"You sure suck that whiskey down."
Okay, okay. Let me address the question that all of you are probably asking… "What are the differences in this version of the movie as opposed to the original release?" My answer… Not much, just that the sex scene between Halle Berry and Billy Bob Thronton is longer and more explicit (by longer, I mean by less than a minute). Now that we got that out of the way, let's get down to the actual review.
Welcome to Georgia, circa the early 1990s. Now meet the Grotowskis, three generations of white men; two of which are prison guards. Hank (Billy Bob Thornton) and his son, aptly named Sonny (Heath Ledger) are preparing for the execution of a convicted killer, Lawrence Musgrove (rapper P. Diddy, Sean Combs). To show just how flawed the Grotowskis are, the first scene in which we see Sonny he's visited by a prostitute who is also "familiar" with his father.
Anyways, on the night of Lawrence's execution, his wife Leticia (Halle Berry) and his son visit him. Soon after, he is executed, and Hank and Leticia form a connection through their sorrow and depression, regardless of what ramifications it may have on both of them, especially his family spearheaded by his racist father.
If you've been living under a rock, then you may not have heard of "Monster's Ball." Halle Berry's performance in this movie was so excellent, that she won the Academy Award for her role as Leticia. As the flawed, single mother of an obese child who waitresses to make ends meet; I was unable to take my eyes off of her. Not because of her beauty and the explicit sex scenes, but because of how believable she is as Leticia. Billy Bob Thornton is especially good in "Monster's Ball", and the energy and chemistry he has with Halle develops throughout the course of the movie.
Lion's Gate presents "Monster's Ball" in Anamorphic Widescreen 2.35:1. The often-dark picture looks really good, with little-to-no grain present in the scenes. Colors look very good, and convey the emotional drive of the film. Like the original DVD release of "Monster's Ball", there are no improvements here. It looks exactly the same, which is pretty good considering how good the original release looked.
The audio is presented here in Dolby 5.1 Surround and Dolby 2.0. Although mostly dialogue-driven, the movie's haunting score sounds great on my system. The Dolby 5.1 audio presentation is exactly the same as the one on the previous DVD release; so don't bother upgrading for the audio alone either.
Interactive DVD menu plays clips from the movie while it's score loops in the background. Choices include: "Play Movie", "Special Features", "Scene Index", "Audio", and "Subtitles."
Essentially, Lion's Gate prepared a whole new host of special features for this edition of "Monster's Ball." As far as I know, none of the special features from either release double up. For instance, a new commentary was recorded especially for the "Signature Series" version of this DVD. Accessible through the "Special Features" section, there is a commentary with Director Marc Forster and writers Milo Addica and Will Rokos. This commentary is pretty low-key, as all three discuss how they created "Monster's Ball", but seem void of humor.
In addition to the commentary, there is a Sundance Channel presentation of "Anatomy of a Scene" (it was originally advertised for the first DVD, but was never included), a "Behind the Scenes with Producer Lee Daniels", "Cast and Director Interviews", the "Monster's Ball Trailer", and a trailer for "Everything Put Together." Once again, if you are looking to collect all of the extras for "Monster's Ball", you would have to purchase both releases of the DVD.
With two different versions of "Monster's Ball" out now, it's hard for me to determine which one is more worthwhile. I feel the first release has a better set of extras (it has deleted scenes and two different commentaries), while this one features the longer and more explicit sex scene (yet still offering some decent extras). Therefore, I'll rate this movie as if I have never seen the original DVD release, and give it a "Highly Recommended." But for you "Monster's Ball" fans, you may want to consider double-dipping on this release.