HIDE AND SEEK Studio: 20th Century Fox Film Year: 2005 U.S. Rating: R Canadian Rating: 14A Film Length: 101 minutes Genre: Thriller Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 widescreen enhanced Colour/B&W: Colour Audio:[*] English Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround[*] English DTS 5.1 Surround[*] Spanish Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround[*] French Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround Subtitles: English & Spanish Closed Captioned: Yes SLP: US $29.98 SLP: CDN $41.95 Release Date: July 05, 2005. Film Rating: / Starring: Robert De Niro (David Callaway), Dakota Fanning (Emily Callaway), Famke Janssen (Katherine), Elisabeth Shue (Elizabeth), Amy Irving (Alison Callaway), Dylan Baker (Sheriff Hafferty) Written by: Ari Schlossberg Directed by: John Polson Come out come out whatever you are. This thriller passed through the theatres quickly enough that you may not have had a chance to know it was there in the first place. It’s almost like playing hide and seek because now you’ll be able to find it on DVD. What was it about this film that gave it less than stellar reviews during its release? Was it the timing of it to other releases, the story, or the cast? Maybe a little bit of each of these are the reasons, but personally I find this film to be satisfying almost right to the end. Almost… Robert De Niro plays David, a widower who is haunted by the death of his wife. Suicide was the cause; and the memory of hear body in a pool of blood and hard for both him and his daughter Emily who also witness the event. But Emily shows she isn’t well. She’s been under psychiatric treatment for some time and David believes its best to make a fresh start in a new rural community. Emily’s mind appears closed up. She is unwilling to accept that her father wants to move on with his life. Further, her new friend Charlie doesn’t want David to move on either. When David is told of this Charlie person, he wants to meet him but Emily refuses to tell her father about him. David concludes he is an imaginary friend and poses no threat to them. As days go on, David is tormented by this Charlie person – or thing. His malevolence is giving David nightmares and he begins to harm those around him. Emily lets us know that Charlie’s game is to destroy David’s life…but this game becomes too intense for both David and Emily and they will have to confront Charlie or let him take over their lives. This movie is good a building suspense. The beginning of the film sets the tone of the film as dark and suspenseful. It becomes difficult to trust those around our main characters because of the events that take place. The story is great at keeping the mystery of Charlie throughout the film and offers some good jumps when we don’t expect them. Although many of the tactics used in this film are recycled from other psychological thrillers. We’ve seen these before – disturbed child making disturbing drawings of the unknown, foreshadowing events that become slightly obvious, and scare tactics that work, but have been used in other films. As I mentioned before, there is good suspense through most of the film up to a point – the climax of the film was disappointing for me. I won’t tell you what it is (obviously) but it’s also something that we’ve been seeing in movies recently. The choice of climax for this film lacks fear – and that is the biggest disappointment. The movie just “happens” for the last 15 minutes – but did I really care? Dakota Fanning was awesome as always – she’s going to do great in this film industry because she’s so good at adapting to any role given to her. De Niro is a bit of surprise in his film – not for his talent, but more for his choice in playing the lead for a film like this. It’s not something that we would see often, but he could be trying to get away from the perception of being an Italian bad guy in movies. Does he work in this role? I think he’s acceptable for the part. It just took a little time for me to adjust. VIDEO QUALITY / I thought the video quality was very good on this release. This is a dim looking film filled with dark interiors and outdoor scenes. Detail isn’t missed because the transfer is very good. There is very little noise and grain that would normally take away the presence of real picture detail. It is preserved very well in this film. Flesh tones are very good in daylight; in those dim interior scenes there is a slight orange cast to them – Dakota Fanning being the exception – her face is always pale. Edge enhancement and compression artefacts are not a problem with this release. AUDIO QUALITY / Hide and Seek has a wide frontal soundstage and uses the surrounds for ambience through most of the movie. Directional effects are minimal in the surrounds and they become the loudest during the flashback sequences. This is a dialogue-heavy movie and while music is integral to the suspense of the film, it is never intrusive to the listener as it somewhat take a back seat over the sound effects. As expected for a film of today, music, dialogue and sound effects sound clear and unrestrained. There are both DTS and Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtracks on this disc. I did something different this time when comparing them; I listened to the differences between Dolby Digital and DTS through two different audio products. I listened to it through the Anthem AVM-30’s processor and AKM DACs and compared them to the on-board DD and DTS decoders and Burr-Brown DACs in the Denon DVD-3910. I did this through the 6-channel pass-through on the Anthem with no other processing involved (e.g. bass management). Listening to the differences between both soundtracks on the Anthem were noticeable – the same as when I’m used to hearing – DTS was just a little better sounding in the midrange and Dolby Digital had slightly better high frequency extension. But when using a DVD-3910 through an Anthem AVM-30 processor’s 6-channel inputs (using six Transparent MusicLink Plus interconnects), I’m going to say that I preferred the sound of the Denon over the Anthem. This wasn’t a thorough test; it was more of an observation when switching back and forth. But given the fact that the Anthem is already over a year old and DAC technology continues to improve, the newer and highly regarded Burr Brown 1796 DACs in the Denon may be an advantage over the AKM AK4382s in the Anthem. The improved sound seems to be noticeable regardless of which piece has a better output stage. I’d like to try this again soon because it was fun, but this is a DVD review, not an audio processor review. I just wrote this for an FYI. Anyways, the point of this was to say that I felt the differences between DTS and Dolby Digital were more noticeable using the Denon as my “processor.” It could be the Burr Brown DACs' ability to resolve more resolution and dynamic range. I felt there was a greater presence with the audio and that I was hearing “more.” I’ll leave that up to you to discuss further. I will use the Denon for future reviews to see what I prefer to use from now on. SPECIAL FEATURES / I remember when commentaries on films were special features because they weren’t always present on laser discs and DVD. Now they seem to be a regular thing these days. That’s ok, though because most of them are pretty good. Here we get a commentary from director John Polson, film editor Jeffery Ford and screenwriter Ari Schlossberg. I would have liked to hear De Niro and Fanning on a separate commentary track…but I can’t have all, can I? Next up is 14 deleted scenes; almost 20 minutes worth! With two and a half hours of film for the first cut, there is bound to be something cut for the theatrical release. Thankfully, no major events or subplots were cut – if they were they weren’t shown here. These scenes are character building as well as scenes that “reinforce” other scenes. You can listen to commentary from the same guys (optionally) if you want to know why they were cut. I think these scenes would have slowed the movie down quite a bit but it’s nice to be able to see the “larger vision.” These scenes are widescreen 2:40:1 but are not enhanced for widescreen TVs. They also don’t look as polished as the final film. The audio is DD2.0. Four Alternate Endings can also be seen here. When putting in the DVD before watching the film, you actually have a choice to select which ending you want to view the film with (they have the same video quality unlike the deleted scenes). So watch the movie with the theatrical ending first and then watch the alternative endings. From there you can pick which ending you want to see the next time you put in the disc. You get to select Happy Drawing, Life with Katherine, One Final Game and Emily’s Fate. My favourite is One Final Game just because I prefer a darker ending. I’m not one to like when Hollywood dishes out happy endings (or mildly happy ones). I don’t care if I leave the film feeling depressed – if that is the mood of the film then that is what I want! If I don’t want to see a downbeat movie I won’t watch it. But what ruins movies most are when happy endings are unnecessarily added to downbeat films. There is a ten-minute The Making of Hide and Seek and like the movie, contains things we’ve seen before on other DVDs. There are behind the scenes footage, interviews with cast, etc. that are a nice little addition but don’t offer much insight. Lastly there is a Previs Sequence feature that allows us to see how the movie was previsualized on storyboards compared to the final filming sequence. This feature intercuts filmed material with previs storyboards for three sequences. There is commentary over this feature as well. IN THE END… This movie builds well but falls hard at the end. It is entertaining enough and will make a good popcorn flick. Honestly I’m not sure why this film was given an “R” rating – that seems to harsh for this film because there isn’t as much violence as one would expect and it isn’t too gruesome. While not first rate, the video and audio quality is good enough to satisfy most, and the special features are decent but not outstanding. I will suggest that you rent this one first. Michael Osadciw June 29, 2005.