Whenever a new home video format arrives, there are certain movies that everyone can’t wait to purchase again. Whether on laserdisc, DVD, or Blu-ray, movies such as The Godfather, Star Wars, and Back to the Future are rolled out with great fanfare in their “better than ever” reissue. As any given format becomes commonplace, the studios begin raiding their back catalogs, dumping out the rest of their titles. Original Sin is now available on Blu-ray, a 2001 suspense thriller starring Antonio Banderas and Angelina Jolie. These two stars are the only reason I can think of that someone would care about such a total wash-out of a movie.
And even then, I would caution any Banderas or Jolie fan about upgrading their standard DVD to this edition. From an audio/visual and special feature department, this release doesn’t really qualify as an improvement. As with the DVD, the Blu-ray presents the “unrated” version of the film. There is apparently a little more naked writhing by the two photogenic stars. In fact, there is one steamy sex scene that provides the only real point of interest in this turgid waste of celluloid. Banderas plays Luis Vargas, a wealthy Cuban who arranges for delivery of an American bride. Julia (Jolie) arrives by ship (the story takes place in the late 1800s) and is obviously not the woman that Vargas received photographs of. Julia didn’t want to be chosen based on her beauty, so she sent pictures of a wallflower. Or so she says.
Even as Julia becomes increasingly suspicious, Vargas – blinded by her looks – continues to convince himself their feelings for each other are entirely genuine. Word comes down from America that Julia’s sister is concerned she has lost contact with her. Could it be that Vargas’ bride is not who she claims to be? A private detective named Walter Downs (Thomas Jane), also a rather suspicious character, enters the story. Perhaps “Julia” is an imposter, only interested in Vargas’ vast wealth. The twists and turns start piling up as Vargas must face the fact that things are possibly not what they seem. The whole affair is deadly boring, with the plot moving at a glacial pace to an over the top conclusion.
Original Sin is one of the messiest Blu-ray presentations I’ve seen. Apparently this was slopped together with little care, as the image is consistently subpar. The most distracting problem is an abundance of dirt flecks and other artifacts that regularly pop up all over the screen. This transfer was made from a dirty source print. Another problem is the overall lack of clarity. Especially evident with wide shots, the overall visual experience is highly compromised by the soft-focus look. Details and textures do not register well. The film’s color scheme, earthy bronze and browns, is well-represented at least, with realistic skin tones. But for the most part, this is an insult to anyone who likes this movie enough to need it in high definition.
The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix is not as problematic. In fact, this is perfectly acceptable audio for a dialogue-heavy romantic thriller. The dialogue is always clear and easy to understand. The score sounds rich and full. There isn’t much going on in the rear channels, but nothing on screen really suggests there should be. Basically there are just enough effects coming from the rears to make it suitably realistic, whether it’s someone yelling in the distance or something similar. The LFE channel is also not frequently utilized, but provides some oomph to the gunshots.
Carried over from the previous DVD edition, there is an audio commentary by director Michael Cristofer. It’s hard for me to believe that anyone would care enough about Original Sin to want to spend time listening to this track. I sampled it and found Mr. Cristofer to be a highly pretentious commentator, way too enamored with his marginal efforts. Also ported over from the DVD is one of the biggest wastes of supplemental feature space I’ve seen – half of a Gloria Estefan video. I’m not kidding. The case touts the inclusion of Estefan’s video for one of the soundtrack’s tunes, but in fact there is less than two minutes of very low-resolution footage of Estefan superimposed over footage from the movie. The song doesn’t actually conclude. I couldn’t care less about a Gloria Estefan video, but if the Blu-ray producers are going to list it on the case they should at least be honest about it.