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The Uncut Version
Rating: R (For Violence and Sexual Content)
Running Time: 109 minutes
Starring: Melanie Lynskey, Kate Winslet, Sarah Peirse, Diana Kent, Clive Merrison, Simon O'Connor
Written by: Frances Walsh & Peter Jackson
Directed by: Peter Jackson
Retail Price: $29.99
Features: Theatrical Trailer, Sneak Peeks
Specs: 2.35:1 Anamorphic Widescreen, English Dolby Surround, English Subtitles, English Closed Captions, Scene Selections (17 Scenes)
Released: September 24th, 2002
You can't blame Disney, right? After the monstrous success of 2001's first "The Lord Of The Rings" movie from the highly inventive and strikingly original Peter Jackson, it'd make sense for them to try and cash-in on his recent success. Of course, all of us film buffs have known what a wonderful director Jackson is before that film with "Meet The Feebles," "Dead Alive" and the somewhat underrated "The Frighteners." The man has done some superb work, and if it brings his other work to more people and enables them to come out on our favorite format, then hey, fine by me.
Based closely on a true story set in the 1950s, "Heavenly Creatures" is about Pauline Parker (Melanie Lynskey) and Juliet Hulme (Kate Winslet). Juliet is new in town, and she instantly strikes up a relationship with Pauline. The two end up creating their own fantasy world, but their very close friendship ends up setting themselves apart from their own families. Their families are very worried about them and do their best to separate them, but the two know they have their own bond which is meant to be no matter what, and as a result, certain things happen...
This film certainly is not for everybody, and even if it feels a bit pale at times, for some reason I was always engrossed in what was going on. Storywise, this film is great. The characters are believable and very well drawn out, not to mention quite intense. The story is exotic yet breahtaking at the same time; filled with energy, force and some rather unpredictable circumstances. The dialogue flows well, and the story keeps moving and is all quite neccessary. It's also another film which shows the consequences of getting lost in illusion, and how it tends to affect reality. No wonder Jackson and Frances Walsh (his wife I believe) got a slew of nominations and some awards for their screenplay.
The acting is certainly superb as well. While Kate Winslet wasn't exactly known so much during the time this film was made, I do consider this a breakthrough role for her. Winslet shows her future promise well here, with such a great sense for her character. Same for Melanie Lynskey. The two share impeccable chemistry that's just there and is well created on screen. Jackson also continued to show off his amazing visual style with the film which does get you inside the girls' minds to a fine extent, with a strong sense of pacing. It is a period piece to a good degree, and the time as well as strict era feels nicely in tune and represented.
I should note that this DVD version has the uncut version which adds ten minutes to the original United States cut. I actually read somewhere Jackson likes the U.S. version better. Still, ten extra minutes certainly doesn't hurt. "Heavenly Creatures" remains a strong, if slightly overrated cult flick of the 1990s. Nonetheless, it's still a strong showing of Jackson's talents. If you've never seen it, it's truly worth watching.
Presented in 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen, the film does show signs of age. It's rather grainy and doesn't look so smooth, and the picture does tend to exhibit a lot of noise, edge halos as well blemishes and dirt pieces here and there. All together, it doesn't look so flattering. Still, the film does feature some very nice visuals that are reflected nicely on the transfer. Color saturation is pretty good, fleshtones look nice and detail is rather superb. In all, the flaws are distracting and annoying... but the good does tend to even it out.
Even if it's only an English Dolby Surround track, it took me by surprise by a lot of times. It's wonderfully rich and effective, somewhat capturing what a 5.1 remix of the film would sound like. But yes, the Dolby Surround track really, really works. There is a ton of imaging throughout, and the sound effects, be it something coming from behind, the eerie music or chairs moving and whatnot, it all works wonderfully. This is truly one of the best Dolby Surround tracks I've heard, and considering this one is more than your straightforward usual downconverted mix, it just makes it all the more impressive. Dialogue is clear and everything just blends well together. This mix certainly packs a nice amount of punches that won't disappoint. Bravo! Now just imagine a 5.1 Dolby Digital track... anywho, English subtitles and English closed captions are also included.
This is probably a tie-in to cash in on Jackson's new found fame (I keep assuming this because the box states "From The Academy Award®-Nominated Director of "The Lord Of The Rings" Peter Jackson), so there's not much. There's a 5.1 Dolby Digital Theatrical Trailer which I find rather puzzling since the film is only encoded in Dolby Surround. Truly strange. There are also Sneak Peeks at other Miramax films: "Teaching Mrs. Tingle," "The Shipping News," "Piñero," "Backflash" and a promo for "Miramax Year Of Gold" (which just advertises more of their "classic" films). Better than nothing I guess, but considering all the accolades the film receieved, and even if this is a cash in, it's all rather lame.
It's truly nice to see "Heavenly Creatures" make its way to DVD, and an added bonus is certainly the uncut version. While the extras are nothing more than advertisments, the Dolby Surround track is surprisingly excellent and the picture quality is pretty decent. Still, with a list of 19.95, this is surely worth a purchase for major Jackson fans or anyone interested in fine cinema.