Dead Again

January 28, 2012 6 Min Read

Review by: Matt Brighton

Plot: What’s it about?

Slowly but surely the movies by Director (and actor) Kenneth Branagh are coming onto the DVD format. His sophmore effort, Dead Again roused audiences and is something to be talked about. Certainly it’s a movie that I’ve never seen anything like. Branagh, with his classical style of acting and directing is right out of London’s royal theater. With other movies like “Hamlet” and “Frankenstein” under his belt, it’s clear that Kenneth Branagh is not only used to critical acclaim, but commercial acclaim as well. Also present in many of his movies is his “sidekick” Emma Thompson, who I don’t particularly care for as an actress (and I’m sure that there of those of you out there who disagree with me). But in this role, she’s quite good. “Quite Good” meaning that she doesn’t speak a lot. Still, Dead Again is a movie that doesn’t come around very often, it’s interesting and unique and manages to hold your attention until the last conceivable moment…

We first meet Strauss (Kenneth Branagh) as a flashback. He is a composer, and from what the image paints of him, a good one. Strauss has married his love, Margaret and it appears that all is well and will end happily ever after. Well, this being a movie, of course that does NOT happen…For reasons unknown, it seems that Strauss has gone mad with jealousy and stabbed his wife with a pair of barber shears (scissors). He is then convicted, sentenced and interviewed by a sleazy reporter (Andy Garcia) until literally the time of his supposed death. I say “supposed” because the name of the movie is “Dead Again”…that “again” had to come from somewhere didn’t it? We then flash forward some 40 odd years and meet Mike Church (Branagh) who is a private eye of some sort. He encounters a woman who is a victim of amnesia (Thompson). After seeking the advice of a friend (an uncredited cameo by Robin Williams), we start to learn the connection between the two, or should I say four, characters. In one life, the past, we see that Branagh’s character is a successful composer and learn that has been accused of murdering his wife (Thompson). In the next, we see bits and pieces of what is his “former” life and we’re left to put the puzzle together. This begs the question…what’s it all about?

Dead Again is hard to explain without giving away major plot spoilers, so it’s best to just sit back and watch. While not a terribly popular title, it’s very well acted and directed. The characters are believable and it’s my personal opinion that Andy Garcia was either underused or played the wrong part. Seeing Robin Williams appear, even back then (then being 1991) was a pleasant suprise, as Williams was already starting to do some more of his dramatic roles. On the whole, Dead Again is definitely worth a look, and with it’s two commentary tracks, you’ll have more than enough material to keep you entertained.

Video: How does it look?

While the 1.85:1 image is enhanced for widescreen TV’s, it suffers from some artifacting. The picture is clear in the sense that most scenes look very good, it’s good to see a lower budget movie like this getting the benefit of a new anamophic transfer. While the black levels are right on, there are several indoor scenes that suffer from the artifacting, and that’s a turn off. Overall, it’s really not that bad of a picture, we’ve just been subjected to so many wonderful-looking pictures that we hold everything else up to a higher standard. One of the only drawbacks of DVD I guess…

Audio: How does it sound?

The remastered 5.1 soundtrack serves it’s purpose. The channel seperation is clean and clear and there are even a few surround effects here and there. For the most part, it’s a dialogue-driven movie that leaves little distortion in the center channel. A lot of movies made during this time period have the tendancy to sound a bit “muffled” or have that faked “remastered” sound. Not this. A very natural sounding track, but I would rather hear a good Dolby Surround track than a sub-standard Dolby Digital track. Still, there were moments when I really took notice. So I’d have to say “nice job here”.

Supplements: What are the extras?

With the inclusion of not one, but two commentary tracks, Dead Again marks Paramount’s venture into “multi-commentary” land. Why they chose this particular title to start that trend with (and we hope it’s a trend), I don’t know. The commentary with the producer Lindsay Doran and Scott Frank is average, but lacks the depth and energy of Branagh’s track, which I perfer. Much insight is given in these tracks and it’s hard to spell out any specifics without giving away the plot. In addition, there is also a theatrical trailer.

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