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SOLARIS DVD review

by David Blackwell

Last year, I wrote an article on the novel SOLARIS with a review of the 1972 Russian film adaptation and info on the 2002 US film adaptation. Finally, I have caught the US version on DVD this week. In this version written and directed by Steven Soderbergh (and produced by James Cameron), George Clooney plays Chris Kelvin (George Clooney) who is sent to the space station Promethus orbiting the living planet Solaris. His mission is to convince the crew left onboard to come home to Earth, but things start becoming strange as soon as Kelvin boards the space station.

This US film version is based on the novel by Stanislaw Lem and a remake of the 1972 Russian film. The US version is shorter than the Russian adaptation by an hour and the scenes don't go on forever like in the Tarkovsky film. As said in the commentary track: if you can't get used to the pace of the film within the first 10 minutes, this isn't the movie for you.

The commentray track by Soderbergh and Cameron is interesting because it gives insights in what was cut from the movie from deleted scenes to dialouge being cut from scenes that originally ran longer. Sodebergh also came to note the original first cut of the movie was closer to Lem's book than was finally released. It is also said in the commentary track that the other cut of Solaris will probably be included in a Special Edition release of Solaris ten years from now (I hope the Special edition gets released sooner. the problem I have with the commentary track is that I wished I heard James Cameron say more about how he would have done Solaris instead of his endless praise for the Soderbergh's  version of the book.

Other than the commentary track, two Solaris trailers, a trailer for Master and Commander, a HBO First Look special- Behind Solaris, and a making of Solaris special which includes some screen tests, the Solaris DVD is pretty bare bones with no deleted scenes or alternate scenes that could have been included (and will probably appear on the special edition version if it gets made).

Also see: http://enterline2.tripod.com/enterline/id44.html

 

DAREDEVIL DVD review

by David Blackwell

Daredevil is the movie adaptation of the Marvel comic book series that stars Ben Affleck as Matt Murdock, Jennifer Garner as Elektra, Collin Farrell as Bullseye, and Michael Clarke Duncan as the Kingpin. The stand out performances of the movie come from Jennifer Garner and Collin farrell, the ever changing chameleon actorwho looks different from role to role that he continues to amaze me.

The movie is a faithful adaptation for the most part, but the script tries too hard to cram into several issue of dveleopment in one movie that leaves one unsatisfied by the end of the movie and Daredevil's identity gets revealed to way too many people (including the most problematic reveal happening in the climatic battle scene). The writers of the comic book are mentioned as boxers in the movie or as a rapist who gets acquitted. The movie crams in a plot that should have spread out over two movies or a longer movie. Of course, the most glaring thing left out is the fact that Elektra was an assassin in the comic book. I think they would have been better adapting Frank Miller's brillant origin comic, Daredevil: The Man Without Fear, instead of the mess they have released.

The two disc release is full of extra materail including a good documentary which focuses on talk with several people who have been involved as a writer and/or artist of the Daredevil comic book over the years.

The problem with the release it doesn't include any of the twenty minutes cut from the movie and the Jennifer Garner screen test has such poor video quality with barely audible sound. I don't like the look of the menus. The menus aren't easy on the eyes. Unfortunately, they will probably have a new 2 disc release of daredevil years from now with new special features not included in this release. That's all for now.

UPDATE (11-27-2003):  a director's cut of DAREDEVIL looks slated to be released to DVD in April 2004.  Stay tuned.

Both reviews are (c)2003 David Blackwell. email any comments to lord_pragmagtic@hotmail.com  and don't forget to check for site updates and additional material at http://www.livejournal.com/users/enterlinemedia