The Ring
Dreamworks // PG-13 // $26.99 // March 4, 2003
Review by Ron J. Epstein | posted February 26, 2003
Highly Recommended
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Graphical Version
"Seven days."

The Feature:
Twice. That is the amount of times I saw "The Ring" in theaters last year. Now, I'm not a big fan of the horror genre, as I find most scary movies to be anything but. Therefore, I was surprised at the impact "The Ring" had on me when I initially left the theater after my first viewing. The whole drive home I kept thinking about what I had just seen, and frankly, I had trouble sleeping that night. For the first time in my life, a horror movie did a good job of scaring me. The ironic twist, you ask? "The Ring" is rated PG-13.

"The Ring" starts off with two teenage girls trying to scare each other by talking about the videotape that kills you after you've finished watching it. A few days later, four teenagers are found dead, all dying from bizarre circumstances (a sixteen year old dies from a heart attack). Rachel Keller (Naomi Watts), a brash newspaper reporter, is asked to investigate one of the deaths. Slowly but surely, the assertive Rachel, pieces together clues, and is lead to a log cabin where the four teenagers had just spent their weekend. It is there that she finds the afore-mentioned videotape, and proceeds to watch it.

The beauty about a movie like "The Ring" is in its pacing. Granted, the movie is filled with disturbing images, but there's very little here that is visually scary. There is little-to-no blood present at all. Most of the "violence" is off camera. It's all about the unknown; that's why I felt the need to go back and watch it a second time. Agreed, it's not a completely original movie (in fact, it's a remake of a Japanese movie called "Ringu", which hits the U.S. the same day as "The Ring" streets). But having seen both, I prefer "The Ring" to its Japanese counterpart.

Back to the movie. Once Rachel has watched the videotape, she brings it back home to show it to her friend Noah (Martin Henderson); a video junky, to try and make some sense out of it. He watches it, and scoffs, knowing that Rachel is making a big deal out of nothing. In the following days, both of them begin to have some problems directly tied to what they saw in the videotape. The fear of what's to come, along with the fact that Rachel's son, Aidan (David Dorfman), has recently watched the tape, forces Rachel and Noah to unravel the mystery of "The Ring."

"The Ring" is presented in Anamorphic Widescreen 1.85:1. The video has a soft, and bluish-tinge to it, more so than I remembered it having in theaters. Regardless, I'm fairly certain that "The Ring" looks like that because of the way it was filmed (outdoor scenes are noticeably murky). Flesh tones look right, and the print is virtually free of flaws. That means, no noticeable pixelation or artifacting. Dreamworks is usually great about delivering the best video quality possible, and "The Ring" doesn't seem to be an exception to that rule. Overall, I'm a happy camper.

The audio is presented here in DTS, Dolby 5.1, Dolby 2.0, and in French 5.1. Color me shocked that Dreamworks was kind enough to include a kick butt DTS track. The surround activity is great, especially when it is raining in the movie. The "shock" scenes will jar your heart, even if you have a mediocre setup. Best of all, "The Ring" relies heavily on the ability to unnerve you through music and sudden noises, so you audiophiles will have something to look forward to when you pop this DVD into your player. Great job Dreamworks.

"The Ring" features a really spooky interactive DVD menu, featuring scenes from the video. Your choices include: "Play Movie", "Scene Selection", "Setup", "Don't Watch This" (a collection of deleted scenes), and "Look Here" (trailers). This is one of the best menus I've seen in recent memory. Unfortunately, for those watching "The Ring" for the first time, the menu kind of spoils the impact the videotape has in the movie.

It's no secret that Dreamworks is going to end up releasing a special edition of "The Ring" somewhere down the line (they have yet to make that announcement as of the date of this review). By selecting "Don't Watch This" from the DVD menu, you can watch a 10+ minute reel of deleted scenes (the back of the DVD case makes it sound like it's a featurette by Gore Verbinski). The deleted scenes are shown in anamorphic widesecreen 1.85:1, and, for the most part, are really good. I don't want to spoil one of them, but it involves Rachel and a video rental store.

Originally, I assumed that the "video" was not included on the DVD, and boy was I wrong. In actuality, it's an easter egg. Here is how to access it according to

"On the Main Menu- move the red Arrow next to "Play Movie" and press the up arrow button on your remote- OR put the arrow nest to "Look Here" and press down- OR just hit the Numeric Key 6 on your remote if you have it- whichever you do, the red arrow will dissapear- then just hit Enter- and you'll get to watch the infamous video."

Aside from the above, the only other extras on this DVD are the trailers for "Ringu", "Catch Me if You Can", and "8 Mile." My personal wish list for a special edition of "The Ring" includes: a commentary by Verbinski and the cast, TV spots, a trailer for "The Ring", a new cover for the DVD (the current one looks completely tacky, and doesn't reflect the mood of the film at all), and countless other goodies.

Final Thoughts:
Okay, what have we got? "The Ring" is an awesome movie, quite possibly the scariest movie I have ever seen. Granted, that's just me; but hey, I'm the one doing the reviewing here. Add to the mix great video/audio, and an incredible menu, and you'd think you'd have a DVDTalk Collector's Series DVD on your hands, right? Well, unfortunately, the lack of special features (except for the deleted scenes) on this DVD greatly hinders my recommendation. Therefore, if you love "The Ring", go buy this right now. If you're waiting for a more complete special edition and hate double-dipping, then hold off on buying this one. Me? I'll be more than happy to double-dip on this one. "Highly Recommended."

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