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James Mangold
Meg Ryan, Hugh Jackman, Liev Schreiber, Breckin Meyer, Natasha Lyonne, Bradley Whitford
James Mangold, Steven Rogers

If they lived in the same century they'd be perfect for each other.

Box Office:
Budget $48 million.
Opening weekend $2.562 million on 2449 screens.
Domestic gross $47.095 million.

Rated PG-13 for brief strong language.

Academy Awards:
Nominated for Best Song-"Until".

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 123 min. (Director's Cut)
Price: $14.99
Release Date: 4/10/2012

• Audio Commentary With Director James Mangold
• “On the Set” Featurette
• Deleted Scenes With Optional Director Commentary
• Costume Featurette
• Sting “Until” Music Video
• Sneak Peeks

Score Soundtrack

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Panasonic 50" TH-50PZ77U 1080p Plasma Monitor; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.


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Kate & Leopold [Blu-Ray] (2001)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (April 3, 2012)

Due to a general lack of affection for Meg Ryan, I greeted my initial screening of 2001’s Kate and Leopold with a fair amount of trepidation. It looked like more Meg in her spunky mode, playing "America’s sweetheart”. However, I actually enjoyed the film to a moderate degree. It never diverged from what I expected, but it seemed surprisingly witty and winning.

Kate starts in the 19th century, as we meet a bored but very eligible duke named Leopold (Hugh Jackman). During a party at which his Uncle Millard (Paxton Whitehead) urges him to take a wealthy bride, Leopold follows a mysterious stranger and accidentally gets transported to the future with him. There Leopold discovers that Stuart (Liev Schreiber) is actually his great-great-grandson.

When an elevator goes on the fritz, Stuart gets hurt and enters the hospital. Unfortunately, this leaves fish-out-of-water Leopold on his own, and he finds it a little tough to cope with this new society. Eventually he meets Kate (Ryan), Stuart’s ex-girlfriend who lives downstairs. The two develop a relationship and fall in love.

Problematically, Leopold’s presence causes a rift in the universe. That’s the complicated reason elevators malfunction, and Stuart needs to get Leopold back to 1976 to set things right. Unfortunately, the staff there thinks he’s a nut, so they lock him up in a mental institution. Eventually he escapes and has to fix matters, which causes issues for love-struck Kate and Leopold.

Will Kate and Leopold eventually end up together? Well, duh - this is a Meg Ryan movie, and those don’t offer too many surprises. However, I remain surprised that I actually enjoyed Kate. Maybe I should start to give director James Mangold the benefit of the doubt. He helmed 1999’s Girl, Interrupted, another flick I thought would bite but liked in the end. Mangold seems able to deflate my expectations and provide something better than anticipated.

Granted, he had some help from the cast - at least, from most of it. In terms of Ryan, she is who she is. If you like her, good for you, and if you don’t, nothing much will change your mind. In Kate, I found her to be acceptable - nothing more, nothing less. However, given my general disdain for her work, “acceptable” probably should be seen as praise.

The other actors fare better in my regard. Many of them tend toward broadness, but that doesn’t harm the film. If anything, the goofy attitude makes it a bit more endearing, especially since they must endure some weak material at times. The movie starts with a series of jokes based on the word “erection”, and we also watch a big dog take a dump at one point. Normally, those offenses alone would be enough to put Kate in my own personal crapper, but the actors imbue their work with enough charm to overcome some of the flaws.

Jackman seems key in that regard. He provides a consistently winning portrayal of Leopold that actually forces you to believe he comes from the 19th century. Jackman creates just the right level of old-time stuffiness but also adds great charm and vigor. He lends the role much needed life and does a lot to make the film work.

To be sure, Kate and Leopold is little more than your average romantic comedy chick flick. However, the movie displays enough cheeky attitude and verve to work better than expected. It certainly doesn’t reinvent the wheel, but if you like this kind of picture, you should get a kick out of it. Heck, even if you don’t normally care for this sort of movie, you might encounter a pleasant surprise here.

The reason I often watch movies through the end of the credits: if you stay until the finish of Kate, you’ll see a disclaimer about the invention of the elevator and a discussion of the Otis Elevator company. I guess this appears because the film claims that Leopold came up with the idea, and the Otis folks wanted to set the record straight. Whatever the case, it’s a dopey disclaimer.

Final note: is it just me, or do the names “James Mangold” and “Hugh Jackman” sound like they should belong to gay porn stars?

The Blu-ray Grades: Picture B+ / Audio B+ / Bonus B

Kate and Leopold appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. Though not stellar, this was usually a fine presentation.

Overall sharpness was positive. A few shots demonstrated light softness, but those instances didn’t dominate. Instead, most of the flick came across as pretty accurate and well-defined. Jagged edges and shimmering showed no concerns, and edge haloes remained minimal. As for print flaws, I detected a couple of tiny specks but nothing more; the image was usually clean.

Colors seemed solid. The 1876 scenes showed a golden tone typical for that kind of material, but it didn’t appear intrusive or overdone. The hues came across as clean and natural, and they appeared nicely vivid most of the time. Black levels also seemed rich and deep, while shadow detail looked appropriately dense. This was a consistently nice image.

Though this kind of romantic comedy usually presents a bland soundtrack, I felt fairly impressed by the DTS-HD MA 5.1 audio of Kate and Leopold. Its soundfield seemed surprisingly active and engaging. The forward spectrum dominated, but not to the degree I expected. Music showed good stereo presence and imaging, while effects popped up logically and realistically from the sides, and they blended together well.

The surrounds kicked in fine reinforcement of the score and they also added a very nice sense of dimensionality to the mix. Most compelling was a loud thunderstorm early in the film, but the rest of the flick imbued even quiet scenes with a good element of atmosphere.

Audio quality also appeared very good, with one periodic exception. Most speech sounded natural and distinct, but at times, the lines showed some edginess. Nonetheless, those instances occurred infrequently, as most of the dialogue was fine, and none of it ever displayed any problems related to intelligibility. Music seemed lush and vibrant, as the score demonstrated excellent range and fidelity. Effects also offered solid clarity and accuracy, and they packed a real punch when necessary; that thunderstorm I mentioned boasted some terrific bass. Overall, the moderate problems related to the speech kept this soundtrack from “A” level, but I still felt impressed with the audio of Kate and Leopold nonetheless.

How did the Blu-ray compare to the of the original 2002 DVD ? Audio was a little better, as the DTS-HD track showed a bit more oomph, but both seemed pretty similar. Visuals showed more obvious upgrades, though, as the Blu-ray was tighter and more dynamic. It also seemed cleaner, as the Blu-ray lacked the DVD’s minor specks and marks.

Most of the DVD’s extras repeat here, though one notable exception occurs. The DVD provided both the film’s theatrical and extended “Director’s Cut” versions – but that doesn’t happen here. For reasons unknown, the Blu-ray loses the theatrical edition, so we only get the Director’s Cut. (The Blu-ray also omits a photo gallery.)

Next we find an audio commentary from director James Mangold, who provides a running, screen-specific track. Mangold’s discussion of Girl, Interrupted didn’t impress me, but he offers a much more compelling commentary here. He cuts down on the excessive praise for the actors - though he pats himself on the back a little too much, such as his periodic remarks about how much he likes a line or a scene from the script he wrote - and gives us a terrific amount of information.

Mangold discusses a tremendous array of subjects, from his feelings about modern society vs. the late 19th century, the polling process used for movies and other things, working with the actors, story issues, and much more. Though he loses a little steam toward the end, he rarely pauses during this chatty, engaging and informative piece.

On the Set provides a short featurette about the movie. The piece lasts 14 minutes and 30 seconds and shows the standard combination of movie clips, behind the scenes snippets, and interviews with principals. We hear from Mangold, producer Cathy Konrad, executive producer Kerry Orent, production designer Mark Friedberg, and actors Meg Ryan, Hugh Jackman, Liev Schreiber, and Breckin Meyer. Don’t expect much from this show, for it offers little more than the usual promotional piece. We get a few decent tidbits about set design and a couple of other areas, but otherwise, the program lacks anything of much interest.

More compelling are the seven deleted scenes. Each of these runs between 41 seconds and two minutes, 21 seconds for a total of eight minutes and 54 seconds of material. Virtually nothing here would add much to the film, but the clips are interesting to see, especially a wicked Bradley Whitford improv. Had it appeared in the final cut, it would have stopped the movie cold, and I doubt anyone ever really considered using it, but it’s entertaining on its own.

The deleted scenes can be viewed with or without commentary from Mangold. He provides the basic info and relates why the clips didn’t make the cut. In addition, he provides a few additional tidbits about the movie, but his remarks remain fairly rudimentary.

In the “short but interesting” category comes a Costume Featurette. This two-minute, 54-second piece offers statements from costume designer Donna Zakowska and also shows shots from the set and some sketches. Obviously, the brief length of the piece prevents it from becoming terribly deep, but it packs some good information into that short period, and it definitely merits a look.

The music video for Sting’s “Until” also appears. Not one of Der Stingle’s better tunes, it comes as a pretty terrible video. The clip relies heavily on scenes from the movie, which intercut with shots of Sting as he records the song. It’s a very bland and boring video that looks like no one bothered to put any effort into it.

The disc opens with ads for The Switch, Serendipity, Shakespeare in Love, and From Prada to Nada. These also appear under Trailers but no ad for Leopold pops up here.

While Kate and Leopold mostly gave me what I thought I’d see, I didn’t expect to enjoy it. However, I did like the movie, at least to a moderate degree. I found it to be a pleasant experience that worked fairly well. The Blu-ray delivers very good picture and audio along with a decent set of supplements. This becomes a quality release for a surprisingly likable film.

To rate this film, visit the original review of KATE & LEOPOLD

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