Jared Leto plays Basil, youngest son of the tyrannical Derek Jacobi. Traumatized by the death of his mother when he was young, the exile of his brother (who dallied with a young woman beneath his station), and oppressed by a father for whom class consciousness is the be-all and end-all, Basil is barely equipped to deal with the outside world. He has no friends, and only the most naive notions of romance. Into his life comes Christian Slater, whose worldly ways inspire Leto, and …ho offers friendship, but in fact has deeply destructive motives. The movie s good fun in the vein of semi-gothic Victorian melodrama. Hearing Leto and Slater sporting British accents takes some getting used to (especially when it comes to Slater), and budgetary limitations show in dreadfully cheesy lightning effects and endlessly repeated establishing shots of Windermere mansion. But if you’re a faithful viewer of Masterpiece Theater, you’ll find much to enjoy here.
A workmanlike 5.1 mix. The dialogue is sharp and clear and suffers no distortion, nor is it overwhelmed by the music, which dominates the soundtrack. This is especially true of the surround aspect. Sound effects withdraw almost entirely into the background. There are plenty of missed opportunities (why on earth doesn’t the thunder crash from front and rear speakers,for instance). When the effects do make their presence known, they are so low key as to be almost imperceptible. There are some nice moments of left-right separation, however.
A disappointing fullscreen transfer, made all the more frustrating by the fact that the trailer is presented widescreen. Fortunately, the compositions aren’t hurt as badly as they might be(there are other films that fare much worse in the cropping process). The colours are strong andwarm (with particularly striking reds). The blacks are deep and solid, and aren’t plagued by edge enhancement haloes. But really, is widescreen really too much to ask?
Nothing on offer here except the trailer, which makes you wonder why they even bothered to score the menu.
Though this is yet another DVD that is barely distinguishable from VHS, the film is worthwhile (unless you’ve already seen it on VHS).