When comic book movies started becoming popular in the 90’s with Batman, The Punisher, Dick Tracy and the like, directors weren’t really sure how to handle the subject. The most popular methods involved making the film look like a comic, to help to tie the narratives together. Unfortunately, audiences soon discovered that the result of this mash-up of styles was a heavy-handed, overblown color explosion that just looked hokey (Batman Forever, anyone?) Finally, in recent years, it has been …iscovered that the best way to tell these stories is to make them look just like normal films. If you focus on the story first and foremost, and real emotions, the supernatural aspects will be readily accepted by the viewer. As a result, audiences have now been treated to such fine films as Spiderman, Hellboy and X-Men.
Now that movies based on old TV shows have come into popularity, it seems this is a lesson that has to be learned all over again. The Mod Squad, Starsky and Hutch and The Dukes of Hazard have all been miserable failures, with the first Charlie’s Angels being the only possible exception to this trend. All of these films tried way too hard to cram in all of the elements from the original TV show, instead of focusing on creating an excellent story first and foremost. Sure, it is pop candy to hear that clever narrator trick in Dukes, or the “fade to commercial” music cue in Angels, but the cleverness easily wears off over two hours, and in the end, it is a strong story that matters the most to the film.
I had hopes that Bewitched would buck this trend with Nora Ephron at the helm, and it has somewhat, but the thin thread that was holding this film together fell apart during the all-important third act. I really wanted to like this film, and I did enjoy it, but it was by no means up to Ephron’s usually high standards. She has branched out from her usual formula that has been proven in such films as Sleepless in Seattle and You’ve Got Mail, but this piece still has a lot of that same feel to it. I love those films, but there is such a thing as too much of a good thing.
Fearing that audiences may tire of Meg Ryan doing that same happy, cute loveable character, Ephron hired the always beautiful Nicole Kidman this time around, and had her play the happy, cute loveable role. I was amazed at how much Kidman reminded me of Ryan in this film. In some scenes, their mannerisms were almost identical. Now, I am a big Kidman fan, so I was really pleased with her performance here. There will undoubtedly be some, however, that are unimpressed with her masterful display of mimicry.
This film has a clean audio track, and it is split up quite nicely around the room, but it is not necessarily all that powerful. It’s loud enough, but it seems to be missing some punch from the low end during the scenes where music is featured. The track is clean and well mastered, it’s just that it lacks a certain “wow” quality.
The transfer on this disc is simply spotless. Slight color problems do show up from time to time, but it is certainly nothing too dramatic. There are no problems with grain or other blemishes in this film, however, so that is always fantastic news. The only other real concern I have is with the quality of the digital effects, of all things. I was really disappointed with how poorly many of the digital effects came across. Often times, it was quite obvious when a gag had been manipulated digitally, as the edges of the object picked up a certain glossy sheen or a slight color variation. This is something that I would not have even noticed ten years ago, but it is downright distracting by today’s standards.
The main problem that I spotted with the special features on this disc is the act that Sony didn’t promote them as well as they could have on th back of the box. For once, the phrase “and more” really does mean “and more”. For instance, there aren’t just trailers on this disc… there are twelve trailers here. Of those twelve, seven are presented with a full-on Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack. To me, that’s just a fantastic little touch that is all-too-rare on discs these days. Also here is a feature length commentary with Ephron that is mildly informative, with no long drawn-out stretches of silence.
Carrying on with the quality is a section of six deleted scenes that are presented in their raw unmastered format. As with all deleted scenes, some are better than others, but it looks like most of these scenes were cut for time concerns more than anything. Similarly, there are no fewer than three featurettes here, all of which are clearly just preexisting Electronic Press Kits, yet they seem to be better than most of these prepackaged glorified advertisements.
My favorite extra here is something that is thankfully starting to show up more and more on new DVD releases. The Witch Vision Trivia Track can best be described as “Pop Up Bewitched”. This is a really entertaining feature that allows random facts about the film to show up on the screen from time to time. Granted, most of the facts are nonsense and useless, but sometimes those are the most fascinating facts of all.
Finally, there is a pretty silly little trivia game included here that really amounts to the biggest filler piece of the disc. As a sum, however, this is a really great collection of extras for a single-disc release.
This is not a great film, but I really enjoyed it. I guess that makes it a guilty pleasure. Kidman is wonderfully charming, Ferrell is… well… Ferrell at his best, and the film is just fun. I was really surprised that more extras weren’t listed on the back of the box, as there are a surprisingly large number of them here. If you know that you like this film, this is a great disc that will not disappoint. For the casually curious, however, you might want to play it safe and rent it before making a purchase.
Special Features List
- Memoirs of a Geisha Trailer (Dolby Digital 5.1)
- The Legend of Zorro Trailer (Dolby Digital 5.1)
- Fun With Dick and Jane Trailer (Dolby Digital 5.1)
- The DaVinci Code (Dolby Digital 5.1)
- Rent Trailer (Dolby Digital 5.1)
- Open Season Trailer (Dolby Digital 5.1)
- Zathura Trailer (Dolby Digital 5.1)
- Commentary with Director Norah Ephron
- Witch Vision Trivia Track
- 6 Deleted Scenes
- 3 Featurettes
- Trivia Game