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Jonathan Glazer
Scarlett Johansson
Writing Credits:
Jonathan Glazer and Walter Campbell

A mysterious woman seduces lonely men in the evening hours in Scotland. Events lead her to begin a process of self-discovery.

Box Office:
Opening Weekend
$133,154 on 4 Screens
Domestic Gross

Rated R

Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1/16X9
English Dolby Surround 5.1
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 108 min.
Price: $19.98
Release Date: 7/15/2014

• Behind the Scenes Featurettes
• Previews


Panasonic TC-P60VT60 60-Inch 1080p 600Hz 3D Smart Plasma HDTV; 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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Under the Skin (2013)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (July 10, 2014)

With 2013ís Under the Skin, we get an unusual sci-fi story. When an alien in the UK dies, another one (Scarlett Johansson) takes her place. She stalks human prey without emotion and kills these men to harvest their bodies.

As this progresses, the alien starts to lose her focus. She gradually begins to develop some form of empathy with her victims, a change that launches when she lures a lonely man with facial deformities and lets him go. From there we follow her journey as she becomes ďmore humanĒ.

Going into Skin, I couldnít help but be reminded of another abstract ďalien disguised as a humanĒ movie, 1976ís The Man Who Fell to Earth. As I write, Iíve not yet viewed this DVDís supplements so I donít know if the filmmakers acknowledge Earth as an influence, but the two films share enough similarities that I find it hard to believe Earth didnít impact Skin in some ways.

When I first saw Earth in the 1980s, I found it to offer a slow, random, borderline narrative-free snoozer. I eventually came to like the movie, though; once I knew what to expect, I could appreciate the film on its own merits and enjoy it.

Perhaps additional screenings of Skin will allow that to occur, but based on my initial viewing, I donít find much to like about it. Much of the problem comes from the filmís slowness and lack of narrative drive. Truthfully, not a whole lot happens here. Our lead alien drives around, snags dudes and thatís about it. Some general movement toward self-exploration occurs in the third act, but it fails to add much to the proceedings.

I get the feeling Skin comes meant to be metaphorical in many ways. For instance, I find it tough to view the scenes in which the alien snares men in a literal manner. While she stands at one end of a stark room, they come toward her with sex on their minds and end up bogged down in goo that consumes them.

Perhaps weíre supposed to see those scenes as theyíre depicted, but if so, they make no sense. Even the horniest guy wonít fail to notice that heís slowly sinking into a dense liquid, so these sequences donít work on a literal level.

As a metaphor for the manner in which men get led around by their genitalia, the scenes fare better, but they still seem thin. Perhaps they represent the self-destructive paths some guys take just to get a little action. That seems easier to swallow than the conceit that these horny dudes want a little somethiní-somethiní so much that they donít notice the physical impediments in their way.

Again, maybe if I watch Skin a second time, the inner meaning will become more valuable. My guess is that it still wonít seem especially insightful, but I wonít rule out the possibility that itíll seem more meaningful on further review.

After one screening, however, I canít help but see Skin as a slow, plodding snoozer. So little happens and so little apparent meaning comes with events that I donít find much to recommend here. Johansson gets naked a lot, but otherwise this turns into a dull, forgettable film.

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

Under the Skin appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.78:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. This was a decent but unexceptional SD-DVD presentation.

Sharpness tended to be up and down. Closer shots looked pretty good, but wider shots lost definition in a moderate manner. These varied from okay to messy, but the overall image seemed watchable. I noticed no issues with jagged edges or moire effects, and edge haloes created no concerns. I also didnít notice any print flaws.

Like sharpness, colors were lackluster. The movie tended toward stark tones like garish yellows, blues and greens, and the hues looked somewhat thick. They werenít bad, but they failed to deliver much clarity, and red lighting had issues. Blacks were mediocre, and shadows seemed a bit too dense. This was an average image for SD-DVD and nothing better.

Though not packed with ambition, the filmís Dolby Digital 5.1 offered more pep than I expected. Scenes on beaches or streets or in clubs tended to deliver fairly good immersiveness, as they used the five channels to place the viewer in the various settings. Nothing ever became especially action-packed, but the movie brought us a pretty positive sense of settings.

Audio quality also worked fine. Speech was concise and natural, while music showed solid clarity and range. Effects brought us positive accuracy and punch. Nothing here stood out as great, but the mix suited the story.

In terms of extras, we get a collection of 10 Behind the Scenes Featurettes. These last a total of 42 minutes, 16 seconds and offer comments from director of photography Daniel Landin, co-writer/director Jonathan Glazer, editor Paul Watts, music supervisor/producer Peter Raeburn, production designer Chris Oddy, producer James Wilson, sound designer Johnnie Burn, 2nd unit director/visual effects supervisor Tom Debenham, one-cam camera engineer Arron Smith, one-cam technical supervisor Louis Mustill, Kahleen Crawford, locations manager Eugene Strange, composer Mica Levi, graphic designer Neil Kellerhouse, visual effects supervisor Dominic Parker and co-writer/executive producer Walter Campbell. The clips examine photography, cast and performances, editing, sets and locations, music and sound design, poster art, production design, story/character areas and the source novel, and visual effects.

The featurettes tend to be rather dry, as they mix talking heads shots with images from the film. While not presented in an exciting manner, the clips offer a lot of good information. Itís too bad Scarlett Johansson doesnít show up here, but we learn plenty about the film.

The disc opens with ads for Enemy, Locke, The Bling Ring, The Spectacular Now and Spring Breakers. No trailer for Skin appears here.

While I appreciate the unusual manner in which Under the Skin explores its sci-fi narrative, the result seems so slow that it threatens to lose the viewer. Perhaps the film boasts depth that I didnít discern upon first screening, but through that initial go-round, I find it tough to locate much more than boredom. The DVD offers decent picture and audio along with some informative featurettes. Skin gets credit for ambition but drags too much to become a winner.

Viewer Film Ratings: 3.25 Stars Number of Votes: 4
0 3:
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