Tales of the Black Freighter began life as a comic within a comic. A young man getting lost in the wild tales of Pirate fantasies besides a crusty old news vendor. Sadly, that is not what this iteration is. Instead, it is an animated feature. While it looks new and spiffy, it doesn't last very long and the absence of the rest of the Watchmen story take away from it (seeing as to how it's meant to add perspective to the Watchmen universe). That aside, it is animated well, and those familiar with it will no doubt recognize many scenes and probably enjoy the ones added in to increase it's length. Though the animation is decent, the blu-ray version doesn't really pop out of the screen at you like you think blu-ray should. This straight-to-dvd release may be called Tale of The Black Freighter, but the real meat of the disc lies in Under The Hood.
Under The Hood was originally a fictional book written in Watchmen's universe by the likewise fictional character Hollis Mason aka Nite Owl I. This depiction is much, much longer then Tales and features the return of most all the actors who portrayed the old school minutemen in the actual Watchmen film. It's packed with interviews with the some of the still young at heart heros, and some are from when they were actually young. The actor who played Hollis Mason is exceptional at capturing Nite Owl I's character. Wrapped up as though it were a 80's television show reporting on Hollis Mason and his book, Under The Hood is the real engine that drives this release. Under The Hood's few problems are it's pacing. Nothing exciting or heart-pounding ever really happens and it's easy to get bored if your not already interested in the material. Since it was meant to be in the style of an 80's TV show, you can absolutely tell. The intentionally terrible quality of the picture will make you wonder if your 40" HD TV is busted, but don't worry, it's all part of the show.
Bonus features are small in amount but big on taste. It offers the standard behind the scenes look at the creation of Tales as well as Under The Hood. Again, Under The Hood trumps Tales with interviews from the various actors from Watchmen, which is nice.
Tales of The Black Freighter is a solid release, but I can't warrant it's 29.99 price tag as a blu-ray (19.99 as standard def dvd). I also can't promise hardcore graphic novel fans who dislike the movie that they will like it. Nor can I promise that people who enjoyed the actual Watchmen film will care enough to take interest. For fans who enjoyed both the source material and it's film adaptation however, I am positive that they will enjoy this. I suggest it be rented as the rather limited content will be reintegrated into the actual Watchmen dvd release in some manner, which should be interesting.