HTS Moderator , Reviewer
Title: Winter's Tale
HTS Overall Score:79
If there’s ever a movie to misrepresent itself by the trailers then this would be the film. The trailers make the film out to be a romance that spans time, a story of love and passion that just so happens to have a slight mystical bent when the male protagonist happens to span some sort of time to be with his love. While those events DO play out in the story what’s hidden behind the curtain is really the meat and potatoes of the story. If you go into the film expecting a grounded story with some slight time travel or magical elements, prepare to be surprised as the entirety of the film is a 100% pure fairy tale from the get go. We have demons, we have angels, we have magic; we even have time travel and a spirit horse to boot. So color me surprised when I view the movie and get blindsided by the tale. I had to say that the fairy tale aspect wasn’t the downfall of this near miss, but rather some hinky writing and a rushed ended that made this less than would it could have been. Still a rather enjoyable film, it show moments of perfection, followed by a bumbling scene that would pull you out of the tale.
Many films have tried to do this whole “multiple stories told across time” technique with “Cloud Atlas” being the latest and most famous one. While this one resembles that same narrative technique, it tends to be more linear with i’s jumps instead of the jumbled up chronology that “Cloud Atlas” excelled at. Peter Lake (Colin Farrell) is a thief back in 1916. He was orphaned at birth and raised by a gangster in New York City named Pearly Soames (Russell Crowe), who just happens to be a demon in disguise. He’s kind of on the outs with Pearly and hiding out for the time being. Going on one last thieving expedition to fund his escape from New York he ends up falling head over heels for the daughter of his target. One Beverly Penn (Jessica Brown Findlay). Sticking around he finds that while he came to steal something from her, he ends up being the one robbed, as she steals his cold heart.
Beverly suffers from a fever, coming from a disease known as “consumption” where she must stay cool at all times or suffer the debilitating death that comes from the fever. She’s already terminal and on borrowed time as it is, but Peter can’t stay away from her. Therein lies the crossed lovers downfall, as Pearly plots to destroy her and Peter. Underneath the surface of their simple lives wage a war, one between darkness and light and Pearly will NOT allow her light to triumph over the darkness he plagues upon the world. In a dastardly turn of events he pulls the rug underneath the two lovers and throws Peter off of a bridge to an icy grave. Only thing that goes wrong is that a miracle happened, Peter ends up alive, but in the 21st century time of today. Bereft of his memory he struggles to find out what his visions of a red haired woman mean and why he’s been transported to this time.
“Winter’s Tale” is a movie that I’m torn over. I’ve seen reviews where it’s labeled as the worst movie of the year, and other’s where it’s praised as a modern classic. I can see where each person is coming from too. The movie is cute and very charming, but at the same time it feels as if we’re in an archery tournament where the archer misses the mark by a centimeter. You’re frustrated, watching the archer shoot arrow after arrow towards the target and its SOOOOOOOOOOOOO close, but still just an inch shy of being perfect. It’s the same way here as the movie has a lot going for it. The relationship between Beverly and Peter shimmer with that picture perfect fairy tale romance and the rest of the story follows a classic fairy tale feel perfectly. The problem arises, many times, from the writing. We have scenes that fit like a fur lined glove, where you think the story is going along swimmingly, only to be interrupted by a rushed scene, or one that just feels “off” if you know what I mean.
The 1st and 2nd acts go along quite well actually, but it’s really the third act where the film start to fall apart a bit. That third act is the modern age act and there just wasn’t enough time spent fleshing his characters motives out there. It was like they knew the ending they wanted and was trying to rush the viewer through 30 minutes of screen time that easily needed a full hour to flesh out in an effort to speed up the finale. There are very few times that I wish a movie to be LONGER, but this is one where I think an extra 30 minutes could have made a bit difference. I mean, I really liked part of the movie, but other parts were just off enough that I understand why people could be frustrated with the pacing and the last act. It was really amusing to see Will Smith playing a grizzled and aged Satan though. It kind of felt out of place having him there, but I certainly got a good laugh to see who it was when the reveal came. Still with all these flaws, it’s something that I would recommend at least watching to make up your own mind, because it seems the movie is rather polarizing. Either you really like it, or you don’t, with very little time in between.
Rated PG-13 for violence and some sensuality
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=21434[/img]If “Winter’s Tale” wasn’t a box office smash it did certainly have a beautiful visual flair and the 2.40:1 AVC encode looks absolutely marvelous on Blu-ray. Set in two times it has a specific color grading for each time period, with a golden hue for the 1916 time period romance with Beverly and a much more natural blue color grading for the modern times section. Each section shares the same fantastic level of detail though as the fibers of clothes and the texture of the snow is perfectly replicated in both eras. Blacks are incredibly strong and show no sign of crush or washed out greys. Skin tones are very natural, both under the golden color grading as well as the lighter blue and contrast is spot on. There really is very little bad to say about the transfer and is just this shy of perfect.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=21442[/img]Same as with the video score, the audio is a beaut for us home theater enthusiasts. Full of vibrancy and activity it teems with constant action and use. The front soundstage is rich and full of life as the sounds of a horses hooves clattering on cobblestones and dialogue are both distinguished from one another as well as coming from their respective directions perfectly. Surrounds are used with great aplomb as the same horses hooves shift from one position in the soundstage to the next as well as the more modern sounds of a city street during a modern setting. Fists and hooves alike share a very weighty rumble to them and even the score contains a good bit of low end. The big “finale” for the LFE channel has to do with the end fight between Pearly and Peter at the lake and will really hit you in the chest. Simply beautiful and full of auditory nuances, the 5.1 DTS-HD MA is a stunner and one to show off as a very accurate and very detailed audio track.
• Behind the Scenes: Winter's Tale: A Timeless Love
• Behind the Scenes: Characters of Good and Evil
• Additional Scenes
“Winter’s Tale” is a gem that trying to no longer be a rough cut, but ultimately fails to become as polished as it could be. The original novel is sweet and compelling, which the film tries so VERY VERY hard to replicate and almost accomplishes as well, but ultimately falls just short of the mark. It’s brimming with moments of sheer beauty and poetry in motion, but then the next scene just seems to feel rushed and awkward, almost as if a little bit more time spent at the writing table could have polished out some of the rough spots and revealed the diamond underneath. Still, it’s definitely worth a watch to decide for yourself because there is plenty to like about the film as well.
Starring: Colin Farrell, Jessica Brown Findlay, Russell Crowe, Jennifer Connelly
Directed by: Akiva Goldsman
Written by: Akiva Goldsman (screenplay), Mark Helprin (Novel)
Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1 AVC
Audio: English: DTS-HD MA 5.1, French, Spanish, Portuguese DD 5.1
Studio: Warner Brothers
Own "WINTER’S TALE" on Blu-ray Combo Pack, DVD and Digital HD on June 24th
Buy Winter's Tale Blu-ray on Amazon
Recommendation: Rental at least
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