The Mothman Prophecies: Collector's Edition (2002)

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Released 10-Dec-2002

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Thriller Dolby Digital Trailer-City
Menu Animation & Audio
Audio Commentary
Filmographies-Cast & Crew
Featurette-Search for the Mothman
Featurette-Day By Day: A Director's Journey - The Road In
Featurette-Day By Day: A Director's Journey - The Road Home
Deleted Scenes-5
Theatrical Trailer
Trailer-The 6th Day; The Bone Collector
Trailer-Disturbing Behavior; Thirteenth Floor
Music Video-Half Light-Low with tomandandy featuring Indrid Cold
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2002
Running Time 113:57
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (60:42)
Dual Disc Set
Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Mark Pellington
Studio
Distributor

Sony Pictures Home Entertain
Starring Richard Gere
Laura Linney
Will Patton
Debra Messing
Lucinda Jenney
Alan Bates
Case Amaray-Transparent-S/C-Dual
RPI $42.95 Music Tomandandy


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
English for the Hearing Impaired
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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

Plot Synopsis

    Director Mark Pellington is best known for his edge-of-the seat thriller Arlington Road, which for me was one of the most under-rated films of recent time. This time round, he turns his hand to a supernatural thriller that had its genesis in real life events nearly forty years ago.

    Films of the supernatural or paranormal genre based on supposed real life events always fill me with a sense of caution when I sit down to watch them. More often than not, extreme doses of poetic licence are taken in turning the story into something that not only translates well to the big screen, but will also prove entertaining. I mean, there must be hundreds of really boring ghost and flying saucer stories out there, told by all manner of normal, everyday people, but somehow Hollywood turns them into the most exciting story ever seen, usually filled with characters with a few sheep missing from the top paddock.

    So, imagine my surprise when, after watching The Mothman Prophecies and taking a look through the extras, I discover that the real-life events that this story is based on are far more fantastic and bizarre than the fictional film. All manner of very unusual people recount very strange stories indeed about man-sized moths and birds, all with a Believe It or Not style of melodrama attached. I think the film is quite restrained actually, and this is perhaps its biggest failing.

    Richard Gere is John Klein. He's a respected reporter for The Washington Post. He is very much in love with his wife Mary (Debra Messing), and having just purchased a new house, they are both highly excited about moving in. But tragedy strikes when Mary is injured in a car accident while travelling home with John. She swerves on an icy road when confronted by a strange creature that lunges at the windscreen. John doesn't see the creature, but it is obvious when Mary regains consciousness in the hospital that it has had an alarming psychological effect on her. When a brain scan is performed on Mary, it is discovered she has a rare tumour. She dies soon after, and while packing her belongings John discovers some drawings she has done of strange moth-like entities. Move forward two years, and John is slowing coming to terms with his wife's death. When he must drive to Richmond, Virginia to interview the Governor, he grows weary while driving and finds himself in a small rural town called Point Pleasant. He is rather shocked to learn he has actually travelled some 400 miles in 2 hours and is actually in West Virginia. This is an impossibility that is never explained, but it is just the first step in the strange happenings.

    He runs into Gordon Smallwood (Will Patton), a rural bumpkin who has been seeing strange things and hearing unusual voices. He's not the only one. John comes into contact with the local police officer, Connie (Laura Linney). She confides in John that in addition to Gordon, several of the townsfolk have been seeing a strange moth-like creature and feeling a deep sense of foreboding. Good folk she says, that wouldn't be making stories like this up for the fun of it. John's curiosity is further piqued when he learns of people drawing similar moth images to those of his wife before she died. Feeling some connection to his wife and with the possibility of a good story (a plot line never developed - he is a reporter after all), John stays in the town, only to discover that he will also soon receive a visit from the Mothman and learn of an impending disaster.

    The sense of dread, which is what this whole story is supposed to revolve around, just doesn't quite get off the ground. The actors do what they can with the script, but their characters are really quite shallow. There are a few tense, spine-tingling moments, but the delivery of the whole film, especially the telephone call sequences get a little tired and worn out after the third time round. Some questions remain completely unanswered. Why does police officer Connie trust John so much immediately, providing him access to so many files? Maybe she fancies him - he is Richard Gere after all. But this is another area of the story that goes nowhere. Too many unanswered questions and too many plot devices used simply to provide an outcome all make for a rather contrived plot. Sure it may be paranormal, but let's have a little credibility to the storytelling process please.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    The video is presented in its original theatrical aspect ratio of 2.35:1. It is also 16x9 enhanced.

    While this is a nicely detailed transfer, with only a little edge enhancement scattered here and there, it is also quite a dark transfer. Much of the film takes place at night and although shadow detail is not compromised, I would suggest watching it in a darkened room, as otherwise you will surely miss things. Grain is present, but is not that bothersome. There is no low level noise.

    Colours are quite muted. Being set in a West Virginian winter, this is as expected. The intense flashes of red light when the Mothman appears are probably the brightest part of the film. There are no instances of bleeding or oversaturation. Skin tones are natural and the blacks (of which there are plenty) are solid and consistent.

    There are no MPEG artefacts. Film-to-video artefacts are limited to a couple of quite noticeable cases of aliasing. 15:56 sees some Venetian blinds and 43:12 on the railing in the diner. There are very few film artefacts, which is about what I would expect from a recent film.

    There are only English subtitles available. They are accurate enough to convey the story.

    Disc one is a dual layered disc and is RSDL formatted. The change is well placed at 60:42. It is barely perceptible.

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

Audio

    A stylish and somewhat tension filled creepy soundtrack is present here.

    There are two soundtracks on this disc. One is the main film soundtrack and is an English Dolby Digital 5.1 effort encoded at a bitrate of 448 Kb/s. The second soundtrack is an English commentary track. I listened to both in total.

    Dialogue is prominent and well placed in the overall soundtrack. I don't recall any instances where I was unable to understand what was being said. There are no apparent audio sync problems.

    The score is credited to tomandandy (composers Tom Hajdu and Andy Milburn). It builds a suitable tension throughout.

    There is consistent surround use throughout. While not an overly crash-boom-bang style of soundtrack, there is enough here to keep you looking over your shoulder.

    The subwoofer is used extensively. In fact, at 20:47 there is a really slow and deliberate rumble that gives it a solid test.

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

Extras

    This disc has the Collector's Edition tag on the cover, and with a second disc dedicated solely to extras it would appear to have earned that label.

DISC ONE

Dolby Digital Trailer - City

Menu Animation & Audio

Audio Commentary - Mark Pellington (Director)

    While not possessing the most engaging of speaking voices, Mark Pellington does provide a wealth of both technical and artistic information on exactly what he was trying to achieve with his direction. It is mostly a screen specific commentary, though he does tend to stick on a couple of points for a little longer than is necessary. A useful commentary if you want to understand some of the more subliminal messages in the film that you might have missed while watching it.

Filmographies-Cast & Crew

    Basic and selected filmographies only for the main cast and crew.

DISC TWO

Featurette - Search For The Mothman

    A lengthy extra, clocking in at 43:38, this could be straight out of Ripley's Believe It Or Not. It would appear that it has been made separately to the film and only references it a couple of times. It focuses more on the real-life events from Point Pleasant West Virginia in the late 1960s that the film is based on. I said in the introduction that the film didn't seem to be quite as weird or sensational as the supposed real life tale. This is the source that I made that assumption from. It is a little melodramatic and kooky, filled with all manner of bizarre people.

Featurette - Day By Day: A Director's Journey - The Road In

    Now this is interesting. A 30:04 featurette, made especially for the film with a hand held camera, this has a real on-the-road style feel to it. It is a warts-and-all style look at just what occurred during the actual sixty-seven days of filming. We see director Mark Pellington swearing like a trooper and having the odd run-in with his producers over budget cuts and the like. He really did sound like he was flying by the seat of his pants on occasion. There are some neat little captions that appear throughout, offering sage advice and information that the viewer didn't know. I really enjoyed this, purely because it was refreshingly different. Well worth a look, if only to highlight just how frustratingly and painstakingly slow the film making process is.

Featurette - Day By Day: A Director's Journey - The Road Home

    This is exactly the same format as the above featurette, and details the remaining days of the shoot. Running time is 30:05.

Deleted Scenes

    There are five deleted scenes, running between 1:17 and 4:28. Most are quite slow and don't add anything to the story.

Theatrical Trailer

    Running for 2:20, this trailer is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and is not 16x9 enhanced. The audio is quite striking with a full Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack.

Trailer

    Theatrical trailers for The 6th Day, The Bone Collector, Disturbing Behavior, and Thirteenth Floor.

Music Video

    The music video for Half Light by Low and score composers tomandandy. Quite a lengthy clip that runs for 5:07. It was directed by Mark Pellington.

R4 vs R1

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

    The current version of this DVD available in Region 1 is a bare-bones 1 disc release that contains the film (both Widescreen and Pan & Scan) and the music video only. A special edition is slated for release on May 27, 2003. From the information I can find, it would appear to be identical to the Region 4 version.

    The Region 2 version is different again. Take note that our disc is coded Region 4 only, which is somewhat unusual for a Columbia-Tristar release, as these are usually R2/R4 dual coded. From the available reviews online, it would appear that the Region 2 version is a single disc version that contains a slightly different set of extras. While it contains a 'First Look' style making-of, some additional interviews, and a smaller six minute making-of featurette, it misses out on the comprehensive 'Day-By-Day Director's Journey' featurettes.

    I would certainly favour the Region 4 disc as the version of choice at the moment.

Summary

    The Mothman Prophecies certainly has some creepy moments, but the plot and the main characters are a little too shallow for my liking. This isn't the fault of the actors, rather the script, which tends to labour along towards the climax, and the direction which seems just a little too smart for its own good at times. There are a couple of gaping plot-hole questions not answered, most revolving around the Mothman itself. I also thought the telephone as a device for keeping the scare factor alive was just a little too obvious and well-worn.

    The video transfer is excellent, though a little dark. Watch it with the lights out (if you dare).

    The audio is also superb and adds immensely to the creep-factor.

    The extras are comprehensive and offer a couple of really unique, refreshing featurettes.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Darren Walters (It's . . . just the vibe . . . of my bio)
Thursday, March 27, 2003
Review Equipment
DVDLoewe Xemix 5106DO, using RGB output
DisplayLoewe Calida (84cm). Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationHarmon/Kardon AVR7000.
SpeakersFront - B&W 602S2, Centre - B&W CC6S2, Rear - B&W 601S2, Sub - Energy E:xl S10

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