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Watchmen: Tales of the Black Freighter




With one of critics' and audiences' biggest gripes over "Watchmen" being its 162-minute running time, it's a good thing the half-hour animated "Tales of the Black Freighter" pirate sequence was removed.

Actually, it's a great thing, because its inclusion would have stopped the film dead cold.

That's no slam against the quality of "Freighter," which proves to be  a cool, creepy, well-produced piece of graphic goodness. But it has nothing to do with the film's plot; in the original novel, it's a comic-book story read by a peripheral character. It would've been filler in "Watchmen," but on its own, it'll hold your attention and then some, provided you don't mind cartoon gore.

Gerard Butler ("300") narrates the short as the lone survivor of a ship downed by the Black Freighter. He retrieves what he can of his mates "? those who aren't mere parts, that is "? and fashions a raft to find his way home. Sharks like flesh, however, so his means of escape becomes ever smaller on his journey.

Madness makes his homecoming less than joyous, and the eventual denouement bristles with an EC Comics-esque twist. None of it's for the fainthearted, and just because it's animated doesn't mean it's for kids "? anything but, friends.

The DVD also plays home to "Under the Hood," a faux-documentary about the Watchmen's early days, focusing on The Comedian and the original Nite Owl and Silk Spectre. Although period-accurate and utilizing the film's Carla Gugino and Jeffrey Dean Morgan, the doc is quickly tiring.

"?Rod Lott


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