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PRACTICAL MAGIC

When PRACTICAL MAGIC ($25) hit the theaters it met wet a rather lukewarm critical reception that I feel wasn't totally justified. Sure, the movie isn't perfect, but it has just the right blend of star power and good humor to make it a winner in my book. Then again, perhaps it was the film’s two beautiful leading ladies that pulled me into the world of PRACTICAL MAGIC.

As far as I am concerned, there is something magical about both Sandra Bullock and Nicole Kidman that makes the ideal choice to portray two sisters who just happen to be witches. In PRACTICAL MAGIC, Ms. Bullock and Ms. Kidman portray Sally and Gillian Owens, the most recent generation in a family of witches. Along with their magical powers, comes an inherited curse- all the witches in their family are doomed to lose the men that they truly love. While Gillian avoids the curse by never staying with a man long enough to fall in love, Sally's husband becomes the latest victim of the curse. While recovering from her own tragedy, Sally saves Gillian from Jimmy Angelov (Goran Visnjic), Gillian’s obsessed boyfriend who won't even let death keep them apart. Aidan Quinn shows up late in the proceedings as Gary Hallet- the lawman who comes in search of Gillian’s dearly departed lover. Stockard Channing and Dianne Wiest truly shine as Aunt Frances and Aunt Jet, the elder witches who teach Sally and Gillian the family craft. The cast of PRACTICAL MAGIC also includes Evan Rachel Wood, Alexandra Artrip and Mark Feuerstein.

Warner Home Video has done a beautiful job bringing PRACTICAL MAGIC to DVD. The film is offered in a beautiful wide screen edition on one side of the DVD, while supplements are provided to the other. PRACTICAL MAGIC is presented quite close to its original theatrical aspect ratio of 2.35:1, plus the DVD features the anamorphic enhancement for 16:9 wide screen televisions. Director Griffin Dunne makes the most of the film's rectangular canvas, so omitting a full screen version was a wise idea for the folks at Warner. The Letterboxed transfer itself is marvelous; faithfully recreating Andrew Dunn's beautifully lit cinematography. Typical for a Warner DVD, PRACTICAL MAGIC delivers superb image quality that is sharp and richly detailed. Warm, glowing colors are reproduced flawlessly, without even a smattering of chroma noise. Digital compression artifacts were well concealed.

The Dolby Digital 5.1 channel soundtrack had a mix that favored atmosphere over in-your-face bombastics. This quite mix is perfectly suited to the romantic nature of this film. There were a few moments where effects were required and the track was well up to the challenge of delivering them with precise placement. Overall, the track had a very open, natural sound with good dialogue reproduction. The DVD also includes a French language soundtrack, plus English and French subtitles.

The interactive menus have a bit of animation and sound that is in keeping with the whimsical style of the movie. Through the menus one can access the standard scene and language selection features, plus the DVD's supplemental content. An audio commentary featuring Star Sandra Bullock, Director Griffin Dunne, Producer Denise Di Novi and Composer Alan Silvestri is the primary supplement. Those who enjoyed the film will certainly find the commentary worth a listen. Certain other supplements are a little challenging to access because Warner has hidden them behind an interactive game that requires the viewer to enter certain ingredients into the witches' cauldron (in a certain order) to unlock them. Once unlocked, the viewer will have access two behind-the-scenes documentaries titled MAKING MAGIC and CASTING THE SPELL. Production notes, theatrical trailers and TV spots fill out the supplements.

PRACTICAL MAGIC is an entertaining movie that fans of Sandra Bullock and Nicole Kidman are certain to enjoy. Once again, Warner Home Video has worked their own brand of magic, creating a great little DVD. Recommended.

 
PRACTICAL MAGIC 



ENHANCED FOR 16:9 TELEVISIONS 

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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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