Movie: "Tales Of The Black Freighter"
Year: 2009
Rated: R
Genre: Horror
Directed by: Mike Smith, Daniel DelPurgatorio
Writing credits: Alex Tse, Zack Snyder

Reviewer: Dr. Boogie
Posted: 3/22/2009

Plot: A sea captain survives the destruction of his ship at the hands of the Black Freighter, a nightmarish vessel run by an equally nightmarish crew. Stranded on a desert island, he struggles to return home in time to warn of an attack by the freighter's malevolent crew.

Review: Among the axed content from the Watchmen movie was an animated adaptation of the Tales of the Black Freighter sidestory. The plan was to have it broken up into sections throughout the film, as in the comic, but as it wasnít essential to the main story (and because it made the already long film even longer), it wound up getting up and pushed into its own straight-to-DVD release.

The story unfolds a lot like one of the old Tales from the Crypt comics, with the unnamed ship captain narrating his journey from the wreckage of his ship, to a deserted island, and finally back home again. Through a combination of circumstances, he grows increasingly convinced that the worst has happened: the infamous Black Freighter has sailed into his hometown of Davidstown, and his family has been murdered. The stress of his ordeal starts to affect him, and by the end, you can see that his ordeal has cost him his sanity.

From start to finish, the entire story only takes about twenty minutes. As with the film adaptation of Watchmen, Tales of the Black Freighter is made up almost entirely of lines taken directly from the actual comic. A surprising amount of the original lines were left out, some because they were expressed visually, but others for reasons Iím not entirely sure about. Was the director worried about time being a factor? Maybe if he was always planning on TotBF being part of Watchmen, but how much time was really saved from cutting them? The lines that were left out werenít that significant, but I felt like they added more to the characterís madness, and really, thatís the focal point of the story.

There was one big change to the story: the addition of a second character. In the comic, the sea captain remarks that the body of Ridley, one of his officers, washed up on the shore near him in passing. In the film, Ridley plays a much larger role, being alive for a few moments before he and the captain are washed onto the island. Later, the captain lashes Ridleyís corpse to the mast of his raft, and during the voyage, Ridley begins talking to him, mocking him and insisting that heíll never beat the Black Freighter to Davidstown. The change didnít bother me too much, but part of the original story was that the captain was driven insane by his solitude and the horrors of his journey, but he never truly understood his madness until the end. As levelheaded as his narration remained, surely he wouldíve questioned his mental condition after arguing with his friendís rotting corpse.

Gerard Butler does a great job as the voice of the Sea Captain, and the story is entertaining and horrific. At the same time, itís still only twenty minutes long. The DVD also includes Under the Hood, an adaptation of the tell-all book written by Hollis Mason, aka Nite Owl I, which is nearly twice as long as TofBF. Both features are likely to be less appreciated by viewers who havenít read the Watchmen graphic novel. At the same time, however, there is some speculation that one or both of them maybe integrated back into the Watchmen film for an extended DVD release. Given that, and given the overall length of the feature, itís hard for me to recommend buying the Tales of the Black Freighter DVD.

Overall rating: WholeWholeWhole
(Scored on a 0.5 - 5 pickles rating: 0.5 being the worst and 5 being the best)

Reader Comments

Mar 25th, 2009, 07:02 AM
I'm glad this was made, but I'll hang out for the full DVD. They're bound to be included as at least extras on that. Apparantely there are a fair amount of deleted Hollis Mason scenes. Certainly that Under the Hood feature looks great.
Mar 25th, 2009, 12:20 PM
I'm suprised you rated the feature this highly. While I haven't seen it yet, even in the original comic the black freighter story was a little more than filler for the issues. I'm sure some would argue that it was in there to relate the horrors that are happening in the comic with those in the "real world" (by that I mean the watchemen comic itself) but those people read way to much into things and should get a life.

Personally I'm not a fan of the sub-story at all as it was generic and far too predicatable. Considering its only 20 min long and they STILL managed to change things around (for the worse apparently) this is nothing more than a cheap tie-in gimmick and such gimmicks should get an automatic 0 out of 5, just for the intent of ripping people off.
Jason's a Furry! Run!
Mar 25th, 2009, 12:22 PM
I'm not as tempted to get this, despite how much I love all things Watchmen. I was never a big fan of the Black Freighter parts (I don't think I 'got it' like I was supposed to), they just broke up the story too much (for me). I am really interested in the Under the Hood bits, but I'm assuming that'll be on the big-huge-fancy Director's Cut DVD of the movie (along with TofBF), so I'll just wait for now.
Last of the Time Lords
Mar 25th, 2009, 12:53 PM
Even if this isn't integrated back into the feature, I'm sure there will be some sort of deluxe Watchmen boxed set that includes it, so I'll probably wait for that.
Mar 25th, 2009, 04:30 PM
I was hoping for a more comic book look to the animation, but that's just me. I think I'll wait for the Watchmen Director's Cut before bothering with it.
Forgets Passwords Easily
Mar 25th, 2009, 09:25 PM
How am I to know if this review isn't just more of your LIES, Doctor?
Funky Dynamite
Mar 25th, 2009, 09:58 PM
I'm afraid I have no idea to what you're referring.
Fookin' up planets!
Mar 27th, 2009, 12:24 PM
I was going to buy this on Thursday but it was $20... too damn much for a 20 min film.
Ba dum dum dum dum
Mar 31st, 2009, 07:22 AM
Man I hope they integrate this into the main feature in some box set, otherwise I'm going to have to use my disc changing DVD player to like flip back and forth just to see if it works or not.
Amicable Herculean
Apr 5th, 2009, 02:46 PM
Jul 1st, 2009, 07:49 PM
i spent 15 bucks for a 20 minute movie and a boring fake interview.........awesome