Plot: What’s it about?
John Klein (Richard Gere) is a successful writer at the Washington Post, he has a gorgeous wife named Mary (Debra Messing), and he just bought the house of their dreams, so his life has become almost perfect, it would seem. But as they drive back from the house visit, Mary sees a strange figure in the road, swerves to avoid it, and winds up in a terrible car accident. She sustains some serious head wounds and dies not long after she arrives, leaving behind only some odd sketches she did just before she passed. Although he has no idea what the unusual black, winged figure is in the drawings, the images are burned into his memories. As a couple years pass, John finds himself having to drive to conduct an interview, but instead of arriving as planned, he ends up in Point Pleasant, West Virginia. This is very unusual, since John had somehow traveled four hundred miles in less than two hours. As he will soon discover, this is just the first of many unexplainable events, which perplex him to no end and lure him to remain in Mount Pleasant. But was he destined to wind up in this small town, or is John’s mind simply playing tricks on him, as he searches for answers of some kind?
This is not the typical Hollywood thriller, as it moves at a slower pace and takes a while to reveal its true nature, which are two of the reasons I found The Mothman Prophecies to be so interesting and effective. The film starts off in one direction, then turns down a different path and before long, we’re taken on several roads and thrown more twists, before the movie decides to show us its cards, which is well worth the wait. The Mothman Prophecies has some chase moments, but relies more on true suspense and eerie atmosphere to thrill the audience, something we don’t see often in more recent genre pictures. The tension is well crafted and can almost be unbearable at times, especially if you’re watching it in the dark, in just the right mood for an eerie, effective thriller. I was impressed by how well the suspense builds, as it keeps mounting throughout, but we also see some small vent points, which lead us in one direction, before we’re pulled off toward another direction. The performances are also quite good, with memorable turns from Richard Gere, Laura Linney, and Will Patton, as well as others. And since Columbia has revisited this movie and released a new two disc edition, fans should be pleased. In other words, this Special Edition of The Mothman Prophecies is highly recommended.
I know a lot of people mock him and make jokes about his personal life, but if you’re a film fan, you can’t dismiss Richard Gere’s skills on the screen. As with all actors, he has taken some bad roles and given some poor performances, but he has also won over critics and audiences time & time again, which is not too easy, of course. Gere is in a great role in The Mothman Prophecies and he makes sure he brings his “A” game, giving one of his best turns in quite a while. I did have some doubts about him in this kind of movie, but Gere proved he still had the presence to make it work and surpassed all of my expectations. And if looking at critics and audience reaction means anything, I’m not alone in thinking Gere’s work here is excellent. Other films with Gere include Unfaithful, Primal Fear, Pretty Woman, Mr. Jones, and American Gigolo. The cast also includes Laura Linney (You Can Count on Me, The Truman Show), Will Patton (Armageddon, Remember the Titans), and Alan Bates (Gosford Park, The Sum of All Fears).
Video: How does it look?
The Mothman Prophecies is presented in 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen. This seems to be the same visual treatment as the previous disc, though the added space of a dual layered disc offers some minor enhancements. The print used looks very clean, as expected from a new release, while sharpness is superb, a lot of subtle detail is present throughout. I found the colors to be bold and vibrant, but the hues are sometimes manipulated to fit the film’s visual scheme, so keep that in mind as you watch. No problems in the least with contrast either, as detail is top drawer and black levels are well balanced at all times. Another excellent visual presentation from Columbia, which is what we’ve come to expect.
Audio: How does it sound?
This is the same audio mix as well, but no complaints there in the least. The included Dolby Digital 5.1 presentation is tremendous and without question, the movie is much more effective with this kind of soundtrack, the atmosphere is many times more inclusive. The tension in the film is enhanced by the use of the surrounds to…well, surround the audience and deliver an eerie, on edge mood, the perfect kind for The Mothman Prophecies. A few scenes ramp up the power and those sequences are wicked, bass is thundering and the surrounds work overtime, this is just a creative, very effective overall audio experience. I had no trouble with dialogue here either, vocals seemed crisp and easy to understand throughout.
Supplements: What are the extras?
This is where this new edition earns its keep, as a slew of new supplements have been included. The first disc is home to some talent files, as well as an audio commentary track with director Mark Pellington. The session is packed with production information, but Pellington’s less than dynamic voice makes it tough at times. Even so, fans of the movie will want to stick it out, as there’s a lot to be gained from this track. The rest of the extras are found on the second disc, such as Day by Day: A Director’s Journey. This piece is made up of two separate featurettes, one that deals with pre-production and one that looks at the actual production. These pieces offer a solid look behind the scenes, but little of interest seems to happen. I am glad that I watched these featurettes, but they could have been so much better. Next is an hour long documentary titled Search for the Mothman, which reveals more about the mythical creature. I love cryptozoology, so I found this to be a fun and informative inclusion. This release also includes some deleted scenes and a Low music video, but no Mothman trailer is to be seen.