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EVER AFTER ($35) subtitled A Cinderella Story takes the beloved fairy tale back to its supposed "real life" roots. Gone are the trappings of Fairy Godmothers and pumpkins that magically turn in to carriages. Instead, EVER AFTER tells the tale of a beautiful and intelligent girl, who is repressed by her petty, self-serving stepmother. However, like the fairy tale, the heroine does encounter a prince. And, with the help of the greatest minds of the renaissance, the young woman and her prince are brought together at a ball.

EVER AFTER stars Drew Barrymore as Danielle. After the untimely death of her father, Danielle is made to work as a servant in her own home by her stepmother. Barrymore gives an engaging performance, bringing sweetness and a great deal of strength to the role. With EVER AFTER, Drew Barrymore proves that she has indeed inherited the genes of her legendary acting family. Anjelica Huston is decidedly delicious as Baroness Rodmilla de Ghent; Danielle's wicked stepmother, who squanders away the family fortune on herself and her two daughters. Huston turns what could have been a cliched character into a living, breathing (and often amusing) witch. Dougray Scott portrays Prince Henry, a rebellious young man who has been ordered by his father to marry a Spanish Princess to pave the way for a treaty between France and Spain. Henry balks at the notion, causing his father to relent somewhat. The king gives Henry five days to choose his own bride, or the arranged marriage will proceed as planned.

Of course, Henry's path crosses that of Danielle and the two are instantaneously drawn together. While the romance between Danielle and Henry occurs unseen by the outside world, the Baroness set in motion a plot that will allow her eldest daughter to marry the prince. In addition to the marvelous leading performances, EVER AFTER also features the fine supporting work of Patrick Godfrey, Megan Dodds, Melanie Lynskey, Timothy West, Judy Parfitt and Richard O'Brien. The screenplay by Susannah Grant, Andy Tennant and Rick Parks features well drawn character that makes it easy for the actors to give memorable performances. Additionally, the screenplay is funny and romantic, without becoming mired in sentimentality. Director Andy Tennant stages the film more in the style of an old time swashbuckler rather than a romance, which gives EVER AFTER a rather lively pace.

20th Century Fox Home Entertainment's DVD edition of EVER AFTER looks utterly spectacular, yet the lack of the 16:9 wide screen enhancement keeps this presentation from achieving perfection. EVER AFTER is framed at a nearly perfect 2.35:1, with Andrew Dunn's opulent cinematography being well served by the marvelous transfer. The Letterboxed image is extremely well defined, with even the shadows offering surprising detail. Contrast is very good and the film's lush color scheme reproduces without chroma noise or any other type of distortion. Digital compression artifacts were well concealed by the use of dual layer technology and impressive DVD authoring. Layer switching created only a brief pause, which wasn't overly distracting.

The Dolby Digital 5.1 channel soundtrack is more atmospheric than overtly directional, which serves the material well. The front soundstage has an open quality, while dialogue reproduces with a fairly natural sound. Additionally, the surround channels are deployed to create the film’s acoustic environments, while never drawing attention to themselves. English and French Dolby Surround soundtracks have also been encoded into the DVD, as have English and Spanish subtitles.

The interactive menus contain a bit of animation and music. Through the menus one can access the standard scene and language selection features, as well as a theatrical trailer.




DVD reviews are Copyright 1999 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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