Director Neil Jordan's 1994 feature first came under controversy over the casting of Tom Cruise in the famed tale from novelist Anne Rice. The film portrays a dark world that lives upon tone, atmosphere. It doesn't present vampires as the dark, stunning evil beings, but shows them instead trapped as immortals.
The film starts with one of the vampires, Louis(Brad Pitt) sitting down to be interviewed by a journalist in San Fransisco(Christian Slater). The story opens in 1791, where he falls victim to Lestat(Cruise), and joins this villian in enternal life. Eventually, a "daughter" joins the duo - Claudia(played extremely well by Kirsten Dunst), is a child who at first enjoys the lifestyle, but eventually becomes furious at the thought of being a child forever.
"Interview With A Vampire" occasionally could have pulled the story along quicker; it's never really boring, but the pacing could have used a bit of a boost in places. All three of the main actors - Pitt, Cruise and especially Dunst, do a fine job and are the main reason why the film is as entertaining as it is. Of course, the film also gets the tone right; the sets are wonderfully dark and subtly creepy, and the cinematography by Philippe Rousselot captures it all quite well. The film blends elements of pure darkness, drama, gloom and even dark comedy, balancing all of it out very well. Again, if anything, the film just needs a more defined path from point A to point B.
VIDEO: This is an improved transfer compared to the original edition, and although it boasts very good image quality, there's also a couple of little imperfections. The majority of the film takes place in the shadows, with few exceptions, and the image is consistently sharp, offering good detail. Clarity is also never a problem, even in the darkest scenes. Colors are usually natural, but understandably, are kept slightly subdued. There really aren't many problems to be found with the image quality; there is a bit of a grainy look on occasion, as well as a couple of tiny marks on the print used. Other than that, I didn't notice any shimmering or pixelation. Philippe Rousselot's cinematography creates a number of marvelous images, which look excellent on this disc. A fine new transfer from Warner.
SOUND: This is another of Warner's first 5 titles that offer both Dolby Digital and DTS soundtracks. Much of the film is simply dialogue, but they also provide an enveloping experience when called upon; Elliot Goldenthal's moody score is rich and well-recorded, enveloping the viewer quite well. Surrounds get fine use on occasion, as well. Both the DTS and Dolby Digital audio are both very good, with the DTS sounding slightly smoother. Dialogue is generally pleasing, sounding smooth and well-integrated.
MENUS:: This special edition also includes new full-motion menus that do a fine job of introducing the tone; the only little, minor complaint is that the highlight for the selections covers the text a tiny bit. Other than that, the animation is quite well-done and enjoyable.
Commentary: This is a commentary from director Neil Jordan. I was not entirely pleased with the commentary that the director recorded for his recent DVD release of The End Of The Affair, but, in general, I found this discussion to be more enjoyable. For one thing, he sounds noticably more energetic in offering comments here, and I found much of what he had to say informative.
Even during the early portions of the commentary, I found many great tidbits, such as when Jordan points out a number of special effects, which were done by Rob Legato("Apollo 13", "Titanic", "Armageddon"). Of course, like every other commentary, the director discusses early on what and who brought him to the project. As the discussion goes on, he also comments frequently about the choices that were made by the actors to create their characters.
Occasionally, he falls back to simply chatting about what's going on on-screen, but doesn't stay in this mode for long. He covers quite a bit of ground, not only chatting about the performances, but the story as well - the tale in general and in comparison to the original book version.
There are a few pauses here and there with Jordan stopping to let a scene play out, but other than that, Jordan is able to talk enough on his own, and keeps things moving throughout the discussion.
"In The Shadow Of The Vampire": This is a documentary that takes an equal look at first, the story, and then, the production. Interviews are included with Jordan, Rice, Cruise and seemingly just about everyone else included in the cast. A little over halfway through the documentary, Stan Winston offers his discussion of how his effects were able to make some of the scenes complete. Rob Legato also chats here about how his visual effects work blended into the film to make some of the scenes work. The documentary runs for about 30 minutes.
Special Introduction: A newly produced intro from director Neil Jordan, Anne Rice and others. Strangely, this plays every time the viewer starts the movie. It makes for an interesting few moments once, but you can't skip past it in future viewings - you can fast forward past it, though. One thing I did notice is that if you choose to start the film with the commentary, you go directly to the film and past the intro. Not a big deal, simply an observation.
Also: The theatrical trailer and cast/crew bios, as well as web-links.
Final Thoughts: A very nicely done DVD, packing both fine audio and video quality, as well as a nice set of new special features.
The Film B
Video 90/A- = (360/400 possible points)
Audio: 92/A = (368/400 possible points)
Extras: 89/B+ = (267/300 possible points)
Menus: 85/B = (170/200 possible points)
Value: 91/A = (270/300 possible points)
FILM GRADE: B
DVD GRADE: B+