Human Nature (2001)

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Released 5-Nov-2003

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Comedy Main Menu Audio
Menu Audio
Featurette-5:58
Theatrical Trailer-1:10
Interviews-Cast & Crew-5
Rating Rated MA
Year Of Production 2001
Running Time 92:10 (Case: 96)
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Michel Gondry
Studio
Distributor

Magna Home Entertainment
Starring Tim Robbins
Patricia Arquette
Rhys Ifans
Miranda Otto
Rosie Perez
Case Amaray-Transparent-Secure Clip
RPI ? Music Graeme Revell


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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

Plot Synopsis

    Sometimes they just try too hard. Or maybe they are simply afraid? Whatever the reason, sometimes they go too far, and the result is a mess.

    Who are they? Well, in this case it's scriptwriter Charlie Kaufman and director Michel Gondry. And how have they gone too far? Well, Human Nature could have been a very funny comedy, or it could have been biting satire, or an interesting commentary on society and child-rearing, or maybe something else. But they don't seem to have decided what they were trying to do, and ended up with something that is just a disappointment. More than anything, I blame the director — he is the one who is responsible for holding the film to a coherent vision. This is his first feature film, but other directors have made excellent films at their first attempt. It is not promising when you hear him open his interview by describing this film as a "hilarious sad comedy".

    This film has some of the classic signs of "trying too hard". The first, and most telling, is that all the main characters are quirky and unusual. In a successful film you only need one quirky character (well, maybe a pair) — you need straight characters for balance and context. In this film our main characters are:

    As if it wasn't enough to have quirky central characters, we have an unusual structure to the story. It opens with a dead body, which we rapidly discover is Nathan's. Then we hear Lila and Puff talking about the death, followed by comments from Nathan. Nathan is shown in a pure white room, with a bullet-hole in his head. Then we get the rest of the story, told in flashbacks.

    We see Lila talk Nathan into a hike in the wilderness (which seems awfully close to wherever they live). During that hike, she spots a human form in the underbrush, and charges off after it, shedding clothes as she goes (huh?). She catches up with him. He gets knocked out by mischance. Nathan takes advantage of this, and sees it as his big chance: he will teach manners to this feral human, and become famous. He proceeds to do this, using lots of electric shocks. Nathan's lab assistant, Gabrielle (Miranda Otto), names him Puff.

    As if the story isn't complicated enough, we get a variety of love triangles, betrayal, and counter-betrayal. Not to mention the shooting that was given away in the opening scenes...

    The most vile part of this film comes when Nathan feels it necessary to train Puff to restrain his sexual urges — this reminded me of Clockwork Orange, but with none of that film's mastery. The scenes where Puff is paraded before bunches of academics are reminiscent of The Elephant Man (again, with none of that film's virtues).

    The four actors I've mentioned all turn in quite reasonable performances (Patricia Arquette isn't as good as the rest, but she gets the worst lines, and she's made to sing badly), but they can't rescue the disaster that is the script from the lack of direction. With a stronger director this might have been a great film, maybe. A sad waste.

    In case you are wondering, no, the MA rating is not for nudity, but rather for the fairly strong coarse language that's used at times.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    This DVD is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1, and is 16x9 enhanced. As far as I can tell, the intended aspect ratio was 1.85:1, so 1.78:1 is quite close.

    The image is reasonably sharp, and fairly clear. Shadow detail is quite decent, but not up to the highest standard. Film grain is no problem, and neither is low-level noise.

    Colour is well-rendered, and there are no obvious colour artefacts.

    There are a few tiny film artefacts, but nothing worth noting down. There is a little aliasing on a progressive system, but rather more on a non-progressive one. There are traces of moiré, but it's never troubling. There are traces of shimmer on backgrounds, but no other MPEG artefacts.

    There are no subtitles.

    The disc is single-sided and single layered, hence there is no layer change.

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

Audio

    The soundtrack is only provided in English, both in Dolby Digital 5.1 at 448kbps, and in 2.0 at 224kbps. I only listened to the English 5.1.

    The dialogue is clear and comprehensible at all times. There are no visible slips in audio sync.

    This film gets a Graeme Revell soundtrack. Not one of his best, but perfectly serviceable. I could have done without the "Lila" songs, but we can't blame Graeme Revell for them; their music was written by Jean-Michel Bernard.

    The surrounds are not heavily used, but they do function to deepen the soundstage. The subwoofer is not heavily called upon, but this film is rather short on earthquakes, heavy machinery, and explosions, so it's not missed.

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

Extras

Menu

    The menu is static with music.

Featurette (5:58)

    This is a short making-of piece, with chunks lifted out of the interviews. Pretty much negligible.

Theatrical Trailer (1:10)

    A reasonable trailer, but with the usual quota of spoilers.

Interviews

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 disc is another of those discs with the wide-screen transfer on one side, and full-screen on the other side. Apart from that, the two discs seem to have similar features, and similar decent but not outstanding transfers. Unless you must have a full-screen version, there seems no compelling reason to chose one version over the other.

Summary

    One of those "what a waste" movies, given a decent presentation on DVD.

    The video quality is good.

    The audio quality is good.

    The extras are fairly basic, but not bad.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Tony Rogers (bio-degrading: making a fool of oneself in a bio...)
Monday, October 13, 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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