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Warner Home Video presents
"One man I can never meet. Him, I would like to give my whole heart to."
DVD ReviewThe recent craze that finds Hollywood Americanizing foreign films isn't limited to the horror genre, where it seems most prolific. Any and all types of stories are fair game, and the studios are jumping on the remake bandwagon more than ever. The latest to go under the knife is a 2000 South Korean entry titled Il Mare, utilizing the basic remake formula of two superstar actors, borrowing many of the original's themes, and giving it an English title.
Dr. Kate Forster (Sandra Bullock) is just beginning her career as a doctor in Chicago, and Alex Wyler (Keanu Reeves) is an architect who's struggling with his social and family life. Both of these lonely individuals live in the same glass house on a lake, but they don't live together. Alex is living there in the year 2004, while Kate has just moved in in 2006, yet they are able to communicate with each other, thanks to a series of letters they exchange via their mailbox. This magical time-shift device brings the pair closer and closer, although they couldn't be any further apart then they are.
Marketed as a romantic fluff piece, The Lake House is actually much more. This challenging love story benefits from excellent performances across the board, including the support of Christopher Plummer, Shohreh Aghdashloo,, and Nip/Tuck's Dylan Walsh. Thrown into the fire that is the summer movie season, this whimsical fantasy didn't stand much of a chance against the big money blockbusters, but it's now in its rightful place on DVD, where a huge audience awaits. The key to enjoying this fantasy is to leave common sense at the door, and refrain from questioning the device. Still, there are some issues that simply have to be discussed during the end credits, but any film that prompts such talk is usually worth your time.
The first half-hour or so makes for rather confusing sledding; it leads to some head-scratching and impedes becoming engrossed in the story. When the major turning point occurs the writers grabs us, instantly making us care about these two people and their strange relationship (it helps that the "magical mailbox" disappears for a while). Unfortunately, the roller coaster ride continues and it turns out that the end twist can be anticipated a mile away. I'd venture to say that most viewers will catch on, as director Alejandro Agresti tips his hand way too early. It's a true shame that despite such an engaging journey, Agresti just couldn't resist the sappy Hollywood ending. If he had just faded to black about two minutes earlier, The Lake House might have catapulted to a higher plateau.
As it is, the plot frustrates to the point that you might find yourself screaming at the screen "Why can't they just agree to meet at the lake house in the present day?" Well, rest assured there is a reason things aren't that easy, but divulging any further plot points would be spoiling too much. Again, the writers' ideas are strong, and (aside from the remake thing) original, with Bullock and Reeves performances fitting their personas nicely. Reunited on screen for the first time since Speed, these two have a wonderful chemistry that gels more than ever here. I just can't get past the cop out of the final moments, especially give the refreshing and challenging aspects of the preceding 90 minutes.
Rating for Style: B+
Rating for Substance: B-
Image Transfer Review: This 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen presentation is exactly what is expected from a recent feature film. There are crisper transfers out there, but this one doesn't disappoint, especially in regard to color. The bright hues and gorgeous wooded lakefront location is represented well, and dirt and grain is kept to a minimum. Blacks and shadow levels are excellent with detailed images throughout.
Image Transfer Grade: A-
Audio Transfer Review: The Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack is also just right from this fantastical romance. The surrounds are used sparingly for the score and a few ambient effects, and everything is blended nicely together. There's very little bass and the dialogue is always crisp and easy to understand.
Audio Transfer Grade: A-
Disc ExtrasStatic menu with music
Scene Access with 21 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, French, Spanish with remote access
1 Original Trailer(s)
2 Other Trailer(s) featuring We Are Marshall, Take the Lead
5 Deleted Scenes
Packaging: Keep Case
Extras Review: The only extras are the theatrical trailer and five additional scenes and outtakes. These run just under four minutes and while they don't add much to the overall story, the outtakes are rather funny.
Extras Grade: C-
Final CommentsThe Lake House is a far from perfect remake of a South Korean film, but it does have its moments. Sandra Bullock and Keanu Reeves fans will be in heaven watching their celluloid reunion, but this is a difficult story to invest in, albeit an entertaining one. Warner Home Video's disc features excellent audio and video, but the only extras are the film's trailer and a handful of deleted scenes.
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