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7 out of 7 people found the following review useful:

Fun supplementary mockumentary

8/10
Author: Ben Kennedy from Container
18 September 2009

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Heh, let me first stress how much I love these kind of viral marketing/kayfabe things. It adds an extra dimension to any film, and should be used more often. Now then...

"Under the Hood" is a mockumentary companion to the film Watchmen. Based on the novel-within-a-comic featured in the graphic novel, this 40-minute documentary, very realistically made, deals with the history of masked vigilantism in the alternate universe of Watchmen. All the key points brought up in the book excerpts in the novel are used, as well as some other background information from the novel.

Staged as an episode of the faux TV show "The Culpepper Minute", this enjoyable little companion piece features interviews with former members of the Minutemen, a masked vigilante organization from the 1940s; chiefly Hollis Mason AKA Nite Owl, writer of the book "Under the Hood", and Sally Jupiter AKA Silk Spectre. Stephen McHattie as Hollis Mason does a great job of being the nostalgic old-timer, and indeed, the only former Minuteman who seemed somehow sympathetic. Aside from this, there are also interviews with Moloch, a retired arch-villain; Bernard, the ever-insightful news vendor; and Wally Weaver, friend of Dr. Manhattan, who does a good job of debating the morality of the superhero.

"Archive footage" of characters from the film are mixed with real events such as the Un-American Activities hearings from the 50's, to great effect. This really does have the appearance of an old documentary. While the short may not be as interesting for everyone, it's still worth a good watch for Watchmen fans.

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1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

"I dressed up. As an owl. And fought crime."

6/10
Author: Al_The_Strange from United States
1 September 2013

This short mockumentary is produced as a side-feature to the Watchmen film. It basically offers a wealth of interviews intended to offer more depth and insight to the characters and the world they live in.

The biggest value in watching this feature would be in better understanding the history of the Watchmen's characters; history that's perhaps referenced in the main film, but rarely elaborated on. However, it's not like the film never gave too little information; everything in Under the Hood is extra credit, to satisfy those fans who might be curious to know more. It's pretty interesting, but in the end, it doesn't resonate as strongly as the main film, or the Tales of the Black Freighter, which actually told a relevant story. The best that Under the Hood can do is lend the film a greater sense of authenticity, and translate even more of the Watchmen comic for viewers. Otherwise, I was left feeling that this was a little pointless.

For what it's worth though, the film is consistent in keeping up with the look, style, and era of the main film. It uses simple, interview-style camera-work and editing, and it even has a few old-fashioned commercials thrown in. Acting and writing is not bad. Most sets, props, and costumes appear authentic.

Best recommended to Watchmen fans.

3/5 (Entertainment: Average | Story: Average | Film: Average)

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1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Better on its own than incorporated into the movie

7/10
Author: MBunge from Waterloo, Iowa
12 April 2011

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

When they finally turned the classic comic book series Watchmen into a movie, they had to leave a lot of stuff out. You may find that surprising if you've only seen the film, given how long, detailed and dense it was already. But as one of the most complex stories every written in comic book history, there was a lot they had to skip. Instead of simply forgetting about that stuff, they've taken most of it and turned it into two short films. They're both must-sees if you were a fan of the movie or the comic. Taken on their own merits, however, one of them is must better than the other.

Tales of the Black Freighter was a comic-within-the-comic that told the story of the sole survivor of a ship destroyed by the infamous Black Freighter and the horrible, mad lengths he goes to in order to save himself and protect his family. They've turned the comic story into roughly a half-hour long cartoon with some decent animation and good voice work by Gerard Butler as the sole survivor. In making it into a cartoon, unfortunately, the writers and directors leave out most of the powerful and creepy narration that make the original work so striking. The comic-within-the-comic was also thematically connected extensively and intimately with the main story of Watchmen and severing that union robs Tales of the Black Freighter of a lot of its purpose and force.

Under the Hood is based on text pieces that ran in the original comic concerning the autobiography of Nite Owl I, Hollis Mason (Stephen McHattie). That was the old guy talking with Dan Dreiberg at the start of the movie. He was one of the original masked adventurers of the 1940s who eventually hung up his mask and tights and wrote a book about what he did and why he did it. In the comic, excerpts from the book were used to flesh out and reinforce many of the themes Alan Moore was driving at in the series. It's been adapted for the screen as an episode of a TV news show about Hollis Mason and his book. Host Larry Culpepper (Ted Friend) talks with Mason, the former Silk Spectre, Sally Jupiter (Carla Gugino), former super-villain Moloch (Matt Frewer) and others about the book and the nature of super-heroes in the real world.

Under the Hood is much better than Tales of the Black Freighter. It deals more directly and explicitly with much of Alan Moore's deconstructive take on super-heroes and heroism in general, and is therefore hampered less by being detached from the main story. There are also some very good performances by Stephen McHattie, Carla Gugino, Matt Frewer and Rob LaBelle as Doctor Manhattan's former sidekick. They show the twin sides of the super-hero as presented in Watchmen; the human dimension concerned with celebrity and personal drive and desire, and the sociological perspective of how the existence of such entities would interact with and change the larger world.

I imagine the idea is that both these films will eventually be re-integrated into the main Watchmen movie in a special edition DVD. Hollywood loves to sell people the same thing over and over again. I'm not sure it'll be worth getting that DVD because adding this stuff into the movie would make it 4 hours long or more. These works, especially Tales of the Black Freighter, would also not fit alongside some of the changes made in adapting the comic to the screen.

If you liked Watchmen, the comic or the movie, I suggest you give this thing a rent and enjoy this stuff on its own.

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0 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Only for fans of the movie

4/10
Author: Thomas (filmreviews@web.de) from Berlin, Germany
15 July 2015

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This is a 36-minute fake documentary from 6 years ago. It's so far the most known from director Eric Matthies and I have to say that I have never seen the "Watchmen" movie. Yet I am off the opinion that no piece of film should necessarily require you to have seen another film. Sadly, this one does. If you don't know about the film or don't care about it, you will basically not care for this one here either. The constantly interview characters in their roles from the "Watchmen" film and there are references about the film and everything that happened after it from start to finish. The only thing I really liked is how they managed to make this look way older than it actually was. As I wrote earlier, this is from 2009, but it looks like it's from the 1980s. Unfortunately this cannot make up for the negative aspects and also for the fact that i did not know a single actor in the cast. Not recommended unless you really like the "Watchmen" film.

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6 out of 14 people found the following review useful:

nifty but not very memorable extra/short-doc on Hollis Mason's "Under the Hood"

7/10
Author: MisterWhiplash from United States
27 March 2009

Like with the DVD release of the Dark Knight, though this time much earlier to coincide with the theatrical release, DC put together this short documentary as a companion piece cum extra to the "source" of the film, which itself is a take-off on the in-between chapters of the Watchmen book. Hollis Mason, the original Nite Owl in Watchmen, writes an autobiography chronicling the history of the costumed heroes that are a big deal in the 40s, then becoming less of a "fad" in the 1950s and then being outlawed, all with the prose of who was originally a NYC police officer. It's a series of interviews doen in faux 1970 style TV (even includes a few "vintage" commercials, one of the three actually quite funny), with an interviewer who gets the actors playing the characters to improvise (or maybe it's all written, I can see that very well being the case as well) on the subjects posed and raised. It's fun to watch and a little clever, but is mostly a cookie- it's got not much else really substantial out of it unless you have read the book. Certain characters pop up that are not in Snyder's theatrical cut of Watchmen (i.e. Captain Metropolis), and it doesn't run too long to over-stay its welcome. This said, the other little 'goodies' presented by Snyder and company - the other fake news segments on the likes of Dr. Manhattan that appeared online - were better.

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1 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

Fails to achieve its potential

6/10
Author: Neil Welch from United Kingdom
19 July 2009

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Hollis Mason's autobiographical book Under The Hood, excerpted in the Watchmen comic is here converted into a faux talking heads TV documentary, a logical translation to match the comic's translation to big screen movie.

The only problem is that it is almost completely uninteresting to anyone who already knows what's going to be in it which, I suggest, is something over 99% of its target audience. And I suspect it is still going to be relatively tedious to anyone who hasn't previously read the source material or watched the movie.

I suppose we needed it.

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2 out of 14 people found the following review useful:

A lost opportunity

3/10
Author: roybatty-1 from Austin, TX
23 March 2009

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Saw this last night and it was a chore to get through. It would make a mildly diverting extra feature on a WATCHMEN DVD but as a companion piece to "Tales of the Black Freighter," and considered on its own terms, it feels forced and cheap. And more than anything, overt and obvious. Performances are uneven, with Matt Frewer being the most evocative and Steven McHattie trying hard but coming off bland. Jeffery Dean Morgan has a whopping single line that is silly and on the nose, like much of the piece. Almost everyone employs the "stare pensively at hands to convey being lost in deep thought" style of unrehearsed acting.

Most of the production seems grabbed between takes on set during principal photography. Compositions are tight and cramped so as not to reveal set edges and lack of extras, and costumes are the same as seen in the film. Scripting is open with room to improvise, but goes nowhere beyond the familiar, and tends to bludgeon subtle points in the book and film (Hollis had a crush on Sally, the Comedian was a rapist, etc). "Archive photos" look poorly photoshopped and "archive footage" fakely aged with scratches and altered frame rates. Nice to see the Silhouette though :) Seemingly told from the POV of the mid-80s, a "re-presentation" of a classic news show from the 70s, other obvious opportunities to present plot threads lost from the film are glaringly absent. Big Figure gets some much-needed extra screen time, as does Lawrence Shexnayder, but their character moments are trite ("I'm a respectable businessman " BF says from his cell, while Larry declares, "Sally was my biggest earner.") And Hooded Justice, a prominent subject of the comic's UNDER THE HOOD, gets short shrift and no development further than what was touched on in the movie. Lots of coverage of the Minutemen, but no mention of, or elaboration on their fates, something the film had no time for, so why not here instead? Mention of their HUAC troubles was a welcome addition though.

Bernard the newsvendor finally gets some lines, but other minor characters suffer from goofy, awkward and obvious improvised dialogue, such as Rorschach's psychiatrist dreaming of the day he "gets to analyze one of these super heroes." Gee, do you think that will ever happen? Promisingly, early on we go into a fake commercial break advertising NOSTALGIA perfume, which seems to be a fan-made contest winning entry? (I recall seeing a few dozen fake Veidt TV ads on Youtube months ago.) Sadly it looks like it was shot last week and is hardly the sort of cheap production a man of Veidt's means would produce. Other commercial breaks follow throughout, but are, bafflingly, legitimate TV spots for actual 80s products. A Seiko digital chronograph ad is a lot of fun showing the "future of watches," but a toilet bowl cleanser? Why? Seems like they could have sprung for some fake Veidt action figure spots or at least a Gunga Diner lunch special promo.

Ultimately, an opportunity lost. Instead of further developing the world of WATCHMEN, like the original UNDER THE HOOD did, this short instead ends up treading familiar water and winds up as a result feeling repetitive, not complementary, to people familiar with the WATCHMEN film.

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4 out of 21 people found the following review useful:

cut & dry companion piece to "Watchman" only worth a watch for die-hard fans

4/10
Author: movieman_kev from United States
15 April 2009

This faux news show featuring interviews with Hollis Mason (Stephen McHattie) and Silk Spectre among others about Mason's superhero expose 'Under the Hood' which runs 37 & a half minutes and can be found as an extra on the DVD of "Tales of the Black Freighter" (and presumingly on the upcoming special edition of "Watchman" as well) feels rushed and too cut and dried. Although this was supposed to be an old 1970's news show complete with commercials, it didn't really have that feel in the least so the general conceit of it just falls flat. Worth a watch for only the die-hard fans of "Watchman" and sadly not worth the time invested for anyone else.

My Grade: C-

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