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HTF REVIEW: "Tuck Everlasting" (HIGHLY RECOMMENDED) (with screenshots)



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#1 of 23 OFFLINE   Ronald Epstein

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Posted February 16 2003 - 09:30 AM

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Tuck Everlasting






Studio: Walt Disney
Year: 2002
Rated: PG
Film Length: 90 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 16X9 Enhanced Widescreen (2.35:1)
Subtitles: English, French and Spanish



A secret is about to be discovered.
An adventure is about to begin


Posted Image

If you could choose to live forever, would you?
Most people would answer that question with a
resounding "yes" -- after all, no-one wants
to die. But think about this question a little
longer...is it truly a blessing have immortality
or is it a curse? Imagine staying the age you are
right now -- never having the ability to grow old
with your loved one. In essence, The peace
associated with death will forever be forbidden.

These are the issues explored in Disney's Tuck
Everlasting
, a story about a family of immortals
and a girl who discovers their secret. The film is
based on the award-winning novel by Natalie Babbitt.

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It's the Summer of 1914 in a rural little American
village called Treegap. A young girl named Winnie
Foster (Alexis Bledel) lives in a huge house that
borders the majestic woods. Winnie is an unhappy
girl, living a sheltered life thanks to her rich
but isolated parents who are threatening to send
her away to a private school. One day, in a fit of
minor rebellion, she ventures into the woods outside
her home and happens upon Jesse Tuck (Jonathan
Jackson), who she sees drinking from a local stream.
Winnie tries to get a drink of water from the stream,
but the stream turns out to be the Tucks' family
secret, and since Winnie is now in on it, she is
quietly kidnapped by Jesse's older and stern brother,
Miles (Scott Bairstow).

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She is taken back to the Tucker cabin nested deep
within the woods where she meets the boys' parents,
Angus (Willaim Hurt) and Mae (Sissy Spacek). She
eventually learns that the spring from which Jesse
was drinking has caused the entire family to be
immortal and permanently stuck at the age from their
first drink.

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This brings us to the mysterious Man in the yellow
suit (Ben Kingsley) who's trailed the brothers back
to their beloved woods. As he attempts to find them
and their source of immortality, and Winnie's parents
call out the forces to find her, the teen must decide
whether to join the Tucks as they try to maintain
their secrecy and unique lifestyle.

On the surface, Disney has a real gem of a film here
with well-drawn characters, a solid story and some
absolutely gorgeous cinematography. I also really
appreciated the fact that the film explored some
real philosophical issues without using any gimmicks
to examine them. You also can't help but to be drawn
to this first-rate cast that includes veterans
William Hurt and Sissy Spacek. The only slight
problems I found with the film was that it becomes
a little long-winded at times, and I felt so much
more could have been done with Ben Kingsley's "man
in the yellow-suit," a character that comes off as
being poorly written here.

As fine a film I thought Tuck Everlasting was,
I was concerned about who would enjoy this type of
film the most. The movie is mostly geared towards
female teens and young teens. Children will no doubt
turn their noses up at the film's theme since they
won't understand the issue at hand. Adults may find
the film a little on the sappy side, but overall,
I think most will find this a very pleasing viewing
experience.


How is the transfer?


It's very difficult to say anything about a
nearly-perfect transfer, and that is exactly what
we have here. Tuck Everlasting is an overly
pleasing visual experience thanks to its striking
color palette that is well represented here. This
is a very warm looking film with its beautiful
green grass and forests as well as breathtaking
red sunsets that are all wonderfully rendered.
Images are just a tad soft, but very well detailed
and there is not a spec of background film noise
or grain to be seen anywhere.

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The Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack is nothing to
be excited about -- but the music itself is! Most
of the sound is entirely front-heavy, boldly
bringing out Composer William Ross's enchanting
score with its light charming touches and solo
whistling. The score is often sweet, invoking so
many emotions along the way. Audio is always
well detailed and pleasing to the ears with just
enough LFE support to give it some added punch.
Unfortunately, the rears never seem to rise above
the front channels, only providing the sounds of
crickets and croaking frogs that dwell in the
majestic forest.


Special Features

Posted ImagePosted Image

There are two separate audio commentaries on
this DVD. The first is with Director Jay Russell
and cast members Jonathan Jackson, Alexis Bledel
and Scott Bairstow. The second is with Jay
Russell and screenwriter James Hart.

I decided to listen to a bit of the Russell/Hart
commentary, as I thought it would prove to be more
serious fare. What I really liked here was the fact
that this commentary is geared towards its audience.
In other words, Russell and Hart talk on a level
that teen audiences will find easy to digest.
Screenwriter Hart talks about the idea of this film
coming from his 9 year-old son who brought the book
home one day. Hart was so impressed not only by the
book, but the fact that his son was readily grasping
its themes and ideas that it made sense to make it
into a film. Russell and Hart talk about the
difficulties of adapting a book to screen and the
reasons why many changes have to be made in the
process. What the two set out to do was capture
the "spirit" of the book rather than copy it word
for word. Hart has adapted many films to the
screen (Contact, Hook & Bram Stoker's Dracula),
but this proved to be the most difficult for him,
and you'll find out why. Russell talks about
his casting choices and being most surprised by
actress Alexis Bledel, who he immediately placed
in the role that he thought would take forever to
cast. This is a very lively and entertaining
commentary that focuses more on the themes of the
film rather than taking us by the hand and telling
us what goes on in scene after scene -- and you know
what? -- that's a good thing!

Posted Image

I think that this will make for a very interesting
family viewing experience....Lessons of Tuck
is a viewing mode that lets you watch the film with
moments of brief interruptions from actor Jonathan
Jackson who explores some of the themes being
discussed in the film at that very moment. For
example, at the end of a scene where Winnie Foster
has a heavy decision on her mind, the film is
interrupted with some advice by author Natalie
Babbitt as well as other cast members and regular
kids who share their own life experiences. I think
this feature works very well in a family-orientated
film like this as it helps teens connect with some
of the very issues they may be facing in their life.

A visit with Natalie Babbitt brings us
up close to the author of Tuck Everlasting,
who says she writes books about "ideas" rather
than about the characters themselves. Born in
Ohio in the 1930s, Natalie was addicted to books
at an early age. It was the book Alice in
Wonderland
that made her realize that she
wanted to become an author one day. This is the
story of her life and her writings, presented in
a manner that should inspire the young audiences
who watch it.
(length: approx. 9 minutes)


Final Thoughts

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Everlasting Tuck is perhaps the finest
live-action film to come out of the Disney camp
to date. It's almost a piece of art, full of
mystical pleasures that are often rewarding. It's
the kind of film that begs to be enjoyed by the
entire family, and this DVD certainly promotes
that sort of viewing experience thanks to its
thought-provoking supplements.

I am placing this on my HIGHLY RECOMMENDED list
because of its family value!


Release Date: February 25, 2003


All screen captures have been further compressed.
They are for illustrative purposes only and do not
represent actual picture quality

Ronald J Epstein
Home Theater Forum co-owner

 

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#2 of 23 OFFLINE   Gary_O

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Posted February 16 2003 - 10:17 AM

Nice Review Ron.

I'm pleasantly surprised that this wasn't given a full-frame only release as Disney as been know to do this in the past to their family geared films.

I may use the $2 off coupon inside "Sweet Home Alabama" and pick this one up.

#3 of 23 OFFLINE   Rain

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Posted February 16 2003 - 10:50 AM

I was planning on giving this one a rental. Nice to know it's a nice transfer. Posted Image

On a related note, does anyone know who owns the rights to the 1981 independent film of Tuck Everlasting?

"Imagine all the people, living life in peace..." - Imagine by John Lennon

#4 of 23 OFFLINE   JakeLip

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Posted February 16 2003 - 11:27 AM

I love the book and the film, and regard it as one of the best films to come from Disney's live-action department in quite a while. While there are a few differences with the book, the movie is on the whole very faithful to the original novel version and delivers a very enjoyable moviewatching experience. Some of the finest acting seen on the silver screen in 2002, a truly beautiful and haunting score, an intelligent script, and very beautiful shots of the locations. This one is a really great picture, and I cannot wait to finally own it come 2/25.
 

 


#5 of 23 OFFLINE   Randy A Salas

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Posted February 16 2003 - 11:30 AM

Quote:
Children will no doubt turn their noses up at the film's theme since they won't understand the issue at hand.


This is simply a misconception. Our newspaper's reviewer said the same thing, and gave the film a lower rating because of it.

I took my 7-year-old daughter to see the press screening of Tuck two months before it opened. She loved it, and I never coached her on the topic or said anything about the film in advance. There were many other younger kids in the packed theater--a wide range of ages, by the way, including senior couples, families and 20-something women--and everyone was commenting on how great the film was on the way out. My daughter asked some questions about death and living forever, which was a healthy sign that she "got it." She loved the movie so much that she went to see it again with my wife once it opened.

The point of this is that grown male reviewers--like Ron (no offense, Ron) and my newspaper's reviewer--keep restating the idea that young kids won't get it. I just want to point out that you might be surprised out how much they do get. I know from first-hand experience.
Randy A. Salas
DVD Columnist & Feature Writer
Minneapolis Star Tribune daily newspaper

#6 of 23 OFFLINE   Jeffrey Bane

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Posted February 16 2003 - 12:03 PM

It seems to me that the studios would be well-served if they took advantage of some of your reviews when promoting their DVD's on television. I'm sure someone has suggested it before, but with the growing popularity of the format, it seems more people would benefit from knowing the quality of the disc's presentation.

#7 of 23 OFFLINE   Tim Glover

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Posted February 16 2003 - 04:39 PM

Nice review Ron. I took my 10 & 8 year old daughters and we all really liked it. I left wanting a little more...which is sometimes a good thing. Looking forward to the dvd.
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#8 of 23 OFFLINE   Patrick Sun

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Posted February 16 2003 - 11:15 PM

Is this one of fastest releases (from theatrical release to DVD release)? It doesn't seem like more than 3 months have passed since it was in the theaters.
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#9 of 23 OFFLINE   Mark Rapp

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Posted February 17 2003 - 12:54 AM

Rain said:
> On a related note, does anyone know who owns the rights to the 1981 independent film of Tuck Everlasting?

I, too, was thinking about this release. Anyone know if it's available anywhere (any region)?

#10 of 23 OFFLINE   Randy A Salas

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Posted February 17 2003 - 02:48 AM

Quote:
Is this one of fastest releases (from theatrical release to DVD release)? It doesn't seem like more than 3 months have passed since it was in the theaters.

It opened Oct. 11 and first previewed in August. A Feb. 25 video release is certainly not unreasonable for a movie that didn't even register with critics or moviegoers.
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DVD Columnist & Feature Writer
Minneapolis Star Tribune daily newspaper

#11 of 23 OFFLINE   Ron-P

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Posted February 17 2003 - 04:18 AM

I had no intention of even renting this, but thank's to your review Ron I've added it to my purchase list. Thanks!


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#12 of 23 OFFLINE   JosephMoore

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Posted February 17 2003 - 05:08 AM

Quote:
I, too, was thinking about this release. Anyone know if it's available anywhere (any region)?

The 1981 indie version is owned by Warner Home Video. Available on VHS but not yet DVD.


#13 of 23 OFFLINE   Patrick Sun

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Posted February 17 2003 - 05:27 AM

Ah...I think this film opened in December in Atlanta, so I wasn't even aware it was out way back in October.
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#14 of 23 OFFLINE   JakeLip

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Posted February 17 2003 - 06:55 AM

JosephMoore
Quote:
The 1981 indie version is owned by Warner Home Video. Available on VHS but not yet DVD.

Is this version any good, or worth tracking down? I loved Disney's version so much that it's hard to imagine any other version being an improvement in the treatment of the book's story and its faithfulness. On a related note, if Disney's version is a success on DVD, any chance the 1981 version will come out?
 

 


#15 of 23 OFFLINE   JosephMoore

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Posted February 17 2003 - 07:06 AM

I haven't seen the Disney version yet, but I really liked the 1981 version. The soundtrack is quite unique, and I always prefer good "unknown" actors versus big name stars (it's easier to suspend disbelief.) I couldn't hazzard a guess as to which one you'd prefer ... my guess is it depends on whether your tastes run more indie or more mainstream. The trailer for the Disney version always looked a little too "Dawson's Creek" meets "The Swiss Family Robinson" for my taste.

#16 of 23 OFFLINE   ace peterson

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Posted February 19 2003 - 01:46 PM

Nice review. I think a trip to Blockbuster is in order on this one. The wife wants to see it, too, which is a bonus.

Ace

#17 of 23 OFFLINE   Rain

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Posted February 19 2003 - 03:56 PM

Quote:
Is this version any good, or worth tracking down?
I can't say for sure, but I've heard some good things about it. Leonard Maltin's guide gives it Posted ImagePosted ImagePosted ImagePosted Image out of 4. On the other hand, he gave the same rating to Titanic. Posted Image

I'm hoping that the Disney version might encourage Warner to release the previous one...I'd like to check it out.

"Imagine all the people, living life in peace..." - Imagine by John Lennon

#18 of 23 OFFLINE   DaViD Boulet

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Posted February 20 2003 - 05:58 AM

Sounds like another "sight unseen" purchase based Ron not only providing an excellent review...but also introducing me to a film that would have passed me by.

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#19 of 23 OFFLINE   Russell G

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Posted February 20 2003 - 10:33 AM

Thanks for the review. I always loved the old Disney live action periode films, and this seems to harken back to those days. Ron pretty much verified my suspicion, so I can't wait to pick it up!

Hopefully Disney well continue in this vein!

#20 of 23 OFFLINE   Jenna

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Posted February 26 2003 - 03:00 PM

After reading Ron's review, I rented this DVD last night and we LOVED it! Terrific movie, wonderful transfer, stunning cinematography!

Nice to see that Disney didn't hack half of it off and release it as a Full/Pan&Scan either!

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