RT on DVD: Bolt, Bond, and Watchmen: Tales of the Black Freighter

Plus, Kristen Stewart's indie drama The Cake Eaters, The Fast & Furious Trilogy, and 400 Blows on Blu-ray

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It's a good week for Watchmen fans, as the highly anticipated animated short Tales of the Black Freighter (and the faux-documentary Under the Hood) arrive on shelves. Animation fans should also check out Disney's Certified Fresh adventure Bolt, which debuted on Blu-ray on Sunday but is available this week on DVD. Adrenaline junkies have a few titles to choose from, including the latest James Bond adventure (Quantum of Solace) and, in anticipation of the upcoming fourth film, The Fast & the Furious trilogy set. Indie audiences should look for Kristen Stewart's second star turn in two weeks, after last Saturday's Twilight DVD debut (The Cake Eaters), while classic movie buffs have their own delights to consider (Criterion's The 400 Blows on Blu-ray).





Hot on the heels of the theatrical debut of Watchmen, Zack Snyder's epic tale about a band of former superheroes being hunted down in an alternate-1980s America, comes a supplementary DVD that will only further foment Watchmen-fever for those of you already enamored of the original Alan Moore graphic novel. Much like Snyder's meticulously faithful big-screen adaptation, this DVD-only release (which combines an animated version of the meta-comic Tales of the Black Freighter and the faux-documentary Under the Hood) is a love song for established fans of the Watchmen world, though not so much for the uninitiated.

Tales of the Black Freighter breathes life into the meta-story of the same name, which appeared as a comic-within-a-comic throughout Moore's graphic novel but is only alluded to in Snyder's theatrical version (look for Black Freighter to be woven into the story in a director's cut of Watchmen). In it, a ship captain (voiced by Gerard Butler, who played Leonidas in Snyder's 300) loses his crew to the Black Freighter, a pirate ship headed to his home town; spurred by a desire to save his family from the Black Freighter's dastardly crew, the mariner makes his way home but struggles to retain his sanity. With a gloomy, anime-like style and a story adaptation by Snyder and writer Alex Tse, this short runs just under 30 minutes and, if slightly unsatisfactory on its own, is a nice supplement to the world of Watchmen.

More intriguing for fans of the Watchmen film will be Under the Hood, a fake documentary posed as a "Where Are They Now?" retrospective, in which Carla Gugino (Silk Spectre), Jeffrey Dean Morgan (The Comedian), and Stephen McHattie (Nite Owl) reprise their all too-brief roles in Watchmen on the fictional "Culpeper Minute" show. It's a nice way to see more of these supporting superheroes, who serve more peripheral roles in the feature film, and while some of it is lifted verbatim from the novel, much of it is improvised. Akin to Watchmen's great, nostalgic opening montage (Superhero History 101, from the Minute Men to the public scandals to the rise and fall of the Watchmen), Under the Hood fleshes out the great strengths of the Watchmen universe --- the idea of an ironic superhero existence, extraordinary heroes who yet remain deeply, complexly flawed human beings.




Next: Disney's Oscar-nominated Bolt races to DVD

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