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Gattaca (Superbit)

review by Zach B.

 

Rated: PG-13 (For brief violent images, language and some sexuality)

Running Time: 106 minutes

Starring: Ethan Hawke, Uma Thurman, Alan Arkin, Jude Law, Loren Dean

Written and Directed by: Andrew Niccol

 

Studio: Columbia/Tri-Star

Retail Price: $27.95

Features: None

Specs: 2.35:1 Anamorphic Widescreen, English Dolby Digital 5.1, English DTS 5.1, English Subtitles, French Subtitles, Spanish Subtitles, Portuguese Subtitles, Chinese Subtitles, Korean Subtitles, Thai Subtitles, English Closed Captions, Scene Selections (28 Scenes)

Released: December 11th, 2001

 

 

"Gattaca" tells the story of the not-so-distant future, where genetics are all down to a specific science. Sure, a couple can have regular children, but they can also have perfection in their offspring. They can tell you what's wrong with the child, medical conditions and the day the child will die. Too bad for Vincent Freeman (Ethan Hawke), who's a regular child with some major health problems that have seemed to have always set him back. But Vincent's a dreamer, and has never given up, despite the competition from his perfectly made brother. Vincent dreams to travel into space, but he has lived past the day he was supposed to die. It seems Vincent will never be able to achieve his dream since he's an "invalid," but he ends up taking the identity of Jerome (Jude Law), an athletic man who is now crippled. He gets his blood, urine, hair and a lot more. So Vincent moves up in ranks at Gattaca, a giant corporation and he is soon chosen to go into space and fulfill his dream. But the mission director is murdered, and an eyelash of his is at the scene of the crime. And so begins a hectic thrillish ride of double identities and close moments... all with something important to say.

The film was released in October 1997, and despite critical raves, the film didn't scorch up the box office and I felt it got snubbed for many major awards. How and why though may forever remain a mystery (well, Hollywood always pulls crap like that with awards and a lot are popularity contests in my opinion), but the film seems to have taken up a little bit more of an audience on home video thankfully. Whatever the turn-off was, there shouldn't have been. "Gattaca" isn't some standard science fiction tale, but a film that sparks debate, parallels to our society and is just plain beautiful.

The man to credit all of this to is the film's writer and director, Andrew Niccol, making both debuts (Nicol also wrote 1998's smash "The Truman Show") here. Niccol is due to be back in 2002 with his next film "Simone," but his debut here is mighty impressive. Niccol truly makes a statement with "Gattaca" and it's an interesting glimpse at what the future can really bring with science, and perhaps what we can be prepared for. But the parallels of discrimination are wonderfully drawn out and intense, and we can all relate to that as, sadly in society today, people face discrimination due to race, religon and other factors. Basically in "Gattaca," you're nothing if you're not perfect. While that's enough depth, Niccol goes even deeper, as another issue arises morally... do we have the right to play God? As you can see, there's a lot of discussion to be had with that, and the film makes another bold statement with that issue. Not to mention the ever important themes of believing in yourself and following your dreams.

Niccol's script is really superb despite the themes and issues. He develops and creates all his characters nicely, and sets up an excellent premise with some pretty suspeneful moments. My only complaints though is that there could have been more edge of your seat and darker moments, since I feel things happen too easily and the ending may be too "happy" for some (it was in a sense, but fit it well in my opinion). Also, there could have been more between Thurman and Hawke. But there's a great twist toward the end, which I didn't expect.

The casting is superb in this film. Ethan Hawke is so vulnerable and strong as Vincent, and shares great chemistry with Uma Thurman (and you know the rest of the story... they ended up marrying in real life and have two kids). Loren Dean and Alan Arkin are also very believable and strong, but Jude Law, now a pretty big star, shows what fine work he's been doing for quite a bit as the real Jerome. This is a dream cast which more or less articulate and bring to life Niccol's wonderfully crafted story. The costumes, sets, Michael Nyman's score and designs are also really nifty too (the film got an Oscar® nod for Art Direction).

"Gattaca" is a movie that not only entertains, but makes you think as well long after you watch that. I personally love films like that. If you have never seen it... it is seriously a must see. Truly one of the best films of 1990s, "Gattaca" is a classic and an instant masterpiece.

 

 

"Gattaca" is presented in its original theatrical aspect ratio of 2.35:1, complete in anamorphic widescreen. Since this is Superbit here, the video bitrate is incredibly high here. Some may not notice the difference, but if you're lucky enough to have a widescreen television, you probably will be astounded by what's offered here. First, the minor flaws... some pieces of dirt and blemishes now and then and a great deal of noise. The noise I found to be a bit distracting at some points, but it's not major since this transfer is so good. The detail is wonderful, while exterior shots that are so beautiful and the futuristic interior shots look rather nice. Color saturation is dead on... the bright beaming yellows, the metallic silvers and crisp ocean waves. Overall, it's just incredibly sharp and if you can take advantage of the picture, you certainly will be impressed despite the tiny flaws.

 

This being a Superbit release, we also have some top-notch, high quality audio that I'm sure more of you will be able to take the best advantage of over the transfer. The audio in "Gattaca" won't blow your speakers up or shake them, but they do pack a strong punch for what we are given with the sound material. There's a fine balances to the mixes. Dialogue is not overpowered or cluttered by other sounds in scenes, which makes me happy. The dialogue itself is clear and nice to listen to, while small touches add to making the mixes. The humming at Gattaca itself, rockets taking off and the more intense action sequences. Rears are used too for things like doors opening and ocean waves. There's a nice subtleness in the mixes. .1 LFE has decent uses while Michael Nyman's score lights things up nicely. Over the English 5.1 Dolby Digital and DTS, I guess my edge goes to DTS, but they truly are really close. The DTS sounded a bit more enclosed and fuller to me, but, they are both quite good. It's not the best movie to show off for sound in my opinion (one of the weaker Superbit titles for sound), but don't get me wrong, it does sound quite nice. Also included are English closed captions, and an array of subtitles in Spanish, Thai, English, French, Korean, Chinese and Portuguese.

 

What? What features? This is Superbit! You got nothing!

 

 

"Gattaca" makes a nice show piece for the Superbit collection, but I feel there are some better Superbit discs out there if you want to show off your home theater. Still, the transfer is impeccable and the sound mixes are pretty decent. The original disc had deleted scenes and a little bit of other things, but if you care about presentation, don't care for extras and have a home theater to show off, this version should suit you well.