Ring 0: Birthday (Ringu 0: Baasudei) (2000)

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Released 20-Nov-2003

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Horror Main Menu Audio & Animation
Gallery-Photo
Filmographies-Cast & Crew
Trailer-Ring 'Cycle' Trailers
Trailer-Hellsing; Samsara; Spirited Away; Vampire Hunter D; Wendigo
Easter Egg
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2000
Running Time 98:45
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By Norio Tsuruta
Studio
Distributor
Potential Films
Madman Entertainment
Starring Yukie Nakama
Kumiko Aso
Daisuke Ban
Chinami Furuya
Masami Hashimoto
Kazue Kadokae
Case Amaray-Transparent-Secure Clip
RPI $29.95 Music Shinichiro Ogata


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None Japanese Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio Unknown Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures Yes
Subtitles English Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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

Plot Synopsis

    Ringu , or The Ring, is a popular and respected horror movie. It spawned, as popular and respected horror movies do, a sequel, Ringu 2 (there was another film made, called Rasen, from the same source material, but it isn't part of the Ring cycle). And then comes this film, Ring 0: Birthday. It is a prequel, in that it is set before the events in the other films, and purports to explain the origins of the others.

    This could have been a chilling and effective horror film, like the original, but it fails horribly. Maybe the fault lies in the subtitles, because they must necessarily abbreviate some of the language and so we may be missing out on some of the story, but I rather doubt it. The story is somewhat disconnected, and breaks with a number of the items established in the first film. The script tries to cover these holes, but succeeds only in being less credible ((SPOILER ALERT: highlight with mouse to read) especially when it gets to the part about the two Sadakos).

    The film opens with a present-day schoolgirl on a mobile phone, discussing the videotape that is the subject of the first film. Then it steps 30 years earlier. A reporter is interviewing a schoolteacher about a child she once taught, a child by the name of Yamamura Sadako (the cover of this disc uses the name Yananura — it is wrong). We cut to a rehearsal in a drama troupe, and learn that Sadako (Yukie Nakama), a young woman ((SPOILER ALERT: highlight with mouse to read) and you thought she never got to grow up...), is an "apprentice" in the troupe. Due to the unfortunate death of the star of the play (in somewhat familiar-looking circumstances), Sadako gets the chance to play the lead role. Sadako is a troubled young woman, haunted by something that happened at her school, plus her mother's death, plus something else — she seems to see ghosts. She's seeing a psychologist regularly.

    Various people get suspicious about events that happen around her. Without adequate explanation, some of them begin to turn against her.

    There are some creepy scenes (the understated ones seem the most effective), and some stock horror ideas, but all up this is a failure.

    There seem to be a number of reasons why this film just doesn't work. The original took a single supernatural idea, one that threatened even the viewer of the film (especially when released to the home market...), and ran with it. This film tries to "explain" that original idea, and does so by inventing a whole catalogue of complications, and a heap of back-story that we never needed. By being set 30 years earlier it loses the element of videotape that was so essential to the first film, and although it tries to use open-reel tape as a substitute, it doesn't follow through ((SPOILER ALERT: highlight with mouse to read) where's the "listen to the tape and die" element?). Most importantly, it lost sight of the idea that the viewer should feel threatened.

    The original film is classic horror. By all reports, the sequel, Ringu 2, is not nearly as good. And this film is really quite poor. My recommendation — appreciate the first one, but don't bother with the others.

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

Transfer Quality

Video

    This DVD transfer is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1, and is 16x9 enhanced. I don't have a definitive reference for the theatrical aspect ratio, but I suspect it was 1.85:1.

    The image, for the bulk of the film, is a little bit soft; for flashbacks it gets quite a bit softer. There's constant film grain which gets worse occasionally. Shadow detail is fairly poor, but that may well have been a deliberate artistic choice. There is no low-level noise.

    Colour is muted, but not especially inaccurate. There are no colour-related artefacts.

    There is one film artefact that I could see — a white scratch at 91:21.

    The aliasing is very minor (probably because of the softness). There's no moiré. You won't find any MPEG artefacts, either.

    All up, this gives the impression of a very good transfer of somewhat lesser-quality source materials.

    The only subtitles are English, and watching them is essential unless you understand Japanese. They are quite legible, and seem well-timed to the action on-screen — I cannot comment on their accuracy. They fall short of my expectations in two ways: there are a couple of lines that are mouthed (I can't lip-read Japanese) — I'd have appreciated subtitles for those; and the closing credits are completely untranslated (that's a disappointment).

    The disc is single sided and single layered, so there is no layer change. It doesn't seem to have resulted in excessive compression, so that's OK.

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

Audio

    The soundtrack is provided in Japanese only. It is a Dolby Digital 2.0 (not surround encoded) soundtrack at 224 kbps. That makes one's choice of soundtrack simple enough.

    The Japanese dialogue sounds clear enough.

    The score comes from Shinichiro Ogata. It's quite a reasonable effort.

    This soundtrack is plain stereo, providing nothing for the surrounds or subwoofer. There's some stereo separation, but that's all.

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

Extras

Menu

    The menus are animated with noise. It's not comfortable to listen to.

Gallery — Stills

    This is just four pages of stills from the movie.

Filmographies

    Four pages listing films made by:

Trailers — The Ring Cycle (3:22)

    Trailers for all three films, playing one after another. The trailer for Ring 0: Birthday seems to be presented in a wider aspect ratio than I'd have expected.

Easter Egg (0:45)

    A rather familiar piece of film to those who've seen the first film. To bring up the Easter Egg you (SPOILER ALERT: highlight with mouse to read) press left with the Madman Propaganda selection highlighted — that highlights a Kanji character in the mouth — press Enter and the piece of film plays.

Trailers — Madman Propaganda

    Five trailers that can be selected and played individually:

R4 vs R1

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

    I haven't found a listing in Region 1 for this movie on DVD.

Summary

    A very disappointing prequel to a very good horror film.

    The video quality is decent.

    The audio quality is really quite good.

    The extras are limited, but about all we can expect.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Tony Rogers (bio-degrading: making a fool of oneself in a bio...)
Thursday, July 10, 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

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