Misery: Special Edition/Gold Edition (1990)

If you create a user account, you can add your own review of this DVD

Released 5-Mar-2003

Cover Art

This review is sponsored by
BUY IT

Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama Main Menu Audio & Animation
Scene Selection Anim & Audio
Featurette-Misery Loves Company
Featurette-Composer Marc Shaiman's Musical Misery Tour
Audio Commentary-William Goldman (Screenwriter)
Audio Commentary-Rob Reiner (Director)
Gallery-Photo-8
Theatrical Trailer
Teaser Trailer
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1990
Running Time 103:10
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (66:19) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Rob Reiner
Studio
Distributor

Twentieth Century Fox
Starring James Caan
Kathy Bates
Lauren Bacall
Case ?
RPI $36.95 Music Marc Shaiman


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
Czech Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.85:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
Swedish
Norwegian
Danish
Finnish
Portuguese
Polish
Czech
English Audio Commentary
English Audio Commentary
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    Based on Stephen King's disturbing novel, Misery is a gripping, tense, and sometimes shocking white-knuckle edge-of-your-seat thriller, presented on a great DVD.

    Stephen King's work was first published in a magazine in 1965, while he was a high school student, aged 18. The short story published was entitled "I Was a Teenage Grave Robber", but he was hardly an 'overnight success'. After finishing university, King married and spent the following years drifting through a variety of jobs that ranged from working at a petrol station to being a school teacher. King also managed to sell some of his short stories to magazines. According to King, he quit writing a few times, but his wife motivated him to persist. He even discarded the first chapter of Carrie, but his wife uncrumpled the pages and convinced him to finish writing the novel. He did so, and in 1973 King submitted Carrie to Doubleday Publishers. Doubleday bought the book, and promptly sold the paperback rights. King turned to writing full-time, and since then, King has written numerous best-sellers. King's books have been translated into 33 different languages, published in over 35 different countries, and there are over 300 million copies of his novels in publication. It also seems that most of his short stories and novels have been turned into television programs or movies.

    Stephen King is refereed to as the "Master of Horror", and while he is fondly remembered for Carrie (1976), Salem's Lot (1979), The Shining (1980), Creepshow (1982), Cujo (1983), Christine (1983), and Pet Sematery (1989), some of his non-horror works have also made it to the silver screen, such as Stand By Me (1986), The Running Man (1987), Misery (1990), The Shawshank Redemption (1994), Apt Pupil (1998), The Green Mile (1999), and Hearts In Atlantis (2001). I find it interesting that it is the latter that I prefer, and I personally love Stand By Me, The Shawshank Redemption, and Misery.

    While the movie of Misery has a great start in King's story, King is not the only great talent behind this film. The novel was adapted into a screenplay by one of the greatest screen-writers ever, William Goldman. Goldman wrote such classics as Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, All The President's Men, Marathon Man, A Bridge Too Far, Heat, Maverick, and The Ghost and the Darkness. At the time of production, the director (Rob Reiner) was better known as a comedy actor, writer, and director. Like the principal character in the story, who King based loosely on himself, Reiner felt trapped by his own success (as he outlines in the DVD's audio commentary). One will note that after the success of Misery, Reiner went on to direct other great movie dramas, such as A Few Good Men. One other talent I must mention is the cinematographer, Barry Sonnenfeld. Indeed, Misery was his last film as Director of Photography - Sonnenfeld went on to direct Get Shorty, and The Adams Family and Men In Black movies.

    The attention to detail in this production is brilliant. The use of lighting, make-up, and camera movement is inspired. However, it is the direction and acting that really lift this movie into being an all-time thriller classic. James Caan's performance is riveting, and I find his pain so believable that it's hard to endure. Kathy Bates was a relatively unknown theatre actress when she scored this role, and it dramatically changed her career.

    As for the plot, a famous and very successful writer, Paul Sheldon (James Caan), finds himself at the mercy of his "Number One Fan", Annie Wilkes (Kathy Bates). While incapacitated, Sheldon learns that it was no coincidence that his nurse, Annie, was on hand to save him after a car accident. In fact, she had been stalking him. Sheldon will have to rely on his imagination and his wits to survive, and while "he once wrote for a living, now he's writing to stay alive". This plot synopsis might sound a little obscure if you haven't seen the movie, but I've intentionally been vague. I recall literally leaping out of my seat quite a few times when I saw this movie originally at the cinema, and that first confronting viewing must be savoured.

Don't wish to see plot synopses in the future? Change your configuration.

Transfer Quality

Video

    Considering the age of the movie, I was very impressed with this transfer. While it is a little grainy at times, the movie looks only two or three years old, and not the teenager that it now is.

    The transfer is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.85:1 and is 16x9 enhanced.

    The sharpness is excellent, and the shadow detail and colour are very good.

    There are no problems with MPEG or film-to-video artefacts. Tiny film artefacts appear infrequently throughout, but they are never distracting.

    Ten sets of subtitles are present on the DVD, and the English subtitles are accurate.

    This is an RSDL disc, with the layer change placed at 66:19.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    Originally released theatrically and on DVD in Dolby Stereo-Surround, the Special Edition has been remixed into Dolby Digital 5.1 but retains much of its original Stereo-Surround feel.

    Apart from the English Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track (448Kb/s), there is also a Czech Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s) soundtrack, and two English Audio Commentaries.

    The dialogue quality and audio sync are excellent on the default English Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track.

    The suspenseful musical score is credited to Marc Shaiman, and it seems to pay homage to the great Bernard (Psycho) Herman, which suits the movie's Hitchcock style. There is also a smattering of Liberace music, which is related to the plot.

    The surround sound mix is quite front-heavy, but the rear speakers are used occasionally to help carry the score and provide ambience, for example the swirling snow blizzard at 5:49. The subwoofer is also utilised very occasionally to support some of the effects, such as during the thunderstorm at 71:36.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

    Unlike the original DVD release, this Special Edition is loaded with extras.

Menu

    An animated menu.

Misery Loves Company (29:51)

    Presented in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1, with Dolby Digital stereo audio, this extra includes interviews with Goldman, Reiner, Sonnenfeld, and other key members of the cast and crew.

Musical Misery Tour (14:28)

    Presented in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1, with Dolby Digital stereo audio, composer Shaiman discusses his creative processes.

Audio Commentaries

    Goldman and Reiner provide separate commentary tracks, which include plenty of insights and anecdotes.

Photo Gallery

    A series of production stills.

Theatrical Trailer (2:15)

    Presented in an aspect ratio of 1.85:1 with Dolby Digital stereo audio.

Theatrical Teaser Trailer (0:54)

    Also presented in an aspect ratio of 1.85:1, with Dolby Digital stereo audio.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    A Special Edition of Misery has not been released on DVD in Region 1. In comparison to their current version:

    The Region 4 DVD misses out on:

    The Region 1 DVD misses out on:

    Obviously, I favour the local release.

Summary

    If there is anyone who hasn't seen Misery, I strongly recommend that they do. If, however, you're already a fan like me, then this DVD is well worth adding to your collection. This Special Edition replaces the vastly inferior DVD released a few years ago.

    The video quality is very good.

    The audio quality is good, albeit quite front-heavy.

    The extras are genuine and plentiful.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Brandon Robert Vogt (warning: bio hazard)
Friday, March 07, 2003
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-535, using S-Video output
DisplayGrundig Elegance 82-2101 (82cm, 16x9). Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationSony STR DE-545
SpeakersSony SS-V315 x5; Sony SA-WMS315 subwoofer

Other Reviews
MovieHole - Clint M
DVD Net - Terry K
The DVD Bits - Lorraine A

Comments (Add)
Is it censored? -
Superb picture quality -