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Lady in the Water

Blu Ray

  • Score
    55
    from 2 reviewers
    Review Date:
  • Shyamalan's talent shines despite 'Lady in the Water's' flaws & mixed reception; Blu-ray lacks.

    Lady in the Water Blu-ray Front Cover

    Disc Release Date:

  • Video
    58
  • Lady in the Water's Blu-ray release delivers a dull, lifeless 1080p image, lacking vibrance and fine details, although it's a slight improvement over DVD. It mirrors Shyamalan's intended drab tone.

  • Audio
    55
  • Lady in the Water's Blu-ray release disappoints with a mediocre Dolby Digital 5.1 EX soundtrack, lacking lossless audio and immersion, despite a trade-off in channel integration compared to HD DVD's TrueHD track.

  • Extra
    48
  • The 'Lady in the Water' Blu-ray features a making-of documentary, Shyamalan's reflections, and extras like audition tapes and deleted scenes, hinting at unmet fan desires for commentary but providing enough to satisfy.

  • Movie
    58
  • Lady in the Water, underappreciated with flaws, mirrors Shyamalan's drastic Hollywood journey and curious storytelling; its whimsy clashes with critics but finds peculiar charm.

    Video: 58

    Lady in the Water" emerges onto Blu-ray with a 1080p transfer that swings between a 1.78:1 and 1.85:1 aspect ratio, embodying a visual style that's both intentionally subdued and reflective of director M. Night Shyamalan's distinct aesthetic. The video presentation is consistent in its lack of vibrancy, with colors throughout appearing washed out, though this may be a deliberate choice to complement the film's thematic elements. Despite this, the high-definition upgrade from its DVD and HD DVD counterparts offers a marginal improvement in sharpness and detail. While the image possesses a certain sharpness superior to standard definition, fine details in facial textures and background elements remain underwhelming, serving the minimalist styling intended but not particularly excelling beyond minimal expectations.

    The Blu-ray does maintain a level of visual integrity with regards to grain and minimal print damage, suggesting a faithful transfer that avoids overt digital manipulation. Meanwhile, softness is a recurring issue, perhaps exacerbated by attempts at enhancing the picture quality, which introduces occasional edginess to the image. This is contrasted with relatively stable black levels and flesh tones that range from the darker complexions to Story's intentionally pallid appearance, ensuring characters remain visually coherent against the otherwise drab settings. Despite these efforts, the overall depth and three-dimensionality of the image struggle to compete with more vivid high-definition releases, and while compression artifacts and chroma noise are largely absent, the presence of slight edge enhancement is a notable deviation from the source's qualities.

    Warner Home Entertainment's Blu-ray presentation seems to be a recycled encoding from the previous HD DVD release, hinting at a certain level of preservation or perhaps limitation in translating the theatrical experience to home video. The resultant image, described by some as reminiscent of "dirty bathwater," might not win over those seeking a demo-worthy high-definition experience. However, it's an arguably accurate reflection of Shyamalan's vision for the film, presenting an aesthetic that aligns closely with the director’s stylized, albeit polarizing, narrative approach.

    Audio: 55

    Lady in the Water" on Blu-ray disappoints with its adherence to a Dolby Digital 5.1 EX soundtrack, noticeably lacking a lossless or uncompressed audio option for a release that should sparkle in high definition. This oversight results in a presentation that is functionally adequate yet underwhelming in immersiveness and sonic depth. The soundtrack predominantly leans on its front channels, offering little more than essential back-channel support for ambient effects - a sprinkler system instance being a rare moment of rear-channel utilization which, while identifiable, fails to convincingly place the listener within a live setting. The soundtrack's dynamics are stifled; musical scores are reproduced with general smoothness but suffer from a lack of clarity, and while dialogue is rendered crisply, the overall audio experience feels perfunctorily executed and lacks the vivid atmospherics and precision that a lossless track could provide.

    Interestingly, the Blu-ray-release omits the Dolby TrueHD 5.1 track available on the HD DVD version, presenting a peculiar scenario where the included Dolby Digital EX mix features an additional center surround channel. This could have been an advantage, offering more seamless integration of rear channels, yet the film's subdued sound design and long stretches of minimal sound limit the effectiveness of this setup. Despite the potential for enhanced audio dynamics during scenes of heightened activity - attacks by the Scrunts or the climactic encounter with a giant eagle-like creature - the absence of a lossless option renders these moments less impactful than they might have been, with a compromised bass response and dynamic range failing to elevate the experience substantially.

    In conclusion, while "Lady in the Water" delivers its narrative through clean and sharp dialogue, the Blu-ray's audio presentation significantly misses the mark in providing an enveloping or memorable auditory experience. The lack of a lossless audio option severely limits the potential richness and immersion of the film's soundscape, leaving much to be desired for audiophiles and fans hoping for a definitive high-definition experience. The inclusion of Dolby Digital 5.1 EX offers a minor consolation with its extra center surround channel, yet this cannot compensate for the constrained sonic fidelity and impact overall.

    Extra: 48

    The Blu-ray extras for "Lady in the Water" deliver a decent yet somewhat mixed bag for enthusiasts of the film. Foremost, the "Reflections of 'Lady in the Water'" documentary, albeit extensive at roughly 35 minutes across six parts, may leave audiences craving more substantive insights, specifically regarding Shyamalan's narrative processes and any untold studio controversies. While commendable for its breadth, covering everything from script inception to post-production, and featuring earnest interviews with the cast and crew, it somewhat skirts depth in favor of adulation towards Shyamalan and the film's conceptual genesis. The additional features, including audition tapes, a gag reel, deleted scenes, and trailers, alongside the "Lady in the Water: A Bedtime Story" segment—which essentially serves as an advertisement for Shyamalan's companion book—offer slices of behind-the-scenes content but may not fully satiate all fans’ appetites. Critically, while these extras sketch the movie's making, a lack of a full-length director’s commentary is palpably felt, underscored by an assortment of extras that vary in entertainment value and relevance.

    Extras included in this disc:

    • 'Lady in the Water:' A Bedtime Story: Director M. Night Shyamalan reads from his illustrated book that inspired the movie.
    • Reflections of 'Lady in the Water': A comprehensive six-part making-of documentary covering from story origin to post-production.
    • Audition Tapes: A compilation of audition footage for various roles in the film.
    • Gag Reel: A collection of outtakes and bloopers from the production.
    • Deleted Scenes: Several omitted scenes from the final film version.
    • Theatrical Trailer: Original cinema teaser for "Lady in the Water."
    • Film's Teaser: Early promotional teaser trailer.

    Movie: 58

    Lady in the Water," directed by M. Night Shyamalan, remains an enigmatic piece in the filmmaker’s repertoire, simultaneously admired and scrutinized. Despite its ambitious thematic depth and Shyamalan's distinct visual flair, the film stands as a testament to unfulfilled potential. At its core, "Lady in the Water" attempts to weave an intricate tapestry of fate, faith, and interconnectedness set within a mundane Philadelphia apartment complex. The narrative introduces us to Cleveland Heep, portrayed with considerable nuance by Paul Giamatti, a handyman whose discovery of Story, a sea nymph from The Blue World (Bryce Dallas Howard), catalyzes a quest that promises to bring about global transformation. The film’s underlying narrative – a poignant exploration of human connection and unity against the backdrop of a fantastical encounter – is rich with possibility. Yet, it grapples with executional missteps, including pacing discrepancies and convoluted plot mechanisms that detract from its broader philosophical ambitions.

    Critiques notwithstanding, "Lady in the Water" undeniably benefits from Shyamalan’s craftsmanship and the solid performances of its ensemble cast. Giamatti’s portrayal of Heep infuses the narrative with emotional gravity, complemented by Howard’s ethereal presence. The film's visual presentation, characterized by its subtle yet immersive atmosphere, further exemplifies Shyamalan’s capability to create compelling cinematic environments. However, the story’s sprawling mythology, though imaginative, often borders on the incomprehensible, challenging viewers to disentangle its lore from the narrative’s core message. While some may view this complexity as a detriment, it invigorates the film with a unique charm that has garnered it a dedicated if not niche following.

    The discourse surrounding "Lady in the Water" is as multifaceted as the film itself, marked by polarized receptions that underscore its divisive nature. Despite its narrative shortcomings and the thematic overreach that muddles its intended impact, the film distinguishes itself through its heartfelt performances and the sheer audacity of its vision. Shyamalan’s experiment with genre conventions and his attempt to encapsulate grandiose themes within an ostensibly simple setting is commendable. Though it may not have achieved the critical acclaim or thematic coherence of his earlier work, "Lady in the Water" persists as a curious outlier — a film that dares to dream beyond the confines of conventional storytelling, meriting appreciation for its boldness alone.

    Total: 55

    The Blu-ray release of M. Night Shyamalan's "Lady in the Water" arrives amidst a tumultuous phase of the director's career, teetering on the edge of his once-certain cinematic dominion and the hopes of reclaiming his monumental status with future projects such as "The Last Airbender." Despite Shyamalan's undeniable prowess in filmmaking, storytelling, and unique vision, "Lady in the Water" itself emerges as a concoction of grand ideas and thematic ambitions that, regrettably, fail to fully materialize, resulting in a film that leaves audiences hovering in a state of detachment. The narrative's deeper complexities are only superficially explored, rendering the film a poignant emblem of unrealized potential. However, commendations are due for the effort expended, commendable casting decisions, an evocative score by James Newton Howard, and Shyamalan's distinct directorial finesse. Yet, the distance between what could have been a profoundly impactful cinema and what is ultimately delivered is palpably vast and lamentably insurmountable.

    The technical aspects of the Blu-ray presentation do mirror these sentiments of underachievement. The 1080p video quality, while true to its theatrical roots, offers nothing beyond a passable visual experience, somewhat reflective of the film's overall reception—neither dismal nor remarkable. The auditory experience is similarly middling, hampered by the inclusion of a lossy Dolby Digital track rather than the superior Dolby TrueHD track, a decision that undermines the potential richness of its acoustic landscape. Additional content in standard definition provides a glimpse into the creative process but does little to elevate the package beyond mediocrity.

    In conclusion, while "Lady in the Water" on Blu-ray stands as a testament to Shyamalan's undimmed creative spark and a cast's commendable efforts, it falls short of delivering a definitive viewing experience. The essence of what might have been a transformative story remains obscured by both the film's execution and its subsequent home release treatment. It's a package that will chiefly appeal to staunch enthusiasts of Shyamalan's oeuvre or those few who find themselves enchanted by the film's fairytale aspirations. For the broader audience and cinephiles yearning for the total engagement and fulfillment that Blu-ray can offer, this release may feel akin to a missed opportunity rather than a celebrated addition to their collection.