Blu-ray Review The Hand That Rocks the Cradle Blu-ray Review

Discussion in 'Blu-ray and UHD' started by Matt Hough, Aug 27, 2012.

  1. Matt Hough

    Matt Hough Executive Producer
    Reviewer

    Joined:
    Apr 24, 2006
    Messages:
    14,418
    Likes Received:
    2,843
    Location:
    Charlotte, NC
    Real Name:
    Matt Hough
    XenForo Template

    After the mammoth success of Fatal Attraction, there began a series of films from other studios featuring innocent looking people on the surface who hid their psychopathic tendencies from their intended victims. Whether it was next door neighbors, policemen, roommates, or, in the case of Curtis Hanson’s The Hand That Rocks the Cradle, a nanny, the resulting films all pretty much followed an expected and eventually predictable pattern of calculated ingratiation followed by escalating manipulation and, naturally, increasing violence as the movie runs. The Hand That Rocks the Cradle is neither the best nor worst of these copycats; at its best, it’s delectably suspenseful and at its worst, it’s over-the-top ridiculous.





    The Hand That Rocks the Cradle (Blu-ray)
    Directed by Curtis Hanson

    Studio: Hollywood
    Year: 1992
    Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1   1080p   AVC codec
    Running Time: 110 minutes
    Rating: R
    Audio: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 English; Dolby Digital 2.0 Spanish, French
    Subtitles:  SDH, French, Spanish

    Region: A-B-C
    MSRP: $ 20.00


    Release Date: September 4, 2012

    Review Date: August 27, 2012




    The Film

    3/5


    When nanny Peyton Flanders (Rebecca De Mornay) comes into the lives of Claire (Annabella Sciorra) and Michael (Matt McCoy) Bartel, they can’t believe their luck. What they don’t know is that she’s the widow of the gynecologist (John de Lancie) who committed suicide after being brought up on charges of sexual assault during examinations by five of his patients initiated by Claire Bartel. Peyton begins her plans of destroying the Bartel household almost immediately leading Claire to think she’s losing her mind and Michael to feel her slipping away from him and their two children.


    The film’s first two-thirds are undoubtedly the best parts of the picture. Amanda Silver has scripted Peyton’s manipulations skillfully and believably: feeding the baby in the early morning so he wouldn’t want his own mother’s milk, getting the lovable, mentally challenged handyman Solomon (Ernie Hudson) ejected from the household, gaining the trust of older child Emma (Madeline Zima) so she would choose Peyton over her mom, putting doubt in Claire’s mind as to her husband’s faithfulness; these are clever and well thought-out calculations that twist the viewer in knots as we see her hapless victims falling for every one of her deceptions. But then things go awry and logic breaks down in the writing with a planned murder and family friend Marlene Craven (Julianne Moore) learning the truth but only wanting to talk to Claire about it. The carefully laid out suspense collapses like a house of cards even with Curtis Hanson’s smooth, efficient direction that milks the tension as long as the story carefully treads its thin line of believability. (We’ve already been asked to swallow that the widow wouldn’t have been in the newspapers and on the news and that someone in the Bartel family or friends wouldn’t have been able to put a name with a face even if it was six months after the suicide.) There is also a truly inspired bit of counterpoint imagery early on when Peyton suffers her miscarriage alternated with the Bartel family enjoying an outing. The violent final confrontations are exactly what one would expect but are ultimately irritating with the seeming victor pausing to enjoy her triumph instead of finishing off her victims. By then, all viewer good will has long since been lost.


    But the actors are fully committed to these roles, and they’re all marvelous. Rebecca De Mornay for a fair amount of the movie manages to retain a small measure of sympathy for her plight despite her insidious plan to harm innocent victims of her husband. Annabella Sciorra transforms herself from confident wife and mother to a scattered, flailing woman trying to get a grip on what’s happening to her. Matt McCoy is the poster boy for loving and faithful husbands, but as a genius-level scientist he might have been a bit more quick on the uptake with things going wrong (even mentioned by his wife as starting once Peyton had moved in). Ernie Hudson gives a brilliant performance as the handyman who never gives up on the family he loves, and Julianne Moore gives a sassy, edifying spin to her determined career woman. Madeline Zima is an adorable child and gives a most effective account of a youngster seeing her parents through different eyes.



    Video Quality

    4/5


    The film’s theatrical aspect ratio of 1.85:1 has been presented in a 1080p transfer using the AVC codec. Sharpness is very good, and color saturation levels are strong and mostly consistent only occasionally hampered by some fleeting contrast issues on occasion. Flesh tones are true and appealing, and black levels are fine. The film has been divided into 14 chapters.



    Audio Quality

    4/5


    The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 sound mix offers the music score of Graeme Revell the greatest opportunities for surround envelopment. There are some ambient sounds here and there which expand the soundfield and even pan through (an ambulance and other cars) from front to rear on occasion, but these are fleeting, and most of the film is focused toward the front channels. The dialogue has been well recorded and has been placed in the center channel.



    Special Features

    1/5


    The theatrical trailer is presented in 480i and runs for 1 ¾ minutes.


    The disc contains promo trailers for Frankenweenie and ABC-TV suspense shows.



    In Conclusion

    3/5 (not an average)


    The Hand That Rocks the Cradle offers suspenseful moments that occasionally surprise but also follow a very predictable pattern as other movies in this same genre. The Blu-ray transfer offers good video and audio encodes which fans of the movie will undoubtedly appreciate.



    Matt Hough

    Charlotte, NC

     
  2. Adam Gregorich

    Owner

    Joined:
    Nov 20, 1999
    Messages:
    15,672
    Likes Received:
    671
    Location:
    The Other Washington
    Real Name:
    Adam
    I agree that how she manipulates the family is fantastic. I haven't seen it in years, but remember really enjoying it. The only two parts I remember are her feeding the baby (I was horrified) and the white fence at the end. I guess its time to watch it again . I also have a soft spot for this movie as it was filmed in Tacoma Washington where I grew up (along with I Love You to Death and Three Fugitives around the same time...film subsidies??)
     
  3. WillG

    WillG Producer

    Joined:
    Jan 30, 2003
    Messages:
    5,565
    Likes Received:
    114
    And how about when the family does put the pieces together they just attempt to send Rebecca De Mornay away instead of oh say....calling the police
    I think I would find this bit of casting distracting today considering the actresses work in "Californication"
     
  4. Mike Frezon

    Mike Frezon Moderator
    Moderator

    Joined:
    Oct 9, 2001
    Messages:
    37,687
    Likes Received:
    5,329
    Location:
    Rensselaer, NY
    That describes me, too.

    I remember thinking of this film and Julia Roberts' Sleeping With the Enemy as nice suspense thrillers.

    I'm ready to give it another go. Something tells me I'll be a little less forgiving now of the plot than I might've been as a younger man. But I hope to enjoy it again.
     
  5. Adam Gregorich

    Owner

    Joined:
    Nov 20, 1999
    Messages:
    15,672
    Likes Received:
    671
    Location:
    The Other Washington
    Real Name:
    Adam
    Ah the curse of getting old or developing taste, I haven't figured out which myself yet.....
     
  6. Mike Frezon

    Mike Frezon Moderator
    Moderator

    Joined:
    Oct 9, 2001
    Messages:
    37,687
    Likes Received:
    5,329
    Location:
    Rensselaer, NY
    Oh...I love the wisdom that age brings, but I sure do wish I had the physical health I did 30+ years ago.

    I think that's one of those universal truths.

    And while I'd love to be less discriminating in my taste of films (for I think I'd be happier, generally, with the films I now watch), I also love the things I now understand about film and storytelling which make me more critical of the films I now watch.

    Quick story: My wife and I watched--for the first time ever--Tom Hanks' Turner & Hooch just the other night. At one point, as the dog was destroying the apartment of Hanks character., I turned to her and said, "Is the 1980s movie audience laughing hysterically right now?" I probably would have been if I had seen the film in the theater as a young man. Not now though.
     
  7. Ejanss

    Ejanss Banned

    Joined:
    Mar 23, 2012
    Messages:
    2,452
    Likes Received:
    375
    Real Name:
    EricJ
    I was there (well, not at "Turner & Hooch", obviously), and I don't really recall ANYONE laughing at 80's/90's Silver Screen Disney comedies that weren't "Three Men & a Baby" or "Good Morning, Vietnam".
    They just sort of, y'know, showed up, and we didn't know how to stop them. The old joke back then was, "Most studios hope for at least one movie a year that makes a hundred million dollars...Disney/Touchstone/Hollywood would rather make a hundred million pictures a year that make one dollar each."
    (Case in point: Someone with longer memories, tell me, did the now painful trope of "Two characters bursting in on each other and endlessly screaming at the same time" even exist before Shelley Long in "Hello Again"? 'Cause we were just about ready to strangle someone back THEN, too. )
    And think it wasn't until "Single White Female" that the "Postman from hell" Yuppie-fear movies really started to grate as shallow and 90's:
    If you want a film trend that truly defined a decade for posterity, just look at any of the many thrillers that said "That....other person is crazy, and wants to steal my BMW, dream fixer-upper house and trophy child! I TOLD you strange anonymous middle-class people were evil and latent psychotics! (proceeds to double chain-lock doors and get the ubiquitous kitchen-knife out of the drawer)"
    And you wonder why a "lost generation" keeps trying to remake 80's horror films...Look what they had to grow up with when they went to theaters, when nobody made horror films about teenagers anymore, and only boring old shallow upper-middle-class uber-materialistic grownups had killers coming after them. :(
     

Share This Page