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Number 105 - December, 2003

Staff


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Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines Willard

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Walt Disney Pictures

2003, Color, Rated PG

143 min

 

Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1, 16:9 enh

English Dolby Digital 5.1, DTS 5.1

English Dolby Stereo

French Dolby Stereo

 

Starring Johnny Depp, Geoffrey Rush, Keira Knightly, Orlando Bloom, Jonathan Pryce

Directed by Gore Verbinsky

 

DVD Release Date 12/1/03

 

 

0

5

Entertainment

*

Video

*

Audio

*

Extras

MPEG Flags

N/A

Violence

Yes

Sex

No

Language

Disney

"Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl"

Synopsis

Plot Overview

When Jack Pearl (Depp), Captain of the Black Pearl, is cast ashore by Barbossa (Rush) after taking over the ship, he escapes the island and gathers a crew to retake his vessel. Along the way, he meets Will Turner (Bloom) who wants Jack to help him rescue the girl who loves him, Elizabeth (Knightly), who had been taken captive by Barbossa's crew. Barbossa thinks Elizabeth holds the key to a curse that has been placed on himself and his crew.

In order for the curse to be lifted, the blood of a Turner family member has to be spilled on the treasure of Cortez, and Barbossa thinks Elizabeth is a Turner descendent. It turns out that she simply holds a medallion that was originally owned by the first Turner. It is Will Turner that Barbossa really needs, and for most of the movie, he does not know that.

Commentary

This is Disney's Pirates of the Caribbean ride at Disney World, come to life on the big screen. It was a huge success at the box office, and is just as much fun in the home theater. Depp has matured and his performance in this film is worthy of an Academy Award.

The special effects that are used to convert skin and bone to just skeletons who fight in the moonlight are spectacular.

Extras

There is an entire disc dedicated to the extras, which are specified as being over 10 hours in length. These include 19 deleted and alternate scenes, a blooper reel, audio commentaries by the director, Johnny Depp, and Keira Knightly, The Making of . . ., an interactive history of Pirates, and image gallery.

 - John E. Johnson, Jr. -

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New Line

2003, Color, Rated PG-13

1 hour 40minutes

 

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1, 16:9 enh

English Dolby Digital 5.1

English Dolby Stereo

 

Starring Crispin Glover, R. Lee Ermey, Laura Harring

Directed by Glen Morgan

 

DVD Release Date 10/07/2003

 

 

0

5

Entertainment

*

Video

*

Audio

*

Extras

MPEG Flags

n/a

Violence

Yes

Sex

No

Language

Yes

"Willard"

Synopsis

Plot Overview

Willard is a very repressed individual. Regardless of the abuse he receives from his mother and boss, he tries to be responsible in looking after his sick mother and maintain a steady job so they can keep their house. One day when trying to rid his house of rats, he finds that he can train and control them. When his house and job are threatened by his abusive boss, Willard determines to take charge, enlisting the help of his new little allies.

Commentary

Willard is a remake of a 1971 film of the same title, which apparently was quite popular at the time. This film was directed by Glen Morgan and produced by James Wong, of X-Files fame. Both have collaborated on several other projects.

The film is very rich visually. The sets are well dressed, especially Willard's home. There is great use of light and atmosphere. The direction of the animals is really great as well.

Crispin Glover gives a wonderful performance as Willard. He really embraces this role and gives it everything. R. Lee Ermey, probably best remembered as the Drill Sergeant from "Full Metal Jacket", is great as usual. (He also is now hosting "Mail Call" on the History Channel.)

The film opens with a very cool stop motion animation introduction, sort of reminiscent of Tim Burton's "A Nightmare Before Christmas". The score is equally well done and appropriate to the dark subject matter.

This film's technical achievements are mired by the lack of emotional involvement with the characters. It focuses a bit too much on Willard's oddness, and the boss' character isn't quite mean enough. So the audience really isn't behind the protagonist when Willard gets his revenge. If that could have been captured, I really think this could have been a great film, instead of a good film.

Extras

The extra features on this DVD are excellent. Not only is there a lot on the DVD, but the content is interesting as well. The "extras" include the following:

Interactual player is installed and actually has some decent internet content:

  • Rats as pets - as the name implies
  • Script to screen - shows the script and relates it to the DVD chapters
  • Newline Hot Spot - Basically an area to promote other upcoming DVD releases

Filmmaker commentary with producer James Wong, Director Glen Morgan, Crispin Glover, and R. Lee Ermey. With this bunch of characters, the commentary is interesting and relevant.

The Year of the Rat is a behind the scenes documentary of the making of Willard shot by Julie Ing, a film student from Toronto who becomes a director's assistant on the film, who documents the year she spent helping to create this film. This was very enjoyable, one of the best "making of" featurettes I've seen. It has interviews with production assistants doing parking duties and keeping people away from the closed set, as well as interviews with the principal cast, directors, and producers. If you really want to see what it really takes to make a film, this is the documentary for you. From the tedious jobs and days of filming, production meetings and setbacks, it is all here.  Filled with funny situations and a wonderful assortment of characters in the crew, it is also very entertaining. Even the progress of Glen Morgan's wife's pregnancy, who gave birth during the production is covered.

Rat People, Friends or Foes is a documentary about rats and their acceptance into the mainstream as pets. It includes interviews with rat enthusiasts (like the Rat Lady of Chicago), exterminators, and the LA Community Department of Health. A very interesting watch as well.

"Ben" the music video by Crispen Hellion Glover - the music video for one of the title songs from the original Willard, as covered by Crispen Glover.

Deleted Alternate Scenes

Theatrical Trailer

TV Spots

Technical

The transfer to DVD for this film is quite good. Nice solids, rich vibrant colors. There is edge enhancement, and although it is noticeable, it is tight to the subject and has little dispersion. The overall film is a bit grainy, but this is probably due to the stock the film with which the film was shot. The sound was clear and crisp, complementing the score and subtle sound effects. The mix was good, allowing for all levels of dialogue to be heard clearly regardless of the scene's sound composition.

- J. Irving- Divider

 

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