At the at of 19, Nicholas Nickleby loses his father. He, his sister Kate and their mother go toLondon to seek the help of a rich uncle, played with villainous gusto by Christopher Plummer.Plummer packs Nicholas off to be teacher at a hellish Yorkshire boarding school, while keepingthe women in London under his thumb. At the school, Nicholas befriends the crippled Smike,and soon begins to stand up against the tyrants. So begin his adventures, during the course ofwhich he gat…eres an extended family of the dispossessed. This is an enormously engaging film.It is true that some of Plummer’s motivations remain obscure, and while Charlie Hunnam asNicholas is very good at being sweet, he is a bit weak in conveying righteous fury. On the otherhand, the supporting cast is tremendous, with particularly fun turns done by Nathan Lane andBarry Humphries (in his Dame Edna Everidge incarnation).
A rich 5.1 mix. The dialogue is crystal-clear and never drowned out by Rachel Portman’sfine, expressive score. The environmental effects are very good. To take but one example, whenthe Nicklebys arrive in London, the overwhelming nature of the experience is wonderfullyconveyed by the swirling crowd noises and the deep bass blast of a factory. The left-rightseparation is strong, as is the careful placement of the sound effects.
The picture comes in both fullscreen and 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen versions. Given howwide the original frame is, it would be a crime to watch the film in fullscreen. The colours areglorious and rich, with lush greens and warm browns and reds. The blacks are deep and strong.The image is very sharp, with fine contrast and no grain. All in all a very nice transfer.
Douglas McGrath, who wrote and directed, not only provides a fine commentary, but is theguiding presence of “Creating a Classic”, a multi-chapter documentary. He is always at pains toexplain not just how something was done, but why. “The Cast on the Cast” is rather lessinteresting, with everybody praising everybody else. There are five multi-angle secenes, and agallery broken down into the cast, the set and the world of Nicholas Nickleby (no labels, though).There are also trailers for Nicholas Nickleby, Die Another Day, The PrincessBride and Evelyn (a rather odd mix). The main’s main page, intro and transitions areanimated and scored.
A strong adaptation, a beautiful transfer, and a decent collection of extras. All this adds up toa very solid release.
Special Features List
- Director’s Commentary
- “Creating a Classic: The Making of Nicholas Nickleby”
- “The Cast on the Cast” Featurette
- “View on the Set” Multi-Angle Feature
- Still Galleries
- Theatrical Trailers