Warner Home Video
Date: March 23, 2004
Review posted: March 17, 2004
psychologist (Halle Berry) awakens to find herself a patient in the
psych ward of the
where she works, with no memory of the murder she's accused of
committing. As she tries to regain her memory - and her freedom
- a vengeful spirit manipulates her. Meanwhile,
a fellow doctor
(Robert Downey Jr.), a volatile inmate (Penélope
Cruz) and others
figure in her harrowing ordeal as she tries to make sense of it
perhaps the best-looking and best-directed film yet for the Dark
Castle production shingle, but that's not saying a whole lot.
Let's examine some of the film's bad symptoms. First of all, the
script written by Sebastian Gutierrez tries to cross the
supernatural with the thriller/horror genre, but it fails
considering the lack of originality and intrigue.
produces mixed results. Most scares are enjoyable, but they don't
make a lot of sense as they're based on the supernatural factor of
the story. So much of the story appears to take place in reality
and the supernatural clicks in whenever it wants to. Transitioning
between these alternative realities doesn't really work. The
results might be entertaining to watch, what with all the
different scares, but Gothika seems more inspired by other
source material instead of trying to be original.
character wakes up in her cell she begins to notice an ominous
being or spirit that is trying to scare her when in fact it's
trying to help her figure out her predicament. The "spirit"
element in the story reminds me of a subplot in The Sixth Sense
where Cole meets a little girl who was poisoned by her stepmother.
In Gothika, the spirit is a dead girl connected to a
suicide case, and every time it shows up Berry's character goes
crazy, literally throwing herself against the walls while locked
up in solitary.
The script feeds viewers wrong information about
the spirit up until the reveal, but by then the story is already
somewhat uninteresting. Trying to make sense of the events prior
to the stand-off between Berry and the killer won't do any good,
because for one thing it's not worth it and secondly it's too
confusing. The worst thing about the script is that it doesn't
attempt to answer any of its questions or clean up after some of
the plot holes. The ending doesn't have a transition to the scene
before it and leaves the story pointlessly open-ended.
However, to give
credit where it's due, Gothika also features some good
moments. Halle Berry seems really invested in her role of a
psychiatrist gone semi-insane, kind of a departure from her
Oscar-winning portrayal in Monster's Ball. She can scream
quite well and despite mirroring a wreck she still looks hot.
Well, I guess that depends on the individual's taste for women,
yet the filmmakers don't really try to make her look ugly.
Supporting performances are good, especially Robert Downey Jr. who
delivers a better performance than what his role calls for.
Probably the best thing about Gothika is its visual style.
Matthew Libatique, director of photography on films like
Requiem For A Dream and Phone Booth, photographs many
scenes in cool ways and does an excellent job of making the State
Penitentiary look intimidating. Director Mathieu Kassovitz appears
to do a nice job in his first American feature, but I hope his
next project will be more ambitious where he can actually put his
talent to display. In fact, Kassovitz is talking about doing I
Am Legend, but that could either be a long way off or never
happen at all.
Warner Bros. presents
Gothika in 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen. Colors are
interestingly subdued and there is a lot of blue in this
presentation. Some scenes appear too dark, but the mood of the
color blue adds something to the visual experience. Color detail
is good and sharpness looks fine. The print is in very good
condition as I didn't notice any major concerns with specks or
dirt. Grain appears in a few scenes as well, but compression
artifacts do not. Black levels and dark tones are deep and
consistent. Overall, a very solid transfer by Warner Bros.
Warner Bros. presents
Gothika in English 5.1 Dolby Digital Surround Sound.
Dialogue is clear and easy to understand. Sound effects and John
Ottman's (X2: X-Men United) eerie score are nicely
reinforced by the surrounds. The presentation packs a few rounds
of punch, but a lot of the audio comes from the front speakers.
Overall, this is a very nice presentation where surround usage
comes in effectively during the right times.
Also available is
an English Stereo Surround soundtrack as well as a French dub
substantial extra included, if I may call it that, is the
audio commentary by director Mathieu Kassovitz and director of
photography Matthew Libatique. The director spends more time
discussing the filmmaking process, locations, story elements,
working with crew and the actors, especially Halle Berry.
Libatique comments more on the technical aspects of the film,
such as camera setups, lenses, angles, etc. Both point out
various CGI effects in the film and complement others and
themselves more than a few times. Overall, this track is just
decent and probably could've been a little more interesting.
other extras include a Limp Bizkit music video and the
film's theatrical trailer. For a film that turned a
little profit ($59 mill US gross against $40 mill budget), the
DVD extras are lacking. A featurette on the special effects or
select to view the film with optional English, French and Spanish subtitles. The
96-minute feature is organized into
twenty-six chapters. The disc comes in a snapper case. The film
separately in widescreen and fullscreen.
semi-interesting performance by Halle Berry, some good scares, and very cool
cinematography, Gothika offers no originality. Video is very
solid, audio pretty good, and the extras are lacking. Gothika
may not come recommended, but a rental would be a decent choice after
you've seen the good films on the video store shelves.
VERDICT: RENT IT
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