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Ehren Kruger's script is not the same. It is a tighter, better plotted story that despite the supernatural element, does a great job (for the most part) at making the events seem believable.
Review by Matthew Anderson
US adaptation of a Japanese Horror Film
Running Time: 1hr 55 minutes
Rated: PG-13 for graphic violence and suspense.
Rachel is a reporter for a major Seattle newspaper. Strong, self assured and driven, it appears she has little time for herself, or her son Aiden. He used to spend a lot of time with his 16 year old cousin Katie, while Rachel works. Aiden seems to be having trouble adjusting to Katie's death, the apparent victim of a freak heart attack.
At the funeral, Rachel meets some of Katie's friends. They tell her that her friend Bekka is in the mental hospital, having been present when Kaitie died. The kids also tell her about a strange video tape. Although none of them have seen it, anyone who does receives a phone call, and a voice tells you that you will die in seven days.
At first skeptical, Rachel's investigation reveals that several of Katie's friends died on the same day, at the same time. After developing some of her late niece's pictures, she discovers a picture of Kaite and her friends at a cabin in the woods. What shocks her is that the faces of Katie and her friends are all distorted. Determined to find out what is going on, she heads up to the cabin they stayed at.
As she is talking to the manager, she finds an unlabeled video tape thrown in a pile of movie rentals. Wanting to see if this is the tape, she rents the same room Katie stayed in, and watches the tape.
As she watches, she is treated to a series of disturbing images. Then the phone rings. A little girl's voice on the other end tells her she has seven days.
To help her solve the mystery, she asks for help from her ex boyfriend, Noah, a professional video producer. She gives him a copy to watch, and asks him to figure out where it came from.
Unfortunately, Aiden finds the copy and watches the tape. Now, they must figure out the meaning behind the images, before they all fall victim to an evil from beyond.
DVD VISION TEST
VIDEO: The DVD quality is excellent. A crisp and clean picture.
There are no pixels, no wrinkles, no color bleeds, and no rainbows.
The quality is so go, it looks better than it did at the theater!
AUDIO: Unfortunately, I don't have a DTS receiver, so I am unable to comment on the DTS soundtrack. The English 5.1 is a full bodied track. The sounds hit you from all sides, enhancing the already spooky vibe of the film. The voices are center speaker based, with music from the sides, and SFX from the back. There are a couple of times where the music overpowers the dialogue, but some adjustments to our graphic equalizer fixed the problem. The same goes for the French 5.1.
On the other hand, the 2.0 was not so great. Mostly center speaker based, the reduced soundstage really diminishes the creepy mood.
EDITS: Well, the movie is the same as shown in the theaters. As with all films there are some scenes that get deleted. Some of those scenes wind up in the "Don't Watch This." movie, but really, the missing segments don't detract from the overall enjoyment of the film.
EXTRAS: Rather skimpy. There is the 13 minute "Don't watch this" movie and some trailers. There is a way cool easter egg that you have to see to believe. At the Look Here menu option, hit the "down" arrow. When the < disappears, hit enter.
it's roots are firmly planted in the original, Ehren Kruger's script is
not the same. It is a tighter, better plotted story that despite the
supernatural element, does a great job (for the most part) at making the
events seem believable. I also like the fact that the exposition is well
disguised, so you don't notice it.
ACTING: Acting wise, Naomi Watts does a great job in her portrayal of Rachel. When you meet her character, she appears to be a cool, self assured professional, not afraid to speak her mind. With in moments, you realize that she is very insecure about her relationship with her son, almost in denial about her lack of parenting. After she watches the tape, the added strain almost makes her fall apart. After Aiden watches the tape, you see her regain the determination to save her son. Since the majority of the movie rests on her shoulders, she carries the load very well.
The rest of the cast does very well. Each actor knows how creepy this story is, and they do their part to convey the right amount of dread, or in some cases, terror.
FAN SERVICE: Well, on the panty shots side, you do get to see super babe Naomi Watts in her bra and panties, and various tight outfits.
There are also some cool in-jokes that reference Rear Window, The Shining, and of course the original Japanese Ring. Take a look at the copy of the "cursed" tape. Fans of the original movie will recognize it. Also, watch what the Dreamworks logo does at the start of the movie. Oh, and the FBI warning too.
For those of you who do not know about the history of "The Ring", here is a brief recap. In the early 1990's a series of books came out that instantly scared the crap out of the Japanese population. It was, for lack of a better term, a "horror investigation" story.
Due to the popularity of the first two books, (Ring and Spiral), they were made as movies and released as a double billed feature.
The movies were creepy, suspenseful, and the last 15 minutes of Ring had you gripping the edge of your seat. With its great acting, intense story, and terrifying ending, Ring became a bona-fied success.
It also achieved an international following because it went beyond the "sex and guns" or "monster" movies Japan had been churning out for years. Because of its international cult status, Dreamworks SKG decided to do an American version. Well known for taking chances, they hired Gore Verbinski, and writer Ehren Kruger to create their version.
As stated in our special review, I found the American re-make of "Ring" a tighter and more suspenseful version than the original. Don't get me wrong, the original is good, but it's not really geared toward a western audience. What scares us and what scares the Japanese can be two different things. Fortunately, Ehren Kruger kept the things that made the original film spooky and added things that would make us jump. It has better pacing which keeps you from getting bored. While some complain that there are too many "Boo!" moments in this version, I disagree. The other one, while suspenseful, was at times, painfully slow. I could have used some "boo!" moments then. Now with both versions out, you can compare and judge.
Now, I am not saying that "The Ring" is perfect. There may be a little too much coincidence for some to believe. Also, there are some scenes that really serve no purpose other than to show how dangerous life can be after watching a cursed videotape. While some of these issues may vex the hard core moviephile, for the rest, we will just sit back and enjoy the ride.
Now that I have raved about the movie, it's time to complain about the presentation. Sure the video and audio were great, and the "Samara's Mind" motif of the menus was perfect, but where are the extras? Compared to other Dreamworks DVD's, this disc is the skimpiest they have ever put out. There were no behind the scenes footage, no audio commentary, not even text information about the history of "Ring". We don't even get the US "Ring" trailer. Well there is the Japanese "Ring" trailer, but that doesn't count. At least the easter egg placated me some what.
As far as the short film that promises to "reveal more electrifying secrets" goes, it doesn't. The only thing it does show us some deleted and alternate scenes. I am very disappointed at Dreamworks. After being treated to great DVD's like "Shrek" and "Road to El Dorado", this DVD was really a sub standard release of a great film.
Despite the poor content of the disc, I highly recommend "The Ring" for everyone who likes a good scare. With it's creepy atmosphere and gripping suspense, you will find yourself unable to watch an unlabeled video tape again.
Oh, by the way, make sure you have a friend watch this movie after you...just to be safe.
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