Lady in the Water appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. Watchable but erratic, this wasn’t a great transfer.
Sharpness varied but usually remained acceptable. At times, the picture seemed softer and fuzzier than I’d expect. These instances didn’t happen frequently, and they also didn’t appear major, but they popped up periodically and made the film seem less defined than normal. Neither jagged edges nor moiré effects caused concerns, but some light edge enhancement seemed present at times. As for print flaws, the movie was a little grainier than normal, but it otherwise seemed clean.
Colors looked a bit dense at times. Parts of the movie showed a nice balance, but on other occasions, I thought the tones came across as moderately thick and muddy. For the most part, the colors were accurate and distinct, but some of these concerns did occur. Black levels seemed nicely deep and solid, but shadow detail was somewhat erratic. Most low-light shots showed appropriate definition, but a few others looked a little too dark and opaque. In the end, most of Water looked positive, but the mix of small concerns knocked my grade down to a more average “B-“.
The Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack of Lady in the Water seemed more positive, though it still wasn’t exceptional. It presented a soundfield that generally emphasized the forward channels, but it opened up very well at times. The mix showed good stereo music along with a clean and accurate atmosphere from the front. Much of the time, the movie featured simple environmental audio; the low-key nature of the story didn’t require much from the surrounds, though they demonstrated solid ambience during the outdoor shots. The rear speakers really added to the film whenever the scrunts became more active in the story. Those critters scampered all around the spectrum cleanly and effectively, and those elements helped make the movie creepier.
Audio quality was consistently positive. Dialogue always sounded natural and warm, and I noticed no issues related to intelligibility or edginess. Effects appeared lifelike and accurate, with no signs of distortion. Music appeared bright and lively, with good dynamics. Across the board, bass response sounded tight and deep. Ultimately, the soundtrack of Water worked well for the movie.
As we move to the extras, we start with Lady in the Water: A Bedtime Story. This four-minute and 57-second featurette highlights director M. Night Shyamalan as he discusses the tale he told to his kids and its adaptation into an actual book. He reads from the tome as we see illustrations created for it. I like this glimpse of the inspiration behind the movie, though it works better as a short kiddie story instead of as a full-length flick.
A six-part documentary, Reflections of Lady in the Water lasts 34 minutes, 37 seconds. It includes remarks from Shyamalan, associate producer Jose L. Rodriguez, producer Sam Mercer, creature designer Crash McCreery, 2nd unit director/storyboard artist Brick Mason, director of photography Christopher Doyle, production designer Martin Childs, production supervisor Jim Scaife, creature/makeup effects supervisor Mike Elizalde, spectral motion crew Mark Setrakian and Frederick Fraleigh, compositing supervisor Marshall Krasser, visual effects supervisor Edward Hirsh, digital artist Lana Lan, digital effects supervisor Kevin Barnhill, composer James Newton Howard, and actors Bryce Dallas Howard, Paul Giamatti, Bob Balaban, Sarita Choudhury, Cindy Cheung, Mary Beth Hurt, Jeffrey Wright, Noah Gray-Cabey, Bill Irwin, Grant Monohon, Joseph D. Reitman, Ethan Cohn, John Boyd, Jared Harris, and Freddy Rodriguez.
“Reflections” offers more information about the film’s genesis and writing as well as cast and characters, storyboards and the movie’s look, locations and sets, bringing the various creatures to life, editing, and the score. Though we get a decent overview from “Reflections”, it lacks true depth. There’s too much happy talk, especially when it comes to the praise that all ladle onto Shyamalan. Still, plenty of useful notes emerge, especially when we learn about the massive apartment complex set created for the movie; those elements offer the most interesting aspects of the piece. This is a sporadically compelling program.
Auditions fills two minutes, 11 seconds. We see tryouts for various supporting actors. Quite a few appear, so expect to see only a few moments from each. Most of them feature fake vomiting. We also find a three-minute and 15-second Gag Reel. Lots of goofs and giggles appear with little actual entertainment.
Six Deleted Scenes go a total of five minutes. The first two provide a little more early exposition with Cleveland and Story, while the third just shows a quick shot of the sprinklers as they turn on again. Scenes four, five and give us a bit extra with the supporting characters, including information about Story’s fate. The only interesting one provides a funny reference to “The Three Little Pigs”; the other five are pointless, dull or both.
The DVD opens with some ads. We find clips for We Are Marshall and The Nativity Story. The disc also includes the movie’s theatrical and teaser trailers.
Perhaps M. Night Shyamalan will return to his winning ways with his next project and Lady in the Water will be his 1941, an anomaly in an otherwise successful career. However, since it’s his second lackluster movie in a row, I can’t help but wonder if his best days are behind him. The DVD offers decent picture and audio along with a few useful extras. Water is a silly and forgettable film, and nothing about this average DVD elevates it.