HOME   News   Reviews   Adv Search   Features   My DVD   About   Apps   Stats     Search:
  Directed by
    None Listed
  Starring
  Specs
  • Widescreen 2.35:1
  • 16:9 Enhanced
  • Dual Layer (RSDL 64.39)
  Languages
  • English: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
  Subtitles
    English, English - Hearing Impaired
  Extras
  • Theatrical trailer
  • Audio commentary - director Michael Cristofer
  • Photo gallery
  • Music video

Original Sin

MGM/20th Century Fox . R4 . COLOR . 114 mins . MA15+ . PAL

  Feature
Contract

Home Video Proverb Number 52: Beware the movie that was left on the shelf by the studio until its star happened to become flavour of the month. Original Sin initially bore the title Dancing In The Dark - until the similarly-named 2000 Lars von Trier movie arrived (ironically, Original Sin had already been used as a film or TV title no less than seven times!) The film was made in early 2000 and primed for a release late in that year, until MGM got cold feet and cancelled, eventually premiering it in Europe before finally showing it in the US in August 2001, in a modified cut that lost several minutes of semi-explicit sex footage (but fear not, soft-focus fans, it’s all included here - the Australian disc has been specifically authored for region 4 and offers the full, uncut version of the movie).

Now, just because a movie’s release gets delayed, don’t presume it’s going to be a stinker. In fact, you could argue that if a studio-funded film doesn’t fit neatly into the mainstream game plan then it’s already got something going for it. And while Original Sin certainly doesn’t even threaten to be innovative or eye-opening, it does approach its very silly story with a sly sense of humour and fun, despite the po-faced mock-seriousness with which it’s all played out. Loaded with ‘80s music-video visuals, look-at-us-we’re-arty jump-cut editing and over-the-top performances, this is not a film that screams out a desire to be taken seriously. In fact, for the first 20 minutes or so it appears you’re in for one of those hysterical gloss-and-trash sex-romance flicks that made Zalman King a household name (no, it didn’t last!). But no, despite the pouting, the soap-opera dialogue, the exotic locations and the most over-the-top depiction of wildly flailing limbs and breasts since Louis Malle’s inadvertently funny Damage, this is actually… a thriller! With real red herrings and everything!

Back in the 1880s in hedonistic Havana, Cuba, coffee magnate (yes, coffee!) Luis Vargas (Antonio Banderas) is about to receive his mail-order bride from the USA. When she arrives, he’s rather thrilled that she turns out to not be the woman he expected, but rather someone who looks exactly like Angelina Jolie except with the Billy-Bob tattoo discreetly erased through the magic of computer effects. He’s smitten instantly, and so, it seems, is she. They are promptly married, and retire to the Vargas mansion, where much hedonism ensues and the movie promptly scores itself an MA rating. But sadly, once Luis’s new bride gains access to his bank accounts, she cleans him out and vanishes without trace. He’s hurt, he’s angry, and if there was anyone in this film named Mendoza you can be damn sure he’d have been yelling that name to the heavens. He vows revenge. The plot thickens. Repeatedly.

Oh, this is indeed a silly film. What rescues it to a large extent is the fact that all involved seem to be having a cracker of a time, particularly Banderas, who cheerfully overacts every single scene he’s in. Never seen someone overact the simple task of drinking coffee? This is the film for you. The fact that he frequently wears an inappropriate suit that makes him look like a rugged version of Mr Bean doesn’t hurt, either. Jolie, meanwhile, is actually a bit of an odd choice for this part, her endearingly unconventional acting style seeming at odds with the character, but in a good way. Her unexplained habit of dropping into a fake British accent at times - despite the fact that her character is American - only makes her the more intriguing here (presumably her Tomb Raider accent practice stuck). Thomas Jane is even more over-the-top than everyone else as the mysterious Billy, while Jack Thompson pulls out that pesky (and dreadful) New Orleans accent for one more token go-around with a character that’s as good as superfluous.

Ultimately it’s all good, forgettable fun; it’s a shame that what looked like a promising plot development that could have taken the story into Devil’s Advocate territory turns out to be one more red herring in the movie’s tuna salad of suspense and intrigue. Or something like that.

  Video
Contract

There’s always been something about MGM’s PAL video transfers on DVD that has seemed a little not-quite-right, and this 16:9-enhanced 2.35:1 transfer of Original Sin is no exception. In all fairness, this actually looks like a very finely-done telecine transfer that really does justice to the lush visuals that are on offer throughout, with rich and warm flesh tones (needless to say, rather important in, ahem, certain scenes) and good handling of some difficult photography (helped majorly by the use of a very high encoding bitrate). But at some point in the chain someone’s gone overboard with the edge enhancement, and it’s this that gives the picture what we’ve come to term the “MGM look”. Imagine taking a finely-detailed image and running it through Photoshop’s “sharpen” filter a few times too many, and you’ll get an idea of what some sections of this transfer look like. Grain is rampant, but it seems that’s only because the digital enhancement has brought it out into the open. The fine detail that’s obviously inherent in the transfer nearly falls apart at times thanks to all this digital buffoonery. Things do improve in the second half of the film, though; maybe the digital-enhancement team fell asleep!

The movie is presented across a dual-layered disc, with the layer change extremely well placed just after the half way mark and almost unnoticeable.

  Audio
Contract

Originally mixed for DTS rather than Dolby Digital in cinemas, this transfer of the movie’s 5.1 audio mix is perfectly fine, with the bulk of it centre-focussed with spurious effects spread across the front channels and the surrounds to enhance atmosphere. There are a few scenes that are truly brilliantly mixed, though - the scene backstage during a theatrical performance is a remarkable example of an immersive sound field at very active work, with all five channels used to create a true three-dimensional sound-world - close your eyes and it’s quite an experience. Most of the movie, though, is given a conventional and efficient mix that places emphasis on the dialogue.

Note that although this is encoded as a 5.1 channel stream, the LFE channel is actually not used at all - it’s really a 5.0 audio mix, with any low bass content needed supplied by the five main channels. Those using decoders with bass redirection turned on will find that their subwoofer has plenty to keep it occupied, but none of the bass is coming from a discrete LFE track. Going by the way the mix is set up, this would appear to have been intentional. It also means those listening in two-channel downmix mode will get better bass than they’re used to for this movie.

  Extras
Contract

A handful of extras is probably more than you could rightly expect for a movie that didn’t quite manage to set either the world or the box office on fire…

Audio Commentary: Director Michael Cristofer chats his way amiably through the movie, offering much that’s quite interesting regardless of whether the movie’s your bag or not. A very good commentary from a man who obviously enjoys his job.

Music Video: Here’s one for the truth-in-advertising police to put in cuffs and take away for questioning. Supposedly a music video for Gloria Estefan’s dreadful end-credits song You Can’t Walk Away From Love, this is actually a hastily-assembled promo that sticks a static Gloria in front of footage from the film, with only a minute and 45 seconds of the song actually here. And then it cuts to... a 30-second American TV ad for her Greatest Hits Volume 2 album! Shameful.

Photo Gallery: Sit back and enjoy nearly three minutes of studio promo shots zooming in and out set to music.

Theatrical Trailer: Exactly what you’d expect, with 16:9 video and stereo sound - and noticeably better picture quality than the main feature itself!

  Overall  
Contract

If you’re into over-the-top mystery-thrillers that nod at Hitchcock then take off into fantasyland, this might very well be your entertainment of choice. Original Sin is over-the-top, visually flamboyant fluff that requires so much suspension of disbelief you could market yourself as a bridge after watching it. Of course, if it’s Angelina’s breasts or Antonio’s bum you’ve paid to see, then there’s plenty of both on display in this uncut-and-determined-to-prove-it version of the film. The completely gratuitous sex scenes are only there for that reason, after all - they serve as breaks in the plot for a (heavy) breather (just like what the Marx Brothers used to do with songs, only naked).

MGM’s disc of the film delivers a good widescreen transfer spoiled by excessive digital manipulation, ironically resulting in video that looks at its best on high-end displays and which plays sheer havoc with anything trying to display it in 4:3 mode; the audio, meanwhile, is fine. Don’t set aside too much of your evening for the extras, though, and if you’re a Gloria Estefan fan (they do exist!) prepare to be disappointed! Fans of the film itself are well looked after with this disc, though - MGM and distributor Fox are to be commended for giving region 4 customers the full, uncut version of the movie rather than the watered-down theatrical version.


  • LINK: http://www.dvd.net.au/review.cgi?review_id=1549
  • Send to a friend.

    Cast your vote here: You must enable cookies to vote.
  •   
      And I quote...
    "...over-the-top, visually flamboyant fluff that requires so much suspension of disbelief you could market yourself as a bridge after watching it"
    - Anthony Horan
      Review Equipment
    • DVD Player:
          Sony DVP-NS300
    • TV:
          Panasonic - The One
    • Receiver:
          Sony STR-DB870
    • Speakers:
          Klipsch Tangent 500
    • Centre Speaker:
          Panasonic
    • Surrounds:
          Jamo
    • Audio Cables:
          Standard Optical
    • Video Cables:
          Monster s-video
      Recent Reviews:
    by Anthony Horan

    Immortal Beloved
    "For two hours, this film will transport you..."

    Pet Shop Boys - Pop Art
    "A must-buy for Pet Shop Boys fans, Pop Art is also highly recommended for those who remember how good pop music could be in the ‘80s."

    Alias - The Complete First Season
    "One of the most addictive and entertaining US television series' in many years... Buena Vista's DVD set gets almost everything right."

    R.E.M.: In View - The Best of 1988-2003
    "Every home should have one."

    Queen Margot
    "A spectacular, enthralling masterpiece..."

      Related Links
      None listed

     

    Search for Title/Actor/Director:
    Google Web dvd.net.au
       Copyright © DVDnet. All rights reserved. Site Design by RED 5   
    rss