The Wood (1999)

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Released 13-Sep-2001

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama Theatrical Trailer
Rating Rated MA
Year Of Production 1999
Running Time 102:22 (Case: 107)
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (54:15) Cast & Crew
Start Up Language Select Then Programme
Region Coding 4 Directed By Rick Famuyiwa
Studio
Distributor

Paramount Home Entertainment
Starring Taye Diggs
Omar Epps
Richard T. Jones
Sean Nelson
Malinda Williams
Trent Cameron
Duane Finley
De'Audre Bonds
Sanaa Lathan
Lisaraye
Tamala Jones
Cynthia Martells
Telma Hopkins
Case Amaray-Transparent
RPI $39.95 Music Pilar McCurry
Camara Kambon


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
French Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Spanish Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Italian 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
French
Portuguese
Hebrew
Greek
Croatian
Italian
Spanish
Slovenian
Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement Yes, Tic-Tacs, Pepsi
Action In or After Credits No

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

Plot Synopsis

    What do you do when it is three hours to the wedding and the groom hasn't shown up? This is the situation facing best man Mike (Omar Epps), and lifelong friend Slim (Richard T. Jones) in The Wood, the first film from writer/director Rick Famuyiwa. I enjoyed this film. It was light-hearted and friendly to watch, whilst also touching on a lot of things that both teenagers and adults face and have faced as they have grown up. I also found that although the main focus is on middle-class African-Americans, the content will appeal to all and crosses race and gender boundaries with ease.

    Whilst looking for the groom, Roland (Taye Diggs), Mike starts to think back to the earlier years when he first moved to Inglewood and met Roland and Slim. Here the movie moves into flash-back mode, showing us a young Mike (Sean Nelson), new to the area, a baseball player (baseball?) with no understanding of the intricacies of living in California with its gangs, schools and women. It is during this time that Mike meets Alicia (Malinda Williams), one of the prettiest and most untouchable girls at school, and is in teenage lust straight away.

    Back in the present, Roland has gotten an extreme case of cold feet towards marrying his girlfriend Lisa (Lisaraye), and after a phone call is found to be at his ex-girlfriends' house, drunk and very unsure about his future. Realising they need to get Roland cleaned up, sobered up and back on track quickly, they grab some coffee and head for the local AA-Mart (like a 7-Eleven). Whilst driving back, Slim ignores the pleas of the inebriated Roland to pull over, and Roland accidentally messes up the car, putting the men in a serious situation with less than two hours to go.

    Interspersed throughout this we see the young Mike succumbing to peer pressure and getting on the bad side of Alicia, and therefore her gang-member brother, Stacey (De'Aundre Bonds). Time passes, and Mike, Roland (Trent Cameron) and Slim (Duane Finley) are found readying themselves for the school dance, leading to some very amusing attempts at dancing by Mike when he realises he's never danced before. It seems a silent truce has now been formed between Alicia and Mike, whilst Mike hopes something else may grow from this. Just as they arrive at the dance, the three boys realise their breath leave a lot to be desired and could cramp their style, and head to the AA-Mart on a mission to get some Tic Tacs. Out of nowhere two masked robbers enter the store, and soon it is apparent one of them is Alicia's brother Stacey, who, after finishing the hold-up, offers them a lift to the dance. Mike quickly earns Stacey's respect after he protects him from the Police, and soon Stacey offers advice on how to approach his sister.

    Mike and Alicia finally get together at the dance, but over time become less boyfriend/girlfriend and more just good friends. The attraction between them had never left and had just gone dormant, up until the start of High School when Slim, Roland and Mike make a bet that the first one to "get some booty" will win the cash. Mike ends up being the first with Alicia, but never collects as he values their relationship.

    In the end (and back in the present day), Roland must come to a decision... is Lisa the right one for him & does he want to get married? Or does he just want to be as he was back in school? At least along the way, the memories of their shared lives together bring the men closer, giving Roland the strength to make his decision, and Mike the courage to follow his heart once more.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    This is a surprisingly good transfer which thankfully is presented with 16x9 enhancement. Unlike the film's theatrical release (which by the way only occurred in the USA), it has been cropped slightly to 1.78:1, down from 1.85:1.

    The image quality is clear and sharp with good colour definition throughout the film showing off nice & rich greens, reds and a multitude of other colours. There are some minor film artefacts with a few specks and small hairs, although they don't detract from the film (and I didn't notice them until the second viewing). Black levels are good, with good clarity in the shadows with no low level noise apparent during the few dark scenes in the film.

    What stops this DVD from being amongst the greats in image quality is some excessive edge enhancement displayed throughout, and some minor aliasing, especially through some earlier scenes (5:23, 20:20).

    This is an RSDL formatted single sided, dual layered disc. The layer change (54:15) is well placed in between two distinct scenes and does little to interfere with the film's pacing.

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

Audio

    There are four audio tracks altogether, with English available in Dolby Digital 5.1, and French, Italian and Spanish in Dolby Digital 2.0. I listened to the English track.

    The soundtrack is clear and well defined with relatively easy-to-understand dialogue. I say "relatively easy" due to the film's main characters using some language that many people may find hard to understand (thank you subtitles!). There are no noticeable lip sync issues.

    The score suits the mood of the film, varying between new style songs for the moments of the film focused in the now, and older style 80s classics supplied during the scenes based in the past.

    The surround channels are barely used as this is a very dialogue intensive film. Their usage is kept to just music and some environmental sounds.

    I think I saw the LFE monitor jump maybe three times throughout the film (and I could have imagined it), and in reality it was not audibly noticeable.

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

Extras

    Paramount have only supplied us with a couple of extras.

Menu

    A suitably themed static menu that offers nothing special, although it is clear and easy to use. It is 16x9 enhanced.

Theatrical Trailer

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 misses out on:

    The Region 1 misses out on:

    In this case there is no specific winner or loser unless you speak or read one of the extra language or subtitle tracks the Region 4 has available.

Summary

    The Wood is a good vibe film that offers a light-hearted view of three men coming to grips with adulthood, and their journey to attain it.

    The transfer is of good quality, with only edge enhancement and minor aliasing pulling it down.

    The soundtrack is very centre channel focused, which is fine for a mostly dialogue-based film.

    The extras are limited.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Shane Lord (read my bio)
Wednesday, October 31, 2001
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-535, using S-Video output
DisplayLoewe Xelos 5381ZW. Calibrated with Video Essentials/Ultimate DVD Platinum. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderSony STR-DB1070. Calibrated with Video Essentials/Ultimate DVD Platinum.
AmplificationElektra Theatre 150 Watts x 6 channel Power Amplifier
SpeakersEnergy eXL-16 left/right front speakers; Energy eXL-C centre speaker; Energy eXL-R left/right rear speakers; Wharfedale SW-12 Subwoofer

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