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DVD Reviews

HTF REVIEW: The New World

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#1 of 55 OFFLINE   Matt Stone

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Posted May 07 2006 - 08:57 AM

The New World
Directed By: Terrence Malick

Studio: New Line
Year: 2006
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 (Anamorphic)
Running Time: 2 Hr. 15 Mins.
Rating: PG-13 (For Intense Battle Sequences)
Audio: 5.1 Dolby Digital (English), 2.0 Dolby Digital (English)
Subtitles: English, and Spanish
MSRP: $27.95
Street Date: 9 May, 2006

Review Date: 7 May, 2006
(Ratings are out of five stars)

I must admit, when I first heard that Terrence Malick was directing his first film since The Thin Red Line, with Jack Fisk doing the production design and starring Colin Farrell, Christian Bale, and Christopher Plummer, I was pretty jazzed. It seems like an almost once-in-a-lifetime event to even get a Malick film, and while I’m not a huge fan, I do recognize the man’s importance in film. The New World tells the already-widely-known story of John Smith and Pocahontas set against an extremely detailed historical background. The picture slowly develops as Farrell’s John Smith discovers the “natural’s” world, and more specifically Pocahontas (played by Q'Orianka Kilcher). Like Malick’s previous effort, The Thin Red Line, the movie plays poetically and abstractly rather than directly representing a specific series of events.

The New World suffers from a couple of large problems. One is that it’s pace is very slow, which wouldn’t be so bad if Malick weren’t already telling a story that most of us are familiar with. That being said, Malick’s film looks and feels much different than anything I’ve seen on the subject before. I found myself wondering where the film was shot, because it looked like nothing I had ever seen before. As per usual in Malick’s films, the acting is top notch across the board. New-comer Q'Orianka Kilcher is especially excellent in the Pocahontas role. She communicates with her face and eyes, and really steals a lot of scenes. Colin Farrell, who usually plays more charismatic roles, keeps it pretty straight-laced here and does a decent job. He does rely a little too much on the doe-eyed look to melt everyone’s hearts [img]http://static.hometheaterforum.com/imgrepo/8/8d/htf_images_smilies_smile.gif[/img]. Plummer, Bale, and David Thewlis also provide some excellent supporting work. Technically speaking, I found the film to be excellent. Emmanuel Lubezki’s flawless cinematography captures the pre-colonial environment and Jack Fisk’s superb design seals the deal. Hans Zimmer’s Thin Red Line score is one of my all-time favorites, and while James Horner isn’t able to hit the same plateau, his score is very evocative. The editing was also very effective, but the overall pace was a little too slow. Malick presented a longer cut of the film (150 minutes, compared to this 135 minute version) last December to qualify for Oscar competition, which I can only imagine would have been slower yet. Regardless of the pace, Malick is able to pull together all the pieces (score, camera work, lighting, etc) to establish a consistent tone. Whether you like the movie or not, you can recognize that a master is behind the camera.

In the end, The New World didn’t exactly live up to my expectations, but it came pretty close. I wasn’t able to catch the film in theaters, and read some pretty tepid reviews, but seeing it now, I think it was vastly under-rated. In a world where Dances With Wolves can win Best Picture, I would hope Malick’s film would get a little more good press than it did. Obviously the vast majority of audiences didn’t agree with me, so your mileage may vary.

Film Rating: [img]http://static.hometheaterforum.com/imgrepo/4/4d/htf_images_smilies_star.gif[/img][img]http://static.hometheaterforum.com/imgrepo/4/4d/htf_images_smilies_star.gif[/img][img]http://static.hometheaterforum.com/imgrepo/4/4d/htf_images_smilies_star.gif[/img][img]http://static.hometheaterforum.com/imgrepo/4/4d/htf_images_smilies_star.gif[/img][img]http://static.hometheaterforum.com/imgrepo/a/a7/htf_images_smilies_half.gif[/img]

Emmanuel Lubezki’s beautiful cinematography is presented accurately with this transfer. The New World is the first film since Kenneth Branagh’s Hamlet to be shot in the 65MM format (non-visual effects shots only). The method gives the film a distinct, detailed look. Colors are vivid and rich, portraying a beautiful environment. Again, New Line has done a hell of a job presenting the transfer as it was intended. I’m itching to get my hands on some Blu-Ray material to see how well they do with a higher resolution format. I noticed only a minimal amount of edge enhancement in very high contrast shots and on a few of the subtitled text. Other than that I didn’t see any visual artifacting. The shadow detail was excellent in the darker scenes (especially when the light source was fire). This is a reference quality transfer that you’ll be very happy with.

Video Rating: [img]http://static.hometheaterforum.com/imgrepo/4/4d/htf_images_smilies_star.gif[/img][img]http://static.hometheaterforum.com/imgrepo/4/4d/htf_images_smilies_star.gif[/img][img]http://static.hometheaterforum.com/imgrepo/4/4d/htf_images_smilies_star.gif[/img][img]http://static.hometheaterforum.com/imgrepo/4/4d/htf_images_smilies_star.gif[/img][img]http://static.hometheaterforum.com/imgrepo/a/a7/htf_images_smilies_half.gif[/img]

The audio is preserved just as well as the video was. The Dolby Digital soundtrack uses all of the channels brilliantly, and there is even good punch in the low end. The score is wide and enveloping, and the environment comes across very accurately. You’ll want to swat the birds and flies away before too long. I still consider the full bit-rate DTS track on The Thin Red Line to be one of the top five soundtracks of all time, but this isn’t too far behind. Stylistically, the soundtracks are very similar, and much like Fox, New Line has done a tremendous job of replicating the soundtrack on DVD.

Audio Rating: [img]http://static.hometheaterforum.com/imgrepo/4/4d/htf_images_smilies_star.gif[/img][img]http://static.hometheaterforum.com/imgrepo/4/4d/htf_images_smilies_star.gif[/img][img]http://static.hometheaterforum.com/imgrepo/4/4d/htf_images_smilies_star.gif[/img][img]http://static.hometheaterforum.com/imgrepo/4/4d/htf_images_smilies_star.gif[/img][img]http://static.hometheaterforum.com/imgrepo/a/a7/htf_images_smilies_half.gif[/img]

Making the New World (59:05)– The lone special feature on this DVD is a long behind-the-scenes documentary that unfortunately avoids Terrence Malick completely. I know the man is a bit reclusive, but this documentary would have been a good way to learn a little more about the his film-making process. As it is, we do get a decent diary style documentary that tackles the film’s production. It’s far from boring, but it falls short of the mark by avoiding Malick’s take on the process. The feature is broken up into 10 parts and you have the option of watching them separately or all at once.

The DVD also features the teaser and theatrical trailer.

Extras Rating: [img]http://static.hometheaterforum.com/imgrepo/4/4d/htf_images_smilies_star.gif[/img][img]http://static.hometheaterforum.com/imgrepo/4/4d/htf_images_smilies_star.gif[/img][img]http://static.hometheaterforum.com/imgrepo/a/a7/htf_images_smilies_half.gif[/img]

In Closing…
Malick’s film-impressionism kept me mesmerized for the most part. His ability to create a trance-like state is second-to-none. While the film didn’t rock me as much as The Thin Red Line, I found it to be a very enjoyable experience. As I said before, it didn’t quite live up to my expectations, but it came through in ways that I wasn’t expecting. I had read some early comments about the sappy love story, but I don’t it was over-the-top at all. It’s decidedly not for everyone, but I can highly recommend this one to Malick fans and art-film fans alike.

Overall Rating: [img]http://static.hometheaterforum.com/imgrepo/4/4d/htf_images_smilies_star.gif[/img][img]http://static.hometheaterforum.com/imgrepo/4/4d/htf_images_smilies_star.gif[/img][img]http://static.hometheaterforum.com/imgrepo/4/4d/htf_images_smilies_star.gif[/img][img]http://static.hometheaterforum.com/imgrepo/4/4d/htf_images_smilies_star.gif[/img]

Matt Stone
7 May, 2006
In Heaven, everything is fine.
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#2 of 55 OFFLINE   Cameron Yee

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Posted May 07 2006 - 08:58 AM

I really enjoyed this film and was glad to be able to see it on the big screen. I will need to revisit The Thin Red Line as it didn't strike me as much as this film did.

#3 of 55 OFFLINE   Chuck Mayer

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Posted May 07 2006 - 09:05 AM

TTRL didn't strike me the same either, but I've improved as a movie viewer Posted Image

Already ordered this and the Munich two-discer from Amazon. Thanks for the review, Matt.

FWIW, I consider this the best film I've seen since 2001 (the year, not the film). Easily.
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#4 of 55 OFFLINE   Marc Colella

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Posted May 07 2006 - 09:21 AM

A great film by a great director. It's good to see the transfer does justice to the cinematography. I would love to see this on HD-DVD (as well as the other Malick films).

#5 of 55 OFFLINE   RogerH


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Posted May 07 2006 - 09:27 AM

I'll give this one a rent.

#6 of 55 OFFLINE   john a hunter

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Posted May 07 2006 - 09:48 AM

According to the American Cinematograher, who should know, it was NOT filmed in 65mm save for one sequence. The usual excuse was given-too expensive!

#7 of 55 OFFLINE   Frank@N



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Posted May 07 2006 - 11:50 AM

Impressed that they were able to fit all this on one disc without issues. Will keep my eyes open for a used copy.

#8 of 55 OFFLINE   TonyD


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Posted May 07 2006 - 01:03 PM

'm watching with the tosh hd dvd player. this looks beautiful upconverted. there were some iffy moments near the beginning concerning EE especially around the edges of the mast and sails of the ships as they arrive to shore. as the movie goes i didnt notice the EE as much. the sound is great. there is tons of sound effects from all around, birds, wind, rain, water. i watched with the sound off for a few mnutes and i didnt feel as if i was losing anything as far as storytelling was concerned. I love this movie, it's nearly hypnotic. best i've seen in years.

#9 of 55 OFFLINE   Steve Kuester

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Posted May 07 2006 - 01:51 PM

Thanks for the review. I'm VERY excited to pick this up. I'll also hop on the bandwagon to say this is the best film I've experienced in a long, long time.

#10 of 55 OFFLINE   Carlo Medina

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Posted May 07 2006 - 02:03 PM

Hmm, do I smell double dip? I was hoping to buy this sight-unseen, but after reading this, I will probably hold out for the inevitable Extended Edition DVD that will come out in 3-6 months. And if I'm wrong and one doesn't come out, this one will be $15 or less by then Posted Image

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#11 of 55 OFFLINE   Jack _Webster

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Posted May 07 2006 - 03:13 PM

If there is a double dip, it's unlikely to contain the 150 minute cut, as that largely consisted mostly of extended nature shots (and perhaps a minute of extra dialogue in one or two spots). The studio didn't tell Malick to shorten it, he just refined the edit of the film he wanted to deliver to cinemas. What we should look out for is a substantially reworked extended cut which will run at about 3 hours (producer Sarah Green said Malick was already working on it during the film's release). This should include, I suppose, expansions on material briefly covered in the film (like dialogue scenes in place of voice-over narration). Q'Orianka Kilcher said, in a Comingsoon.net interview, that there were many more dialogue scenes which are supposed to be in a dvd release. I've always maintained that no matter how much I may prefer an extended/director's cut, I always like to own the film that I originally fell in love with (which is why, despite my love of the SW prequels and approval of the SEs, I'll still be buying the Unaltered Trilogy Set this September). Therefore, this is certainly a must-have. Plus, low dvd sales would encourage New Line to back out of releasing the bigger edition - and, well, that simply will not do.

#12 of 55 OFFLINE   Cameron Yee

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Posted May 07 2006 - 03:56 PM

Sheesh, where have I been? Oh yeah, vacation. Posted Image

#13 of 55 OFFLINE   Carlo Medina

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Posted May 07 2006 - 04:19 PM

Well whether it's a 150 minute cut or the 3 hour cut you're alluding to, I can wait.
I agree completely. Of course, in my first post I said this would be a sight-unseen buy (blind buy) so I've never seen any cut of this film to fall in love with. As such, I can wait for either the 150/180 minute cut, or for this one to be in the $10 bin and I can't pass it up any longer.

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#14 of 55 OFFLINE   Tim RP

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Posted May 07 2006 - 09:36 PM

The chances of an extended cut appearing seem to be at a stalemate at the moment. Sarah Green did indeed state that New Line had greenlit the release of a longer cut on dvd for autumn but as of last week New Line had "no plans" to release an extended edition. The New Line response comes from a poster on imdb who contacted the studio.

#15 of 55 OFFLINE   JonZ


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Posted May 08 2006 - 12:43 AM

Ive been jonesing really bad to see this again. So glad that street date is correct. Hollywood bitchslap had it for May 30 release. Loved this movie!

#16 of 55 OFFLINE   Jack _Webster

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Posted May 08 2006 - 01:11 AM

Quite frankly that sounds like something the studio would say just so that their first release sells good. It's Terrence Malick film - not exactly a household name. Not everyone's going to rush out and buy it.

#17 of 55 OFFLINE   Chuck Mayer

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Posted May 08 2006 - 01:16 AM

I'm gladly buying this, and I would more than gladly shell out for a longer cut. But I really think this cut works, so give it a rental, Carlo. You might be waiting forever otherwise.
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#18 of 55 OFFLINE   StephenP


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Posted May 08 2006 - 01:16 AM

For those that case, Best buy has an alternate cover for this film which I think looks better.


#19 of 55 OFFLINE   Paul Case

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Posted May 08 2006 - 01:24 AM

One of my favorite films of all time. Along with the Star Wars OOT and the extended Kingdom of Heaven, this is the release I am most anticipating this year.

#20 of 55 OFFLINE   Aaron Silverman

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Posted May 08 2006 - 02:47 AM

Am I remembering correctly that they had to go back and re-shoot the sex scene(s) because Kilcher was underage when they were originally filmed? Posted Image

(Never mind -- Colin Farrell just told me "oh yeah, baby!!!")
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