The Prince & Me (2004)

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Released 24-Nov-2004

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Romantic Comedy Menu Animation & Audio
Audio Commentary-Martha Coolidge (Director)
Featurette-The Lawnmower Race Of The Prince & Me (6:38)
Featurette-The Look Of The Prince & Me (14:28)
Featurette-Behind The Scenes-Inside The Fairytale (13:18)
Deleted Scenes-(11:20)
Outtakes-(2:27)
Theatrical Trailer-1.85:1, not 16x9 enhanced, Dolby Digital 2.0 (2:25)
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 2004
Running Time 106:16
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (58:23) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Martha Coolidge
Studio
Distributor

Warner Home Video
Starring Julia Stiles
Luke Mably
Ben Miller
James Fox
Miranda Richardson
Case Amaray-Transparent-Secure Clip
RPI $24.95 Music Jennie Muskett


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/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 None Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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

Plot Synopsis

    Despite the efforts to describe this story as a great story that has not been done before, the reality is far different from that suggested by the producers of the film. This is little more than yet another variation on the Cinderella story that Hollywood has been milking for one hundred years. Some of those milkings have been somewhat more successful than the others, but overall it is a theme that we have all become rather too familiar with over the years in film. It also does not help that it has been paraded in some form or another in real life over recent decades too. So what exactly does The Prince & Me offer that makes it stand out in a crowd?

    Basically not a whole lot. My attraction to the film was simply due to the casting of Julia Stiles in the lead role - of the emerging crop of new female actors, she is in my view one of the better ones and she rarely offers up a poor performance. The trouble is that whilst she might not offer up poor performances, sometimes her co-workers are not so discriminating and at times let her down. This is perhaps one of those times. As for other attractions the film might have? Not too many.

    Yet despite all the less than positive vibes here, what results is a decent enough romantic comedy that is by no means an atrocious way to spend two hours of your life. There are certainly a lot better choices out there, but equally there are loads of even worse choices. As long as you are not expecting too much from the film, this should prove to be an enjoyable film.

    Okay, so the two main characters are Paige Morgan and Eddie Williams. Paige (Julia Stiles) is a pre-med student at the University of Wisconsin, a young woman who has a fairly clear idea of where she wants to go (John Hopkins University) and what she wants to do (practice medicine with Doctors Without Frontiers). Perhaps she is a little too focussed on her goals however and is letting life pass her by just a tad. Eddie (Luke Mably) is basically a guy trying to sort out what he wants from life and right now that is to get away from his parents Haraald (James Fox) and Rosalind (Miranda Richardson) and enjoy life on his own. That comes in the form of the University of Wisconsin, which is an entire ocean away from his home, where he can partake of an excellent education on his own terms (which basically means having chicks show him their tits). These two rather disparate characters collide when they meet in the Ratskellar at the University. It does not go well for Eddie. It goes even less well when Paige discovers that Eddie is her lab partner on an essential chemistry course.

    Initially very ambivalent towards the rather aloof Eddie, as they work together both in the laboratory and in the Ratskellar, Paige starts to change her views about Eddie. Eddie is of course more than keen on Paige. However, there is one really important little thing that Eddie fails to tell Paige, which becomes quite apparent when paparazzi show up at the University to take photos of Eddie. Still, it does explain his rather odd companion, Soren (Ben Miller), who is always close to Eddie. Just in case you missed it in the trailer, or from the back cover blurb on the DVD, Eddie happens to be Edvard, the Crown Prince of Denmark, and he is about to become King. He returns to Denmark to take on his responsibilities, but what is Paige to do about the man that she loves?

    Quite a familiar story, brought to life competently enough by director Martha Coolidge, that in the end produces a decent if unspectacular film. Fittingly it is brought to DVD on a decent if unspectacular effort.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    The transfer is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and it is 16x9 enhanced. This is quite close to its original theatrical aspect ratio of 1.85:1.

    The one overriding impression that I have of the transfer is that it is just a little on the soft side, which might give it a slightly more romantic feel, but does mean that the absolute edge in sharpness just is not there and occasionally it would have been nice if it was there. Even though there is that slight softness to it, the transfer is still reasonably sharp and rather well detailed. Shadow detail is consistently very good, which when combined with the presence of only light grain here and there means that overall we get to see just about all the glorious sights the way they were intended to be seen.

    The colours whilst not exactly flat are at times a little less colourful and not as vibrant as I was expecting. There is some manipulation early on so that the Wisconsin scenes have a nice warmish feel to them whilst the Danish scenes are a little colder, a little steelier. I cannot help but feel that had the colours been a little more vibrant and spectacular, the overall feel of the film would have been enhanced accordingly. Not that there is anything really wrong with what we have - just that it could and perhaps should have been a whole lot better. Blacks are well handled and offer a nice consistent depth to them. There is no evidence of oversaturation or colour bleed at all.

    There is a consistent problem with a lack of resolution in any camera movement or cross-image movement. I would suspect that this is inherent in the source material and therefore not an MPEG artefacting issue, but however it is caused I found it somewhat disappointing and distracting. Unfortunately, where the film is let down badly is in the area of film-to-video artefacting, with generally quite modest aliasing to be found throughout the film. Just about any sharp edge gives rise to the problem: the picture frame at 8:42, the handrail at 9:18, the books and shelves at 11:19 and so on. There is also the odd indication of moiré artefacting in the meat slicer at 29:06 and 29:27 for instance. Edge enhancement has been used a tad, noticeably at 7:25 in the dress. the buildings. Given that this is a relatively recent film, as expected film artefacts are hardly an issue.

    This is an RSDL formatted DVD with the layer change occurring at 58:23. As usual, I did not notice it during playback.

    Staggeringly there are no subtitle options on the disc.

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

Audio

    There are three soundtracks on the DVD, comprising an English Dolby Digital 5.1 effort, an English Dolby Digital 2.0 effort and an English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 effort. I listened to the six channel effort in full, about 70% of the two channel effort and as much of the audio commentary as I could stand - which was something just over half of it. Sorry, but I really do not like commentaries at all...

    There is a little variability in the six channel soundtrack so that at times the dialogue is really easy to hear and understand, whilst at others you desperately wish there were some subtitle options on the DVD so that you could catch exactly what was being said. The two channel soundtrack seems to be a little more consistent in this regard. There does not appear to be any audio sync issues with the transfers though.

    The original score comes from Jennie Muskett and in keeping with the film is quite good but hardly memorable.

    The six channel soundtrack is hardly a great demonstration of the art, but then again this is not the sort of film that really requires the six channels. The rear channels rarely get a workout, with the most obvious example of its use being in the race early on in the film. Thereafter, the rear surrounds as well as the subwoofer basically go AWOL and everything is then just through the fronts. Even then, I was switching between the six channel and two channel soundtracks on the fly and barely noticing any substantial difference. The six channel soundtrack has a little more body but it comes at the expense of some clarity. To be honest, I don't really know why they bothered with the six channel soundtrack at all.

    The two channel soundtrack is very decent with a slightly more open, clear sound but otherwise is very similar to the bulk of the six channel soundtrack. This is definitely one instance where those without a full six speaker setup will not be suffering any disadvantage whatsoever.

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

Extras

    After a succession of DVDs with either no extras to speak of or else extras packages that completely failed to enhance the film experience, I finally get one where the extras package actually does enhance the film experience to a large degree. It still might not be the greatest package ever assembled but at least there is some sense and coherence to the package.

Menus

    Quite nicely done with some reasonable audio and animation enhancement, even if it seems to cycle a little too quickly.

Audio Commentary - Martha Coolidge (Director)

    A full length effort that varies between being boring (and quite dryly delivered) and quite informative (if still a little dryly delivered). Martha Coolidge does provide a deal of background detail stuff that goes some way to explaining some of the decisions made with respect of the film, but I cannot help but feel a little more animation in the delivery would have lifted this one above the average. Not that I enjoy these things at all, but this one could have had big possibilities had the delivery not been quite so pedestrian.

Featurette - The Lawnmower Race of The Prince & Me (6:38)

    An interesting look at the problems in and solutions for the creation of the rather quirky inclusion in the story - the lawnmower race. Yes folks, there is an organised sport called lawnmower racing and you can be guaranteed that what you have in the film is reasonably authentic as quite a number of people from a lawnmower racing association assisted in the film. Whilst some have questioned the need for the sequence in the film, at least there is no qualm about the quality of what is included here. Technically of very decent quality, presented in a Full Frame format that is not 16x9 enhanced and with Dolby Digital 2.0 sound. There are unfortunately no subtitle options to the featurette.

Featurette - The Look of The Prince & Me (14:28)

    Another quite interesting featurette, this time about (obviously) creating the look of the film, including the costumes. The presentation is again Full Frame that is not 16x9 enhanced and with Dolby Digital 2.0 sound. The technical quality is not quite so good this time as there is some reasonably obvious aliasing floating around the image at times.

Featurette - Inside The Fairy Tale (13:18)

    A more generic behind the scenes featurette that looks at the creation of the film, casting, production and so on. Like many of these sorts of behind the scenes efforts, the end result is perhaps not as satisfying as it could be. Technical quality is good. The presentation is the same as the previous two featurettes.

Deleted Scenes (11:20)

    A total of eight deleted scenes, some of which seem to be less so deleted scenes but rather more so different versions of scenes in the film, including an alternate ending. They are presented in an aspect ratio of 1.85:1 which is not 16x9 enhanced and comes with Dolby Digital 2.0 sound. There are no subtitle options. Reasonably interesting in that some of them probably could have been left in the film at the expense of other scenes that did make the final cut but perhaps could have been dropped. Technically, the transfer is blighted somewhat by aliasing.

Outtakes (2:27)

    Nothing overly exciting here and quite avoidable. The presentation is the same as for the deleted scenes.

Theatrical Trailer (2:25)

    Otherwise known as the concise version of the film for those who don't have a couple of hours to kill. Gives away too much of the film - in common with 99% of all Hollywood trailers nowadays - thereby rendering the need to watch the film somewhat less pressing. Technically quite excellent, even if the 1.85:1 transfer is not 16x9 enhanced.

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 release from Paramount is pretty much the same as the Region 4 release, the only appreciable difference being variances in the soundtrack and subtitles options. Note that apparently there are two separate releases in Region 1: one is widescreen and the other is Pan and Scan.

    I am guessing that the Region 2 releases will be similar to the Region 4, although I have not seen any details of the UK release yet. I have found reference to the Danish release, which is substantially different to the Region 4 (although my Danish being virtually non-existent I am guessing pretty heavily here). It would appear that it is devoid of all the extras on the Region 4 release, but does contain trailers for The Prince & Me, The Cooler, My Baby's Daddy and Jersey Girl. Obviously we can ignore the Region 2 Danish release.

    There would seem to be nothing significant to favour the Region 1 release over the Region 4 release.

Summary

    Whilst by no means a classic film, and hardly the most original either despite the glowing attempts to portray the film as something fresh and new, The Prince & Me has perhaps copped a little more negative flak than it really deserves. It is a nice, pleasant film that does not push any cinematic boundaries but makes a worthwhile view every so often. At the price point at which the film is available (under $20 is easily obtainable), there are no serious reasons why you should not indulge in the film. As long as you are not expecting too much from the film, you will likely quite enjoy the ride.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Ian Morris (Biological imperfection run amok)
Tuesday, December 14, 2004
Review Equipment
DVDDenon DVD-1600, using RGB output
DisplayLoewe Aconda 9381ZW. Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationYamaha RXV-795
SpeakersEnergy Speakers: centre EXLC; left and right C-2; rears EXLR; and subwoofer ES-12XL

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