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In the 21st century, genetic engineering makes possible the creation of biologically superior human specimens ("valids"), who then grow to positions of power and prestige. Would-be astronaut Vincent born the old-fashioned way, can only hope for a janitorial position at the elite Gattaca Corporation — until he buys the blood, urine, and identity of a perfect but paralyzed athlete. But a murder in the company's ranks attracts the attention of a detective who threatens to sniff Vincent out.
For more about Gattaca and the Gattaca Blu-ray release, see Gattaca Blu-ray Review published by Ben Williams on July 17, 2008 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.0 out of 5.
Starring: Ethan Hawke, Uma Thurman, Jude Law, Gore Vidal, Alan Arkin, Xander R. Berkeley
Director: Andrew Niccol
» See full cast & crew
Gattaca Blu-ray Review
There is no gene for the human spirit
Reviewed by Ben Williams, July 17, 2008
Over the past decade or so, Writer / Director Andrew Niccol has churned out some of the most thought-provoking films in Hollywood. From the allegorical The Truman Show to the political Lord of War, his films always find the perfect balance of topicality and pure entertainment. Released in 1997, Gattaca was Niccol's first film and firmly established his reputation as a filmmaker unafraid of asking big questions with his films. Gattaca shows us a not-too-distant future society where eugenics has become the prevailing order.
Vincent Freeman (Ethan Hawke) was a mistake. He lives in a society where those born naturally and without the aid of genetic engineering are relegated to a substandard social class while those individuals who have been selectively bio-engineered are considered "valid." Being the child of a natural birth, Vincent's aptitudes are looked over and, instead, he is judged on his pre-disposition to myopia and heart disease - - two conditions nearly eradicated from the population. As an "in-valid," Vincent is forced to work as a manual laborer and has been given a life expectancy of only 30 years. After years of working menial jobs, Vincent decides to take action to achieve his childhood dream of being an astronaut. Enter Jerome (Jude Law) - - a "valid" with a pedigree second to none. Jerome has suffered a spinal injury and is confined to a wheelchair. Vincent will assume his identity in order to infiltrate he ranks of the Gattaca space program and live out his dreams in Space. Once inside Gattaca, Vincent excels and is quickly slated to pilot an important mission. Unfortunately, a murder within the space program will put Vincent's identity in question and threaten his mission to Saturn.
Gattaca is really two movies rolled into one. First, there is the emotional and moving personal story of Vincent's desire to overcome all of the obstacles that have been placed in his path. This particular plot serves to personalize the larger scope of the film and to distill its message into characters that the viewer can identify with. Vincent is an everyman - - a character who exists because of his perceived flaws. Jerome is his polar opposite as a man with everything that Vincent desires with the exception of Vincent's determination. It's a stark study in contrasts to compare the flawed man with the man who is perceived as flawed.
Of course, the real meat of Gattaca lies in its dystopian depiction of the future. There is a sincere and real moral debate in the film and the implications of what this future society has wrought are never shied away from. Gattaca's ideas about eugenics are all the more prescient in today's world where genetic engineering is becoming more and more routine. In reality, who wouldn't, given the option, want to eliminate the possibility of all disease from their children? Who wouldn't want their child to be beautiful, intelligent, successful or strong? Gattaca insists that we never be given the option as the world depicted in the film - - a world of lowered social existence and the creation of a "slave class" - - is the only outcome of such genetic manipulation. Gattaca is thought-provoking and, ultimately, a very touching film. For those worried that it is at all heavy handed, fear not. Gattaca is able to be enjoyed on multiple levels. This is a worthy addition to any collection and is a film I'm thrilled to finally own on Blu-ray.
Gattaca Blu-ray, Video Quality
Sony has given Gattaca their standard 1080p treatment using the AVC/Mpeg-4 compression codec. The film is presented in its original theatrical aspect ratio of 2.40:1, so black bars will be present on the top and bottom of the screen. Gattaca was filmed using a large number of filters and other techniques to give it a very unique, almost sepia-toned look. All of the film's outdoor scenes have a yellowish hue to them, perhaps intending to signify some sort of environmental problem in this future society. Indoor scenes are vivid and brightly colored in most spots. Gattaca is also a very shadowy film. Many scenes seem to exist as the camera weaves in and out of shadows and dark locations.
Over all, Gattaca looks remarkable on Blu-ray. This had to be a very tricky film to encode and the results are often breathtaking. Black levels and shadow detail are spot-on while color is appropriately vivid. Flesh-tones are also well represented and often mimic the tone of the environment they are placed within. There are no compression artifacts present with the exception of a slight amount of edge enhancement. It's a real shame to see this, as it mars an otherwise perfect Blu-ray presentation. Fortunately, it isn't excessive to the point of being distracting. Ultimately, despite its many visual challenges Gattaca on Blu-ray hits almost all of the right notes.
Gattaca Blu-ray, Audio Quality
As is the case with almost all of Sony's latest Blu-ray releases, Gattaca arrives with a stellar 48kHz/16-bit lossless Dolby TrueHD 5.1 track. In addition to the standard English soundtrack, alternate language support is also provided in the form of both French and Portuguese Dolby TrueHD tracks as well as a Spanish Dolby Digital offering. Subtitles are also plentiful with support for English, English SDH, French, Spanish, Chinese, Korean, Thai and Portuguese. Native speakers of Klingon are, once again, out of luck.
Gattaca isn't a terribly involving film from a surround standpoint, but there are a number of pivotal scenes in which surround plays an important part. Take for example the scene where Vincent and Irene (Uma Thurman) have to race across a busy expressway: The surround channels are intensely active during this heart-pounding moment as cars whiz and buzz around the surround field. Aside from this moment, there isn't much more to Gattaca than dialogue and the occasional ambient fill. Of course, the TrueHD track does its job admirably by rendering dialogue as crisp and clear at all times. Gattaca won't impress your friends with explosions and gunfire, but it is otherwise exactly as it should be.
Gattaca Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
This Blu-ray edition of Gattaca comes armed with all of the supplements included in the SD DVD version of the film. While not a fantastic collection, there are a few things here worth checking out.
Here's what's included:
- Welcome to Gattaca (HD) – Created especially for the Blu-ray release of Gattaca, this featurette dives into both the technical side of the production of the film as well as into the deeper ideas behind Andrew Niccol's story.
- Featurette - Unfortunately, this is nothing more than promotional filler.
- Do Not Alter? - Here's a worthwhile little feature! Narrated by Gore Vidal, "Do Not Alter?" covers the ethics and controversy surrounding genetic engineering and serves as a primer for Gattaca, itself.
- Deleted Scenes - Presented in horribly over compressed standard definition, these scenes are pretty hard to watch. However, there are quite a few nice items here and fans of the film will enjoy the content.
- Substance Test Outtake - A throwaway outtake that's not worth your time.
Gattaca Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Gattaca is an entirely original science fiction film that strives to present a frightening vision of the future. Of course, it isn't frightening in a scary-monster sense, but more of a cautionary tale about the pitfalls of genetic engineering and how it could negatively effect society. I've always been a fan of Gattaca and sincerely hope that this excellent Blu-ray release allows more people to see the film. Die hard Blu-ray fans will appreciate the stellar video transfer offered up on this disc, while audio purists will enjoy the film's simple yet effective sound design. All told, Gattaca is a worthy collection to any Blu-ray collection. Recommended!
Gattaca: Other Editions
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• Gattaca Goes Special Edition for Blu-ray Release - January 31, 2008
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Sony Pictures Home Entertainment has announced that they will bring 'Dogma' and 'Gattaca' to Blu-ray on March 11th. Both will be present in 2.40 1080p. 'Dogma' will feature cast and crew commentary, technical commentary, 100 min of deleted scenes (with intros), ...
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