Pandora's Box (Trois 2) (2002)

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Released 31-Dec-2002

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Thriller Dolby Digital Trailer-City
Audio Commentary-director and producer
Featurette-Sexual Obsession: The Making-Of Pandora's Box
Theatrical Trailer
Trailer-Trois; XXX
Rating Rated MA
Year Of Production 2002
Running Time 98:59
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (54:42) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4,5 Directed By Rob Hardy
Studio
Distributor
Rainforest Films
Sony Pictures Home Entertain
Starring Michael Jai White
Monica Calhoun
Kristoff St John
Christale Wilson
Joseph Lawrence
Tyson Beckford
Jon Kohler
Donna Biscoe
Case Amaray-Transparent-Secure Clip
RPI ? Music Steve Gutheinz


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.0 (448Kb/s)
Italian Dolby Digital 5.0 (448Kb/s)
Spanish Dolby Digital 5.0 (448Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/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
Italian
Spanish
Dutch
Arabic
Czech
Danish
Finnish
Greek
Hebrew
Hindi
Hungarian
Icelandic
Norwegian
Polish
Portuguese
Swedish
Turkish
English for the Hearing Impaired
Italian Audio Commentary
Spanish Audio Commentary
Dutch 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

    Pandora's Box is subtitled Trois 2, implying that it's a sequel to Trois. You can ignore that — the director and producer had to pretend it was a sequel to get their financing. The original film (which I freely admit to having not seen) was an erotic drama about a married man who convinces his wife to try a threesome (a ménage á trois, hence the name of the film) and regrets it — it's rather more serious than The Sex Monster, despite the similar setup. The only vague allusion to a ménage á trois in this film is a brief segment in the middle of the film. It's probably there to mollify the money men. This film is an erotic thriller, which means a fair whack of sex (soft-core), mixed with some violence and suspense.

    Halfway, even two-thirds of the way through the film, I was convinced that this film was pretty much rubbish, an example of a modern blaxploitation film with a threadbare plot — it looked like a classic made-for-cable movie. I was wrong, at least in part. The last third of the film puts quite a different spin on things. It's hard to explain without spoiling the plot, though. So I won't talk about the plot too much.

    There are a couple of small plot-holes, perhaps the most egregious being the idea that a man must specify his wife as beneficiary on an insurance policy (she's automatically a beneficiary unless explicitly excluded, whereas they are suggesting it was overlooked).

    All in all, I won't be surprised if some people hate this film. I won't be surprised if some people stop watching part way through. They will be missing out on the big payoff, though, and will be making an unbalanced judgment. If you do start watching this film, please stick it out — even if you don't like the film, at least you'll be judging it based on the full story.

    This is a reasonable erotic thriller, with more twists than you'd expect. Better than you might think, but not enough better that I'm going to recommend it highly.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    This film is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.85:1, 16x9 enhanced. That is the original theatrical aspect ratio. No complaints there.

    The image is not particularly sharp, but it looks clear enough most of the time (there are some brief shots that are out-of-focus). Shadow detail is fairly poor. There is some low-level noise, such as at 36:30. The big issue, though, is a combination of film grain and background mosquito noise: the film grain varies from light to heavy, but is always present; the mosquito noise only applies to backgrounds (maybe the backgrounds are over-compressed?)

    Colour seems to be well-rendered, although the prop department supplied the most dreadful substitute for red wine (dilute raspberry cordial, by the look of it) — the colour was sufficiently wrong to make me wonder about the rendering of other colours. There are no real colour-related artefacts. At 72:44 there's a shadow that comes out blue, a form of miscolouration, but I think it's an optical effect.

    There are some film artefacts, but they are few, and relatively small. For something this recent, I'd expect a completely clean film from a big studio, but this is a low-budget indie production, so I guess they get a bit more latitude.

    I didn't notice any aliasing, but it was probably masked by the grain. There was no significant moiré. There are no MPEG artefacts, except that backgrounds look to be over-compressed — I don't know if that's a parameter of the MPEG compression algorithm, but that's what it looks like.

    There are subtitles in a lot of languages (18) including English (both plain and hearing impaired). I watched the English for the Hearing Impaired subtitles. They are quite accurate, well-timed, and easy enough to read, even though they are in a somewhat crude dot-matrix font. There are another three subtitle tracks which translate the audio commentary.

    The disc is single-sided and dual layered, formatted RSDL. The layer change is at 54:42, and it's one of the best you'll see — I watched it on two different players and couldn't see it. I had to use a layer-indicating player to find it.

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

Audio

    The soundtrack is available in three languages. I only listened to the English, which is a Dolby Digital 5.0 soundtrack recorded at 448kbps.

    The dialogue is clear and mostly easy to understand — I was confused by one line (the subtitler was as confused as I was — he or she made the same misinterpretation). There are no audio sync glitches, even though the commentary mentions that a fair bit of ADR was used for some of the location shots.

    The score is from Steve Gutheinz. It is quite reasonable stuff, made even better by some clever choices of inserted songs. Some are a bit blatant (like Corrupt), but that's fine.

    There's not a lot of directional surround sound, but there is some. The surrounds are used more for ambience and envelopment, and that works. The soundtrack is 5.0, so there's no specific LFE track — the only sound out of your subwoofer will be redirected bass from the main tracks, depending on your bass management.

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

Extras

Menu

    The menu is static and silent, but easy to operate.

Dolby Digital Trailer — City

    For crying out loud — give it a rest! This has to be the single most over-used (and over-loud) bit of DVD footage. If it was never put on another DVD I'd be very happy. I probably have hundreds of copies of this already. Argh!

Audio Commentary — director and producer

    This is a good commentary from director Rob Hardy and producer William Packer. These guys clearly love their craft, and they have a heap to say about the making of this film. They spend a fair bit of time saying thanks to lots of people, but that's OK. It's an entertaining and informative listen; it reminded me of a Kevin Smith commentary, in a way (minus Jason Mewes!).

    Subtitle streams are provided for the commentary in Italian, Spanish, and Dutch, which is nice, but no English, so hearing-impaired English-speaking viewers miss out again.

Featurette — Sexual Obsession: the making of Pandora's Box (11:19)

    This is a notch or two above the standard making-of. It is quite informative about the director/producer team, talking about their two previous films and what they set out to achieve with this film. I noted the coy use of the term "people of colour" when they were talking about how erotic thrillers generally had white stars.

    Presented in an aspect ratio of about 1.78:1, but not 16x9 enhanced.

Theatrical Trailer (1:39)

    A few spoilers, but not a bad trailer. Widescreen, not 16x9 enhanced.

Trailers

R4 vs R1

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

    The Region 1 version of this was released a little while ago. I've had trouble locating definitive information on the disc, but I get the impression it is a double-sided disc with a widescreen transfer on one side and a fullscreen transfer on the other. That would suggest that the widescreen version was confined to a single layer. The impression I get is that the R1 transfer is not fabulous, but then, neither is this one, for all that it has been given two layers to spread across.

    If you have to have a fullscreen version, I suggest you investigate the Region 1 disc. Otherwise, it looks like a bit of a toss-up.

Summary

    Something that seems like a by-the-numbers erotic thriller until the twists kick in. Presented adequately on DVD.

    The video quality is not especially good.

    The audio quality is fine.

    The extras are better than expected.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Tony Rogers (bio-degrading: making a fool of oneself in a bio...)
Monday, July 28, 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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