In 1985 where former superheroes exist, the murder of a colleague sends active vigilante Rorschach into his own sprawling investigation, uncovering something that could completely change the course of history as we know it.
Jackie Earle Haley,
Snow gently falls on the blood-stained streets of a seedy out-of-time New York City. Steam envelopes the nightmare unfolding within its narrow alleys. Iron is the will of the one who would dare to resist - fight - survive.
Embittered by Superman's heroic successes and soaring popularity, Lex Luthor forms a dangerous alliance with the powerful computer/villain Brainiac. Using advanced weaponry and a special strain of Kryptonite harvested from the far reaches of outer space, Luthor specifically redesigns Brainiac to defeat the Man of Steel.
Great little short film whether you consider it "important" as part of Watchmen or not
It was a while after I watched Watchmen that I got around to getting this companion film – essentially put together from the reading of the comic of the same name within the comic of Watchmen. Not being a massive defender of the comic, I am not petty about it nor do I wish to debate for hours about how the film works without it, how the changes in the film affect this film, how you must be an idiot if you think this, or how you must be an idiot if you don't think that – and so on. No, instead I came to the short film knowing its parallels with the main story/film and yet also keen to see how it works as a film full stop.
The answer is that it works very well because it produces a really gaudy depiction of the story with a much clearer link to the mental journey of Ozymandias and/or Rorschach – again I cannot be bothered to debate it on the message boards, for my money it works for both. The film is really well animated but not to the point that it is stylised to the point where it doesn't feel real. Instead, the gore and horror is made to feel very real and very horrible – not "owh gross" horrible in the way teen slasher films are, but it is really quite tangible how awful events are from start to finish. The story is quite simple but, because the horror is so well captured, it doesn't really matter if you watch this with Watchmen in mind or not – although of course it is meant for you to do so as well. The delivery is generally strong as well thanks mainly to the impressive delivery from Butler as the captain in narration. His haunted and nuanced voice is a great fit with the graphics – in particular the captain showing on his face what we are hearing.
It is ironic because, while I thought that the full film of Watchmen struggled because of how it stuck to the events in the book to the detriment of the heart of the book, the Black Freighter appears to have captured both. I'll let others argue it out but for me it was best to strip this out of the film and, while it works well in the comic spread out over the telling of the main story, it works equally as well here as a companion short film.
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