HTF REVIEW: "A Beautiful Mind" <HIGHLY RECOMMENDED> (with screenshots)

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Ronald Epstein, May 22, 2002.

  1. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Administrator

    Jul 3, 1997
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    Real Name:
    Ronald Epstein

    A Beautiful Mind

    Studio: Universal
    Year: 2001
    Rated: PG-13
    Film Length: 136 minutes
    Aspect Ratio: 16X9 Enhanced Widescreen (1.85:1)

    "I need to believe that something extra
    ordinary is possible..."

    I have a love-hate relationship with the Best
    Picture winner, A Beautiful Mind. I am
    not very happy with the fact that this film
    overshadowed Moulin Rouge, a picture that
    took more risks, energy and sweat to produce.
    I suppose I felt that A Beautiful Mind too
    much fits the formula for what would considered
    to be Best Picture material, while Moulin Rouge
    went outside the formula and succeeded in doing so.
    It is not my intention to turn this review into
    a debate of what film truly deserved the Academy
    Award for Best Picture. Without any argument,
    A Beautiful Mind stands on its own as an
    original, intelligent and entertaining movie that
    once again proves that Ron Howard is one of the
    most creative and talented Directors in Hollywood.
    Based on the life of John Forbes Nash Jr., "A
    Beautiful Mind" tells the story of an extraordinary
    man who overcame great obstacles in his life to
    become a Nobel Prize-winning mathematician.
    The film begins in 1947 at Princeton University
    where we meet John Nash (Russell Crowe), a rather
    reclusive individual whose distinct lack of social
    skills contrasts with his utter brilliance. After
    three years he has produced a 27-page dissertation
    for his doctorate in which he greatly expanded the
    field of Game Theory. John's revolutionary
    discovery puts him at the top of the academic world.
    He soon begins working and teaching at MIT where
    he is discovered by William Parcher (Ed Harris)
    who recruits Nash as a government code breaker.
    While at MIT, Nash meets a student, Alicia Larde
    (Jennifer Connelly), a brilliant, beautiful
    woman with whom he falls in love. Unfortunately,
    their relationship is tested by Nash's worsening
    Not since The Insider has Russell Crowe
    given a performance so outside his real-life persona.
    Crowe brilliantly captures the quirky mannerisms
    of the Nash character who is often arrogant and shy,
    cocky and tongue-tied. It is also amazing to watch
    the age progression of his character over the course
    of 50+ years.
    How is the transfer?
    In general, the transfer looks great. The picture
    remains clean and virtually free of any annoying
    video noise. You can almost see hints of film
    graininess in the picture. Colors don't generally
    stand out, nor are they meant to. The only time
    that color is emphasized is in Jennifer Connelly's
    pink dress that stands out vividly when she visits
    Nash in his office for the first time.
    What I am somewhat bothered by is the orange color
    that is cast over the entire transfer for the first
    25 minutes of the film. I would suspect that Ron
    Howard used this color cast to convey a look for
    the time period it represents. The only problem
    is, even when the picture becomes more normalized
    in color, flesh tones often remain a little more
    on the orange side. This is more a problem with
    exterior scenes than it is with interior scenes,
    where flesh tones look more normal. By the halfway
    point of this film, it seemed that the colors in
    the picture were no longer becoming a nuisance.
    I am surprised that this DVD lacks a DTS track,
    but am not really bothered by it since this isn't
    a movie that demands a more extravagant sound mix.
    I am always pleasantly surprised when a dramatic
    film such as this produces a better sound mix than
    would be expected. The rear channels provide a
    nice supplement to James Horner's beautiful score.
    You'll appreciate it right from the very beginning
    of the film as a chorus of "whoo-ah-whoo" surrounds
    the viewing area. The sound of piano keys can be
    clearly heard from the rear channels complimenting
    the rest of the score playing through the front.
    During many of the outdoor scenes on the campus,
    you can hear the sounds of birds chirping in the
    trees or the faint sound of blowing wind. Inside
    the school, you can hear the echoes of people
    walking and chatting in the hallways. Even weather
    elements such as a pouring rainstorm with claps
    of thunder take on a sense of direction amongst the
    different surround channels.
    Special Features
    Universal has released A Beautiful Mind in
    a very special 2-disc "Awards Edition" that arrives
    in attractive packaging with a 4-page booklet on
    the inside cover. The booklet features Director
    Ron Howard and Producer Brian Grazer talking about
    the importance of shooting the film in exact order
    sequence which is immensely helpful to the actors
    in developing their characters. The booklet also
    talks about the involvement of the real John Forbes
    Nash, Jr. and how it gave the filmmakers the chance
    to observe the mathematician.
    Disc One contains the entire film which
    can be played with the choice of two supporting
    commentaries. The first commentary is with
    Director Ron Howard. The second, with Screenwriter
    Akiva Goldman.
    As you select Deleted Scenes, you are
    immediately greeted with a voice-over from Director
    Ron Howard who invites you to take a look inside.
    He explains that he normally does not include such
    scenes on his DVD, but felt that the scenes were
    interesting enough to include. You have the option
    of playing these scenes with or without commentary
    from Ron Howard.
    There are almost 20 scenes in all which include:
    * A scene showing a young John Nash riding
    around campus on his bicycle as Howard explains
    that the real Nash was known for walking aimlessly
    around the campus grounds, taking to his bike and
    riding around in figure eight circles.
    * Nash's genius is further shown as we watch
    him perfect a mathematical game that he invented
    on the campus. In a following scene, Russell
    improvises a moment where he jumps up on a
    classroom table as he brags about the game he
    had just invented.
    * In a scene that Howard greatly regrets
    cutting, Sol (Adam Goldberg) visits Nash at his home,
    scolding him for missing conferences and briefings.
    It is here that Sol takes a look at Nash's top
    secret projects that he is working on.
    * A dream sequence where Nash sees his wife
    killed by a nuclear blast.
    * Ron Howard's father was in an excised scene
    at the sanitarium where Doctor Rosen (Christopher
    Plummer) confronts John Nash about his confusions.
    All the scenes are in unfinished form, generally
    good condition with a few blemishes and a few
    color timing issues.
    Included Production Notes tell us the story
    of a Vanity Fair article reaching the attention
    of Producer Brian Grazer who had always felt that
    Ron Howard was the perfect choice in telling Nash's
    Cast and Filmmakers not only gives us a
    list of individual film credits, but some great
    insight into the actors themselves.
    The DVD-ROM features TOTAL AXESS which
    through an internet connection, allows you to access
    Universal's website to see exclusive interviews,
    behind-the-scenes footage, and weekly updated news
    about the film. A promo for this feature is included
    on Disc One.
    Disc Two reads like a laundry list of
    bonus materials which I will briefly give you
    a summary on.
    A Beautiful Partnership dwells into the
    the two talents behind the making of the film,
    Ron Howard and Brian Grazer. Although many
    Directors were interested in Brian's project
    involving Nash's story, it was ultimately Ron
    Howard who he had sought after for the longest
    period of time. In a very relaxed and carefree
    interview, both men talk about their very similar
    ideas in filmmaking and yet their different
    approaches in putting their ideas on film. There
    are some great behind-the-camera footage shots
    throughout this piece....and of course, Colleen
    Benn's name on every credit.
    (length: approx. 5 minutes)
    Development of the Screenplay is a conversation
    with screenwriter Akiva Goldsman. As we are
    introduced to the real John and Alicia Nash (shown
    on the set of the film), Goldsman tells us that
    John has no memory of many of the ravages that took
    place during his disease. This enabled Goldman
    to create an "inner life" that provided a window
    for the audience to sort of feel what it would
    be like to suffer from this paranoid-schizophrenic
    disease. Ron and Akiva are shown on the set
    filming a scene, when Ron turns to Akiva asking
    him if the scene was believable enough. Overall,
    a very nice piece on screenwriting that is not
    normally covered in Special Editions like this.
    (length: approx. 7 minutes)
    One of my favorite features is Meeting John
    Nash. Ron Howard asked Mr. Nash if it was okay
    to film him as he described his existence of
    Equilibrium points in his thesis paper. We are
    shown a videotape of the elderly John Nash, in
    a classroom, as he describes mathematics that
    most of us will never understand. Thankfully, key
    points of his discussion are pointed out in
    added subtitling. This is a very candid look at
    Nash in his own element, very unshy, showing off
    his genius ability.
    (length: 8 minutes)
    Stockholm, Sweden 1994. There is footage of
    the real John Nash Accepting the Nobel Prize
    in Economics. Not nearly as dramatic as
    featured in the film (where is the speech?) this
    is a very short clip of his Nobel acceptance.
    (length: approx. 1.5 minutes)
    Ron Howard explains how nail biting the casting
    process is for him in Casting Russell Crowe
    and Jennifer Connelly. Howard immediately
    recognized a level of intelligence in Russell
    Crowe that he knew would properly be translated
    into the character of John Nash. Hundreds of
    actresses and models had auditioned for the role
    of Alicia Nash, but it was Jennifer Connelly's
    performance in "Requiem for a Dream" that convinced
    Producer Brian Grazer that she was perfect for
    the part. She even looked somewhat like the
    real Alicia Nash at a young age. The scenes
    between Crowe and Connelly really clicked and
    Ron Howard really felt that there was screen
    chemistry between both actors.
    (length: approx. 5 minutes)
    Meet make-up artist, Greg Cannom. In the
    featurette, The process of age progression,
    we learn how the flow of gradual makeup aging is
    so importantly presented in this film. We go
    through the various stages of his age progression
    using key clips of film footage where his changes
    take place. Cannom describes how and where he
    added subtle makeup to make the change progression
    as fluid as possible without ever making it seem
    like a huge jump from scene to scene. In all, 9
    stages of makeup were done on Russell Crowe.
    Face and neck molds as well as makeup tests are
    shown in detail. Very nice!
    (length: approx. 7 minutes)
    In Storyboard Comparisons, we are shown
    original storyboard drawings below a window of
    completed film footage as you the viewer compare
    how original artist inceptions are translated to
    film. These comparisons are done for 3 key scenes
    in the movie. There are also storyboard comparisons
    presented for 2 scenes deleted from the film.
    In Creation of the Special Effects, Ron
    Howard and Brian Grazer talk about getting to
    know effects designer Kevin Mack, who knows a
    lot about math and science. Ron thought Mack
    was the perfect choice for this project. Kevin
    Mack personally talks about his creation of ideas
    to show how John Nash's way of thinking. These
    ideas translated into a shot of a tie in the
    beginning of the film. We take a look at how
    Nash's baby in a bathtub was shot with the baby
    being placed in a dry tub and water, lighting and
    refraction elements added separately to create the
    illusion of a baby in a wet tub. Really cool stuff!
    There are also many blue-screen effects that are
    described in this piece, as well as adding pigeons
    to a grassy campus area where none existed. One
    of my favorite shots is a camera pullback from a
    window where Nash is seen working from his desk
    while snow falls in the foreground. This entire
    shot is dissected with all the original elements
    and how they were added in one-by-one.
    (length: approx. 10 minutes)
    Scoring the film is a homage to James
    Horner, who has scored many of Ron Howard's films.
    Horner had read the book a year before he learned
    of the film, and was very eager about working on
    the film. Horner's mind was whirling with ideas
    on how to convey mathematical numbers through
    music. We watch Horner on a large sound stage as
    he conducts the orchestra alongside the film.
    (length: approx. 5 minutes)
    Inside A Beautiful Mind is one of those
    cable channel promotional fluff pieces that
    features an overenthusiastic narrative voice-over
    that gives a general overview of the movie. Filled
    mostly with clips of the film, there are snippets
    of interviews from Ron Howard, Brian Grazer, Russell
    Crowe and Jennifer Connelly. There is also a very
    brief comment from John Nash, himself. After you
    have seen all the in-depth coverage of the previous
    supplemental material, this fluff piece becomes
    rather difficult to watch just because it merely
    glosses over everything you already know.
    (length: approx. 27 minutes)
    This is really great! I wish there was more
    of this sort of stuff on DVDs. What am I talking
    about? The inclusion of Academy Awards reactions
    from winners. Here it is folks, actual footage
    from this year's Academy Awards show reactions
    and acceptance speeches for Best Picture, Best
    Director, Best Supporting Actress and Best
    Adapted Screenplay. Kudos to Universal for
    being able to snag this material for this DVD.
    This is really worth the watch!
    Rounding out the Special Features....
    The film's original theatrical trailer
    is presented.
    A promotional trailer for A Beautiful Mind
    A 48-second Universal Now Showing promotional
    montage of all their latest and greatest DVD
    product. Man, do I miss the wonderful promotional
    pieces that used to show up at the beginning of
    Universal DVDs. Where did they go?
    In an interesting addition, you can not only
    view the original trailers from Apollo 13,
    The Family Man, K-Pax and Patch Adams,
    but a secondary button features supplemental
    material from those films including behind-the-
    scenes footage and outtakes. Really great stuff
    that I had not expected to be included!
    Finally, further information is provided for
    organizations dealing with schizophrenia and
    mental health disease, including URL web addresses.
    Final Thoughts
    To date, I would rate this the Best DVD Release
    of the year. Hands down, Universal has put
    together a Special Edition package that truly
    is as magnificent as the film itself. The added
    material is as fun to watch as is interesting.
    This DVD belongs in every personal collection.
    I will not even debate the issue that this should
    be bought sight unseen.
    Release Date: June 25, 2002
  2. Kyle McKnight

    Kyle McKnight Cinematographer

    Mar 8, 2001
    Likes Received:
    While I have planned on picking this movie up on disc since I saw it in the theater, I can't help but say what an eye sore that cover is.
  3. kevin_asai

    kevin_asai Stunt Coordinator

    Mar 12, 2001
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    I can't wait until June 25th 2002. I am getting impatient to get this DVD [​IMG]
  4. Tony Scello

    Tony Scello Second Unit

    Sep 8, 1999
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    Another great review Ron. This is a great film and, apparently, one of the best overall DVD sets of the year. Purchasing this is an absolute no-brainer. I can't wait.
  5. todd stone

    todd stone Screenwriter

    Dec 1, 2000
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    Great review, im getting this one.

  6. Michael Dueppen

    Michael Dueppen Stunt Coordinator

    Sep 19, 2000
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    Great review, Ron. Thanks.
    I will definitely pick this one up. And as a bonus to the great presentation it seems to be one of the few discs that have really worthwhile extras.
  7. Adrian_P

    Adrian_P Stunt Coordinator

    Aug 24, 2000
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    Great review there Ron. I enjoyed this film immensely (thought Russell Crowes performances was amazing) and will most definately be picking it up.

    Just a question can anyone find a link to the Widescreen version of this DVD at Amazon? Because at the time of posting this I can only find the full screen release.
  8. Jason Hughes

    Jason Hughes Supporting Actor

    Oct 17, 1998
    Likes Received:
    Real Name:
    Jason Hughes
    Thanks for the review, Ron. Brilliant movie. I think Crowe got bent over hard at the Oscars.
  9. Tom Bley

    Tom Bley Extra

    Sep 14, 1998
    Likes Received:
    Thanks for the review Ron. I can't wait for this movie, loved it in the theater. I noticed the color you mention in the theater so I think it's normal.
  10. Gavin_L

    Gavin_L Second Unit

    Aug 24, 2001
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    thanks ron for the review, saw it last week, and thought it was great. will be picking this one up on dvd [​IMG]
  11. Oscar

    Oscar Second Unit

    Apr 1, 2002
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    Whoa Ron you are fast!
    I loved this one and i will definetly pick it up at where they sell DVD´s.

    Also it seems to have very great extras.
  12. Scott-C

    Scott-C Supporting Actor

    Jul 23, 2001
    Likes Received:
    Thanks Ron - nice review! A no-brainer for me...saw this movie in the theater and loved it, and I'd buy the DVD even if it were barebones (as long as it wasn't P&S!). The fact that it's a 2-disc loaded set is pure gravy!
  13. Tom Oh

    Tom Oh Second Unit

    Jul 11, 1999
    Likes Received:
    Great review as always Ron! I didn't really care for this film when I saw it in the theater, but your review just makes it so damn tempting to pick up...
  14. Paul-Gunther

    Paul-Gunther Stunt Coordinator

    May 23, 2002
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    I wasn't sure if I was going to pick this one up, as I had mixed feelings about it after seeing it in the theater. I'd liked it initially, but the more I thought about it, the more I became bothered by it. But, after reading your review, I'll think I'll give it a try.
  15. Paul Anthony

    Paul Anthony Stunt Coordinator

    Jun 30, 1997
    Likes Received:
    Why don't they use the original poster cover? I don't know if I will be picking this one up, yet!
  16. Scott Weinberg

    Scott Weinberg Lead Actor

    Oct 3, 2000
    Likes Received:
    You're on a roll with these reviews! It seems that Universal is ruling 2002 so far! After this release and Legend, they can do no wrong.
    The A Beautiful Mind DVD sounds amazing. The only complaint I can think of is that jarring gold banner surrounding the poster art. [​IMG]
    Can't wait to pore through Disc 2!
  17. ace peterson

    ace peterson Second Unit

    Jun 4, 2001
    Likes Received:
    Thanks for the review, Ron! Sounds like a terrific DVD, but I don't think I'll buy it the day it releases. I enjoyed the movie in the theater a lot (my wife did not). But, I'm not sure I'd watch it over and over if I bought it. You know what I mean? I'll put it on my Christmas list me thinks.

  18. NickFoley

    NickFoley Stunt Coordinator

    May 5, 2002
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    Im getting this movie, no doubt about it. [​IMG]
  19. Andrew Chong

    Andrew Chong Supporting Actor

    May 7, 2002
    Likes Received:
    Thanks for the revealing review, Ron.

    One question: How were the feature-length commentaries? I've never heard a commentary by Ron Howard before. Were Ron Howard and Akiva Goldsman forthcoming with interesting information throughout the length of the movie?
  20. Matt_Wizall

    Matt_Wizall Agent

    Mar 20, 2001
    Likes Received:
    I never did catch this in the theaters unfortunately (too busy catching up on old stuff), but I can tell this will be an obvious blind buy for me.

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