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  Directed by
    None Listed
  Starring
  Specs
  • Widescreen 2.35:1
  • 16:9 Enhanced
  • Dual Layer (RSDL )
  Languages
  • English: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
  Subtitles
    English - Hearing Impaired
  Extras
  • Theatrical trailer
  • Audio commentary - with producer, director, composer and Sandra Bullock
  • 2 Featurette - Casting the Spell & Making Magic

Practical Magic

Roadshow Entertainment/Roadshow Entertainment . R4 . COLOR . 100 mins . M15+ . PAL

  Feature
Contract

Every few years, popular culture generates themes in movies. From Disaster movies in the 70s, Sci-Fi in the late 60s, to the 70s and 80s TV show remakes we are seeing now. In the late 1990s, all things related to the supernatural were a strong theme.

Movies like "The Craft", "City of Angles", "Meet Joe Black" and a little earlier "The Crow", all verify this. Among these, movies regarding Witchcraft kept popping up. This movie, I thought, would be a typical love story, trying to cash in on the current fad. After watching it, I was surprised that it was a little more than that, and that it was quite enjoyable.

Films such as this, are naturally called "chick-flicks" as they concentrate on the lives and loves of the key women characters. People like myself (typical? fast-car-driving, action-movie-watching 25 year old male) would really only see it to make our better halves happy. And this was true for this film, however, it was not as bad as I thought. The story is strong enough to keep me interested, and the quality of its production is also perfectly acceptable.

One point which drew me into the story was the fact that it was a little different to most love story movies, in that the key characters have a problem, each man they fall in love with, succumbs to an ancient family curse, which simply kills them. Nice. Guys, try to avoid women like this. Seeing how the two women try to get around this curse is what I found interesting.

  Video
Contract

The "Deluxe Widescreen Presentation" of this DVD is fine. Nothing bad stands out at all. It is only a single sided single layer DVD, so the video bit-rate is not as high as some movies, but it seem enough for this.

The video is generally sharp and clean, without any major mpeg artifacting, which can be more common on single layer single side DVD?s. Its 2.35:1, and around 100 min, so fitting everything, and maintaining acceptable video and audio quality was perfectly attainable. There are a few transfer issues with the print, for instance the characteristic dust on the negative, but I personally enjoy this feature, as it does seem to add to the real cinema experience.

Black levels, and shadow detail are all good, and there are many instances of these in this film. The moon is often a significant feature in this movie, and each time its shown, everything is as it should be. In dark scenes, it is almost possible to see some very mild mpeg artifacting, but I only saw this when viewing on my 21 inch perfectly calibrated VGA monitor, and never on my Loewe TV. The fact that it?s a single layer disc, can also be a good thing, as there is no layer change to worry about.

The video in this movie is not reference quality, and coming from movies like "The 5th Element", and "The Matrix", it can be seen that the video quality is a little below both of these. This movie is still a very good reason for DVD and when viewed in 16x9 mode on my TV, still looks great.

  Audio
Contract

Great Audio. The amount of surround and special effect is all fine, but they are not the elements which stand out for me. The score, and music chosen and played in this movie is the reason for my higher than average rating for the audio.

Alan Silvestri's score is very well done, for instance the music at Sally's first spell, and Songs like Faith Hill's "This Kiss" and Marvin Gaye's "Got to Give It Up" all sound excellent, and really stand out.

The 5.1 Dolby Digital AC3 is encoded at 384kbps and sounds fine. Surround is always present, and does add to the effect many times, there weren't any memorable total surround moments for me (Apart from something I'll mention later), but all was in order and each scene sounded natural. The bass was good, and in a few key scenes, very good. If you have a sub, the climax ending will have it working nicely on each "handshake".

  Extras
Contract

A few extras, the stand out being a great Commentary, by the producer, director, composer, and Sandra Bullock. Ms Bullock also mentions the Village Roadshow logo, to which the producer says "Where'd they come from?". "Australia", is the whispered response from Ms Bullock. So it seems as though the Commentary was specifically made for this disc. Impressive.

I always try to listen to the commentaries for all my DVD's, but it does take a huge amount of time, and each time I do complete watching/listening, I'm always glad I did as the insights gained about this movie, and movie making in general, are massive. Any movie/arts students should definitely listen to every movie commentary they can get their hands on.

Other extras are two short featurettes, one on "Making the Spell" which is 6 min long, and the other one "Casting the spell" around 10 min long, a cast and crew list which is just a single frame shot, and the Theatrical Trailer.

  Overall  
Contract

Overall, a good disc. The movie is very watchable, much more than I thought it would be. I think part of the reason is that it has a good cast, and Sandra Bullock's roll is the standout with Aidan Quinn also deserving mention. And the fact that this movie was adapted from a successful novel, means it's a tried and proven formula. It is still a little typical of its genre, but more enjoyable than so many other movies.

The video quality is fine, I never expected it to be any worse or better, and the audio, both in content and quality is a definite plus. The extras aren't something that would make me buy this movie, or any movie, but are just as they should be, that is, extras, a bonus.

One extra I have not mentioned, as it isn't really an extra, is the new Dolby Digital trailer! I'm a big fan of Dolby, DTS and THX trailers, and when I'm surprised with a new one, wow, it makes my day. This one is the new water bubbles one and it's too difficult for me to decide which is the best. Definitely a great surround experience.


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      And I quote...
    ""
    - Mark Pakula
      Review Equipment
    • DVD Player:
          Pioneer DV-535
    • DVD Rom:
          Creative Dxr2 2x
    • MPEG Card:
          MPEG 2 Decoder
    • TV:
          Loewe Profil Plus 3272 68cm
    • Receiver:
          Denon AVR-2700
    • Amplifier:
          Rotel RB981
    • Speakers:
          VAF DC-X
    • Centre Speaker:
          VAF DC-6
    • Surrounds:
          VAF DC-2
    • Subwoofer:
          Jaycar 2x10inch custom
    • Audio Cables:
          Harmony Gold Coax
    • Video Cables:
          Harmony Gold
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