theaters, well, rejoice! If you live in New York City, Los Angeles, Dallas and Minneapolis, that is! Warner Bros. is planning a limited one-weekend rollout of the DC on July 17th. And, yes, "one weekend" means this is a three-day engagement. After that, it's just you and your Philco. That said, it looks like the home experience is going to be pretty damn special. The big selling point with the Blu-ray is the "Director Walk-On", which is a fancy-pants form of commentary that has Snyder standing in front of the screen (and a variety of other screens featuring cast/crew interviews, animatics, etc.) as he explains his stylistic choices. For someone who hasn't goofed around with Blu-ray much, this verges on sensory overload. But I'm cool with a little disorientation so long as the myriad branching features are substantive - which they appear to be. Is this essentially a flashy streamlining of the kinds of featurettes with which we've been inundated since the advent of the DVD? To an extent, yes. But they're so well-produced in this case that I don't mind the "immersive" "Maximum Movie Mode" hard-sell. Also, the opportunity for some kid in the Midwest to fire off questions at Snyder during a live screening (which is scheduled to go down at Comic Con in July) is the kind of thing that makes me wish BD was around when I was fifteen. As for what scenes will be added to the Director's Cut, I can verify that you will get to see the brutal murder of Hollis Mason by a bunch of top-knotted thugs. As with most of the violent scenes in WATCHMEN, Snyder has taken a dozen or so panels from the graphic novel and transformed them into breathtaking cinema. He's also turned the sequence into a half-clever, half-heartbreaking homage to RAGING BULL, with Hollis flashing back to his crime-fighting heyday as the "Intermezzo" from CAVALLERIA RUSTICANA briefly dominates the soundtrack. The music - and his punch-drunk reverie - ends abruptly when the gang's ringleader busts open Hollis's skull with his Nite Owl trophy. This is a brilliantly shot-and-edited sequence. If the rest of the DC is up to this standard, WATCHMEN will officially enter the "Best of '09" conversation. Snyder also fielded questions about his upcoming projects GUARDIANS OF GA'HOOLE and SUCKER PUNCH. Of the former, a PG-rated animated adaptation of the first book in Kathryn Lasky's popular young-adult fantasy series, Snyder would only say that it will be much like the Harry Potter movies in tone (I'm assuming he meant the earlier films, as the later installments have grown increasingly dark). Of SUCKER PUNCH, the fantastic, extremely R-rated tale of a girl busting out of a mental institution, Snyder says it's "Part WIZARD OF OZ, part BRAZIL [and] part ALL THAT JAZZ." Preproduction on that film is set to begin shortly up in Vancouver. WATCHMEN: DIRECTOR'S CUT and 300: THE COMPLETE EXPERIENCE are available for the pre-orderin' right now. Faithfully submitted, Mr. Beaks

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