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DVD Reviews

HTF REVIEW: "O"



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#1 of 12 OFFLINE   Ronald Epstein

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Posted February 13 2002 - 01:02 PM

Posted Image



"O"







A film with perhaps the shortest title in

film history, "O" is a modern-day retelling

of the Shakespeare's classic, "Othello".



It is difficult for me to take this film and

relate it to the original classic, because frankly,

everything I ever learned about Shakespeare, I

forgot long ago. Therefor, please allow me to judge

this film based upon the entertainment value rather

than comparing it against its historic counterpart.



In this film, "O" is for Odin James

(Mekhi Phifer), the school's star basketball player.

He is a modern day hero and the envy of all,

including the team's coach (Martin Sheen) and the

Dean's Daughter, Desi (Julia Stiles), who shares

her love with the basketball star.



With envy comes jealousy, and such is the case

with Hugo (Josh Hartnett), the coach's son, Odin's

friend, and a fellow team player who has always

wanted to fly with the best, but has yet to soar.

Hugo is a friend with ulterior motives. Resentful

that his father shows preference to Odin, Hugo

stages a sinister plot that will cast treachery,

jealousy, and mistrust into the lives of Odin and

Desi. A chain of events spirals into the type of

tragic ending that Shakespeare is so well known for.



Without any knowledge of the original tale of

"Othello", I found "O" to be quite entertaining.

The story of cunning friendship betrayal is full

of twists and turns. Set against a soundtrack of

hop-hop music, this young cast of actors is quite

good, though never giving the powerful performances

a story like this needs. Because of this, the film

falls short of being extraordinary or memorable.





How is the transfer?





This is actually the second Lion's Gate title

I have had the honor of reviewing. Last month,

I gave Lost and Delerious a big thumbs up

on overall transfer quality. "O" looks just

as nice. The transfer looks very clean, with hardly

a trace of grain except in the darkest passages.

Colors are very accurate -- especially with the facial

flesh tones. It's good to see that this studios is

keeping a good track record with consistently

impressive transfers. The film is presented in

widescreen and full frame, which can be selected right

from the main menu (instead of flipping sides).





The 5.1 Dolby Digital mix is very good. Though

the hip-hop music can be overly loud and intrusive,

the audio is quite clear. The rears are given their

share of activity, especially during the many

basketball events where the crowd can be heard

cheering in the stands.





Extra Features





I probably forgot to mention that Lion's Gate has

released "O" as a 2-disc Deluxe Edition.

The main feature is on disc ONE, while the supplements

are placed on disc TWO.



Pop the discs in, and you are greeted with a short

animated menu that shows a cheering crowd dissolving

into a profile shot of Odin. Menu commands appear.



In addition to Director Tim Blake Nelson's

commentary...



I was very surprised that this disc actually

contained the original 1922 silent version of

Othello, starring Emil Jannings and Directed

by Dimitri Buchowetzki. The silent film is presented

in its newly restored version with a brand new score.

I had hoped to watch it in its entirety, to compare

it to the 2001 remake, but I must admit that I got

bored with this silent version very quickly. I can

only tell you that of the 30 minutes I watched, the

quality of the film was better than I expected, and

the musical score certainly complimented the film well.



There are a total of 4 extremely short Interviews

with the 3 main cast members and Director. Julia

Stiles
(Desi) talks about how Director Tim Blake

Nelson was an encouraging presence on the set --

especially when they only had two weeks or rehearsal

time. Mekhi Phifer (Odin James) talks about

how easy it will be for this film's audience to

relate to the athlete. He hopes this film encourages

the discussion of violence among school kids and their

parents. Josh Hartnett (Hugo) gives insight

into his character, and tries to draw out all the

rights from the wrongs. Finally, Director Tim

Blake Nelson
talks about the character of Hugo.

He then addresses the use of drugs in the film and

the need to address it in a remake that uses teens

as it focal point.



There are 4 Deleted Scenes that you can

watch with or without Director's commentary. A

scene with Hugo and Roger shows us a little

more about Roger and his obsession for Desi. Hugo

gives Roger a little pep speech, and explains why

Roger gained so much faith in Hugo's devious plan.

The Cafeteria scene shows Hugo pleading to

Desi to talk some sense into getting Mike back on

the team. Later, she approaches Odin, only to be

reprimanded. A drug dealer talks about white control

in Drug Deal. He spells out the hard, cold

facts of becoming a rising black star in a

white world. Finally, an earlier confrontation

occurs in Odin and Desi. This is yet another

scene that shows Odin's rising, out-of-control anger.



Director Tim Blake Nelson was so proud of the

basketball sequences, that he wanted to include

them on this DVD. In this supplemental area, he

replays 3 of the key basketball sequences and while

doing commentary with Russell Lee, the Director

of Photography. Lee explains how he used

unconventional crane shots and mobile shots on the

court to bring an interesting new feel to the

basketball action. Nelson explains that one of

the film's basketball sequences was supposed to play

against an operatic score, but it didn't work out. Instead,

they used a hip-hop score instead.



The film's Original Trailer is also

included as well as 6 other titles from Lions

Gate Films.





Final Thoughts





If you were like me, you probably would have

read Shakespeare on the back of the box, and

immediately felt this sunken feeling in your

stomach.



Realize, however, this is a highly entertaining

story built around Shakespeare's classic tale. It's

totally fresh, presented in a manner that all

audiences can easily relate to. Though the film's

performances never make this as powerful of a film

that it should be, it is still one that I would

recommend as a rental at the very least.



Release Date: February 19, 2002

 

Ronald J Epstein
Home Theater Forum co-owner

 

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#2 of 12 OFFLINE   Jason Hughes

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Posted February 13 2002 - 02:12 PM

You sold me. It's on my pre-order list at DVD Empire.
Government in action = Government inaction

#3 of 12 OFFLINE   Yumbo

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Posted February 13 2002 - 02:42 PM

it's worthwhile.

#4 of 12 OFFLINE   Ron Eastman

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Posted February 13 2002 - 03:20 PM

I've been interested in this film since it was first announced and then put on hold due to high school shooting incidents. Since I missed it during it's short theatrical run it's nice to know that it's coming out on DVD in what sounds to be a feature filled special edition. This will definitely be on my buy list next week.



Ron, I'm surprised by your aversion to Shakespeare! Posted Image I can't recall a time I've been disappointed by either a modern retelling of a Shakespeare work or a classical version. These are simply powerful stories that stand the test of time.

"The last thing I want to be remembered as is an annoying blabbermouth." - Del Griffith
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#5 of 12 OFFLINE   Nick_Scott

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Posted February 13 2002 - 07:04 PM

Just pre-ordered from Amazon! Something about the movie always confused me: (includes a HUGE spoiler!!!)
At the end, HUGO was arrested. However, there wasnt any LIVING witnesses, so I'm not sure how the police new that he was a killer?? Did I miss something?


#6 of 12 OFFLINE   Ronald Epstein

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Posted February 14 2002 - 02:01 AM

[quote]


Ron, I'm surprised by your aversion to Shakespeare! I can't recall a time I've been disappointed by either a modern retelling of a Shakespeare work or a classical version. These are simply powerful stories that stand the test of time.


[quote]




I wish I had done better in school.



The fact I did very little reading as a teen

has haunted me in my adult life.



It is difficult to write reviews, because of

my lack of education.



If I could go back 25 years, I would read

everything in sight -- especially Shakespeare.

But these days, there is just no time in my

life to try to further myself. Imagine the things

I could write in this forum if I had been better

versed.

 

Ronald J Epstein
Home Theater Forum co-owner

 

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#7 of 12 OFFLINE   Ron Eastman

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Posted February 14 2002 - 03:40 PM

Ron, your reviews are fine and I don't see any problems with your writing! More than a few times your reviews have successfully swayed me to give a film a chance which I would have otherwise overlooked and I thank you for it.



It's never too late to begin expanding your literary horizons. Shakespeare's plays happen to be very quick reads and the Elizabethan English is easy to get used to. If I may, I suggest picking up The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (UNABRIDGED) to get you started.

"The last thing I want to be remembered as is an annoying blabbermouth." - Del Griffith
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#8 of 12 OFFLINE   Ryan L B

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Posted February 14 2002 - 03:45 PM

The only modernized shakespeare retelling that I hated was Romeo and Julliet. Yes, it was supposed to be hip, especally for GEN Xers, but I thought it was just plain bad. I did enjoy Moulin Rouge from the same director. What is his name.

#9 of 12 OFFLINE   Nick_Scott

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Posted February 14 2002 - 04:27 PM

I very much enjoyed TITUS, though, the dialouge was a bit rough at times. I had to leave the subtitles on for most of the movie. I'm not a Shakespear purist though- I would of prefered modernized dialouge. Not modernized like O, but stuff that sounds Shakespearian, but easy for us dummies to understand like Shakespear in Love.

#10 of 12 OFFLINE   Michael St. Clair

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Posted February 14 2002 - 08:43 PM

[quote]

If you were like me, you probably would have read Shakespeare on the back of the box, and immediately felt this sunken feeling in your stomach.

[quote]


Posted Image



Ron, get thee to a library! You owe it to yourself. There is more to life than movies, variety is the spice of life!



If you feel you shortchanged yourself on your education, that is no reason to shortchange yourself now.

#11 of 12 OFFLINE   Darrel Johansen

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Posted February 14 2002 - 08:45 PM

I DO like Shakespeare, having been given an excellent, in-depth experience in high school. And I do appreciate your reviews, Ron --don't feel bad about missing some things in your education. I think if anyone over 30 who did not wish they had studied a bit more of this or that when they were younger is probably not very reflective. I've got two DVD versions of Othello, and look forward to this one and the silent version on this DVD. My favorite current versions are Zefferelli's Romeo and Juliet (on DVD now), Henry V (Branagh), Richard III (1995). Really looking forward to Branagh's Hamlet (not yet announced on DVD). Here's hoping we continue to get good movies, whether the plots are recycled (as I'm told is inevitable) or not!

#12 of 12 OFFLINE   NolanJ

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Posted May 14 2005 - 03:06 PM

I recently purchased "O" in a single disc format. Can somebody please tell me if the 2-disc set had a different transfer? I ask because if the 2-disc transfer had improved audio or video I would like to take this movie back. Thanks !





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