The Stepford Wives (2004)

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Released 1-Dec-2004

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Comedy Main Menu Introduction
Main Menu Audio & Animation
Audio Commentary-Frank Oz (Director)
Featurette-Making Of-A Perfect World
Featurette-Stepford: A Definition
Featurette-Stepford: The Architects
Featurette-The Stepford Wives
Featurette-The Stepford Husbands
Deleted Scenes-6
Outtakes-Stepford: Gag Reel
Teaser Trailer
Theatrical Trailer
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2004
Running Time 89:05
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (62:22) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Frank Oz
Studio
Distributor

Universal Pictures Home Video
Starring Nicole Kidman
Bette Midler
Matthew Broderick
Christopher Walken
Faith Hill
Glenn Close
Roger Bart
Jon Lovitz
Case ?
RPI $39.95 Music David Arnold
David Mansfield
Dana Glover


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 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English for the Hearing Impaired
English Audio Commentary
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement Yes
Action In or After Credits No

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

Plot Synopsis

    I had a brilliant plan in mind when I put my name down to review this film, the remake of The Stepford Wives. I also put my name down to review the original version which has also recently been released on DVD. The plan was that I would be able to review both (neither of which I had previously seen) and be able to compare and contrast. Unfortunately, this brilliant plan went south when the original film was not made available to us for review.

    This film follows the story of Joanna Eberhart (Nicole Kidman) and her husband Walter Kresby (Matthew Broderick). Joanna is a senior executive at a television network, responsible for producing exploitative reality game shows and her husband is a more junior manager at the same network. When one of her reality shows goes badly wrong, she is sacked and due to her job being so important in her life, she has a nervous breakdown. Walter resigns from the network in protest and decides to move the family from New York to a small town in Connecticut called Stepford, which is a secured community made up entirely of wealthy people. Most of the couples in the town have a certain similarity to them; the men are dweeby and the women are blonde, gorgeous and very compliant. The town seems to be run by Mike Wellington (Christopher Walken) and his wife, real estate agent, Claire (Glenn Close). There are two other recently arrived couples, Dave & Bobbie Markowitz (Jon Lovitz & Bette Midler) and a gay couple, Roger & Jerry (Roger Bart & David Marshall Grant). Neither of these couples fit the mold of the rest of the town. Joanna becomes suspicious that something more sinister is afoot in the town of Stepford as she sees more of the other wives and the way they behave.

    I certainly hope the original film is a better one than this is. This film is very hammy and almost comes across as an attempted spoof - nobody (with the exception of Kidman) seems to be taking it seriously. It attempts to combine thriller elements with broad comedy, which just doesn't work in this instance. The thriller parts are not believable. Some of the comedy works quite well and there are good lines, especially from Bette Midler and Jon Lovitz. The art direction and set design is excellent and the film is very beautiful to look at. The gay couple idea seems out of place and is really just an attempt to update the story, which probably wasn't necessary. The director Frank Oz, in his commentary, constantly talks about what he cut out to keep the story moving but to my mind the film seems rushed and this does not really allow for character development.

    If you are a big fan of the original or one of the principals this may be worth a rental but it certainly did not work for me. I understand the original had a much darker tone which sounds much more interesting to me.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    The video quality is very good but not quite as good as new big budget films generally are.

    The feature is presented in a 1.78:1 aspect ratio 16x9 enhanced which is close to the original aspect ratio of 1.85:1.

    The picture was clear and sharp throughout although never what I would refer to as crisp, with no evidence of low level noise. The shadow detail was very good.

    The colour was excellent and is certainly one of the strengths of this film. The ballroom scene was magnificent.

    There was some minor aliasing here and there such as on a jacket at 12:46 and there was some evidence of edge enhancement. Generally the artefacts were minor in nature.

    There are subtitles in English for the hearing impaired only. The English subtitles were clear and easy to read.

    The layer change occurs at 62:22 and caused a significant pause.
    

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

Audio

    The audio quality is very good.

    This DVD contains one audio option, an English Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack encoded at 448 Kb/s.

    Dialogue was clear and easy to understand and there was no problem with audio sync.

    The score of this film by David Arnold is good quality without really standing out.

    The surround speakers were mostly used to add atmosphere rather than specific directional effects, however, that is to be expected considering the nature of the film.

    The subwoofer was nicely integrated and added bass as required.

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

Extras

Menu

    The menu included an intro, music and motion, and the ability to select scenes and subtitles. Nicely done.

Commentary - Frank Oz (Director)

    I found this quite a boring commentary. Frank is not particularly exciting and he spends most of the time going on about how wonderful everybody involved was, shooting timeframes and how every scene was longer but they needed to cut it to keep the story moving. He also explains in gory detail how really obvious things were done such as shots of someone driving a car with the background added later to give the impression they are moving. Subtitles are available.

A Perfect World : Making Of (19:47)

    Presented in 1.33:1 and 2.0 surround. Features interviews with all major cast members (except Kidman) and the director and screenwriter. Topics covered include sets, locations, wardrobe and CGI used. Mildly interesting.

Stepford : A Definition (3:54)

    Views from the cast & crew on the meaning of the title.

Stepford : The Architects (6:01)

    Interviews with the main creative minds behind the design of the new film including the director and screenwriter.

The Stepford Wives (10:08)

    Featurette focusing on the female characters and cast. Each of the major female stars talks about their character and their involvement in the film.

The Stepford Husbands (8:09)

    Similar to the wives featurette, only focusing on the men. Includes interviews with Jon Lovitz, Matthew Broderick and Christopher Walken.

Stepford Deleted/Extended Scenes

    Includes six scenes cut from the film:

Stepford Gag Reel (4:34)

    A selection of mildly amusing or not amusing stuff-ups.

Trailers (1:20 & 2:28)

    This includes an excellent teaser trailer which won many awards. Unfortunately, it is nothing like the film. Also included is the theatrical trailer which is more in keeping with the film itself.

R4 vs R1

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

    Besides PAL/NTSC differences, this film has been released in the same format globally. Region 4 gets the nod on the basis of availability and the PAL transfer.

Summary

    A broad comedy trying to be a thriller or a thriller trying to be a broad comedy - you decide. Either way, it's ordinary.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Daniel Bruce (Do you need a bio break?)
Monday, December 13, 2004
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV667A DVD-V DVD-A SACD, using Component output
DisplaySony FD Trinitron Wega KV-AR34M36 80cm. Calibrated with Digital Video Essentials (PAL). This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 576i (PAL)/480i (NTSC).
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationPioneer VSX-511
SpeakersBose 201 Direct Reflecting (Front), Phillips SB680V (Surround), Phillips MX731 (Center), Yamaha YST SW90 (Sub)

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Comments (Add)
SPOILER - Question about commentary - REPLY POSTED
The original is excellent! (SPOILER) -
Rental DVD is full frame 1:33 - REPLY POSTED
Re: Rental DVD is full frame 1:33 - Sorrow (bio - mechanical existence)
I quite liked this film (spoilers) -