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For Sarah, moving to Los Angeles is just another chance to be an outsider. She is all alone among the tightly-knit student body of St. Benedict's Academy... until she meets three young women who also have found themselves banished to the outermost reaches of high school's inevitable pecking order. Nancy, Bonnie and Rochelle will never fit in with the "in" crowd. They barely fit in with each other. But together with Sarah, their outer and inner lives are about to change in ways they never suspected. They are about to learn that being an outsider has its own kind of power. They are about to learn "The Craft."
For more about The Craft and the The Craft Blu-ray release, see the The Craft Blu-ray Review published by Martin Liebman on October 9, 2009 where this Blu-ray release scored 3.5 out of 5.
Starring: Robin Tunney, Fairuza Balk, Neve Campbell, Rachel True, Skeet Ulrich, Christine Taylor
Director: Andrew Fleming
» See full cast & crew
The Craft Blu-ray Review
Sony works its magic on another nicely-produced catalogue title.
Reviewed by Martin Liebman, October 9, 2009
When you open a floodgate how do you undo it?
Billed, apparently, as "Carrie meets Clueless," The Craft is really something different. It's related to those films in only that it features teenage girls with a bit of angst and attitude, but The Craft's characters aren't deeply emotionally scarred with overbearing mothers and a knack for setting the gym on fire (Carrie) or ditzy fashionistas with brains running on empty (Clueless). The Craft is something else, a story that examines the perils and pitfalls of witchcraft on a superficial level, but on a deeper plane, the film looks at what the world might be if everyone had the power to shape it in their favor. The Craft isn't great at what it does, nor is it particularly memorable, but it's not a terrible movie, either. A fun ride with a few halfway surprising twists and turns but ultimately a somewhat stale picture that manages to squander a bit of its potential to take a more serious look at the issues it raises, The Craft makes for one of those movies that's easy to watch and not too hard to forget.
Sarah (Robin Tunney) moves with her family from San Francisco to Los Angeles. She enrolls in St. Benedict's Academy where she soon catches the attention of Bonnie (Neve Campbell) when displaying a subtle but powerful sense of magic by making her pencil stand atop her desk by its tip. Bonnie informs her two closest friends and fellow witches -- Nancy (Fairuza Balk) and Rochelle (Rachel True) -- that Sarah just might be the fourth member they've been looking for. After a shaky first meeting, Sarah falls in with the group and soon learns to embrace her natural power as a witch, powers that seem to exceed those of the other girls. With their collective ability heightened thanks to Sarah's presence, they begin calling upon their powers to have fun with a few harmless spells, solve problems, and humiliate those that have humiliated them. With the exponential increase in power, however, comes a schism that threatens to tear the group apart forever.
The Craft seems to accomplish most everything it sets out to do; clearly this wasn't meant to be an Oscar contender, but as a mostly fun and generally entertaining picture that requires little thought and only an open mind into the world of make-believe, Director Andrew Fleming's (Nancy Drew) film is a moderate success. It delivers as-promised, complete with some nifty special effects, a handful of spells that are a mixture of the outrageous and the deadly serious, and the obligatory witch-on-witch finale that represents the film's take on the classic good versus evil (or, in this case, earth vs. fire) motif. The script, like the spells, is equal parts playful and potent. The picture's first half takes a lighter tone; though it delves into deep and dark subject matters, The Craft puts on a show that sees the girls engaging in seemingly harmless supernatural activities: levitating one of their own, changing hair and eye color on a whim, or making a boy fall in love with one of them. From these generally light motifs comes The Craft's main conflict, a look at the pitfalls of unchallenged power and the effect of a perceived supremacy on the weaker-minded. Of course, the film doesn't delve into such deeper themes past a terribly superficial level, but that's all right; The Craft is what it is, an easy, fun, and generally mindless picture that's sufficiently different from most other movies out there and a welcome break from the excess of repetitive rubbish that finds its way onto the big and small screens on a regular basis.
Though its story is somewhat cut-and-dry, the film's high school setting and quartet of lead characters injects a good bit of life into what is something of an old-style tale. A nice reprieve from the usual sorts of witches portrayed in film (think The Wizard of Oz or Sleeping Beauty), The Craft instead portrays its witches as beautiful teenage girls who struggle through the minefield that is life as a high school student: rejection, hurtful teasing, and the stigma of physical imperfections. These issues not only make them more real, but somewhat sympathetic, even despite the fact that they dabble in and eventually take too far the powers of witchcraft, exact revenge on their fellow students, and promote general fear and chaos into the lives of those that challenge their newfound supremacy. Each girl -- Robin Tunney, Fairuza Balk, Neve Campbell, and Rachel True -- delivers a fine performance; though there's nothing about their efforts that make theirs memorable characters, they inject charm and a fair amount of emotion into the proceedings which adds a heightened spirit, sense of purpose, and realism to the film.
The Craft Blu-ray, Video Quality
The Craft conjures up a wonderful 1080p, 1.85:1-framed transfer for its Blu-ray debut. Colors are natural and nicely rendered; Nancy's black leather jacket, the bright red lockers that line the hallways of St. Benedict's Academy, and green foliage in an outdoor scene in chapter six all contribute to the transfer's stable and solid color palette that adds a nice level of vibrancy to the image. Colors are still perhaps just the slightest but muted in some scenes, but look wonderful nevertheless. Fine detail is above-average but not exemplary; viewers will see freckles on Sarah's face, textures on tree trunks, and fine lines in clothing. The image retains a layer of grain that lends to it a fine film-like appearance and allows it to retain more detail, texture, and depth. Flesh tones are spot-on, and black levels are good. Some interior scenes look a bit hazy, and several backgrounds aren't quite as sharp as others, but such are minor complaints in what is otherwise yet another visually pleasing and natural catalogue release from Sony.
The Craft Blu-ray, Audio Quality
The Craft casts a spell over its listeners with a quality DTS-HD MA 5.1 lossless soundtrack. The brief witchcraft scene prior to the opening title sequence delivers a nice sense of atmosphere as wind blows, thunder claps, and girls chant; it's followed by a steady and strong presentation of a rock song that delivers a satisfying, room-filling listen. These scenes set the tone for the remainder of the film where the surround speakers are nicely engaged throughout. Student chatter as heard during Sarah's initial arrival on campus fills the soundstage nicely and does a good job of placing the listeners in the midst of the hallowed halls. A thunderstorm in chapter five delivers a full experience that takes advantage of the entire soundstage, placing booms of thunder and steady rain all around the listening area. The track also features a wonderful collection of more subtle ambient effects, particularly during several outdoor scenes that are almost good enough to fool the listener into feeling a part of the environment. An explosion -- of sorts -- rocks the listening area in chapter 13 with a prodigious wave of bass; while the low end isn't a consistent companion throughout the film, it's used to good effect when called upon. Also delivering problem-free dialogue reproduction, The Craft's lossless soundtrack is every bit the match for the high quality video presentation.
The Craft Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
The Craft digs into the cauldron for several bonus features. First is a feature-length commentary track with Co-Writer/Director Andrew Fleming. He discusses the establishment of the film's tone, shooting locations, how the wardrobe and set design help establish themes, the creation of the special effects within the film's limited budget, the performances, and more. Though it's something of a reserved track that lacks energy, Fleming delivers a good track that's worth a listen. Conjuring 'The Craft' (480p, 24:35) looks at the implementation of witchcraft into the film, how each girl represents one of the four elements (earth, fire, air, and water), casting the roles and the strength each actress brought to the picture, the film's look, creating the special effects, and more. As usual, the piece features plenty of cast and crew interview clips and behind-the-scenes images. The Original Behind the Scenes of 'The Craft' (480p, 5:59) is a more generic, less-focused piece that plays as little more than an extended advertisement for the film. Also included is a collection of three deleted scenes (480p, 6:37) with optional Director commentary, BD-Live functionality, and 1080p trailers for Close Encounters of the Third Kind, The Da Vinci Code, Ghostbusters, and Men in Black.
The Craft Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Altogether, The Craft is nothing special, but it's far from a bad movie. Fun, energetic, somewhat different, and only moderately predictable, The Craft does more right than wrong, and its greatest assets -- the cast, the breezy yet not altogether meaningless script, decent special effects, and good pacing -- make the movie a worthwhile watch. Sony's Blu-ray release of The Craft is another superb outing from the studio that's solidifying itself as the best in the business when it comes to quality Blu-ray catalogue releases. Featuring both video and audio presentations that score as well above-average and a fair collection of extras, The Craft earns a recommendation.
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