Gattaca (1997) - Special Edition

Genre(s): Drama / Science Fiction / Thriller
Sony || PG13 - 106 minutes - $19.94 || March 11, 2008
Reviewer: Brian Oliver || Posted On: 2008-03-15


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.:: F I L M ::.
The Film

S P E C I A L
.: F E A T U R E S :.

Special Features

A U D I O &
.:: V I D E O ::.

Audio and Video

.:: O V E R A L L ::.
Overall
.::MOVIE INFORMATION::.
Director: Andrew Niccol
Writer(s): Andrew Niccol (written by)
Cast: Ethan Hawke, Uma Thurman, Alan Arkin, Jude Law, Loren Dean, Ernist Borgnine, Xander Berkeley, Tony Shalhoub, Elias Koteas


Theatrical Release Date: October 24, 1997


.::DVD INFORMATION::.
Supplemental Material:
  • Deleted Scenes
  • Original Featurette
  • Welcome to Gattaca
  • Do Not Alter?
  • Outtake
  • Previews


Technical Information:
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Widescreen (2.40)
  • English (Dolby Digital 5.1), French (Dolby Digital 5.1), Spanish (Dolby Digital 5.1), Portuguese (Dolby Digital 5.1)
  • Subtitles: English, French, Spanish, Portuguese

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.::THE FILM::.

IMAGE

When Gattaca first came onto DVD back in 1998-99, after watching, I remember not liking it too much. In fact, when I looked it up on IMDb, I had actually given it a 5/10. Oh what 10 years brings on someone. Not only is did I love this movie, but I feel Gattaca is in fact one of my all-time favorite underrated movies. You have everything: an intriguing story, solid cast and thrills that will keep your attention till the end.

Gattaca tells the story of Vincent Freeman, one of a minority of “natural” beings among a society of genetically created people who were born with the best attributes from his or her parents. No deformities. No heart ailments. They are the best of the best and get the top jobs while the “naturals” can only get bottom-feeding work. At birth doctors told Vincent’s parents that he would only live to the age of 30.5 and had a 99% probability of having a heart defect. But growing up, even with the shadow of his genetically perfect brother looming, Vincent dreamt of one day going into space and no matter what the scientists say, he was going to do it. Unfortunately, workplaces all have the technology to see his imperfections, so he resorts to assuming the identity of another.

Enter Jerome Morrow (Law), the seemingly perfect specimen. At birth he was predicted to be at the top of his class at whatever he wanted to do. Unfortunately, he was also burdened by these prognostications placing silver in an athletic event and involved in an accident which crippled him. Through a third party, a man named simply German (Shalhoub), Vincent uses Jerome’s DNA to get into Gattaca Aerospace and one step closer to his goal of going into space. While at Gattaca, he finds mutual attraction with Irene (Thurman), a woman, not unlike himself, who has her own medical issues.

Gattaca succeeds on multiple levels. Not only is it a cautionary tale on genetic perfection (I doubt no one would have qualms with finding the cure for autism or other childhood diseases ) but you also have a great suspense thriller that is actually entertaining. Couple that with solid performances by Ethan Hawke, Uma Thurman and Jude Law -- not to mention the reliable Alan Arkin --, and you have a movie that will only get better with multiple viewings.

Writer-director Andrew Niccol is not entirely unknown for bringing moral ambiguity to the big screen. He follows his directorial (and writer) debut with 1998’s The Truman Show which takes on the subject of reality TV and voyeurism, subjects that are, I think, far more prevalent today as the “reality” genre gains more prominence on network TV more than ever. Niccol continued on the same path with S1m0ne, about a computer generated superstar. In the last few years, though, he takes a more direct approach with The Terminal, a cute drama, to 2005’s Lord of War starring Nicolas Cage as an arms dealer. This latter film takes moral ambiguity and throws it into the audiences’ faces as it is a statement on the culture of guns in America (and around the world).

Seeing Niccol’s progression in now 10+ years, is interesting. Looking over his projects (both writing and directing), he doesn’t jump the shark and instead releases movies that make you think but at the same time, can hold some entertainment value. And Gattaca did that to a “t”. Some movies will play in theaters and be on people’s minds when it’s released on DVD, but this one has lasted a decade and will continue to do so for years to come.



.::SPECIAL FEATURES::.

The menu backgrounds look to be the same and the following features have been carried over from the original release:

Deleted Scenes (10:38) - Six scenes are included with only two that I think was worthy of placing back in, and it’s not the extended ending (which some in the crew wished was back in). The scene I liked was Vincent’s farewell to Caesar (Borgnine). There is also a funny outtake (0:31) with Xander Berkeley.

Original Featurette (6:48) - Although these tend to be of low video quality and the content isn’t all that substantial, there’s something nostalgic watching these HBO-like ‘making-of’ featurettes.

Unfortunately, this release does drop the photo and poster galleries as well as the theatrical trailer. There are a couple new features, however:

Welcome to Gattaca (21:30) – This is a new featurette that has new interviews with a good number of the crew and two of the stars, Ethan Hawke and Jude Law. Sadly, Uma Thurman and director Andrew Niccol are missing. The people who do participate, however, seem to have fond memories of making Gattaca and they touch on several aspects like the set design, Niccol’s writing and direction, and this being Jude Law’s first American film.

Do Not Alter? (14:20) – This is another new documentary that goes into the scientific and moralistic aspects of the movie and uses interviews with various members of the scientific community. It’s not an entirely riveting featurette but for those interested in the topic, it’s worth watching.

There are also previews for other movies including the 30th Anniversary Edition of Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Ray Harryhausen in Color!, Hot Action Movies, The Water Horse and Dragon Wars.



.::AUDIO & VIDEO::.

IMAGE

Gattaca has been spruced up from its 1998 incarnation. I did some quick comparisons and the picture, as far as colors go, don’t differ much but it is cleaner and seems to be framed properly. One thing however, the initial release has a aspect ratio of 2.35 but this is at 2.40. I don’t know what the real theatrical AR is but thought it was worth mentioning.

There isn’t much variety in the audio department with your standard DD 5.1 track that serves its purpose. The sound isn’t all that fantastic but is good enough for the home theater enthusiast.



.::OVERALL::.

I’m glad Sony finally put out this special edition not only for the two new extras but for a cleaner picture and a widescreen transfer that some may not be able to find (the 1998 release is currently OOP). The movie itself is fantastic and sadly underrated in terms of discussion. Even a decade after it was released, Gattaca still is a great film that is current and topical. If you own any previous release, this is well worth upgrading.