New World is a French film (in France, its title is Le Nouveau Monde) which would probably not be seeing a Region 1 DVD release at all if it were not for the fact that this 1995 movie co-stars The Sopranos James Gandolphi in some pre-Tony Soprano work.
The French actors in the film speak French (it's dubbed), while the American actors (Alicia Silverstone among them) are undubbed – which gives the feeling of watching both a foreign and domestic film. The story revolves around a young French teenager who is committed to a young French girl, but finds himself drawn to the American lifestyle thanks to Gandolfini (who is a soldier based in France in the early 1950's), who mentors him about all things American.
And, of course, our young French lad can't resist the all-American lure of Alicia Silverstone…but hey, if you're going to dump your longtime girlfriend for an American, Ms. Silverstone is definitely the way to go!
It's interesting to see the perception of Americans by a French filmmaker. While all the French in this movie are somber and serious, all the Americans seem to be hard-drinking, hard-partying, devil-may-care types who love their rock n' roll and their beer.
While even here, Gandolfini shows that he is one heck of a good actor, I really can't recommend New World. When all's said and done, it simply looks and feels more like an R-Rated Afterschool Special than anything worth one's viewing time.
The video is presented full-frame, but it appears that no effort has been made to pan and scan the picture. As a result, often you'll hear characters talking and you can't see them on the screen. Additionally, the picture seems both over-saturated with color and not very sharp in definition. Overall, not a very good video presentation.
The soundtrack of the movie is loaded with 50's oldies, which might have sounded great in 5.1, but all we get here is a 2.0 track. It's serviceable and fairly clear and crisp, but given how much music is in the movie, it's a shame a 5.1 track wasn't made for the DVD.
In what seems to be a growing trend for lower-end and less well-known DVD releases these days, there are no extras whatsoever on this disc.
THE BOTTOM LINE
New World isn't a bad movie – it's just not a particularly interesting one. Some may want to check it out for the sole purpose of seeing how the French (or at least this particular French director) views Americans, but for the majority of DVD viewers out there, check this one off on your "skip it" list.