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HTF REVIEW: "K-PAX" (with screenshots)


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#1 of 39 Ronald Epstein

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Posted March 13 2002 - 03:35 AM

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K-Pax


He leaves July 27th

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It begins at Grand Central Station in New
York City. A beam of light, and then the
appearance of a man wearing sunglasses, slowly
becoming accustomed to his new surroundings.

Meet Prot (Kevin Spacey), a strange and quiet
out-of-this-world character who claims he is
literally from out of this world...a planet
called K-PAX.

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Prot is taken to a Mental Hospital where he
is put under the care of Dr. Mark Powell (Jeff
Bridges), who is fascinated by Prot's claims that
he is not of this earth. The two form an interesting
bond as Dr. Powell wonders if there is anything
more to this mysterious patient.

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I mildly enjoyed this movie. For the first
half of the film, I was wildly fascinated by
this human who claims he is from another planet.
Spacey's performance is quite enjoyable and
convincing as someone not quite who they should be,
taking an interesting look at the world around us
and things we take for granted.

But the film gets weighed down with a bit of
shlock, such as a sequence where the patients of
the mental facility become full of joyous hope
when they see a blue-bird outside the window --
something Prot offered them as a sign of hope.

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Still, Spacey's over-the-top performance still
makes this film worth watching, and you'll be
somewhat entertained by the storyline that will
keep you guessing right up to the film's final
credits.


How is the transfer?


Trust me when I say that this is one of the
most gorgeous DVD transfers I have reviewed.

In the tradition of other great transfers
like THE FAST AND THE FURIOUS, Universal offers
up a stunningly flawless anamorphic (2.35:1)
transfer. Wheras THE FAST AND THE FURIOUS dazzled
us with brilliantly vivid colors, K-PAX
dazzles us with cinematographer John Mathieson's
wonderfully warm transfer with a light motif
that relates narratively to Prot's photosensitivity.
The transfer remains remarkably smooth, and even
in the darker shadows of interior scenes, grain
is never evident.

Perfection goes even a step further when you
listen to the 5.1 DTS surround mix. It is one
of the best non-action mixes I have ever heard.
In fact, I can't believe that a movie with no
hard action sequences whatsoever, sports an
incredibly active surround mix. Starting with
the film's opening score, the rears come
to life with the sounds of techno-music. The
LFE channel delivers strong musical beats to the
subwoofer. If that isn't impressive enough,
you'll be more impressed with the quieter scenes
that take place in the mental hospital. As you
sit and watch and listen to the character
interactions before you, you can clearly hear all
the hospital activities in the background rears.
Even the quiet outdoor scenes contain some sort
of subtle rear activity that remind the viewer
that there is an outside world that surrounds them.
I absolutely love what Universal has done with
this DTS mix.


Special Features


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A wonderfully eerie animated menu sequence
sets the mood for the DVD as colors of light
dissolve into a menu featuring Port against
a background of ever-changing colors of light.

The DVD features a full-length commentary
by Director Iain Softley.

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I actually prefer the Director's Alternate
Ending
that features Doctor Powell gazing
into a telescope and giving a philosophical hope
that we may see Prot one day return.

There are approximately five minutes of
Deleted Scenes that play in continuous
form rather than selectively. These deleted
scenes include: Dr. Powell having a busy morning
at the hospital's admittance ward; Port taking
a detailed look around at the constellations that
hang in the planetarium; The world's leading
astronomers calling Dr. Powell alerting him that
Prot has found a black-hole -- something that
nobody could have conjured up in their mind;
A security tape possibly explaining the hospital
disappearance of Prot; A snippet of Dr. Powell
checking the hospital for the missing patient;
Dr. Powell at home in a tender moment with his
wife as she plays the piano.

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Spotlight On Location is one of those
HBO specials that gives an overview of the film.
Producer Lawrence Gordon recalls the book being
brought to his company, and how everyone fell in
love with it. Kevin Spacey comments on how
attracted he came to the character of Prot, not
knowing that the producers didn't have him in mind
for that particular part. Two years later, the
studio called him to offer him the part. Visiting
many mental institutions, Spacey notes that there
are many patients who believe they are from another
planet. We are taken on the various sets to watch
the action from behind the camera. Actress Mary
McCormack (Private Parts) recalls how well Jeff
Bridges and Kevin Spacey got along and played off
of each other. This 11-minute featurette is very
entertaining thanks to the interviews with the film's
cast.

There is a Storyboard to Final Feature
comparison
that concentrates on the film's
opening moments in Grand Central Station. With
the original storyboard drawings window on top
of a window featuring the film's final footage,
we get a clear idea of how close the film came
to the conceptual drawings.

A small segment of Photographs by Jeff
Bridges
chronicles the making of K-PAX.
The segment runs under 1 1/2 minutes, and features
interesting black & white photographs with
handwritten notes by Bridges.

The film's original trailer and set of
Production notes are included on this DVD.

Cast and Filmmakers gives us the standard
bio's of the people involved with the film.

This I found interesting. Now Showing
is a brand-new promotional piece that Universal
put together that features scenes from past,
current and future releases including A Beautiful
Mind
and Big Fat Liar. It rounds up
with the ability to look at trailers from: APOLLO
13, THE FAMILY MAN, MEET JOE BLACK, NOTTING HILL,
PATCH ADAMS, A BEAUTIFUL MIND and BIG FAT LIAR.
This is a great Trailer Park!

UNIVERSAL SHOWCASE gives us the latest
trailer for The Scorpion King, which clearly
has got to be anticipated as the worst film to
be released this year. By the way, we got inside
word that Universal recently went back to film
a few extra minutes of "breast shots" to earn
the film a higher rating.

DVD-ROM features are also included.


Final Thoughts


The original STARMAN meets a new STARMAN.

K-PAX lacks the out-of-world excitement
that movie audiences might expect from a feature
like this. Yet, thanks to Spacey's performance,
the film remains a somewhat entertaining look at
the world around us.

Worth a rental first.

Release Date: March 26th, 2002

Ronald J Epstein
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#2 of 39 BobG

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Posted March 13 2002 - 03:54 AM

Quote:
By the way, we got inside
word that Universal recently went back to film
a few extra minutes of "breast shots" to earn
the film a higher rating.


I'm there!Posted Image Posted Image

#3 of 39 Jack Briggs

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Posted March 13 2002 - 04:50 AM

Another fine review, Ron. And despite your lukewarm assessment of the film itself, I am looking forward to this release. Thanks!

#4 of 39 Mike Graham

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Posted March 13 2002 - 07:05 AM

I gotta say, even though the movie didn't handle the other mental patients very well, the final scene
where we see Bridges' character meeting his estranged son with Spacey giving a thoughtful voice over
really made it much more enjoyable as a whole. Bridges and Spacey are great in their respective roles, while the wonderful new age score by Edward Shearmur enhances the thought provoking themes ; the beautiful photography of Mathieson (Gladiator, Hannibal) makes this piece a treat for the eyes as well. Definitely worth a rental.

#5 of 39 Rusty Ray

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Posted March 13 2002 - 07:44 AM

Ron, when i saw this in the theater, after the credits shows a scene where the dr. is looking through a telescope up at the sky, which sounds very familiar to the alternate ending you mentioned. is this on the dvd as well?
"As long as you are out there, I can never be number one...."

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#6 of 39 Ronald Epstein

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Posted March 13 2002 - 08:09 AM

Yes, that is the alternative ending.
I am curious as to why it was on the
theatrical version.

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#7 of 39 Rusty Ray

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Posted March 13 2002 - 09:14 AM

strange, i dont know why, but i was in the theater about to leave and it came on, so i was thinking of it more as an epilogue than alternate ending..
"As long as you are out there, I can never be number one...."

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#8 of 39 Josh_Hill

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Posted March 13 2002 - 10:04 AM

I loved this movie and will certainly pick up the DVD!

#9 of 39 Rod Melotte

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Posted March 13 2002 - 12:41 PM

Excellent movie - unless you are the type of person that does not like to think afterwards. I enjoyed it but many people I know didn't because it left them hanging and having to make up there own minds.

THAT is what I liked about it. Trying to put all the pieces of the puzzle together.

I'll buy it for sure.

#10 of 39 Joseph J.D

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Posted March 13 2002 - 01:27 PM

Definitely getting this one for sure. Kevin Spacey is one of my favorite actors and judging from what trailers I've seen of the film, it's another stellar effort from him. I'm already there.Posted Image
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#11 of 39 Scott-C

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Posted March 17 2002 - 02:32 PM

Thanks for the review, Ron.

Overall, I felt the first half of this movie was positively compelling, and like Ron, I was fascinated by Prot's interaction with humans and our planet. However, I felt the movie slipped a notch during the latter half and did not capture my attention as the first half did. Still a very enjoyable movie - one I will consider purchasing.


#12 of 39 DennisP

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Posted March 17 2002 - 02:54 PM

Ever since seeing this movie in the theater, I'v been anxiously awaitng it's release. This is a "Must Own" for me. I'm a big Kevin Spacey fan, and I really think he hit a home run in this film. The guy is so versatile, I've yet to be disappointed by anything he's done. Next up on my "to buy" list is "The Shipping News".....where he plays what I consider an "Anti-Prot"....

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#13 of 39 Kwang Suh

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Posted March 17 2002 - 03:17 PM

Is it just me, or is Universal kicking it up a notch on their recent transfers?

#14 of 39 Sean Moon

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Posted March 17 2002 - 04:09 PM

They must be tired of playing second fiddle to Fox and Warners on the transfers!Posted Image
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#15 of 39 Dave H

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Posted March 17 2002 - 06:23 PM

I never saw this movie, but I think I might really enjoy this it and I really like Spacey and Bridges. Rarely do I buy a movie before seeing it, but if I can pick this up at a good price, I may just do it. Also, I like having to decide for myself how it ends.

#16 of 39 luke cav

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Posted March 18 2002 - 01:08 AM

Picked K-pax up along with, training day, donnie darko and joyride. I was interested to see K-pax since it not released at the cinema in the UK till 12th April and not out on R2 dvd till March 2003. But have not managed to watch it yet. Also The Devils Backbone is coming out on R2 dvd 25th March, Damn cool film.Posted Image

#17 of 39 Tom Boucher

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Posted March 26 2002 - 04:53 AM

I did not see this movie in the theaters. Didn't have time.

I bought this sight unseen because I knew I wanted to see it. And there was controversey at work about it because
Some thought he was an alien, some thought he wasn't. It got so bad one guy's wife made him sleep on the couch over the argument. I thought that was pretty funny. Fortunately my wife and I agreed we liked the idea of an alien possesion trying to fix his life. But it made a compelling case for both options


I found the music to almost be haunting in the cut scenes. The dts track I listened to last night when I watchd the film was amazing. I really enjoyed the music though. I wish they hadn't deleted out the astronomer scene and the piano scene. I really enjoyed those.
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#18 of 39 Chris PC

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Posted March 27 2002 - 02:30 PM

Interesting. KPAX. I saw this movie and was disgusted and disappointed with it. I was getting sleepy at the end too. I stayed glued to screen trying to resolve something postitive dispite my severe disinterest. I didn't like anything at all in this movie. I can't remember if I gave it a -3 or a +4. Seriously. This and Unbreakable are the worst and most uninteresting and unbelievable movies I've ever seen. Boring writing, poor acting, poor directing and just bad. I hate to be negative, but I really hated this movie.

And as far as the thinking goes, it doesn't matter whether I thought about it deeply or I did or did not understand it. That had no effect. I've seen lots of movies that made me think or I didn't quite understand and I liked them.

Oh well. To each there own. The Shipping News is another bad one. I think I gave that a less than 5 rating. Oh boy. Just my personal opinion. I'm a tough critic I guess.
Going from projector to flatscreen for a while.... :P

#19 of 39 Robert Crawford

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Posted March 29 2002 - 02:35 PM

Actually, the alternate ending with Bridges looking into the sky at the stars is still present after the end credits are done. In the audio commentary, the director stated that he liked the message of the scene so much, he decided to leave it in the film at the very end of the credits.



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#20 of 39 Chuck C

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Posted March 29 2002 - 05:30 PM

I got K-PAX sight unseen...All I'll say is that it did indeed make me think afterwards.