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After more than a decade since its release, GATTACA ($29) remains an intriguing cautionary tale about a future, where only human beings that are optimized by genetic engineering have a real place in society. GATTACA stars Ethan Hawke stars as Vincent, a young man who was conceived by his parents in the old fashioned way. Without genetic enhancements, Vincent finds himself living in a world, where he is at a disadvantage his entire life. As he grows into adulthood, Vincent dreams of going into outer space, but discovers that his genetic make up only qualifies him for a job as a lowly maintenance worker at the Gattaca Aerospace Corporation.

With no other option available, Vincent is forced into an elaborate masquerade where he borrows the identity of a genetic superior who has fallen on hard times. With the aid of German (Tony Shalhoub), Vincent is able to assume the identity of Jerome (Jude Law), whose genetic superiority was no match for the traffic accident that has left him bound to a wheelchair. Borrowing Jeromeís genetic identity, Vincent is able to get an upper echelon job at Gattaca, one that will allow him to travel to the stars. Unfortunately, just days before Vincentís mission is set to launch, a murder takes place at Gattaca and everyone falls under tighter scrutiny than ever before. As the police investigate, it becomes harder and harder for Vincent to continue his elaborate charade.

Ethan Hawke is quite good as Vincent/Jerome; his Hollywood good looks give Hawke credibility as someone pretending to be the genetic ideal. Speaking of genetic ideals, Uma Thurman certainly fills that category. Thurman portrays Irene Cassini, a beautiful young woman employed at Gattaca whom "Jerome" begins having an affair with just as his world starts to crumble. Jude Law delivers an introspective, but resonant performance as the real Jerome, whose genetic superiority hasnít brought him any emotional or personal fulfillment. Gore Vidal makes the most of a small part as "Jeromeís" project supervisor. Alan Arkin never disappoints; his portrayal of the tenacious police investigator is right on the money. The cast of GATTACA also features Xander Berkeley, Jayne Brook, Elias Koteas, Elizabeth Dennehy, Blair Underwood and Ernest Borgnine. Andrew Niccolís screenplay and direction have a strong emotional undercurrent, which contrasts with the filmís cold, sterile vision of the future. As most futurist films do, GATTACA has a stylized look. However, I do want to mention Jan Roelfs impressive production designs that serve to heighten the filmís beautiful, stylized, but ultimately sterile visuals.

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment has made GATTACA available on Blu-ray Disc in a 2.40:1 aspect ratio presentation that has been encoded onto the disc with the AVC codec. This is a truly excellent 1080p rendering, as it maintains a very film-like quality, without ever seeming digitally over-processed. Image sharpness and detail can never be faulted; surface textures are highly defined, as are the lines in Gore Vidalís face. The cinematography is stylized to include a muted color scheme, which goes a long way in defining the antiseptic quality of this future. Despite the subdued hues, flesh tones always appear accurate. Blacks are pure, whites are crisp, plus the contrast and shadow detail are excellent. The elements from which GATTACA have been transferred appear virtually pristine, with blemishes remaining under the radar. A fine sheen of grain is noticeable throughout, which reminds one that they are watching a movie, instead of a video.

GATTACA is presented on Blu-ray Disc with a 5.1 channel Dolby TrueHD soundtrack. Due to the talky nature of the film, GATTACA is far from what anyone would consider a show off track. The forward soundstage is dominant throughout the film, with the rear channels adding mostly fill and occasional active effects. Fidelity is great, the music and sound effects all do what they should, plus the track has a weighty bottom end. Voices are cleanly reproduced and the dialogue maintains complete intelligibility. 5.1 channel Dolby TrueHD soundtracks are also available in French and Portuguese, as is a Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 channel track. Subtitles are available in English, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Thai, Chinese and Korean.

Full motion video, animation and sound serve to enhance the DVD's interactive menus. Through the menus, one has access to the standard scene selection and set up features, as well as a few nice extra features. Original Featurette is a six-minute promo program from the time of the filmís release. Welcome To Gattaca is a newly produced twenty plus minute look back with some of the cast and crew. Do Not Alter? is a nearly fifteen minute piece that examines the science of genetics that is so much part of the filmís story. Nearly eleven minutes of Deleted Scenes are also presented, as is the brief, amusing Substance Test Outtake.

GATTACA is an elegant and thought provoking science fiction film that becomes more and more resonant as science catches up with the fiction. Sonyís Blu-ray release does full justice to the material creating a highly detailed, living, breathing film-like presentation. Recommended.



Gattaca [Blu-ray] (1997)


DVD & Blu-rayDisc reviews are Copyright © 2008 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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