In my last TV Party column on Comic Related, I had argued that "Instead of relying on the cool, (Zach Snyder) could have relied on telling a story." In fact, it was enough to make me regret pre-ordering the animated Tales from the Black Freighter DVD.
Of course, I have to now admit...the animated DVD is actually pretty strong. And with some caveats, I can also recommend the Under the Hood mockumentary.
The Black Freighter segment - which ran throughout the book as a commentary/parallel to the main story - is pretty strong on its own. So strong, in fact, that I wonder how it will be "edited in" the almost inevitable director's cut. A story about a man who takes desperate measures to protect his family - and who ends up irrevocably changed due to his experiences - really shows the solidness of Moore & Gibbon's plotting. Granted, I'm not big on pirates or anime (but will make an exception in the former for Captain Blood), but the animated feature...really has a moody, evocative atmosphere.
As far as Under the Hood...on the one hand, it does feature a lot more of actor Stephen McHattie as Hollis Mason, done in a mock news magazine style. There is a lot more background that is delved into on the world of the Watchmen...so much that, rather than this being a "fan-only" option, it might be a great introduction for people who are unfamiliar with the graphic novel. My only quibbles - at times, McHattie seems to recite Moore's writing word for word, which...is my overall problem with the film. Rather than let the material breathe, it's almost too slavish an adaptation.
I'll probably get burned by both sides - the hardcore I'm-not-going-to-see-it-at-all for my willingness to see the movie; the hardcore fanbase who thinks I'm a "hater". That's fine - this isn't a movie for everyone, and I will stand by my original opinion. However, Black Freighter provides a half hour solid story...and a half hour of interesting background.
Almost makes one wish there wasn't a movie attached to it...
But, as a cool thing, here is the Outer Limits episode "The Architects of Fear" (which had some influence on the graphic novel) for your viewing pleasure: