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DVD Review HTF REVIEW: Gothika

Discussion in 'DVD' started by Herb Kane, Mar 11, 2004.

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  1. Herb Kane

    Herb Kane Screenwriter

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    [​IMG]

    Gothika


    Studio: Warner Brothers
    Year: 2003
    Rated: R
    Film Length: 98 Minutes
    Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 Enhanced Widescreen
    Audio: DD 5.1
    Color/B&W: Color
    Subtitles: English, French & Spanish
    MSRP: $27.95
    Package: Snap Case



    The Feature:
    It’s always interesting to see which film(s) an actor chooses on the heels of an Academy win. Fresh off her Oscar win for Monster's Ball, surely the statue is similar to a key capable of opening many doors, and while this film was perhaps agreed to prior to her victory, I’m not so sure it’ll be a highlight of the beautiful and talented actress’s career. That’s not to say she didn’t offer a wonderful performance in Gothika, she did. I’m afraid her performance (as well a several others) just didn’t have much support from anyone else.

    Gothika was produced by Dark Castle Entertainment a company responsible for many of the recent horror flicks. Unfortunately, there’s no shortage of storylines focusing on innocent protagonists locked away in mental institutions wrongfully accused of heinous crimes. That’s exactly what’s in store with Gothika. Dr. Miranda Grey (Halle Berry) is a psychiatrist working at the Woodward Penitentiary for Women, treating women in the psych ward. One night on her way from work, a rainstorm causes a large sinkhole, forcing a detour from her regular route. While she is crossing a narrow bridge, a young girl suddenly appears in the middle of the road, forcing Miranda off the road and into a ditch.

    As she emerges from the wreck to check on the girl, the image suddenly vanishes into a burst of flames. Three days later, she awakens locked up in the same institution she worked in and learns from a co-worker who seems almost infatuated with her, Dr. Pete Graham (Robert Downey Jr.), that she has murdered her husband (Charles Dutton) with an axe, Miranda, who is being haunted by the image of the young girl she almost ran over that night on the road, has no recollection of the event, and with only the murky recollections and reappearances of the young girl as clues to what really happened that night. It seems as though the more she tries to figure out what happened on that fateful night, the more the illusive spirit of the young girl manipulates her. Unfortunately, through her journey where she truly is “not alone” she will unearth a number of facts even more disturbing than the predicament she finds herself in.

    The film has a lot going for it. It’s a top notch production that’s directed relatively well (at least up to a point) by Mathieu Kassovitz, and contains several worthy acting performances (most notably from Berry and Downey) as well as a successful attempt at capturing a convincing mood for such a film but what the film seems to lack is any sort of eventual goal or focus. It’s as though half way through, senility kicked in and a reliance (or expectation) in suspending logic becomes outlandishly impossible. It’s not a terrible film per se, it just seems to lack a necessary focus and eventually relies too heavily on the proverbial thrills.



    Video:
    Gothika is presented in 1.85:1 enhanced widescreen, and for the most part looks absolutely wonderful. The image was extremely detailed and became only slightly soft on occasion. While I can’t quite use the word reference, there were many sequences particularly earlier on in the film that looked absolutely amazing. I suspect there were occasions of shots appearing to be slightly softer to garner various mood effects, thus detracting from the overall sharpness of the image and I would assume the image was faithful to its theatrical presentation.

    Black levels were rock solid and other colors seemed accurate however, I would describe them as slightly warm or muted. Filters were obviously used to attain a sterile institutional feel which led to many of the indoor shots looking slightly bluish. The only troubling area occurred during scenes of whites where there were signs of compression artifacting. The vast majority of this film is shot indoors and those that are shot outdoors are during night time, so much of this film looks rather dark, eliciting a rather appropriate mood for the movie. I noticed only one example of haloing during a dusk scene where a tower of the institution can clearly be seen outlined by the halo. No big deal.

    Needless to say, as we would expect with such a new release, there were no signs of any scratches, dust or dirt. The print was immaculate.

    This presentation gets a healthy grade. Great job…!

    Beware: A fullscreen version exists...!



    Audio:
    Gothika is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1 which also gets a nice grade. Mandatory for all horror/thriller movies, thunderstorms abound, and in this case they don’t disappoint. This is a pretty aggressive soundtrack.

    Starting with clarity, dialogue was always clear and intelligible. Even though there were many examples of crescendos and a heightened score in an attempt to set the mood, dialogue always remained as clear as possible. There was a sufficiently wide soundstage. Frequency response was slightly above average allowing many of the effects to sound solid and robust.

    The use of surrounds are tactfully deployed offering a terrific sense of envelopment particularly during the many thunderstorms as well as numerous effects throughout the film. Equally impressive is the use of LFE. There were a number of scenes exhibiting a great deal of LFE info, sure to give your sub a decent workout.

    An outstanding audio track. Super job.



    Special Features:
    The film only offers a couple of special features. First up is:
    [*] A Commentary track by director Mathieu Kassovitz and includes the director of photography, Matthew Libatique. The content of the commentary is focused primarily on technical information as they discuss how and why certain effects took place and specific details regarding the shoot. All in all a pretty dry effort.
    [*] Next up is a Music Video from Limp Bizkit – “Behind Blue Eyes”, The Who classic which plays during the end credits.
    [*] The final feature is the Theatrical Trailer.



    Final Thoughts:
    Unfortunately, this is a film which seems to be only remotely interested in reinventing the wheel. The story has been served up over the years ad nauseum with many great successes, unfortunately, this isn’t one of them. The film has a few requisite scares and thrills but a suspension of logic beyond proportion is required to truly enjoy this film. Unfortunately there was little or no development of the background characters which didn’t allow us to become overly interested in them either.

    Other than the music video and trailer, the disc is basically devoid of any special features although the presentation of the film is exceptional. If you’re looking for a few scares on a Friday or Saturday night, you might want to give this one a look, but I’d suggest a rental.




    Release Date: March 23rd, 2004
     
  2. Kenny Goldin

    Kenny Goldin Second Unit

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    Thanks. I was on the fence about getting this one. Thought the trailers looked really bland (and I generally love movies of this type) but got bad vibes about it. Maybe one day I'll pick it up off the bargain bin, but not right away.
     
  3. Charlie B. Ch.

    Charlie B. Ch. Stunt Coordinator

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    I think I will buy this based on the comment on the LFE track alone. I am a bass addict.
     
  4. Nate Anderson

    Nate Anderson Screenwriter

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    Being a fan of the previous Dark Castle films (yes, even Ghost Ship...:b ), I'll have to check this one out, even though I think I'll give it a rental first.
     
  5. WarrenL

    WarrenL Stunt Coordinator

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    Definately a rental first, B4 a buy. Thanks for the review!
     
  6. Adam_Reiter

    Adam_Reiter Second Unit

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    I have been wanting to see this movie. I can't wait to rent it.

    Thanx for another great review Herb.
     
  7. Tony Whalen

    Tony Whalen Producer

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    I've loved the schlocky Dark Castle films so far...right there with ya about Ghost Ship, Nate. [​IMG] I'll give this one a rent before purchasing it... but I'm sure I'll enjoy it. [​IMG]
     
  8. Dwight Amato

    Dwight Amato Stunt Coordinator

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    Just watched. It would not have been bad if it wasn't so GD stupid.
     
  9. TonyD

    TonyD Who do we think I am?
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    dont read if you havent seen yet.
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    i did not know it was going to be a ghost story. i thought it was going to be a gaslight type.
    someone is trying to convince someone they are crazy to get away with murder or some other reason.
    and since it wasnt, i was disapointed.

    plus i will never own this due to the horriblepathetic version of behind blue eyes.
    just awful.
    he changed the lyrics around and added new words.
    and what the bleep did the song have to do with this movie.
    shouldnt the end song have something to do with the movie?
     
  10. Dwight Amato

    Dwight Amato Stunt Coordinator

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    Every review that I've read says that it's good but that the plot does not hold up afterwards. My wife and I were laughing all through it, nothing about it made sense.

    Why would the ghost have to take over Halle Berry's character? I thought because it could not interact in the living world, but that clearly was not the case since she could open a locked cell and throw Halle around her cell. I mean, why not just kill the bad people yourself? Also, why would she beat Halle senseless if that is the person who is trying to help her?


    There were so many more inconsistencies, but I'm unable to recall them as my mind is trying to push this crap out of mind.
     
  11. Dave_P.

    Dave_P. Supporting Actor

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    This movie was just horrible. The only decent parts were Downey's performance and the axing scene.
     
  12. Malcolm R

    Malcolm R Executive Producer

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    Not sure of the definition of "many," but to my knowledge Gothika is only Dark Castle's fourth flick:
    • The House on Haunted Hill
    • Thirteen Ghosts
    • Ghost Ship
    • Gothika

    As with Nate and Tony, I like the Dark Castle productions and will pick this up...eventually. [​IMG]
     

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