Lady in the Water appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. A release from Blu-ray’s very early days, this one really showed its age.
Sharpness became a major flaw. Little about the movie displayed positive delineation, as even close-ups tended to appear a little soft. Wider shots turned ugly, as they looked ill-defined and mushy. Much of the time I felt like I was watching a DVD in terms of clarity – and not an especially good DVD at that.
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 decent balance, but on other occasions, I thought the tones came across as moderately thick and muddy. The colors tended to be lackluster most of the time.
Black levels seemed inky, and shadow detail was iffy. These shots suffered from a bland feel that made low-light moments drab and muddy. The film could definitely use a new transfer, as this one looked mediocre at best – and it rarely was at its best.
The Dolby Digital 5.1 EX 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 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 fairly lifelike and accurate, with no signs of distortion.
Music was reasonably bright and lively, with good dynamics. Across the board, bass response sounded tight and deep. Ultimately, the soundtrack of Water worked fine for the movie.
How did the Blu-ray compare to the DVD version? Audio remained literally identical, as the Blu-ray failed to include a lossless option.
As for the visuals, they disappointed. The Blu-ray essentially looked like a DVD, so I saw little that offered an improvement. The Blu-ray might be slightly better than the DVD, but by very little, if at all. This is a weak Blu-ray.
The Blu-ray repeats the DVD’s extras, and we start with Lady in the Water: A Bedtime Story. This five-minute featurette highlights director M. Night Shyamalan as he discusses the tale he told to his kids and its adaptation into an actual book.
Shyamalan 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, 45 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, 10 seconds, as we see tryouts for various supporting actors. Quite a few performers appear, so expect to see only a few moments from each. Most of them feature feigned vomiting.
In addition to two trailers, we also find a three-minute, 16-second Gag Reel. Lots of goofs and giggles appear with little actual entertainment.
Six Deleted Scenes go a total of five minutes, one second. 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.
After a good start to his career, M. Night Shyamalan went downhill, and Lady in the Water accelerated that decline. Slow and goofy, the movie offers little to make it work. The Blu-ray brings us decent audio and supplements along with surprisingly bad picture. Water is a silly and forgettable film.
To rate this film, visit the DVD review of LADY IN THE WATER