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TOUCHSTONE

MOVIE INFO

Director:
Curtis Hanson
Cast:
Annabella Sciorra, Rebecca De Mornay, Matt McCoy, Julianne Moore, Ernie Hudson, Madeline Zima, John de Lancie
Writing Credits:
Amanda Silver

Tagline:
... is the hand that rules the world.

Synopsis:
Get ready for edge-of-your-seat excitement with the hit that rocked the nation! In this entertaining thriller, Claire Bartel (Annabella Sciorra) has the perfect life and family - and exactly what Petyon Flanders (Rebecca De Mornay) desires desperately. But once Peyton deceptively becomes the Bartels' live-in housekeeper, how far will she really go when the life she wants belongs to someone else? From absorbing start to heart-stopping finish, this critically acclaimed winner delivers a lively mix of thrills, chills, and surprises equaling 100% fun!

Box Office:
Budget
$11.700 million.
Domestic Gross
$88.036 million.

MPAA:
Rated R

DVD DETAILS
Presentation:
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
Audio:
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
Spanish Dolby Digital 2.0
French Dolby Digital 2.0
Subtitles:
English
Spanish
French
Portuguese
Closed-captioned
Supplements Subtitles:
None

Runtime: 110 min.
Price: $20.00
Release Date: 9/4/2012

Bonus:
• Trailer
• Sneak Peeks


PURCHASE @ AMAZON.COM

EQUIPMENT
Panasonic 50" TH-50PZ77U 1080p Plasma Monitor; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.

RELATED REVIEWS


The Hand That Rocks The Cradle [Blu-Ray] (1992)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (September 6, 2012)

With others like Fatal Attraction and The Roommate, the “crazy, vindictive female” genre doesn’t give us a ton of entries, but it does provide some memorable hits. 1992’s The Hand That Rocks the Cradle emerged as one of these and probably made it tough for nannies to get work.

When Claire Bartel (Annabella Sciorra) becomes pregnant, she goes to a new gynecologist, Dr. Victor Mott (John de Lancie). She feels that he sexually abused her during her office visit so she files a complaint. This leads to additional claims from other women and heads toward a hearing, but before that can happen, Mott kills himself – and the trauma leads his wife (Rebecca De Mornay) to miscarry her own baby.

Because Claire launched the investigation, Mrs. Mott blames her for her husband’s death and the miscarriage, so she seeks to get revenge. Posing as “Peyton Flanders”, Mrs. Mott applies for the position as the Bartel family’s nanny. Claire thinks Peyton feels like a terrific match and hires her. Big mistake, as Peyton plans to use the position to get revenge on Claire.

When I put the Blu-ray in my player, I took a quick look at the film’s plot summary on IMDB as a story reminder. This tells us about the abuse investigation and Mrs. Mott’s miscarriage, which bothered me. I figured that this information would emerge late in the movie and felt that the summary gave us spoilers.

Nope – we see Mrs. Mott early, so when “Peyton” shows up at the Bartel abode, we already know that she’s not who she claims to be. That choice surprised me, as it ruined some potential drama/revelations.

Though it does set up a different kind of thriller. Clearly influenced by Hitchcock, the structure uses the “ticking time bomb” form of tension; we know there’s an explosion on the horizon and we wait for the protagonists to do something to prevent it. Peyton’s the ticking bomb that no one realizes is set to blow.

Is that format better, worse or the same than a story in which Peyton’s role is left less clear? That’s up for the viewer to decide, but I can’t help but think Hand would work better with a more low-key approach. Yes, in this version, the film can allow Peyton to present a more interesting personality – and De Mornay has a ball as she digs into her inner bitch.

Unfortunately, this makes the movie too one-sided – and creates an odd situation in which we essentially see events from Peyton’s POV. Normally we’d go through Claire’s eyes, but because she’s in the dark so much of the time, we tend to focus on a Peyton-centered experience.

Because the movie wants to have it both ways, this doesn’t work. While we see Peyton’s nastiness, we also have many scenes that portray Claire in emotional breakdown mode. With a less-defined Peyton character, Claire’s experiences would resonate more clearly; the audience would get left off-guard and feel unsure what to think. With a non-clearly-evil Peyton, we wonder if Claire’s losing it or if Peyton’s as insidious as she believes.

The final product doesn’t allow such subtleties and beats us over the head with its one-dimensional characters and themes. That doesn’t mean it’s not fun; again, De Mornay is a delight as the unhinged Peyton.

However, it makes the results awfully predictable, and that’s not a good recipe for a thriller. Some genres work just fine even when we can easily foresee plot points – has anyone over the age of three ever been surprised by a Disney happy ending? – but others need more of an edge. With thin characters and story elements that can be viewed far in advance, Hand lacks the surprise factor and suffers for it.


The Blu-ray Grades: Picture B/ Audio B-/ Bonus D-

The Hand That Rocks the Cradle appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this Blu-Ray Disc. The movie offered a more than satisfactory transfer.

Sharpness always seemed perfectly adequate. While I wouldn’t call the results “razor-sharp”, the image maintained solid levels of clarity and accuracy; only a little softness occasionally interfered with interiors. No issues with jaggies or moiré effects materialized, and edge haloes weren’t a factor. With appropriate levels of grain, I saw no signs of overzealous digital noise reduction, and print flaws caused no distractions.

In terms of palette, the film went with a slightly overcast feel to match the Seattle setting. This meant low-key, grayish tones much of the time. These lacked much vivacity but made sense within the movie’s tone. Blacks looked fairly deep and dense, and low-light shots appeared appropriately clear and smooth. Although nothing here dazzled, the image was consistently fine.

As for the film’s DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack, it seemed adequate for this kind of psychological thriller. The soundscape didn’t have a whole lot to make it stand out from the crowd. It emphasized general atmosphere and managed to create a convincing sense of place. Elements popped up in the correct places and blended together well. The movie didn’t do much with the soundfield, but it was fine for the movie’s ambitions.

Audio quality was also satisfying. Speech occasionally seemed a little tinny, but the lines were intelligible and usually fairly natural. Music showed good range and fullness, while effects came across as accurate and lacked distortion. I thought the track lacked the ambition to jump above a “B-“, but it fit the movie well.

The disc opens with ads for Frankenweenie and various TV series on home video. These also appear under Sneak Peeks along with promos for The Avengers, Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Castle and more ABC TV series. We get the trailer for Hand as well. No other extras appear.

At times, The Hand That Rocks the Cradle provides “B”-movie fun, largely due to a wicked performance from Rebecca De Mornay. Unfortunately, the story lacks surprises and comes with a POV that robs it of much potential drama. The Blu-ray presents good picture and audio but lacks supplements. Hand provides mild entertainment that could’ve been much more effective.

Viewer Film Ratings: 3.6 Stars Number of Votes: 5
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