- 2002 (2003) - DreamWorks
by Dan Kelly of The Digital Bits
Disc Ratings (Video/Extras): A-/D+
Audio Ratings (DD/DTS): A/A
Specs and Features
115 mins, R, letterboxed widescreen (1.85:1), 16x9 enhanced,
single-sided, RSDL dual-layered (layer switch at 1:03:30 in chapter
13), keep case packaging, a "short film" by Gore
Verbinski, 3 theatrical trailers (for Ringu,
8 Mile and
Catch Me If You Can), animated
film-themed menu screens with sound, scene access (23 chapters),
languages: English (DD 5.1 & 2.0, DTS 5.1) and French (DD 5.1),
subtitles: English, Spanish and French
doesn't take much to please me when I'm watching a horror film. To
make me a happy camper, a scary flick needs only do one thing - give
me a proper handful of scares. If that happens, I'll forgive most
anything else in a horror film. The Ring
takes full advantage of this and plants its scares smack dab in the
middle of one of the corniest, most contrived plots in a recent
movie. Yes, the film has its fair share of jumps and scares, but
it's nowhere near as scary as some of its more ardent fans might
lead you to believe. If you're willing to swallow a heapin' helpin'
of silliness along with those scares, you might just enjoy
The Ring. The film is based on
a novel by Koji Suzuki - previously adapted as the 1998 Japanese
film Ringu - and I'm tempted
to read the novel if only to see if the film's basic idea comes
across any less ridiculous on paper than it does on film.
Rachel (Naomi Watts), a snoopy journalist, comes across a videotape
that terrifies those who view it with a series of haunting images.
Immediately after viewing said video, the doomed viewer receives a
phone call with a spooky voice on the other end letting him or her
know that they'll meet their maker in a week's time. Sure enough,
seven days pass and zowie - they're goners. Naysayer Rachel decides
to test the theory after she comes across the tape, and she sits
bugged eyed two inches in front of the set, taking in the gory clip.
She is shocked - SHOCKED! - to find that she does indeed receive the
call at the end of the feature presentation. What follows is her
desperate attempt to save her life and that of her ne'er-do-well
boyfriend, Noah (Martin Henderson) and son, Aidan (David Dorfman),
as she sets out to unearth the secrets of the video. That's about
all you need to know going into the movie.
The strength of The Ring is
in its striking and haunting imagery, courtesy of director Gore
Verbinski. Though it seems fairly derivative in nature (I was
reminded of director Tarsem Singh's work on The
Cell), viewed strictly as a series of images, it works
really well. In fact, a lot of the story works, too, but the idea of
a VHS cassette killing people seems downright goofy to me. How was
the videotape cursed? A voodoo spell perhaps? It makes absolutely no
sense, and the less you think about it, the better off you are. The
filmmakers seem really torn between the inclination to present the
material as a meaningful moral tale and a creepy urban legend. In
the end, this works against The Ring,
and the padded story drags on a bit too long.
The Ring finds its way into
consumer homes less than 5 months after it opened in theatres, and
DreamWorks has prepared a nice audio and video package for fans of
the film. If you can get past the nauseating lighting and camera
choices, the DVD image of The Ring
is quite nice. The 1.85:1 anamorphic image is free from any sort of
transfer-related defects, and you'll see only occasional glimpses of
film grain in the picture. The film itself is pumped full of ripe
blues and yellows (you can just about see the veins in everyone's
faces), and it gets a bit distracting. Nonetheless, this is the
intentional look of the film. There are a few vibrantly colorful
scenes, and they exhibit strong color reproduction that contrasts
the cold look of the rest of the film. This is a nice effort.
Any of the 5.1 soundtrack options are sure to please. Both the
English Dolby Digital 5.1 and its DTS 5.1 counterpart are highly
effective mixes, appropriate to a horror film. There is little
obvious difference between the two, but the DTS track does pack a
bigger punch in the low end of the sound mix. Surrounds are
exceptionally active during the movie and come in handy to add a
little more jolt to the film's more frightening moments. There's
also a fine French language 5.1 mix crammed onto the disc.
Though the DVD is busting at the seams with audio options, the same
cannot be said of the extras. There is quite literally nothing worth
seeing on here. In the Don't Watch This
section of the main menu, you will find a "short film"
that the DVD packaging promises will reveal "more electrifying
secrets about the mystery of The Ring."
What it actually delivers is a dull series of deleted and alternate
scenes lamely and inexplicably strung together as a 15-minute piece
of film. There's a point in the The Ring
where the Noah character refers to the videotape as a "very
student film." The same goes double for this useless feature.
Elsewhere on the disc, you'll find a teaser trailer for the
companion DVD release of Ringu
and clips for 8 Mile and
Catch Me If You Can. You'll
also find "the video" if you look (it's really not that
difficult to find). For a film that raked in over 100 million
smackers at the box office, you'd think DreamWorks would want to put
a little more effort into the extras. Apparently not so.
The Ring is a preposterous
film that is occasionally interrupted by some good scares. One thing
is certain - the film looks and sounds darn nice on DVD, so if
you're sure you'll enjoy repeated viewings, go ahead and pick this
DVD up. The lack of extras is a disappointment... but who cares if
you're gonna die in a week?