Reviewed by Colin Jacobson


Disney, widescreen 1.85:1, languages: English Dolby Surround [CC], subtitles: none, single side-single layer, 16 chapters, rated R, 94 min., $29.99, street date 5/18/99.

Studio Line

Directed by John Duigan. Starring Hugh Grant, Tara Fitzgerald, Sam Neill, Elle MacPherson, Portia de Rossi, Kate Fischer.

Sexy and spirited, this endearingly funny comedy has captivated moviegoers everywhere! The charming Hugh Grant plays an idealistic young minister on a mission. He must tame the wicked ways of a notorious artist whose nude paintings of his beautiful models scandalize the nation! Intent on delivering salvation, the repressed reverend and his wife instead are led into temptation by their playfully seductive hosts and sensuous new surroundings! Enchantingly sexy fun from beginning to end, you too will find the allure of Sirens irresistible!

Picture/Sound/Extras (B+/C+/F)

At the risk of sounding like a pig, I'll be honest. I saw Sirens during its theatrical run, and I did so for one reason and one reason alone: to see Elle Macpherson naked. And I didn't leave disappointed! Sure, she's a bit chunkier than usual - since today's standards of supermodel fitness don't match up with those of the World War I era - but she still looks damned good. To quote Beavis: boooiiiiiinnnngggg!!!

We also get to see a few other lovely nekkid women in the movie, including Portia De Rossi, who went on to semi-fame through her role on Ally McBeal. Yes, this DVD definitely made me appreciate the wonders of digital still frame! And for the ladies, there are some full-frontal shots of hunky Mark Gerber; while I could have lived without these, at least they made it an equal-opportunity skinfest.

But is there any reason to watch Sirens other than to delight in all the flesh? Well, yeah, to a degree. I found the movie to offer a mildly amusing little tale of a woman's sexual awakening in a repressive period. Of course, that was countered to a degree by my customary irritation by the fact that cinematic women seem to commit adultery to find themselves in their special little way, while adulterous men are horrible pigs, but that issue wasn't as bothersome as in films like The English Patient. Besides, the good skin distracted me here, so I had few complaints!

Sirens presents a story with little plot; basically it follows a loose narrative about some controversial artwork as an excuse to have events conspire to bring about this sexual awakening. I found it to be a decently well-acted and entertaining movie but absolutely nothing special whatsoever. It's piffle, but it's reasonably charming and frothy piffle, so I didn't mind it.

Sirens appears in its original theatrical aspect ratio of 1.85:1 on this single-sided, single-layered DVD; the image has not been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. All told, the movie looks very good, with only a few noticeable problems. Sharpness generally seems strong, though some mildly wide shots occasionally appear soft. Jagged edges are an issue at times; poor Hugh Grant wears a hat that seems permanently infested with this problem, and a few other scenes appear less smooth than they should. The print used displayed very few flaws; I saw a speckle here or there, and it occasionally seemed slightly grainy, but it generally appeared very clean.

Colors are absolutely wonderful. Sirens boasts a palette dominated by rich, deep hues and they come through beautifully. Black levels also seem sumptuous; they display great depth without any resulting opaqueness in the shadow detail. The image isn't without problems, but I found it to be very satisfactory.

The Dolby Surround 2.0 mix of Sirens presents few problems, but that's largely because it's so unambitious. To be honest, this track is really a monaural mix at heart. Some mild effects - birds chirping, a little rainfall - spread into the right and left front channels, and they even occasionally make an appearance in the surrounds, plus the light but pleasant musical score expands into those areas as well. And that's about it; everything else emits from the center channel.

Which is honestly perfectly fine for a film such as this. Sirens would not benefit from much sonic enhancement, though some expansion would have been nice. At any rate, the quality is good, and that's most important. Dialogue remains largely clear and intelligible; I heard a little distortion at times, but very rarely. The music and effects sound reasonably natural and realistic. Sirens offers a blah but adequate audio track.

Not so for the supplemental features of this DVD. That's because there aren't any. No trailer, no biographies, no notes - not even a stinking booklet! Boo!

Sirens is one of those DVDs about which I feel tremendously lukewarm. I liked the movie to a degree, but it's not a terribly compelling story that I'd care to experience repeated times. I enjoyed the female nudity, but there's not enough to justify the purchase price; if that's your bag, you'd be better off with a good Playboy DVD. The disc looks very good and sounds okay, but it completely lacks supplements. If you're interested in the movie, there's little reason not to get it - the DVD is a solid representation of the film - but anyone else might want to try it with a rental instead.

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