In Short: A beautiful and funny movie, but the Fox DVD is another basic edition for a $34.95 price tag.
Director Michael Hoffman's star-studded period piece left theaters all too quickly early this spring, overlooked by audiences after reviews were not terribly pleasant. It's not a bad film, especially with fine performances from Kevin Kline and Michelle Pfeiffer, but the problem is that it really doesn't get started till its last act and even then, it does begin to feel as if it's gone on a little too long.
The story begins with showing us the thread that seems to interconnect all of these characters. Duke Thesius is looking to marry Hippolyta(Sophie Marceau), who's not looking back; Thesus must resolve the love of Hermia, also set to marry someone she doesn't want to in Demetrius(Christian Bale) and instead looks for love with Lysander. Demetrius however, is being persued by Helena(Ally McBeal, er, I mean...Calista Flockheart). There is one additional character, an actor named Bottom( Kevin Kline, in a wonderful performance).
All of the mortals seem to find themselves after one another into the forest, which is ruled over by the fairy queen Titania( Michelle Pfeiffer, who has worked with director Hoffman before in "One Fine Day" ) and her husband Oberon(Rupert Everett). The two are, to put it lightly, not getting along themselves. Due to the error of sidekick Puck(Stanley Tucci), the mortals find themselves in love with whom they hadn't expected.
It's towards the middle (literally, about the halfway point) that I began to look at my watch as the movie seems to lose focus. Thankfully, towards the end of the picture Kline's character and a group of actors put on their hilariously silly play. Overall, as I said before, this isn't a bad picture. Its quick exit from the box office could have been due to the early Summer audience looking for more action than a comedy like this, but either way, it deserves at least a look as a rental.
This is another in a line of very good non-anamorphic transfers from Fox. This is a wonderfully colorful movie and throughout, colors come off as rich, vibrant and very natural. One simply wishes that the picture was slightly sharper and revealed a little more detail of the costumes. Still, if not quite getting to the level of "razor sharp", this does at least look crisp and clear throughout and the lack of any aliasing or other such flaws makes for a clean looking image that is quite pleasing. Contrast and flesh tones are also quite fine throughout the movie, flesh tones especially looking natural and accurate. Even the darker scenes look great, with an enjoyable amount of detail present.
Although an anamorphic transfer would have likely helped, I have very few complaints about this image, if any. One wishes that Fox would be more consistent in their output of anamorphic transfers, because really, they've revealed themselves to being able to do some great work on titles such as Patton and The Thin Red Line. If they're capable of efforts on DVD that look that good, why not try to do that on all new releases, especially since they all have painfully high $34.95 price tags.
Being a mainly dialogue driven comedy, "Midsummer Night's Dream" is not that active in the audio department, with the exception of the occasional touches of a classical music score, which sounds deep and rich when it makes an appearance. Surrounds are put into infrequent use during the film, popping up occasionally but never really factoring into the majority of the movie. Dialogue remains clear and free of problems throughout.
MENUS:: Nicely animated main menus; curtains part to reveal the main menu.
EXTRAS: The trailer. Fox again lacks in the extras department. Painful, especially when the price tag is this high.
Final Thoughts If this had a cheaper retail price and a few more features, I would definitely recommend it. For what's included for the price, all I can really recommend is to rent it first.
The Film 85/B = (425/500 possible points)
Video 89/A- = (356/400 possible points)
Audio: 85/B = (340/400 possible points)
Extras: 65/D = (195/300 possible points)
Menus: 80/B- = (160/200 possible points)
Value: 70/C- = (210/300 possible points)