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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Love's Labours Lost
Love's Labours Lost
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Review by Aaron Beierle | posted December 20, 2000 | E-mail the Author
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The Movie:

Probably the lightest, slightest Shakespeare movie released in the past couple of years, "Love's Labour's Lost" is the latest directorial effort from Kenneth Branagh, who also acts here. The film is a bit of a musical, a bit of a comedy - it's a bit of a lot of things, charming the audience and yet not really adding up to a whole lot. The film revolves around three friends(Kenneth Branagh, Adrian Lester, Matthew Lillard) who have vowed to give up the persuit of women during the course of their studies. Yet, soon after, the princess of France(Alicia Silverstone) soon comes with a few of her friends (Natascha McElhone, Carmen Ejogo, Emily Mortimer) and, of course, romance ensues.

As does much slight comedy and, unfortunately, some slapstick. The great majority of the actors in the film are not singers and/or dancers, so their work here is awkward at times. As for simply performances in general, some are better than others. Alicia Silverstone seems to be playing an extention of her "Clueless" character, and some of the supporting cast's roles are small enough to be seemingly not needed. Branagh is not bad, nor are other members of the cast like Nathan Lane or Adrian Lester("Primary Colors"). Even one of the more questionable casting choices - Matthew Lillard("She's All That" and very good in "SLC Punk") is decent in a small role.

But, the problem overall is that there's so little weight to any of it that the plot doesn't seem to matter - it seems to be more about presenting song and dance numbers than anything else. The humor seems to forced - much like the rest of the movie, to be light and humorous. There's some charm to the production - certainly, but it seems to be rooted towards the begining of the picture - as it goes further, it falls ever flatter. Not a total loss, "Love's Labour's Lost" is simply a decent attempt at an experiment, but I found nothing too memorable contained in the film's thin 94 minutes.


The DVD

VIDEO: This is a very average presentation from Miramax, which is watchable, but nevertheless presents some concerns. The movie is presented in the film's original 2.35:1 aspect ratio and is anamorphic. The picture appears consistently soft and only presenting fair detail. Some scenes lacked clarity and seemed a little hazy. There are some black and white sequences throughout the movie, which are meant to look "worn".

But during the main parts of the movie, what surprised me was the amount of print flaws that were visible throughout. Not massive or hugely distracting flaws, but a number of small (and a handful that rank slightly above "small") marks and speckles - certainly more than I would like to have seen in a film this new. Slight shimmer and a couple of trace instances of pixelation also appear.

Colors are pleasing though - this is certainly a movie that boasts soft, warm colors that do look good with few exceptions. It's entirely unfortunate that I found this to be an overall mediocre presentation, because the movie itself is visually pleasing with the costumes, sets and cinematography. Miramax could have put more care into this effort.

SOUND: Where the picture quality was certainly not as good as I would have liked, the sound quality is generally without any complaints. The classic tunes come from all sides, and the enveloping nature of the music in the audio presentation at least attempts slightly to keep the viewer involved with the tone of the movie. The music and dialogue are really the only elements of the sound throughout the movie - nothing else to it. Dialogue and singing generally seemed clean and not harsh or edgy. Generally succeeds at presenting the material in an appealing, clear way.

MENUS:: The menus, like most from the studio, are not animated and offer basic film-themed images as backgrounds.

EXTRAS: Suprisingly, there are a few supplemental features, although I've heard (although I'm not sure) that the region 2 version contains a commentary track. This region one version does not. What it does contain is listed below.

Outtakes: A little under 7 minutes worth - mainly showing actors breaking into laughter in the middle of a scene, falling, or not remembering their lines. So-so stuff - some of it got a few laughs while other moments didn't.

Deleted Scenes: Suprisingly, there is 18 minutes worth of deleted footage here, most of it offering comedy or slapstick moments. Although most of it probably wouldn't have added anything to the final product, there are a few scenes sprinkled throughout the group that may have made for a few additional light and funny moments. The unfortunate thing is that there is no way to skip to one of the scenes, and they all play back-to-back.

Behind-The-Scenes: A fairly good promotional featurette that shows us the ways that the performers rehearsed for all of the singing/dancing that takes place in the film. There are quite a few shots of the production at work, and interviews with the cast.
Final Thoughts: "Love's Labours" is maybe worth a rental for Branagh fans. Audio/video quality is nothing special, although the package is slightly added to by a handful of decent extra features. Miramax/Disney will hopefully stop pricing some of their releases like this one at the too-expensive-for-what-you're-offered $32.99.

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