Gattaca appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.40:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. Overall, this was a satisfying transfer.
Sharpness appeared solid for the most part. Some mild edge enhancement occasionally made wide shots a little tentative, but most of the time the film exhibited good definition. No issues with jagged edges or shimmering materialized, and source defects appeared to be absent.
Gattaca featured an intentionally limited palette that fit with the sterile depiction of the future. As such, colors looked clear and appropriately saturated, but they weren’t terribly vivid or attractive. Nonetheless, they seemed to replicate the filmmakers’ intentions, and they showed good accuracy with no problems related to noise, bleeding, or other issues. Black levels seemed fairly deep and rich, while shadow detail was clean and visible; low-light situations came across well. The picture of Gattaca presented a positive experience.
Also good but not stunning was the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack of Gattaca. Since the movie wasn’t exactly an action spectacular, most of the mix worked in fairly subtle ways, but it did so effectively. Music came nicely from all five speakers so that the score warmly enveloped the environment, and some solid usage of directional dialogue occurred as well. Many of the effects tended toward general ambience, but these added a lot to the experience, and the track came to life more actively when appropriate. My only complaint stemmed from the fact that some elements didn’t pan especially well. Note the movement of the cars during the sequence when Vincent crosses the street; they tended to transition fairly abruptly. Nonetheless, the soundfield seemed good for the most part.
Audio quality also was fine. Some dialogue was a little awkwardly looped, but most of it sounded natural and warm, and I heard no concerns related to intelligibility or edginess. Effects were accurate and clear. They boasted good bass response when appropriate - such as during rocket blasts - and also were clean and lacked distortion. Music sounded lush and rich, with nice fidelity and good depth. As a whole, the soundtrack of Gattaca lacked the breadth and impact to reach “A” territory, but it still worked well for the material
This 2008 Special Edition represents the third DVD release of Gattaca. There’s the original 1998 version and the Superbit edition from a few years later. Audio remained virtually identical for all three, but this 2008 DVD presented a new transfer.
However, it maintained the same “B+” picture grade I gave to its predecessors. The 2008 disc looked cleaner than the others, as it came without their minor source flaws. However, it showed more notable edge enhancement, so it was a bit less crisp at times. All three looked very good, though.
The 2008 Special Edition adds some new extras along with a few returning components. Under Deleted Scenes, we find the same clips that appeared on the old disc. These run a total of 10 minutes, 39 seconds and feature “Hard Walls” (1:00), “Farewell to Caesar” (2:10), “Eighth Day Center (Original Version)” (3:19), “Mission Briefing” (1:00), “Investigator Exposed” (1:23) and “Coda” (1:46). I thought most of the deleted bits deserved to be cut, especially the very unsubtle “Coda” that seems out of touch with the rest of the film. However, I did like “Exposed”, a scene between Detective Hugo (Alan Arkin) and Vincent’s brother Anton (Loren Dean); it added to the former’s character in a nice way, and it should have remained in the film. In any case, I was happy to get to see these unused snippets.
Another component already found on the old DVD, an Original Featurette lasts six minutes, 51 seconds. It features lots of movie clips, a few behind the scenes shots and some bland and uninformative soundbites from actors Uma Thurman, Ethan Hawke, and Jude Law as well as producers Danny De Vito and Stacey Sher. It’s a total waste of time.
The Substance Abuse Outtake runs 35 seconds and also appeared on the original DVD. It’s just a joke version of an existing scene that was never meant to be in the film; it’s gag reel material.
The next two components are new to the SE. Welcome to Gattaca goes for 21 minutes, 58 seconds as it mixes movie clips, behind the scenes bits, and interviews. We hear from Hawke, Law, De Vito, production supervisor Bradley Cramp, first AD John Woodward, editor Lisa Churgin, location manager Bob Craft, assistant location manager Ilt Jones, VFX supervisor Chris Watts, and property master Emily Ferry. “Welcome” looks at the personality and style of director Andrew Niccol, casting and performances, production design, storyboards and other visual elements, locations, sets and props, the film’s pace, its release and marketing, and some final thoughts about the movie’s legacy.
The absence of director Niccol comes as a disappointment, but the others pick up the slack to a reasonable degree. This remains a mostly technical program, though, as it doesn’t look much at the story or that side of things. Nonetheless, we get some interesting notes about various nuts and bolts aspects of the production, and these facts make the show useful.
Do Not Alter? runs 14 minutes, 51 seconds and includes statements from ITN Science Editor Lawrence McGinty, Cambridge University Professor Martin Bobrow, former Caltech president Dr. David Baltimore, Newcastle University Institute of Human Genetics Medical Director Dr. John Burn, Signum Biosciences CEO Dr. Gregory Stock, Princeton University Professor Lee M. Silver, and American Journal of Bioethics editor-in-chief Glenn McGee. We learn about genetic research and its development over the years as well as aspects of DNA, gene therapy and ethical questions. Despite the piece’s brevity, “Alter” delivers a good recap of various genetic issues. We receive a nice look at the important subjects and this comes out in a concise and interesting manner.
(Catty comment of the day: Bobrow comes with an amusing name, as he sports a pair of the biggest eyebrows in human history. They fill roughly half his head. What’s the genetic sequence for those suckers?)
A few ads open the DVD. We get clips for Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Ray Harryhausen in Color! and “Hot Action Movies”. These also appear in the disc’s Previews area along with promos for The Water Horse: Legend of the Deep and Dragon Wars.
No trailer for Gattaca shows up here, which marks an omission from the old DVD. We also lose poster and photo galleries as well as some production notes in the booklet.
As a film, Gattaca offers a moving and intriguing experience. It delves more into ideas than action, which makes it unusual in this day and age, and it works quite well. The DVD provides very good picture and audio along with a decent roster of extras.
On its own merits, I think this 2008 Special Edition of Gattaca represents the film’s best DVD release; it’s definitely the way to go for fans who own no prior version. However, I don’t find much here to warrant a “double dip” for those who do have one of the earlier releases – especially if they don’t care about extras.
To rate this film visit the Superbit Edition review of GATTACA