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With its deeper philosophical and metaphysical undercurrents, THE FOUNTAIN ($28) is a far cry from your typical Hollywood cookie cutter/assembly line science fiction movies. Sure, THE FOUNTAIN will not be to every taste, but it is a thinking man/woman’s science fiction film- you know, the kind that brain dead teen moviegoers shun en mass. Like his previous films, filmmaker Darren Aronofsky’s THE FOUNTAIN asks more of its audience than to sit quietly in their chairs and munch popcorn, while the flashy imagery and paper-thin story plays out. Undoubtedly, THE FOUNTAIN will leave its audience pondering the meanings of love, life and death, not to mention, the film itself, with a story that slips back and forth through three distinctive time periods.

The plot of THE FOUNTAIN is hard to describe in any cohesive way without giving away too much of its meaning. Personally, I think an audience will get the most from THE FOUNTAIN by knowing as little about the movie as possible; therefore, my comments will be brief. Hugh Jackman appears in three different roles in THE FOUNTAIN and delivers a performance of an emotional depth not demonstrated in his more commercial films. In one section of the film, Jackman appears as a Spanish Conquistador searching for the Tree of Life at the behest of Queen Isabel (Rachel Weisz), while the country is in the throws of the Inquisition. In another section of the films, Jackman is research scientist searching desperately for a cure for the brain cancer that is rapidly killing his wife Izzi (Weisz again). Finally, Jackman appears as a space traveler racing towards a dying star, which he believes will regenerate the Tree of Life, which is also reaching the end of its existence. The cast of THE FOUNTAIN also features Ellen Burstyn, Mark Margolis, Stephen McHattie, Fernando Hernandez, Cliff Curtis, Sean Patrick Thomas, Donna Murphy and Ethan Suplee.

Warner Home Video has made THE FOUNTAIN available on DVD in a 1.78:1 wide screen presentation that features the anamorphic enhancement for 16:9 displays. This is a super looking transfer that is certain to please. THE FOUNTAIN was originally envisioned as a much larger and grander production, but the reduced scale of the final production does not impact the visuals in any noticeable way. Image sharpness and detail are very good, with some shot appearing slightly soft, which seems intentional. Colors are strongly rendered and flesh tones are generally appealing. Blacks are deep, whites are clean and the contrast is usually smooth, except during a few moments of intentional harshness. There is some grain and occasional artifacts, neither of which is bothersome.

THE FOUNTAIN comes with a good quality Dolby Digital 5.1 channel soundtrack. Due to the talky nature of the material, the sound design tends to be subdued. However, there are some moments where the soundtrack effectively comes to life. For the most part, the outlying channels are utilized for ambient sound and musical fill. Fidelity is great, whether the track is reproducing music or sound effects. The bass channel kicks in from time to time, but only when the material warrants. Voices are natural sounding and the dialogue is easy to understand. A French 5.1 channel track is also encoded onto the DVD, as are English, French and Spanish subtitles.

Music underscores the basic interactive menus, which allow one access to the standard scene selection and set up features, as well as an excellent array of supplemental materials. Inside The Fountain: Death And Rebirth is a sixty-four minute program that covers the film’s production in extensive detail, including its aborted initial production with a larger budget and different cast. A Theatrical Trailer is also provided.

With its sense of deeper meaning, THE FOUNTAIN isn’t typical Hollywood sci-fi fare. As expected, Warner’s DVD looks and sounds first rate. Recommended to an audience of the proper mindset.



The Fountain (Widescreen Edition) (2006)



DVD reviews are Copyright © 2007 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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