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Watchmen: Tales of the Black Freighter/Under the Hood 

Directed by Mike Smith and Daniel DelPurgatorio/Eric Matthies (Warner Home Video)

It's kind of a blessing the Watchmen movie didn't catch on more with people unfamiliar with the dense Alan Moore comic it's based on. Think how much confusion the tie-in Watchmen: Tales of the Black Freighter/Under the Hood could have inspired---how many poor souls would've been driven to lament "Why the hell am I watching this crazy guy and his carcass boat?!" (To be fair, a featurette explains how the animated carcass-boat/pirate story Tales of the Black Freighter relates to Watchmen.) It's clear TOTBF and its companion, Under the Hood, a flat-out delightful faux-documentary about the original Nite Owl and his contemporaries, weren't made for the general public. But fans of the Moore original, for which these tie-ins are geared towards, will surely notice how much resonance TOTBF loses when it's presented as a standalone story. In the graphic novel, scenes from the Black Freighter comic that a boy reads at a newsstand are skillfully interwoven with (and juxtaposed against) Watchmen's "main" action. Word is that director Zack Snyder's planning to re-integrate the Freighter animation into Watchmen when it hits DVD, but there's no way he'll be able to do so with even a fraction of Moore's clever elegance.

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