This review is sponsored by

Details At A Glance

Category Science Fiction Theatrical Trailer(s) Yes, 1
Rating Other Trailer(s) Yes, 1 - Dolby Digital City
Year Released 1997 Commentary Tracks None
Running Time 102 minutes Other Extras Outtakes
Featurette - Untitled
Poster Gallery
Photo Gallery
RSDL/Flipper No/No
Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region 4 Director Andrew Niccol

Columbia Tristar
Starring Ethan Hawke
Uma Thurman
Alan Arkin
Jude Law
Loren Dean
Ernest Borgnine
Case Transparent Amaray
RRP $34.95 Music Michael Nyman

Pan & Scan/Full Frame Pan & Scan MPEG None
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Dolby Digital 5.1
16x9 Enhancement Yes Soundtrack Languages English (Dolby Digital 2.0 )
English (Dolby Digital 5.1)
French (Dolby Digital 5.1)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio 2.35:1    
Macrovision Yes    
Subtitles English

Plot Synopsis

    What if molecular genetics would allow you to choose the sex of your baby?. What about if molecular genetics would allow you to choose the hair colouring, the height, and the personality traits of your baby? What about if it could also predict the likelihood of you getting cancer or heart disease? And what if this information was readily available?

    Welcome to the world of Gattaca, a world in which it doesn't matter where you were born, but where discrimination is based on your genetic code. The more perfect your genetic code, the more likely you are to succeed.

    But what about people who aren't perfect, who have genetic imperfections? They become the downtrodden lower class, relegated to menial tasks that more superior genomic-types find beneath them. Vincent (Ethan Hawke) is an "In-Valid", conceived in the currently normal way, but not in the world of Gattaca. Vincent is a "faith birth", and has a number of significant genetic predispositions to illness which preclude him from holding down anything but a menial job. He aspires to space flight, but he is a prisoner of his own genome. Vincent, however, is determined to get what he wants.

    Jerome (Jude Law) has a virtually perfect genome. He, too, is a prisoner of his genome. Vincent takes on the identity of Jerome, which allows him to get into the space program. Unfortunately, there is a murder at work, which has nothing to do with Vincent/Jerome, but the detectives find Vincent's genetic code in samples around the office. Naturally, the "In-Valid" becomes the suspect, and two investigators slowly but surely close-in on Vincent/Jerome.

    Gattaca is a marvellous film. It is chillingly close to reality, and shows us a scenario that may very well be not far off the mark in the not too distant future. I was enthralled by the story, with all of the principal characters having fascinating, well-developed personalities and motives. It was a story that worked on several levels, and will stand up to repeated viewing. Well-written, well-acted, and well-directed, this is a great film.

Transfer Quality


    Firstly, a warning. The widescreen side of this disc does not function in numerous DVD-ROM drives. In particular, the Creative Encore x2, the Pioneer A-03s and Hitachi DVD-ROM drives will not play the widescreen side of this disc. Other DVD-ROM drives may also be affected by this problem. Columbia Tristar Australia have stated that this is a hardware problem and will not be reissuing this disc. The widescreen side of the Region 1 version of this disc functions correctly in the Encore x2 unit, and reportedly the Region 4 disc works fine in the Creative Encore x5 DVD-ROM drive.

    This transfer is up to the usual Columbia Tristar high standard.

    The transfer is presented at an aspect ratio of 2.35:1, 16x9 enhanced. The other side of the disc carries a Pan & Scan version of this film. There is some haunting scene composition in this movie, which is massacred by the Pan & Scan process. I did not watch the Pan & Scan side except to compare framing, so the remainder of the review pertains to the Widescreen side only.

    The transfer was always sharp and clear, with no specific image problems. Shadow detail was very clear and clean in the darker shots. No low level noise was apparent.

    The colours were vivid and quite saturated. A number of scenes, particularly the flashback scenes, were quite heavily hued yellow-green, but it appears that this is how the film was shot, rather than being any fault of the transfer.

    No MPEG artefacts were seen. Film-to-video artefacts consisted of minor amounts of aliasing on the computer displays. This was virtually unnoticeable. Film artefacts went unnoticed.


    There are three audio tracks on this DVD - English Dolby Digital 2.0, surround-encoded, English Dolby Digital 5.1, and French Dolby Digital 5.1. I listened to the English Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack. Like most other Columbia Tristar DVDs, the English Dolby Digital 2.0 surround-encoded soundtrack is the default soundtrack.

    I felt that the level of the English Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack was set quite low, and listened to it at 5dB louder than my usual listening level.

    Dialogue was always perfectly clear and easy to understand.

    There were no audio sync problems.

    The score by Michael Nyman was frequently present and nicely atmospheric. It added substantially to the overall effect of the movie.

     The surround channels were frequently in use, with ambience, music and the odd special effect present in the surrounds. They created an excellent surround feel to this movie, enveloping you very effectively in the on-screen action. There were no particularly dramatic surround effects, except right at the very end of the movie, but nonetheless, the nearly constant subtle burble from the rears was extremely effective in creating an enveloping soundfield.

    The .1 channel was used lightly, but nearly continuously and was well-integrated into the soundtrack.


    There is a good selection of extras on this disc. The only extra lacking from this disc is a director's commentary, which would have been a marvellous extra to include. Sadly, there simply isn't one. The Dolby Digital City trailer and DVCC splash are on this disc. Both sides of the disc contain all the extras, so it is not necessary to flip the disc for any reason.


    The menu design is a standard Columbia Tristar menu. Functional, but plain. The menu is not 16x9 enhanced.

Theatrical Trailer

    This is presented at an aspect ratio of 1.85:1, non-16x9 enhanced and with somewhat muffled Dolby Digital 5.1 sound. The movie is far better than the trailer suggests it is going to be.


    This is a approximately 10 minute featurette, untitled, containing a mix of clips from the theatrical trailer, behind the scenes shots and interviews, much along the lines of similar features on Village Roadshow discs. It is of limited interest. It is presented in a 4:3 aspect ratio with very muffled and mono-sounding Dolby Digital 5.1.

Lost Scenes

    These are made up of 6 deleted scenes and one outtake which is very funny. Before being able to choose these for viewing, we are warned that these scenes are quite rough looking, and they are, but they are a very worthwhile and excellent inclusion.

Poster Gallery/Photo Gallery

    The Poster Gallery shows 2 teaser and 1 theatrical poster for the movie. The Photo Gallery consists of a little over 20 still shots of the movie and behind the scenes production shots.


    This is a list of the most recent films the stars of the movie have been involved in.


    Gattaca is an excellent movie on an excellent disc, unless you have a DVD-ROM, in which case I recommend you either purchase the R1 version of this movie or rent the disc before buying it to verify that it works on your setup. Otherwise, the R4 is a superb disc in every way.

    The video quality is impeccable.

    The audio quality is excellent, and highly enveloping.

    The extras are excellent, and only lacking in a Director's Commentary track.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Michael Demtschyna
5th March 1999
updated DVD-ROM info 20th March 1999

Review Equipment
DVD Pioneer DV-505, using S-Video output
Display Loewe Art-95 95cm direct view CRT in 16:9 mode, via the S-Video input. Calibrated with the NTSC DVD version of Video Essentials.
Audio Decoder Denon AVD-2000 Dolby Digital AddOn Decoder, used as a standalone processor. Calibrated with the NTSC DVD version of Video Essentials.
Amplification 2 x EA Playmaster 100W per channel stereo amplifiers for Left, Right, Left Rear and Right Rear; Philips 360 50W per channel stereo amplifier for Centre and Subwoofer
Speakers Philips S2000 speakers for Left, Right; Polk Audio CS-100 Centre Speaker; Apex AS-123 speakers for Left Rear and Right Rear; Yamaha B100-115SE subwoofer