A modern sci-fi classic comes home to high-def in a gorgeous new transfer.
It’s funny how age and a little maturity can change your perception of a movie. I remember seeing Gattaca during college back in 1997 and, although I liked it well enough, it didn't leave a particularly lasting impression on me. When the prospect of re-visiting it on the Blu-Ray format came up recently, the one thing that did stick in my head was the exceptional visuals from the film, and thus a fitting chance to give my recent Blu-Ray player purchase a worthy workout.
Gattaca takes place in a "not too distant" future where the process of genetically engineering offspring has become common-place to the point where prospective parents can choose everything from sex and eye color to the size of one's private parts. Vincent Freeman (Ethan Hawke) was born just as this process was becoming more mainstream, a "God child," as he would come to be called. With mounting health problems and a short life expectancy, Vincent's parents turned to science for child # 2, which resulted in the genetically superior Anton (Loren Dean).
Thrown by the wayside and forgotten by both society and his own family, Vincent left everyone he knew behind to pursue his impossible of becoming an astronaut. After trying to prove he was every bit as capable as anyone and finding a world that was unwilling to listen, he found a way to achieve his dreams by stepping into a new life - that of genetically superior Eugene Morrow (Jude Law). Morrow had recently lost the use of his legs during a foreign vacation, effectively dooming his chances of ever again utilizing his genetic superiority. Through a black market intermediary played by Tony Shalhoub, the two enter into a co-dependent partnership. Vincent will become Jerome and get the chance to achieve his dreams and in exchange he will support Jerome so that he can continue living the lifestyle to which he has become accustomed.
Gattaca takes cues from many cautionary future tales of the past such as Brave New World, 1984 and a host of others, but also manages to carve its own niche within the overcrowded movie genre of forboding tales of the future. Much of its success can be credited to the inspired visual and story sense of writer/director Andrew Niccol. At the time of Gattaca's 1997 release, the future it suggested was just starting to sound plausible. Now, 11 years later, it doesn't seem far-fetched in the least.
Gattaca has aged well since its release. Besides the believability of the story itself, the cast is terrific across the boards. Ethan Hawke gives one of his finest performances. Uma Thurman is effectively "the girl," but her role is still well played and she perfectly fits the part. Gattaca introduced Jude Law to the world, a perfect breakout vehicle for the talented Brit whose career has been going strong ever since.
Calling Gattaca a masterpiece would be overstepping a tad. It's smart, well acted and will certainly spurn post-film discussion. Within the science fiction genre, Gattaca is unquestionaly a modern classic. It has brains as well as crossover appeal for both the spock-eared sci-fi fanboys and the movie lover just seeking a good story or entertainment value.
Worth the Upgrade to Blu-Ray?
Visually, Gattaca is a natural for the high-def format. The cinematography is simply stellar throughout and it shines through all the more in the sparkling crispness of Blu-Ray. The new transfer is spotless - not a blip or flick of dirt anywhere to be seen. Considering the clean, pacified future world Gattaca presents, watching Gattaca in archaic low-definition would seem completely contrary to the experience.
What's On the Disc?
Besides the upgraded look, Gattaca has a nice collection of extras.
First off, we have a collection of deleted scenes that offer a bit of added perspective into Vincent's journey. The best one reveals that Ernest Borgnine's character Caeser was helping Vincent get away with his rouse. There is also a short outtake that shows a lighthearted moment behind-the-scenes.
Next are a series of short featurettes. There is the original promotional "Making Of" short, an interesting little piece entitled "Do Not Alter" which discusses the somewhat frightening prospects of genetic engineering and, finally, a new feature called "Welcome to Gattaca" featuring new interviews with Jude Law and Ethan Hawke as well as filmmakers discussing the impact of Gattaca in the decade-plus since it was first released.