Plot: What’s it about?
Halle Berry won the Academy Award for Best Actress and her follow-up role to the great (and depressing) “Monster’s Ball” is the somewhat lacking “Gothika”. There’s nothing new in this movie. It’s all been said and done before. Berry, with her most impressive body, does her best at the role and it”s a nice change of pace from the typical person we might imagine in a role like this (though at the moment, I can’t think of any names). In recent years, it seems that the supernatural has become more and more commercial. With the success of last year’s “The Ring”, we will be seeing a new slew of these movies; and yes ” it’s already begun. “Gothika” gets its premise from the dark, as its name suggests. True to form, it takes place in a prison and we have the lovely Miranda Grey (Berry) as the prison shrink. The inmates aren’t typical; in fact some of them look like Penelope Cruz. And this isn’t the supernatural part. Miranda slinks around the dingy place as if it were her second home, and we believe that it might be. Somewhat pursued by her comrade, Pete Graham (Robert Downey Jr.), the two flirt more than anything even though Grey is married to her “boss”, Douglas (Charles S. Dutton).
As luck would have it, Miranda is treating a patient (Cruz) and then heads off to her swim. As she is heading home, there’s a sinkhole in the road (the movie takes place in Connecticut and I’ve lived there and have never heard of a sinkhole – but anyway) and she”s forced to take a detour. Going across the type of bridge that we only find in this genre, she makes it across only to swerve off the road (in an electrical storm, no less) to avoid hitting a girl in the middle of the road. She awakens three days later as a patient in her own hospital (prison) accused of the murder of her husband. Miranda had evidently made it home and decided to chop up her Douglas into several pieces with an axe. How nice. Now the wrongly accused Grey must prove her innocence to Pete and the rest of the crew. To add to the story, she’s being haunted by the same girl who she nearly killed and has carved the words “Not Alone” on her arm (this is nicely conveyed on the front cover, by the way). Now the good doctor must avoid all of her patients she was treating, convince the police and her fellow shrinks that she’s the one who is sane and figure out who chopped up her better half a few days back “Gothika” might be fun if you’ve nothing better to do. It’s certainly not bad, I was tense a few times during the film but not much more. Berry is a great actress and I’d be lying if I said I didn’t want to see more of her body (say, like, in “Die Another Day”). Still, her talents don’t disappoint and I think it’s safe to say that she did better here than many actresses could. But when there’s not much to work with, there’s not a lot that can be done. It is nice to see Robert Downy Jr. in films again, though.
Video: How does it look?
This is now the third incarnation of “Gothika” on DVD (well, fourth if you count the HD DVD and Blu-ray as separate entities) and I will say that this Blu-ray version looks quite better than the previous standard DVD and special edition DVD. The 1.85:1 VC-1 HD transfer does look better than its counterparts, but still suffers a bit. For starters, edge enhancement is totally gone and the detail level is bumped up a few notches. This being a very dark movie, the black levels are spot on and everything does seem clearer and cleaner compared to the DVD version. Now with that said, I did notice some noise near the end of the movie and a few of the scenes seemed to be a bit soft. I went back and looked at the standard DVD and this wasn’t a problem with those, so there must have been something in the transfer process that was out of whack. Still, the image is likely the best we’re ever to see and if you’re a fan, then this is what you’ve been waiting for.
Audio: How does it sound?
“Gothika” has a fairly standard Dolby Digital Plus 5.1 soundtrack, but in all truth it didn’t sound a whole lot better than that of the standard DVD. With that said, the general ambiance is there and does sound good and we get a few noises that are there just because, well, it’s a horror movie. Dialogue is very clean and natural-sounding and there’s nothing really here to complain about. I will say that there’s nothing that really stands out as being great about the soundtrack, either.
Supplements: What are the extras?
If you were one of the suckers that originally bought “Gothika” when it first came out, how little you knew! This Blu-ray version offers up the same supplements as the HD DVD version and the hence the same features ported over from the two-disc special edition DVD. Aside from a rather dull audio commentary with the director and director of photography, there’s a music video with Limp Biskit. The commentary tends to drag and the participants seem to sit back and admire their own work a little too much. Still, it’s nice to have at any rate. Disc Two houses the features which include the “Making of”” the music video (found on the first disc) as well as a Behind the Scenes look at the “Making of Gothika”. This is your standard issue here; with the cast and crew all clamoring about how good the script was, etc. There is a rather interesting featurette entitled “Painting with Fire” which looks at the Special Effects for the movie and how they (Special Effects) have evolved in the last few years. There are some mock interviews of the other inmates of the prison as well as a tour of some of the case files (cleverly disguised as drawings). Lastly, there’s a segment from “Punk’d” in which Ashton Kutcher pulls one over on Halle Berry at the premiere of the movie (with Producer Joel Silver’s help, of course). All in all, if you own the non “Special Edition” of “Gothika” then I see no reason to upgrade to version 2.0, though if you were borderline before this should convince you to buy this version. The same audio, same video and same supplements are ported over to this disc as well.