Beautiful Creatures (2000)

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Released 10-Oct-2001

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Black Comedy Theatrical Trailer
Production Notes
Biographies-Cast & Crew
Notes-DVD Newsletter
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2000
Running Time 84:22
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (38:20) Cast & Crew
Start Up Programme
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Bill Eagles
Studio
Distributor

Sony Pictures Home Entertain
Starring Rachel Weisz
Susan Lynch
Iain Glen
Maurice Roeves
Tom Mannion
Alex Norton
Case Soft Brackley-Transp
RPI $36.95 Music Murray Gold


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/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 Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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

Plot Synopsis

††† Every now and again, one of the multinational distributors that have pretty much dominated this country's film and music industries for the past twenty years will stop flooding it with all and sundry from America in order to allow something from another market, sometimes something even local, to be exhibited. In this case, Universal Pictures and Columbia Tristar Home Entertainment have seen fit to allow this British production, Beautiful Creatures, to make its way to DVD-Video. Perhaps this has something to do with the fact that Rachel Weisz (pronounced "vice" for the illiterates out there) plays a leading role in it, and what with another of those modern mummy adventures about to arrive on our beloved format, well, I'm sure those with experience in watching release schedules know how this poem goes by now.

††† Dorothy (Susan Lynch) and Petula (Rachel Weisz) have one thing in common aside from being the beautiful things referred to in the title: they have very bad taste in men. Dorothy's boyfriend, Tony (Iain Glen), reacts to a missing set of golf clubs by tying her pet German Shepherd up in the back yard and pouring red paint over him, while Petula's boyfriend, Brian (Tom Mannion), basically thinks he owns her and even prevents her leaving the country to see her own mother in Majorca. One fine evening, however, while Brian is giving Petula a good throttling and Dorothy is fixing to leave Tony, Dorothy happens across Petula and gives Brian a good whack on the head with a piece of scaffolding. They then proceed to drag Brian to Dorothy's home and stick him in the bath, where he proceeds to stagger to his feet, fall over, and hit his head on the tiles, thus killing him stone dead.

††† After leaving him on the bathroom floor and trying to decide what to do, Dorothy and Petula eventually decide to put Brian in a spot outside of Dorothy's home, but things get even stickier when the German Shepherd decides to use Brian's fingers as chew-toys. So, rather than flail around and wait to get caught, Dorothy comes up with the idea of using the severed finger she found in her German Shepherd's mouth to fake a kidnapping. She sends the severed finger in the post with a ransom demand to Petula's house, which sparks some investigation from Brian's elder brother, Ronnie (Maurice RoŽves), and a detective by the name of Hepburn (Alex Norton). The question is not so much whether Dorothy and Petula can dispose of the body, but whether they can do so without tripping themselves up in the process.

††† To be honest, the last quarter of the film tends to drag a bit, and I felt that a wittier resolution could have really helped this film, but the rest of the film, along with its rather dark sense of humour, makes up for the anticlimax. Rachel Weisz performs pretty similarly to how she has performed in every other film I have seen her in, including as a Russian soldier in Enemy At The Gates, while Susan Lynch seems to have the role of a woman who is used to being abused by her boyfriend down pat. Most of the rest of the cast exist merely as props, although Alex Norton gives a fine performance in a comparatively limited role, just as he did in the first Black Adder series. Overall, Beautiful Creatures is a nice piece for an evening's entertainment, but I tend to doubt that I will be returning to it with any real frequency.

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Transfer Quality

Video

††† The transfer is presented in the aspect ratio of 1.85:1, and it is 16x9 Enhanced.

††† The transfer's sharpness is excellent, with plenty of subtle detail to keep the detail junkies who can't stomach a VHS or even laserdisc transfer anymore more than happy. The shadow detail is good, although it is not quite up to the standards that have been set by major Hollywood productions around the same time that this film was made. This appears to be more an issue with the way the film was photographed, however, so I can let that one pass. There is no low-level noise.

††† Non-Hollywood cinematography in a place like Scotland almost invariably leads to a muted, dull colour palette, and this film is certainly no exception. Dull greys tend to dominate the film, and the transfer captures them all without a problem.

††† MPEG artefacts were not noted in this transfer at any time, although the picture does take on a slightly grainy look that can easily be attributed to the source material. Film-to-video artefacts consisted of some minor and moderate aliasing on such things as car chrome and blinds, with some blinds at 33:13 providing the most distracting example. Film artefacts were occasionally noted in the form of small black and white marks on the picture, but these were well within acceptable limits at all times.

††† The subtitles on this disc come in one flavour: plain old ordinary English, with no captions for our Hearing Impaired viewers. They are reasonably faithful to the dialogue, but not as much as I would like.

††† This disc uses the RSDL format, which is surprising given the total lack of features and the film's running length. The layer change takes place in the middle of Chapter 8, at an inconspicuous point during a phone conversation at 38:20. In spite of the placement, I really had to look hard to find this one.



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

Audio

††† There is one soundtrack on this DVD: the original English dialogue in Dolby Digital 5.1 with a bitrate of 384 kilobits per second.

††† The dialogue is clear and easy to understand at all times, unless you're one of those people who have problems with Scottish accents, or other accents from the United Kingdom. Rachel Weisz and Susan Lynch speak with rather heavy accents, but I doubt that anybody is going to have a serious problem following what is going on in this film. There were no perceptible problems with audio sync.

††† The music in this film is credited to Murray Gold, and a suitably quirky effort it is, at that. The dominant theme in this score is an upbeat, major sort of bouncy thing that one would expect to find in the advertising campaigns of Scotland's tourism board rather than a film like this. The overall score tends to get just a little bit repetitive, but its overall effect supports the film quite well.

††† The surround channels weren't used a great deal by this film, with the most frequent surround activity coming when the music got into full gear. There was one use of the surround channels that stood out to me at 55:31, when a golf club is swung, but this was the only time that the surround channels really made me take any notice of them. This film is almost entirely dominated by dialogue, so the bias towards the front of the sound stage should come as no surprise to anyone who has been listening to Dolby Digital soundtracks for a while. I doubt that the use of a DTS soundtrack like they have in Region 1 would do very much to improve the surround channel usage unless it was full bitrate, but more on that later.

††† The subwoofer was sparingly used to support gunshots and impacts, but it did not make a great contribution to the sound field. When it was called into action, however, it did its job without becoming conspicuous.



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

Extras

Menu

††† The menu is static, accompanied by the usual annoying Universal menu icons, and it is 16x9 Enhanced.

Theatrical Trailer

††† This one minute and fifty-one second trailer is presented in the aspect ratio of 1.85:1 with Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo sound, and it is not 16x9 Enhanced.

Production Notes

††† Brief notes about the writing, casting, location, and production of the film, which are worth reading once or twice.

Cast & Crew Biographies

††† Superficial biographies for Rachel Weisz, Susan Lynch, Iain Glen, Maurice RoŽves, Alex Norton, and director Bill Eagles are provided under this submenu. Bill Eagles only gets a one-page biography while Alex Norton's biography only spans one page and his filmography mentions a dozen film roles between 1979 and 2001. This is hardly what I would call an inspiring effort.

Notes - DVD Newsletter

††† This one page of notes urges the reader to register online for Universal's DVD Online Community. At least it isn't an outdated web link.

R4 vs R1

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

††† The Region 4 version of this disc misses out on;

††† Although it was next to impossible to find reliable information about the Region 1 version of this disc, it appears that we have been denied another chance to make use of our DTS decoders. Given that there is a whopping amount of unused space on the disc (just shy of three gigabytes), we could have had a full-bitrate DTS soundtrack and still had space to spare. This is patently unacceptable in my view, but as the Region 1 reviews state, even with such a soundtrack, the rears are not given a great deal to do here.

Summary

††† Beautiful Creatures is a modestly entertaining comedy that will keep most viewers amused for one viewing, but there certainly are better British crime films out there.

††† The video transfer is very good.

††† The audio transfer is good.

††† The extras are limited.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Dean McIntosh (Don't talk about my bio. We don't wanna know.)
Sunday, October 07, 2001
Review Equipment
DVDToshiba 2109, using S-Video output
DisplaySamsung CS-823AMF (80cm). Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 576i (PAL).
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum.
AmplificationSony STR DE-835
SpeakersYamaha NS-45 Front Speakers, Yamaha NS-90 Rear Speakers, Yamaha NSC-120 Centre Speaker, JBL Digital 10 Active Subwoofer

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