Region 2 (UK) Edition
Charlize Theron, Christina Ricci, Bruce Dern, Lee Tergesen
CAUTION: This review contains minor spoilers!
Patty Jenkins' acclaimed biographical film
about notorious American female serial killer Aileen Wuornos showcases a
remarkable performance by Charlize Theron, who was rewarded with a Golden
Globe and Academy Award for her performance.
Metrodome's UK disc offers a 1.85:1
presentation of the film, with anamorphic enhancement. The film is rather
grainy, especially in the darker scenes, where there often hints that the
filmmakers were pushing their luck with the film stock. Brightly-lit
scenes are nicely represented. It's a clean and very satisfying transfer,
however, and there are absolutely no hints of artificial edge-enhancement.
Black levels are solid, there's good shadow detail, and the colour balance
seems fine. This is a rock-solid presentation.
The 104m film has a very high average
bitrate of 9.41Mb/sec (of which 8.0Mb/sec is the video component). This
allows for accurate representation of the film (grain and all), and for
about as much detail as the format is capable of.
There are English HoH subtitles for the
film, but not the commentary or the bonus materials. There are no
on-screen captions during the film.
The disc offers a choice of Dolby Digital
2.0 (256kbps), Dolby Digital 5.1 (448kbps) and DTS (754kbps) audio tracks.
The mix isn't especially elaborate, but is generally appealing. Score
composer BT, in an interview on the second disc, reveals that the music
was especially composed with a 5.1 mix in mind, aiming to create a hazy,
dream-like ambience. The music drifts around the soundstage, pushing sound
from all your speakers. There's little to pick between the DTS and Dolby
Digital 5.1 mixes, but comparing the two indicates that the DTS track
offers better placement, and marginally-improved fidelity.
THE BONUS MATERIAL
The film is accompanied by a good
commentary track, with director Patty Jenkins, producer Clark Petersen and
star Charlize Theron. The track offers some background detail, including
some useful information about Wuornos that's not apparent from simply
watching the film, (revealing, for example that Aileen's first victim,
played by Oz's Lee Tergesen, was a convicted rapist). The track
will certainly enhance your appreciation of the movie. This track is not
on the US disc, but it's not being promoted as a UK exclusive.
Aside from the commentary, all the bonus
material is presented on the second (dual-layer) disc. The US version
crams all its bonus material onto the same disc as the movie.
Monster: The Vision and Journey
(26m) - An excellent, bullshit-free summary of the filmmakers' approach to
filming Aileen's story, explained primarily by Jenkins. Highlights include
a visit to some of the locations Aileen frequented; a good look at how
Theron's startling physical transformation was achieved in the make-up
chair; and a good chunk devoted to both the lead actresses and their
working methods (the profile of Ricci, particularly, is concise and very
revealing). There's also a very interesting section which shows several
takes of one pivotal scene, in which Theron offers subtly different
interpretations of the dialogue.
The Making of a Monster (22m) - This
featurette explains the somewhat tempestuous relationship that Aileen had
with the filmmakers (Monster's director Jenkins, and documentary
filmmaker Nick Broomfield, whose second documentary about Wuornos,
Aileen: Life and Death of a Serial Killer, is excerpted here). It also
explains why Jenkins glamourised the depiction of Aileen's lover (who, in
reality, somewhat resembled Wuornos herself). Broomfield has some nice
things to say about the film, and notes how Monster was able to give a
more rounded portrait of Aileen, because, despite his best efforts, none
of the real-life participants in Wuornos' story are co-operative. Jenkins
also admits that the film only got made, distributed, and gained an
audience, because it was a lesbian serial killer story, starring two hot
Hollywood actresses playing "hot lesbians", and because one of them was "uglified".
This is another outstanding featurette, and it's exclusive to the UK DVD!
Deleted & Extended Scenes (17m) -
offers five segments, with slightly-compromised image quality.
Dream Sequence - Aileen fantasises
about an idyllic life with Selby, before being rudely brought back to
Earth by Selby's guardian.
Welcome To My World - An much longer
alternate version of Aileen's confession to Selby
Newsflash - A very short scene in
which Aileen sees a TV news report about the police finding one of her
Job Interview: Out Takes - amusing,
free-wheeling dialogue for one of the job interview. "I worked with
Bus Station: Full Performance - more
of the emotionally-charged farewell scene.
Film Making Demo - a presentation of
the Ferris Wheel sequence, where you can choose one of seven different
audio combinations, dialogue and effects, dialogue and music, effects
only, music only, effects and music, and the full mix). Not terribly
interactive, or enlightening. The US version offers a full DTS
presentation, but the UK version has to make do with a Dolby Digital 2.0
Trailers - A Theatrical Trailer
(2m), two US Trailers (2m each), a trailer for Aileen: Life and
Death of a Serial Killer (which manages to mis-spell Wuornos'
surname!), and unrelated promotional trailers for Donnie Darko - The
Director's Cut, Vodka Lemon and documentaries The
Corporation, Bus 174, and The Last Victory.
Interview With Patty and BT (15m) -
The on-screen title is Monster - Evolution of the Score, which is a
better title, since the menu title is simplistic. This is a featurette
that features interviews with Jenkins and composer BT (who wrote the music
for The Fast and the Furious). They discuss the development of the
score, how it complements the story, and how certain beats in the film
acted as pivots in the music. This featurette is on the US disc, too, but,
because it was sponsored by DTS, is presented in DTS 5.1 on the US disc.
Here it's presented in 2.0 Dolby Digital. (Fans of the score should
investigate the US Music From & Inspired by the Film Monster DVD /
CD edition - more details
Cast Filmographies - Film credits
for Theron and Ricci, ripped straight from the IMDb.
The US disc contains a fifteen-minute
featurette that does not seem to be the same as either of the featurettes
on the UK version. It may be a cut-down version of the Vision and
Metrodome's UK DVD features a remarkably
good transfer, slightly hampered by the film's micro-budget (it was shot
in less than a month), and some envelope-pushing cinematography. It's
unlikely that the film will ever look better, in standard definition
format. Metrodome have wisely pushed all the bonus materials to the second
disc (apart from the commentary track, which accompanies the film, for
obvious reasons!) This has helped the video presentation of the movie, and
allowed for a good selection of quality bonus material, some of which is
not available on the (single-disc) US edition.