The Movie: 7/10
The beauty of cinema is that breath you take when a you are transformed into a place, a time, among people that is not where you are, when you are, or who you are. It doesn’t take a brilliant movie, or an original story, or even a particularly memorable movie. All it takes would be a few scenes, camera shots, lines of dialog, captivating sets, and then there is that intangible magic that swirls around the movie watching brain and lulls you (me) into submission.
Stoker isn’t brilliant, or original, or particularly memorable. The sets are beautiful and captivating, some of the dialog is interesting, the style of the whole movie is inviting to me, and then it has glimmers of movie magic. It’s not every moment, I won’t lie, it’s not very often at all. The thing about movie magic is that it sneaks up on you and while I might have been a little bored with certain elements of Stoker, but between the cast, the direction, and the intangibles, I found a lot of little gem moments.
A creepy family built on creepiness in a creepy house in a creepy place, not exactly a new way to tell a tale of horror and mystery. I won’t give it credit for that. A tormented young lady with a beloved dead parent and a f’ed up other parent, again, not new. It’s the little tiny looks, gestures, delivery of SOME dialog, certain long shots that linger enough to make the moment meaningful rather than fleeting. Some unexpected reactions and choices by the characters were at the heart of enjoying this movie for me.
I was entertained and I did care and I did want to see it through. In spite of it’s flaws, Stoker touched me with a bit of cinematic magic. The key to the positive vibe is Mia Wasikowska. Did I say “positive” vibe? There is none of that in this story, not at all. What I mean is the positive reaction I had to this movie was about 90% due to her performance. The subtle looks to the big, almost Hitchcockian (did you know Hitchcockian is a word, according to spell checker!! Wow) gestures she puts out there in certain scenes opened my eyes wider and made me more interested in her.
Nicole Kidman does a good job, some really fine moments of calm troubled woman breaking down in her delivery of lines. While Matthew Goode, I reluctantly reveal, didn’t do much for me. He might have watched too many Hitchcock movies, and other 50’s thrillers. He was a bit stiff, even though I know that’s the point of his character, it doesn’t fit sometimes. He has classic psychotic moments that were good, the rest was kind of flat for me.
Overall Stoker fits into a certain hole in the movie watcher’s mind. It’s not a great film, not a classic, not a must see experience. All this still doesn’t mean it’s not a well invested couple of hours of entertainment. I think I like it more now that I’m thinking about it, more than when I was watching it…hmmmm not sure what that means.
- Deleted Scenes – Three deleted scenes that don’t really add much to the experience.
- A Filmmakers Journey – A superb 30 minute featurette that takes you through the filmmaking process. If you ever wanted to see Director Park at work this has you covered.
- Behind The Scenes Featurettes – A bunch of short featurettes, the one I liked the most was the making of the poster. I only wished they used the actual poster as the cover art for the Blu-Ray.
- Red Carpet Premiere – 15 minutes of interviews from the Red Carpet Premiere.
- Becomes The Color Performance By Emily Wells
- Image Galleries
- UV Digital Copy
Cover Art and Menus: 5/10
I am neutral on the cover, blah. I certainly wouldn’t have it as a poster. The menu is more interesting. It’s like a drawing that happens as the menu loads. I love drawing, so there ya go.
Audio & Video: 9/10
Stoker bucks the normal trend by shooting on film instead of digital. This is a welcome change as the 1080P AVC 35mm transfer is amazing to behold. Director Park’s movies have always been visual showcases and Stoker is no exception. If you are into surreal and strangely lit and colored shots this is your movie. The actual Blu-Ray transfer also excels with crystal clear detail and not a hint of DNR or smearing. I would go as far to say as this is one of the best looking Blu-Ray’s for the first half of 2013 which is high praise for such a low budget affair.
Sound design on this movie is simply sublime which is set up at the start of the film with the line “My ears hear things that others cannot hear” So the rest of the movie is full of sound details that we hear in crystal clear detail. From the sound of Eggshells to a metronone everything here is crisp positional and elegant to listen to. The dialog is always central and never muffled. Stoker is a treat for your eyes and ears.
Try as I might I can’t recommend buying the blu-ray. What I would say is rent it, enjoy it for what it is, watch the extras, and spend the rest of your cash on some truly terrifying psychological thrillers. Psycho comes to mind, and The Girl Down the Street.
Overall Score 7/10