Identity Blu-ray Review
PictureIdentity hits the shelves in the new Blu-ray format, complete with a 1080p High Definition video presentation in the movie's original theatrical widescreen aspect ratio of 2.40:1. The movie is not so old, so they have managed to put together a pretty decent visual rendition, with detail maintained throughout, no noticeable softness and no apparent grain. The colour scheme is fairly restricted - the movie shot with a 'horror' look, i.e. dark, poorly lit settings, drab, faded colours, and limited to being set within a dilapidated motel location for the most part anyway. Blacks play a pretty big part - it's all shadowing, dark suits, darkness (with lightning streaking across the jet-black sky) and so forth, and the contrast levels are great, the utter lack of grain making for excellent black levels. With rain beating down almost throughout, it is a testament to the presentation here that it comes through as pounding 'Frank Miller' rain. Skin tones are also well represented, and overall the production looks pretty fantastic on the High Definition format.
SoundTo accompany the movie we get a much-appreciated Uncompressed PCM 5.1 audio track. Dialogue, from the mumblings to the shouts and screams, comes across clearly and coherently throughout, mainly presented across the frontal array. The effects are pretty-much omnipresent, the rain pelting down throughout, and giving the surrounds a fair amount to do. It certainly makes for a keen atmosphere, the background storm brooding and building to furious, thunderous outbreaks in the same way that the plot develops. There are a couple of gunshots, lots of crashing and breaking and some nice observation of all the smaller effects, but it is definitely the storm that gives the most potency to this powerful track, the heraldic thunder even allowing for some significant bass action. The score is also quite a constant source of action, building and reinforcing the on-screen events, heightening the tension and enhancing your experience without ever seeming overpowering or overwhelming. It is a seriously good aural representation for this movie, a marked improvement over previous incarnations and another benchmark soundtrack that you could probably use to show off your home cinema kit.
ExtrasFirst up we get a Full Length Audio Commentary by the Director Jim Mangold. He often talks in a scene-specific way, occasionally veering off to discuss things like how he came across the production and the script it was based on. He talks about making the movie enthralling despite its limited setting, creating a genre-bending production and the way he shot the opening introductions to the various characters. It is a slightly dry offering - only in as much as, for the most part, you get just descriptions of on-screen action - but fans will probably have to check it out to get the few snippets of interest that are spread thinly across the narration. There is also a second Audio Commentary (although it is not listed on the Blu-ray cover specifications) by the Writer Michael Cooney, who very articulately exposes all of his plotting concepts, the signposts that he made to give away the twist to clever viewers and the ideas he had behind the various characters. He explains the psychological conditions and tries to answer any questions that those trying to pick holes in the plot might have. This is clearly a much more interesting effort than the director's chat - the writer almost has too much to offer - and you will probably have to take it in small doses to digest the sheer volume of information here. All commentators should take a note: this is the kind of offering that we would all like to have for our favourite movies (perhaps with a second track by the director and cast)
We get four Deleted Scenes, totalling about seven minutes of extra footage, and none of them really add to the production at all. Only avid fans are likely to want to even check them out, but it is nice that they have bothered to include them here. There are split-screen storyboard comparisons for three key sequences, that allow you to see just how close the final cuts were to the original concepts. There is also a fifteen minute On The Set Featurette, which has far too much final film footage, interspersed by fast-edited, brief cast snippets. Although it's nice to have almost the entire cast here, contributing their comments about their own characters and the twist and turn narrative, the promotional MTV style to the Featurette gets extremely tiring. There's lots of tiresome back-patting from everybody involved, directed towards everybody else involved, but there is also a little behind the scenes footage of the movie being shot, which fans will want to see. Considering it is not particularly short, it is a shame that this is a such a fluffy, shallow offering. Finally we get a Coming to Blu-ray preview trailer montage.
VerdictIdentity is a reasonably intelligent psychological horror/thriller, which manages to skilfully cross genres, and actually ends up being relatively original, if not astoundingly memorable. Stylishly realised, with a twist-ridden clever plot, it relies on some nice performances by an assortment of famous faces to bring it all together, and the result is pretty enjoyable. Presentation-wise, we have one of the best video renditions and best audio tracks that you are likely to find on Blu-ray, thus far, as well as a nice selection of extras. Overall, if you're a fan then upgrading to this release is a compulsory, and I would encourage newcomers to definitely check this out and see if they like it.
Suggested retail price when reviewed: £17.95
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