PictureCruel Intentions, a 1999 movie, gets the deluxe treatment on Blu-ray with this 1080p High Definition video presentation in the film's original theatrical widescreen aspect ratio of 1.85:1. Detail is generally very good, with a little twinge of softness here and there that irritates marginally, but largely consistent clarity. There is a little grain, but for the most part the Blu-ray look gives this movie a much appreciated 3D impression. The close-ups could have been a little better and occasionally this movie disappoints for such a relatively recent production, but it's not really going to detract from your viewing pleasure too much. The colour scheme, which is relatively broad, comes across as slightly faded and that does not help really, but some of the colours - like the burgundy reds - are presented vividly, and blacks are generally solid, making for decent shadowing. I was marginally disappointed by this visual presentation - although it is a clear improvement over previous DVD releases, it is still nowhere near up to the standard that we have come to expect from High Definition.
SoundTo accompany the movie, we get an English Uncompressed PCM 5.1 track that sounds quite good, if distinctly unexceptional. The snappy dialogue - from the shouts and taunts to the soft seducing - comes across clearly and coherently, dominating the frontal array for the most part of the runtime. Effects are relatively limited, because of the play-like nature of the material, with horse-clopping, footsteps, the occasional gunshot or car crash, and some more atmospheric noises like birds tweeting during some of the outdoor shots, but nothing to give the surrounds a thorough workout really. The soundtrack has a little more punch, from the quirky score to the dozens of popular tracks chosen to enhance the scenes. There isn't much bass, except perhaps from the song tracks, but overall the track performs its job adequately and presents the limited aural material in the best possible fashion we have thus far encountered. There is a standard English Dolby 5.1 track also included, which offers a nice comparison.
ExtrasFirst up we get a Filmmakers' Commentary by the Writer/Director Roger Kumble, the Producer, the Director of Photography, the Production Designer and . It's all a bit giggly and camp, with discussions on everything from the shots chosen to the room decor. They chat at length about the fact that the director was a novice and the fun/trouble he had on set, but laugh a little too much - finding what they themselves say far too funny, much funnier than listeners are likely to find. They briefly note some of the changes the script underwent and occasionally offer something irritating but the track irritates more than informs: too many cooks and all that.
We get six Deleted Scenes, totalling about 20 minutes, all absolutely terrible in terms of quality - the kind of thing you would expect more from YouTube than Blu-ray. Most of them go towards broadening Kathryn's range of manipulation, but we get more contributions from all of the leads and, despite the terrible quality, it is worth sitting through them to check them out. There is even some directorial contributions injected between each addition, to explain briefly their excising from the final cut.
The Making-Of Featurette is a slim 6-minute offering that does not delve very deeply into the production, instead choosing to use far too much final film footage and voice-over man advertising to fluff out the proceedings. We get some brief interview snippets from the Director and the main cast - Sarah Michelle Gellar, Reese Witherspoon and Ryan Phillippe - as well as some behind the scenes shots, but it is nothing very substantial and certainly goes no way to make up for the flimsy Commentary.
There is also a Creative Inventions: Finding a Visual Style Featurette, which takes a weightier twenty-plus minutes to look at the production. Far less cheesy and promotional, there are extended interviews with the Director and Cast, with the final film footage chatted over this time around and made much more relevant. The offerings with regard to the script and story are much more informative than on the Commentary and even the more technical aspects are brought to life through visual examples, so it works as a decent making-of, albeit tailored more towards the visual aspects of the production than anything else. Finally we get a couple of Music Videos: Marcy Playground's Coming Up From Behind and Placebo's Every You Every Me, just two of the well-chosen songs you will find on the soundtrack.
VerdictCruel Intentions is one of those rare remakes that manages to expand on an original idea and gives audiences a new perspective. It has a nice cast of upcoming talent, and an unusually bittersweet adult demeanour, especially considering it ostensibly sits within the teen drama genre. Video and audio presentations on this Blu-ray release marginally disappoint, but are still a clear improvement over the previous DVD incarnations, and we get all of the DVD extras ported over to pack out the release. Overall, if you don't have it or haven't seen it then it is well worth picking up to check out, and fans should consider an upgrade.
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