Running Time: 101 minutes
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Format: Anamorphic Widescreen/Full Screen
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1/2.0 Surround
Languages: English, French, Spanish
Subtitles: English, French, Spanish
Region: 1
MSRP: $14.95

Own It!
Gattaca (1997)

Ethan Hawke plays Vincent Freeman, the natural born "Love Child" of his once idealistic parents. In "the not so distant future" we are told that genetic manipulation has become the norm and that only so-called "perfect" children, free of disease, unbelievably high intelligence quotients, super strong, etc., can amount to anything. Thus, Vincent, who dreams of going into space, doesn't stand a chance of growing up to be anything other than a janitor in this new class system, regardless of how hard he works or studies, because people are hired based only on their genetic profile. Determined to somehow break into the system, Vincent makes a deal with Jerome, a model of genetic engineering who, despite his perfection, is paralyzed from the waist down after being hit by a car. Jerome's genetic profile is worthless to him now unless he can exploit it by giving it to Vincent.

In an elaborate ruse, Vincent assumes Jerome's identity and gets a job at Gattaca, a huge corporate structure which sends manned exploration vessels into space. When a murder investigation pegs Vincent as the prime suspect, his cover is threatened along with his chances of ever realizing his dream.

Gattaca could have been a powerful movie about the dangers of genetic interference and the power of the unadulterated human spirit. Instead, its social commentary is diluted by bad casting and a pseudo-dramatic murder mystery. The message is clear. Normal people good, genetically engineered freaks, bad. Or at least pitiable (as is the case with Jude Law's Jerome and Uma Thurman's Irene). Writer/director Andrew Niccol has some obvious reservations about the future of technology and the human race, but where his The Truman Show got the message across loud and clear, Gattaca fell flat. And I'm sorry, but Ethan Hawke is so lame that in the one scene where emotion actually registers on his face, I actually laughed and pointed.

Columbia/Tristar makes good looking DVDs. Gattaca is no exception. The colors are true and I only noticed occasional grain. I've got a new stereo with a four speaker setup and the audio was really good, especially in the scene where Vincent tries to run across a busy street without his contacts in -- I thought the highway had been built through my living room.

Both full screen and wide screen versions on this double sided disc. Poster gallery was weak but there was quite a lot worth seeing in the photo gallery. One section of deleted scenes, only one of which is worth watching because it expands the scene where Vincent's parents see the doctor (played for some reason by Blair Underwood) to discuss the creation of their genetically altered second child, Anton. Theatrical trailer with short featurette. What's the deal with featurettes, anyway? One nice thing I can say about this disc is that the menus were easy to navigate and didn't tick me off by selecting things I didn't want to select with no warning.

There are no great special effects here but the cinematography is easily the best reason to see the film, so that alone might make it worth the $20. Otherwise, the video comes out in June tagged at $12.99.

Amy Morrison