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  Directed by
  Starring
  Specs
  • Widescreen 1.85:1
  • 16:9 Enhanced
  • Dual Layer ( )
  Languages
  • English: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
  • Italian: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
  Subtitles
    English, Italian, English - Hearing Impaired
  Extras
  • 7 Deleted scenes
  • Audio commentary - Director James Mangold
  • 2 Featurette
  • Photo gallery
  • Animated menus
  • Music video - Until - Sting
  • Dolby Digital trailer

Kate & Leopold

Buena Vista/Buena Vista . R4 . COLOR . 113 mins . PG . PAL

  Feature
Contract

It’s so simple! Take Back to the Future, put a very polite person into the mix and what do you get? Well, I’m not sure, but it isn’t Kate & Leopold...

As the presence of Meg Ryan may suggest, this is a romantic comedy (or should that be ‘Romantic Comedy’?), one which admittedly does involve time travel, but only as a somewhat necessary set-up to get the rather lovely Hugh Jackman into the same time as Ms Ryan. Then the two who love has thus far shunned can do all that romantic stuff that men and women do in such stories, you see?

Back in the late 1800s, Hugh is one Leopold Alexis Elijah Walker Gareth Thomas Mountbatten, who for the sake of sanity from now on will simply be referred to as Mr Phwoar – oh alright, Leo. Also known as the Duke of Albany, Leo has been summoned to New York from his comfortable but boring English existence by his Uncle in order to take a wife, by necessity a rich one as he’s essentially skint. However, during a lavish soiree held with the sole intention of finding a cashed-up bride-to-be, Leo notices a curious fellow with a curious device. Quite the inquisitive and inventive type himself, he follows this mysterious gentleman to quite an extreme, and through the wonders of a crack in the fabric of time he goes plummeting through a portal into the present day Big Apple. And he doesn’t even need a De Lorean!

"Clearly, you must be a man out of time... or Sergeant Pepper."

Meanwhile we meet the titular Kate of the film, Meg Ryan doing that rather grumpy and career-driven Act that she does so – regularly. She’s a market researcher, doing her thing for all manner of products ranging from films to margarine – and naturally enough has been unlucky in love. Her latest bitter and twisted strike out was with one Stuart (Liev Schreiber), who also happens to be her upstairs neighbour. So how does all this plot-like stuff come together? Well, you remember mention of that curious fellow back in Leo’s day? Yep – you guessed it – that was Stuart. With suspicions that he’s brought a new squeeze to his swingin’ batch pad, Kate does some nosey-Parkering and discovers our out of time visitor, and is sold a story about him being an actor – hence his ever-so-polite, charming and almost Shakespearian air. Needless to say she’s somewhat flummoxed by as well as enamoured with him (and what girl wouldn’t be by Hugh?)

As you may expect, events conspire so that Leo wins Kate over – in this case a bravado showing of chivalry in bringing to justice a purse snatcher helping immensely. Could Kate have finally met her dashing knight on a white charger? Is love maybe not just a myth? Or is Leo simply another nutball so far removed from reality that getting involved is just another in a series of very Dumb Things To Do? And what of that whole space/time continuum thingummywhosywhatsit?

It’s quite remarkable that a film of almost two hours duration with not a huge amount of plot to sustain it manages to be as entertaining as Kate & Leopold. Sure some of us may be somewhat beguiled by Mr Jackman’s charms, but some of us also found X-Men as boring as Batman poo, so that can’t be the reason. Essentially it comes down to the on-screen chemistries pulling the story off, despite all the holes that the nerdier types of our world will take much glee in pointing out at every opportunity (and there are many). Meg Ryan gets these gigs for a reason. For as much as she may be found annoying by some, she’s damned good at doing her aloof, unlucky in love thing, and when coupled with a rather smouldering leading bloke in Hugh, and surrounded by a great supporting cast including the likes of Breckin Meyer as her brother Charlie and The West Wing’s also yummy Bradley Whitford as her boss, J.J., she’s on another winner here. Despite the rather light script, there’s snappy dialogue in spades, and decent enough direction from James Mangold to suck us up in a fanciful vortex for a couple of hours, and dream of what it may be like to be swept off our feet by somebody who doesn’t just worship at the old gimme a slab and sport, sport and more sport altar that seems to be the reality of today.

  Video
Contract

There are two versions of the film on offer here, so you may fear all manner of clunky transitions as the player jumps about the disc to keep on serving up the film. Good news, however, is that seamless branching technology has been used, and no matter whether you opt for the director’s cut or the theatrical version of the film you’ll suffer no interruptions – assuming your player isn’t one that has a hissy fit on dealing with discs authored in this way.

As for the film itself, it comes to DVD with its original cinematic ratio of 1.85:1 intact, and almost needless to say it is 16:9 enhanced. One of the first things to impress about the transfer is the treatment of colour. Those portions of the film set back in the 1800s have a certain hint of sepia applied to them, giving a lovely golden appearance, whilst scenes in the now offer up vivid and faithful real world colouring. Meanwhile, anything that’s jet black is decidedly jet black. There is a touch of grain at times, and a few odd speckles pop up like ants at a picnic; however in general this is a deliciously detailed and sharp transfer which should please all but the fussiest of buffs. The layer change is quickly hopped over, although you’d be hard pressed not to notice it.

  Audio
Contract

Dolby Digital 5.1 mixes in English and Italian are the order of the day here, and at odd times you get much more sonic bang for your buck than with most romantic comedies. In particular there’s a mighty thunderstorm towards the beginning of the film which has all speakers engulfing you in full-on storminess, with the subwoofwoof barking away like a hellhound to keep up with the associated booms and bangs being lobbed its way. Even within the talky parts of the film – which make up the majority of it – surround usage is subtle and effective, with odd show off moments to keep you from taking things for granted. As we have every right to expect all is synched well, and that all-important dialogue is never left flailing about to be heard above the effects or score.

As for that score, it’s quite a typical romcom-type affair – all manner of flouncy and tinkly incidental music coupled with lashings of old-time jazz. Oh, and Sting makes an appearance over the end credits with his song Until.

  Extras
Contract

As mentioned above, two cuts of the film occupy this disc, although only just less than five minutes is added. To be honest these particular scenes don’t add much to proceedings, although one does includes a cameo from the director - I guess as a “director’s cut” this makes it live up to its name. Otherwise a quite impressive selection of extras has been assembled for this release...

Audio commentary – director James Mangold: More of a “filmmaking as seen by me” type affair than screen specific per se, many should find this commentary of interest despite its glossing over of many details about the film that a lot of us would have liked to have heard discussed. And yes, regardless of which cut you choose the commentary continues uninterrupted, a nice touch deftly handled.

Featurette - On the Set: Clocking in at 14:31, other than a bit of an insight into the computer effects used, there’s little to excite here as we're served up the usual fluffy cast and crew interviews where everybody’s a happy little Vegemite and the film is the best ever created.

Featurette - The Costumes: At 2:54 this is an extremely brief glimpse into the wardrobe department, held together by costume designer Donna Zakowska. We get to see gowns and the like from sketch to final production, along with some glimpses behind the scenes.

Deleted Scenes: Seven snips are on offer, totalling 9:07 in all. Each has the welcome option of a commentary from Mangold, and it’s reasonably obvious why all of them were severed from both final versions of the film (hmm, that’s a tad confusing...) They all feature Dolby Digital stereo sound and are all in anamorphically enhanced 1.85:1, but none exhibit the quality of the main feature.

Photo Gallery: A collection of 38 stills covering the usual on and off set kind of things. Careful you don’t get a crick in your neck while you go through them though...

Music Video - Until - Sting: Hey, it got an Academy Award nomination, so it must be good, right?

Dolby Digital trailer: Duck, incoming helicopters!

  Overall  
Contract

If you haven’t got the hint by now, despite the irksome nature of the phrase, Kate & Leopold is 100% a chick flick. Being completely unable to get myself into bloke headspace for obvious reasons, I could only hazard a guess and say your average example of the species would rather see England win the cricket than sit through this – so don’t say you haven’t been warned.

For those of us who do like the odd swerve into the field of such fare, however, this is an engaging and entertaining example of the genre, and the annoyingness of Meg Ryan is easily made up for by the presence of Hugh, who on top of being rather yummy really handles his role with great aplomb. Served up with good quality sound and vision, plus a number of extras to play with if so desired, Kate & Leopold is perfect fodder for your next girls’ night in.


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      And I quote...
    "Perfect fodder for your next girls’ night in..."
    - Amy Flower
      Review Equipment
    • DVD Player:
          Pioneer DV-535
    • TV:
          Sony 68cm
    • Receiver:
          Onkyo TX-DS494
    • Speakers:
          DB Dynamics Eclipse RBS662
    • Centre Speaker:
          DB Dynamics Eclipse ECC442
    • Surrounds:
          DB Dynamics Eclipse ECR042
    • Subwoofer:
          DTX Digital 4.8
    • Audio Cables:
          Standard RCA
    • Video Cables:
          Standard Component RCA
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