S1m0ne appears in both an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 and in a fullscreen version on this double-sided DVD-14; the widescreen image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. Only the letterboxed picture was reviewed for this article. While quite positive for the most part, a few issues meant that the image failed to reach a level of greatness.
Sharpness generally appeared excellent. Other than a few slightly soft wide shots, the movie remained nicely distinct and accurate. The majority of the film came across as crisp and detailed. Jagged edges and moiré effects created no concerns, but a little edge enhancement caused some distractions. As for print flaws, I noticed a little grit at times. Otherwise the movie remained clean.
S1m0ne usually provided a fairly natural palette, though the tones became somewhat hyper-real at times. One bathroom sequence adopted a decidedly sickly green hue, for example. In any case, the colors looked vivid and well depicted across the board. The tones always seemed clean and accurate, and they showed no signs of noise or other issues. Black levels were deep and dense, and shadow detail looked clean and appropriately opaque. Without the slight softness, edge enhancement and specks, S1m0ne would have made it to “A’-level, but it remained worthy of a “B+”.
S1m0ne provided Dolby Digital 5.1 and DTS 5.1 soundtracks. The DTS version seemed noticeably more satisfying. I’ll discuss it first and then relate the differences I experienced between the two.
The soundfield seemed fairly subdued. S1m0ne generally offered a chatty flick, so the mix didn’t demonstrate much activity. For the most part, the imagery remained focused on the front channels, where I heard good stereo delineation of effects as well as some decent general ambience. Elements blended together well and moved neatly between channels, but not a whole lot happened. The surrounds contributed nice reinforcement of both score and effects, and they came to life a little more in sequences like the one at the stadium concert, but the track remained rather muted in that domain.
Audio quality seemed decent, though a few issues appeared. Speech sounded reasonably precise and natural, though I noticed a little too much echo and tinniness. Nonetheless, the lines remained intelligible and they lacked problems related to edginess. Effects seemed crisp and accurate, and they showed fairly solid bass response. Music also came across as bright and lively, and low-end seemed warm and vivid.
The Dolby Digital track fell a little short of the DTS one mostly due to audio quality. The Dolby mix seemed a little more stiff and rough, especially in regard to speech. Dialogue also came across as somewhat sibilant during the Dolby mix, whereas that issue didn’t occur during the DTS one. The soundfield of the Dolby track demonstrated a little less ambition; while the DTS version didn’t make great use of the rear speakers, it seemed more involving. Bass response also was a little looser for the Dolby track, as low-end material appeared slightly boomy. The two remained similar enough for me to only differentiate them slightly in regard to their letter grades, but the DTS audio for S1m0ne definitely provided the more satisfying experience.
Despite New Line’s reputation for excellent special editions, S1m0ne doesn’t offer a lot of features. We start with a featurette called Cyber Stardom. This mixes movie clips, images from the set, and interviews with writer/director/producer Andrew Niccol, actors Rachel Roberts, Pruitt Vince Taylor, Al Pacino, Catherine Keener, and Evan Rachel Wood, visual effects supervisors William Robbins and Gray Marshall, visual effects producer Crystal Dowd, and lead flame artist Ricardo Torres.
”Stardom” examines the present and the future of artificial actors. In addition to some philosophical discussions, we also learn some of the challenges related to the creation of Simone. For example, we hear of problems related to the depiction of mannerisms. The seven-minute and 41-second program speeds through topics too quickly, and it doesn’t seem very interesting or stimulating.
We get more effects material in Simulating S1m0ne. The six-minute and 51-second piece uses the same format as “Stardom”, and we hear from visual effects producer Crystal Dowd, actor Rachel Roberts, visual effects supervisors William Robbins and Gray Marshall, writer/director/producer Andrew Niccol, and lead flame artist Ricardo Torres. The piece provides the basics for the computer animation of Simone as well as material about the CG head and body, the hologram effect, synchronization of interactive screens, and some other issues. Although the program seems too light at times, it still offers a pretty tight little look at the effects.
Next we find a collection of 19 Deleted/Alternate Scenes. Presented anamorphic 2.35: with Dolby Digital 5.1 audio, these last between 17 seconds and 176 seconds for a total of 23 minutes and 38 seconds. None of these did much for me, but fans of the flick should enjoy them. Interestingly, we get to see the “uncut” segments for some of Simone’s movies.
In an unusual move, you can set up the DVD so that the scenes appear as you watch the movie. They show up at the appropriate times, and this offers an intriguing way to view them. Unfortunately, New Line neglected to include a “Play All” option, which made it tough to navigate all 19 of them via the special features menu.
In addition to two trailers - presented anamorphic 2.35:1 with Dolby Digital 5.1 audio – we find some DVD-ROM materials. “Script to Screen” lets you read the original script while you watch the movie; the video runs in a small screen on the left as the text displays on the right half of the screen. The “Hot Spot” sends you to a New Line site that apparently offers revolving pieces of information and activities. “The Real Simone” links to a website about the character. A fairly interesting place, it includes images of lots of materials we see in the movie, such as magazine covers. Other downloads and items also appear.
Despite an intriguing notion behind it, S1m0ne did little to make itself interesting. Instead, the film seemed fairly inane and silly. The DVD provided very good picture with generally positive sound and a small roster of extras. Fans of S1m0ne will probably feel happy with this DVD, but I can’t recommend this smug movie to anyone else.