DVD Review HTF REVIEW: "O"

Discussion in 'DVD' started by Ronald Epstein, Feb 13, 2002.

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  1. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Administrator
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    XenForo Template  "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
     
  2. Jason Hughes

    Jason Hughes Supporting Actor

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    You sold me. It's on my pre-order list at DVD Empire.
     
  3. Yumbo

    Yumbo Cinematographer

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    it's worthwhile.
     
  4. Ron Eastman

    Ron Eastman Second Unit

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    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! [​IMG] 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.
     
  5. Nick_Scott

    Nick_Scott Second Unit

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    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. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Administrator
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  7. Ron Eastman

    Ron Eastman Second Unit

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    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.
     
  8. Ryan L B

    Ryan L B Supporting Actor

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    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. Nick_Scott

    Nick_Scott Second Unit

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    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. Michael St. Clair

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  11. Darrel Johansen

    Darrel Johansen Stunt Coordinator

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    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. NolanJ

    NolanJ Second Unit

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    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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