K-PAX (2001)

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Released 29-Jan-2003

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Adventure Gallery-Photo-The Making Of K-PAX: Pictures by Jeff Bridges
Alternate Ending
Featurette-Spotlight On Location
Audio Commentary-Iain Softley (Director)
Storyboard Comparisons
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2001
Running Time 115:20
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (75:15) Cast & Crew
Start Up Language Select Then Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Iain Softley
Studio
Distributor

Walt Disney Studios Home Ent.
Starring Kevin Spacey
Jeff Bridges
Alfre Woodard
Mary McCormack
Peter Gerety
Saul Williams
David Patrick Kelly
Celia Weston
Ajay Naidu
Conchata Ferrell
Mary Mara
John Toles-Bey
Case Amaray-Transparent-Secure Clip
RPI $36.95 Music Edward Shearmur


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/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
Finnish
Danish
Swedish
Norwegian
Icelandic
Finnish Audio Commentary
Danish Audio Commentary
Swedish Audio Commentary
Norwegian Audio Commentary
Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits Yes, keep watching...

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

Plot Synopsis

    Quite a while has passed since I reviewed the bare-bones rental DVD of this movie, and it is interesting to watch the movie again in its retail incarnation. This is most definitely a movie which repays repeated viewings, so this task was not a difficult one.

    When I reviewed the rental DVD I made the bold statement that it was a magnificent transfer of a superb movie, and that you would want it. That was perhaps a touch too bold — this movie is not for someone who isn't willing to think, to be a little challenged by unusual ideas. Ah, what the heck — I'm going to repeat most of what I said last time, because it holds true now:

    I should warn you that this movie is not for everyone. I would hesitate to show it to anyone under, perhaps, sixteen years of age (maybe older), because there are some moments that could well disturb children or teenagers. They are absolutely essential to the story — it would fail utterly without them. So don't plan on showing this at a ten-year-old's birthday party. Oh, and don't plan to watch it and forget about it, either — you'll find yourself thinking back over it, and arguing with your friends about it.

    K-PAX is a brilliantly paced movie — it seems to move in slow-motion, but it's never boring. The director has squeezed meaning out of even the simplest of things, like motes of dust floating in a beam of sunlight.

    What is it about? It is about someone who calls himself Prot (Kevin Spacey). He has no hesitation in explaining that he is not from this planet, but rather from a planet called K-PAX, in orbit around a binary star 1000 light years away, in the constellation Lyra. Naturally enough, this person is brought to the Manhattan Institute of Psychiatry, to psychiatrist Dr Mark Powell (Jeff Bridges). Prot's obviously a complete whacko, right? Maybe. Maybe not. The more Powell looks into this, the more disturbed he becomes. He cannot dismiss this case the way his colleagues do, as a simple psychotic. And he cannot dismiss the effect Prot is having on the other patients...

    We already know that Kevin Spacey is a brilliant actor. But I've never felt the same about Jeff Bridges. This film gives him the chance to shine, and he seizes it — if anything, this is his film more than it is Spacey's. That's impressive. And don't dismiss the supporting cast, either. The other patients, like Howie (David Patrick Kelly), and Ernie (Saul Williams), are important parts of the story. There are no weak performances here.

    You'll remember this movie. But as much as you can, learn as little about this film before you see it — you will enjoy it more.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    The rental disc offered a truly marvellous video transfer. This disc uses the same transfer, and that is a very fine choice — they are unlikely to have done better, and could very easily have done worse. I will be repeating what I said of the rental disc, because it is the same transfer.

    This is one of the best video transfers I've ever seen. It is, to put it simply, superb. It is limpidly clear and beautiful to watch.

    The DVD is presented in an aspect ratio of 2.35:1, and is 16x9 enhanced.

    The picture is sharp where the picture is focussed. The majority of the film has been shot with severely restricted depth of field - this is quite deliberate, forcing our attention to specific elements of the frame, and placing the rest softly out of focus. Shadow detail is rather good, even with the fairly dim lighting of many scenes. There is no low level noise. Film grain is never an issue.

    Colour is crucial to this film. Some scenes feature brilliantly vivid colours (the banana is an excellent example). Many scenes feature deliberately muted colours. It seems quite clear that none of the colour is accidental - what we're seeing has been planned. The commentary makes it quite clear how much planning went into all of this. There are no colour-related artefacts

    There is one film artefact - it is at 86:03, and it's a dark mark a little above the centre of frame — it's not distracting; one might almost view it as reassurance that this was shot on film. I saw no other film artefacts, no aliasing (at all), and no moire. There is the faintest touch of background shimmer, but you'll probably not see it. This is a very clean transfer.

    There are subtitles and captions in English. There are subtitles in Swedish, Norwegian, Danish, Finnish, and Icelandic — they really are present this time (they were on the cover, but missing from the actual disc last time!). I watched the English captions — they are quite accurate, well-timed, and easy to read. The only anomaly I noticed was where the speech said "perturbations", but the subtitle reads "protabations". But that word is in quotes, possibly implying that it is a joke. This is exactly as on the previous disc, suggesting that they've reused the subtitle stream, too. The audio commentary is subtitled in four languages, none of them English.

    The disc is single sided, formatted RSDL. The layer change is at 75:15, in a cut from one shot to another. It is invisible on some players, and barely perceptible on others. This is the same location as in the previous transfer, and it is a fine placement.

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

Audio

    There are two soundtracks, one being the original dialogue in English Dolby Digital 5.1. The other is an audio commentary in Dolby Digital 2.0. I listened to both. As far as I can tell, the 5.1 soundtrack is exactly the same as the one used previous, and I have no complaints about that.

    Dialogue is very clear and readily understood, even those lines delivered quietly, which is important because some of the quiet lines are vital. Audio sync is no problem at all.

    The score comes from Edward Shearmur — it is very good, blending with the on-screen action, enhancing the impact. Not every scene is scored, but that's appropriate. The music uses some interesting and unusual instruments in a few places, such as what I think is a xylophone. The score stretches well into the bass register, but doesn't use the LFE channel — I hope your mains can handle it (or you have bass management enabled).

    The surrounds start work during the music and sound under the opening credits, and never really let up. Quite a bit of the surround sound is at a low level, but it's there.

    There is very little in the LFE channel — a few moments during the film use the subwoofer, particularly some thunder. You'll get more use out of the sub if your front speakers are set to "small", so that bass management routes the lowest octaves into the sub. My fronts can handle the bass, so my sub got little to do.

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

Extras

    We do get some extras this time, including the commentary. We don't get everything that's on the Region 1 disc.

Menu

    The menu is static and silent. It's easy to use.

Gallery—Photo: The Making of K-PAX in Photos by Jeff Bridges (1:42)

    This is a free-running montage of black-and-white photos taken by Jeff Bridges while they were making this film.

Alternate Ending (4:31)

    This is the original ending, to which a number of scenes were added to produce the one we have now. I prefer the ending in the film.

Featurette—Spotlight on Location (11:03)

    Spotlight on Location is an American entertainment news segment, so we'd expect this to be an EPK piece. It doesn't disappoint, but it's interesting enough.

Audio Commentary—Director Iain Softley

    This is an interesting and insightful commentary, for all that it is full of pauses, some of them quite lengthy. The director talks about his intentions, and how they were achieved. It is very interesting to learn that there were going to be more special effects, such as an unusual effect when looking into Kevin Spacey's eyes, but they decided to leave them out to increase the mystery. It's also interesting to hear how parts of the script changed as they were making the film. This is a very worthwhile commentary. Recommended.

Storyboard to Final Comparison (1:34)

    We get a single scene comparison, of the opening scene.

R4 vs R1

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

    Now let's compare the R4 retail version with the R1 Collector's Edition. By the way, if you are wondering how to tell the two R4 versions apart, you won't be able to do it from the front cover — the front cover is exactly the same (except that the reasons for the M rating are listed on the rental cover as "Adult Themes, Low Level Coarse Language", while on the sell-through cover they are "Low Level Coarse Language, Adult Themes"). The spine is almost the same, except that the rental is numbered "D15170", while the retail is "E15170". The big difference comes on the back, where the retail version has an extra panel listing Special Features at the top right; the rental just has the blurb in a larger typeface.

    The Region 4 retail disc is missing:

    The Region 1 disc is missing:

    Now this gets tough. Normally I'd be swayed towards the R1 by the dts soundtrack (except that it is not a particularly good dts soundtrack), and by the additional extras. However, the only one I really miss is the deleted scenes; it is a shame they weren't included.

    The R1 transfer shows limited shadow detail, falling off into black a bit too quickly. It displays a bit too much contrast, too. The R1 Dolby Digital soundtrack is more frontal (with less surround activity) than the R4.

    I have to recommend the R4 retail disc — it has the commentary and the alternate ending, which are the vital extras — and it has a significantly better transfer. I don't think that the remaining extras are sufficient to justify an additional disc.

Summary

    K-PAX is a fabulous movie given an excellent transfer to DVD.

    The video quality is reference level.

    The audio quality is reference level.

    The important extras are included on this disc.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Tony Rogers (bio-degrading: making a fool of oneself in a bio...)
Friday, May 02, 2003
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-S733A, using Component output
DisplaySony VPH-G70 CRT Projector, QuadScan Elite scaler (Tripler), ScreenTechnics 110. Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationDenon AVC-A1SE
SpeakersFront Left, Centre, Right: Krix Euphonix; Rears: Krix KDX-M; Subwoofer: Krix Seismix 5

Other Reviews
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region4dvd.net - Darren R (read my bio (fun for the whole family))

Comments (Add)
Strange audio bit-rate decision. - Ben H (My biography. Go on have a read...) REPLY POSTED
More DVDs like this - Tom (read my bio)
Region 1 - Geoff (read my bio) REPLY POSTED
Good point - Geoff (read my bio)
5 Stars ??? - Neil (I dont want a fucking bio)