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Michael Cristofer
Antonio Banderas, Angelina Jolie, Thomas Jane, Jack Thompson, Gregory Itzin, Allison Mackie
Michael Cristofer, based on the novel by Cornell Woolrich

You Cannot Walk Way From Love.
Box Office:
Budget $26 million. Opening weekend $6.402 million on screens. Domestic gross $16.252 million.
Not Rated.

Widescreen 2.35:1/16x9
English Dolby Digital 5.1
French Dolby Digital 5.1
Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
Portuguese Dolby Digital 5.1
English, French, Spanish, Portuguese

Runtime: 118 min.
Price: $26.98
Release Date: 3/26/2002

• Audio Commentary With Director Michael Cristofer
•Gloria Estefan Music Video
•Photo Gallery

Score soundtrack

Search Products:

Sony 36" WEGA KV-36FS12 Monitor; Sony DA333ES Processor/Receiver; Panasonic CV-50 DVD Player using component outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Sony SA-WM40 Subwoofer.


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Original Sin: Unrated Version (2001)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson

When I review DVDs, I always watch them all the way through the conclusion of the end credits. This doesnít occur because Iím anal; I do it because I want to see it the filmmakers add anything interesting during/after the credits. This doesnít happen frequently, but these pieces pop up often enough to make the attempt worthwhile.

As I scanned through the closing credits for 2001ís Original Sin, I noticed something that surprised me: a copyright date of 2000. Huh? The movie hit screens on August 3 2001, so it seemed weird that it showed this copyright.

When a movie that features reasonably prominent actors like Angelina Jolie and Antonio Banderas sits on the shelf for a year or so, thatís what we call a bad sign. Sometimes movies stew for a while and still have something offer; for example, Jessica Lange won an Oscar for her work in Blue Sky, a movie that took years to hit screens.

No oneís winning any awards for Original Sin, however. While not a terrible movie, it seems quite bland and lackluster and it never threatened to engage me.

Set in the 1880s, Sin takes place in Cuba. We meet wealthy coffee plantation owner Luis Vargas (Bandera), a man who doesnít believe in love. But he needs a wife, so he gets a mail-order bride from Delaware. When Julia (Jolie) arrives, he immediately discovers that heís been deceived; she sent pictures of a plain-looking woman, not the babe she actually is. However, since Luis also misled her - he didnít reveal his wealth - neither party seems more evasive than the other.

However, that quickly changes. Julia shows some suspicious behavior, and a private detective named Walter Downs (Thomas Jane) soon turns up to check into her well being. Juliaís sister back in the States worries about her and Downs needs to establish the facts. Luis ignores the odd tone and falls deeply in love with Julia; he also gets some seriously good boniní, which seems to make the biggest impact.

And thatís where my plot synopsis stops. Sin takes a twisty path to its conclusion. I didnít think many of the turns seemed very surprising, but itís impossible to go farther and not give away potential spoilers, so Iíll leave well enough alone.

On the positive side, Sin was very well cast. Jolie seems made-to-order for this kind of sexy but evasive character. I donít think she could play peppy, perky and genuine if her life depended on it; Jolie does best with this sort of elusive and wicked part. Banderas also seems appropriately chosen to play the swarthy entrepreneur, and he brings reasonable heat and depth to the part. The chemistry between the two appears unexceptional but definitely enough to serve the film.

So why does the movie fall flat? Because it commits the worst sin of all: boredom. Frankly, little happens that seems very interesting. Sin comes in the same spirit as flicks like Basic Instinct. Like that film, Sin offers little more than a higher-budget take on the same cheesy sex thrillers that show up on Cinemax all the time. Replace the no-names found on those movies with some more famous actors and better production values and thatís what we get here.

Actually, Sin has a more highfalutin pedigree than those movies, since it was adapted from a book called Waltz Into Darkness. That text also influenced a 1969 Francois Truffaut offering called Mississippi Mermaid, and given that directorís reputation, Sin gets some credibility due to the connection.

But it still feels like little more than another cheap mystery. It really seems that Original Sin exists mainly to show some high-profile actors getting down and dirty with each other, and if thatís what you want to see, you might enjoy the film. Otherwise, it comes across like a somewhat silly and unnecessarily convoluted sex thriller with little to offer from it.

Note that this DVD of Original Sin provides an unrated edition of the film. The flick got an ďRĒ theatrically; that version also can be purchased on DVD, but Iíd assume that most fans would prefer to see the uncut one. Since I didnít see the movie theatrically, I canít compare the two, but Sin does seem moderately graphic. During the major sex scene between Jolie and Banderas, it gets more involved than Iíd expect from this kind of release. Thereís also some fairly risquť material during a scene between Jane and Jolie. IMDB list the ďRĒ-rated one at 116 minutes, which indicates about two extra minutes appear on this DVD.

The DVD Grades: Picture B / Audio B / Bonus C

Original Sin appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this single-sided, dual-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. Though much of the film looked excellent, enough problems arose to drop my rating a few points.

Sharpness consistently appeared strong. At no time did I discern any significant softness, as the movie remained crisp and distinct from start to finish. Jagged edges and moirť effects also caused no concerns, but print flaws were a different matter. Considering the vintage of the movie, I expected few to no defects, but I found quite a few. Light grain appeared at times, and a variety of other problems manifested themselves. I saw periodic examples of grit, speckles and nicks. These never became overwhelming, but they showed up much more frequently than Iíd expect. For reasons unknown, recent MGM movies tend to have these issues more often than those from other studios; DVDs like Heartbreakers also displayed moderately excessive print flaws.

Otherwise this was an excellent transfer. Colors looked wonderfully lush and warm at all times. The movie showed vivid and vibrant tones that nicely accentuated the settings. Black levels appeared deep and rich, while shadow detail came across as appropriately dense but not overly heavy. I felt I had to lower my grade to a ďBĒ due to all the print flaws, but Original Sin looked terrific in all other ways.

Good but not great was the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack of Original Sin. I expected a soundfield with a forward emphasis from this kind of flick, and the mix delivered that. Most of the audio remained in the front spectrum, where I heard very good stereo music and a consistently solid sense of atmosphere and ambience. The mix usually remained fairly subdued, as it concentrated on general environmental elements. Effects moved smoothly from channel to channel and blended together neatly. The surrounds contributed good reinforcement of the music and effects but they didnít provide many unique elements.

Audio quality seemed generally positive. Dialogue came across as natural and distinct, and I heard no concerns related to edginess or intelligibility. Effects were clean and accurate, with no distortion or noticeable flaws. Music was bright and vivid and showed reasonable dynamic range. The only area in which the audio lost some points related to the absence of solid bass, however. Low-end response appeared acceptable but the LFE channel seemed to get little to no usage, and bass should have been deeper; the track never seemed anemic, but it lacked the depth Iíd have liked. Still, the audio was good enough to warrant a solid ďBĒ.

In addition to the extra material cut back into the unrated feature itself, Original Sin contributes a few supplements. The only significant one offers an audio commentary from director Michael Cristofer. He gives us a running, screen-specific piece that seems generally good but spotty. On the negative side, the commentary suffers from quite a few empty spaces. He also spends too much time on flat discussions of sets and filming techniques. However, usually when he speaks, Cristofer provides reasonably interesting material.

The director covers a number of different elements of the production. He discusses differences between Sin, the Francois Truffaut film Mississippi Mermaid, and the novel on which both were based. Cristofer also goes over some casting tidbits, MPAA concerns, locations, and a variety of additional issues. The track seems fairly dry at times and it includes too many gaps, but I still think it gives us a decent look at the film.

A few minor extras round out the disc. The Photo Gallery appears as a running two-minute and 45-second piece. Accompanied by parts of the filmís score, we watch a series of mostly promotional photos in this lackluster presentation. We find trailers for Sin and Hartís War as well as a music video for Gloria Estefanís ďYou Canít Walk Away From LoveĒ. Well, we get part of the video; after 105 seconds, it stops and we get an ad for Estefanís new greatest hits album! Granted, itís a very cheesy video anyway; it shows clips from the movie with a few shots of a lip-synching Estefan superimposed on top. Nonetheless, I thought the absence of the full video seemed tacky and obnoxious.

With Original Sin, we find a couple of high-profile actors who get nasty with each other to a degree one doesnít normally see from performers of their stature. Thatís the filmís primary appeal; otherwise it offers little that seems very compelling. The DVD features good but unexceptional picture and sound plus a minor smattering of extras. If youíre dying to see Antonio Banderas and Angelina Jolie get it on, then you might enjoy Original Sin. Personally, I thought it was a pretty dull and lackluster product.

Viewer Film Ratings: 4.05 Stars Number of Votes: 60
5 3:
View Averages for all rated titles.