Dolby Digital Trailer-Rain
Deleted Scenes-4 +/- commentary
Featurette-Basketball Scenes Analysis (3)
Interviews-Cast & Crew
Biographies-Cast & Crew
|Year Of Production||2001|
|RSDL / Flipper||Dual Layered||Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||4||Directed By||Tim Blake Nelson|
Roadshow Home Entertainment
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||None||
English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (320Kb/s)
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||1.85:1|
|Video Format||576i (PAL)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||1.85:1||Miscellaneous|
|Subtitles||English for the Hearing Impaired||Smoking||Yes, not so much smoking as doing lines of cocaine.|
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
The tale of Othello revolves around the great Moorish general Othello - the only black man in an otherwise white fort - his relationship with the beautiful Desdemona, and the terrible plot of the insanely envious Iago. In this modern version of the classic tale, we have Odin 'O' James (Mekhi Phifer) - the only African-American student at an otherwise elite white private school - a hot NBA prospect on the verge of an amazing career, as the "general" of his team. He is dating the prettiest girl in school, Desi Brable (Julia Stiles), has a very good friend in Michael Casio (Andrew Keegan), and has just been named the most valuable player on his basketball team by coach Duke Golding (Martin Sheen). There is only one problem - although he does not know it yet - and it comes in the form of the brilliant but insanely envious Hugo Golding (Josh Hartnett) - the modern version of Iago. Hugo is the son of coach Duke, and believes it was his right to be the MVP - he is envious of all the attention that everyone pays to O, and is even more envious of the relationship O has with his own father. In an effort to bring O down, Hugo launches a devious and intricate plot to turn O against Desi and Michael. As the story progresses, Hugo's desires become darker, and eventually turn to murder. The machinations of this one person will ultimately change the lives of everyone around him - and no-one will thank him for it.
This version of the tale is not without its problems. For starters, the combination of score (often including operatic moments) and very flowery dialogue - the characters do not speak Shakespearean English, but they certainly spout Dawson's Creek-like dialogue on a frequent basis - often borders on being pretentious and comes close to slipping into being art for art's sake, and thus loses some of its impact. The acting also has its ups and downs (as is really to be expected with such a large and young cast), especially Mekhi Phifer who struggles as the jealous lover, while Julia Stiles, whose acting talents have certainly been proven beyond doubt elsewhere, seems to sleepwalk through her part here. On the up side, Josh Hartnett is simply brilliant as the devious and envious Hugo, and proves here why he has become the new golden-boy of Hollywood. Probably the greatest strength of O is that it manages to be a remarkably faithful adaptation of Othello at the same time as completely altering the setting. As director Tim Blake Nelson mentions during his interview, it is quite scary that the tale of Othello can quite convincingly be transported to an American high school - it is a sad indictment of modern youth.
Presented at the original theatrical aspect ratio of 1.85:1, this transfer is 16x9 enhanced.
The transfer is very sharp, presenting a high level of detail. There is almost no visible grain present during the film, with only the "flash-forward" sequence from 67:24 to 68:50 showing grain, and that was entirely intentional on the part of the film-makers, so really does not qualify. Shadow detail is also very good, with nothing becoming obscured from view almost regardless of the lighting levels. There was no low-level noise present.
The colours are spot on - blacks are deep, and the highlights (such as the basketball uniforms) are vibrant and colourful. Probably the only note to make here is that the cinematographer seems to like blue quite a bit, as many of the scenes are bathed in a blue tinge which gives a very "sterile" effect, and dulls colours somewhat.
This transfer is totally free of both compression and film-to-video artefacts - and I mean totally free. It is a very impressive effort. There are a number of film artefacts, such as at 0:52 on the white dove, but while they are relatively common, all are tiny, being of no distraction whatsoever.
The subtitles are almost word-for-word accurate (including all the song lyrics - even those in Latin!), only dropping the occasional word, and never affecting the flow of the dialogue.
This is a dual layer disc, but is arranged with the movie on one layer, and the extras on the other. This is actually very pleasing to see as it would have been tempting to compress the transfer a little more and fit this on a single-layered disc, but instead we have the reference-quality transfer enabled by using the extra space.
There are two soundtracks present on this disc, being the original English dialogue in Dolby Digital 5.1 (at 448 Kbps), and an English audio commentary track in Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo (at the ridiculously high 2-channel bitrate of 448 Kbps).
While the dialogue is always clear and easy to understand at all times, it does suffer on a number of occasions from very audible hiss. Probably the most noticeable occurrence is during the first spoken lines of the movie from 1:13 to 1:33, but it recurs on an annoyingly regular basis. While it does mean that there are no audio sync problems at all, the end result is possibly even more annoying than bad audio sync (and certainly will be for those who do not easily spot sync problems). Additionally, the dynamic range of this soundtrack seems to be a little out of balance, as the basketball sequences are considerably louder than the remainder of the film. The effect is that you either struggle to hear the majority of the film, or are deafened during the basketball sequences (watch out for Martin Sheen's whistle during training - ear-splitting would be an understatement!).
The musical accompaniment to this film is an interesting effort. It really consists of three parts - the traditional score component provided by Jeff Danna, a collection of contemporary pieces, and a collection of classical/operatic pieces. While the score is quite effective, the combination of contemporary and classical/operatic pieces really does not work - they clash more than they support, and keep the action sequences set to music from becoming the adrenaline-pumping scenes expected from sports movies.
The surround channels are actively used to support both the score, and some of the more aggressive ambient effects. They do tend to die down during the quieter moments, but when the team runs out for a game of basketball it would be easy to believe that some of the crowd members are in your room.
The subwoofer gets some very deep and solid bass to deal with during many of the hip-hop/R&B flavoured musical pieces, and also helps out where necessary during the remainder of the movie. A very impressive effort for what is largely a dialogue-based film.
|Surround Channel Use|
NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.
The video quality is of reference level, and outshines most available DVD transfers.
The audio quality is very good, although there is a little too much hiss in the dialogue, and the mixing levels are not particularly well matched.
The extras are of a fairly low quality, although there are enough that avid fans of the movie should be happy.
|DVD||Pioneer DV-535, using Component output|
|Display||Loewe Xelos 5381ZW. Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.|
|Audio Decoder||Built in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.|
|Amplification||Onkyo TX-DS787, THX Select|
|Speakers||All matching Vifa Drivers: centre 2x6.5" + 1" tweeter (d'appolito); fronts and rears 6.5" + 1" tweeter; centre rear 5" + 1" tweeter; sub 10" (150WRMS)|