MGM // 2001 // 118 Minutes // Unrated
Reviewed by Judge Gordon Sullivan // July 7th, 2011
Lead Us Into Temptation
The year 2001 was odd for Angelina Jolie. She'd demonstrated her indie cred in '99 with Girl, Interrupted, and her box office clout in 2000 with Gone in Sixty Seconds. In 2001, it seemed like she could do anything, but instead of anything, she chose Lara Croft: Tomb Raider. As if to balance out the hyper-adolescent appeal of Tomb Raider, Jolie also appeared opposite Antonio Banderas in Original Sin, a film that (at least on the surface) was aimed at a slightly more mature audience. The finished film didn't light up the box office (despite the chemistry of the two leads), but the film received a second lease on life due to an unrated DVD with extra bit of Ms. Jolie and Mr. Banderas. Now that unrated cut is out as Original Sin (Blu-ray). Although the results are far from spectacular, they will likely please fans of the actors or their bodies (ahem!) of work.
It's hard to build a relationship on a lie, but that's exactly what Luis (Antonio Banderas, Desperado) does. He's the wealthy owner of a coffee plantation, but when he sends away for a mail-order bride, he lets on that he's a poor farmer. His wife-to-be sends him a picture, and she's a solid, plain woman, someone he can share his life with. However, when she arrives, it turns out Luis was not the only one keeping secrets. His wife to be, Julia (Angelina Jolie), is actually gorgeous, but claims the picture was a ruse so that she could be respected as something other than a beautiful woman. Despite their subterfuge, the pair marry, and Luis opens himself up to Julia completely, especially his bank accounts. When she cleans him out and disappears, Luis hires a private detective (Thomas Jane, The Mist) to help track her down.
You know what you don't need when you've got two of Hollywood's hottest stars in a movie filled with sex, love, and betrayal? Subtlety. From first frame to last, Original Sin turns everything up to eleven, from the steamy bedroom scenes to the rich period details. The film wins some points for sheer bombast. Every look is smoldering, every plot twist an upheaval, and every sex scene filmed in loving detail. Banderas and Jolie commit completely to the madness of the overwrought plot, bringing a surprising gravity to their melodramatic roles. The pair have an undeniable chemistry, and I wouldn't be surprised if the unrated cut of this film did brisk business just from those looking for a few extra seconds of tangled flesh between Banderas and Jolie.
I admire Banderas and Jolie as actors, and I really wanted Original Sin to work as a film, but it just doesn't. The script asks us to swallow one silly twist after another, with no grounding in any consistent character. We're not really given much of a chance to see anyone (except, perhaps Luis) before the double-crosses and and plot twists overtake the film. This leaves the audience without any clear idea of why Luis and Julia might be in love (aside from the obvious physical attraction), which makes their actions throughout the rest of the film unmotivated at best, and nonsensical at worst. Finally, while Banderas and Jolie rise to the bombastic occasion of the script, Thomas Jane just doesn't feel right in a period piece like this. I buy him as a rugged, contemporary guy, but he just looks uncomfortable here.
Original Sin isn't helped by a so-so Blu-ray release. This is, at least, the unrated cut of the film, but the AVC-encoded transfer on this disc is far from perfect. The overall picture is soft in places, with unimpressive detail. The print is also far from pristine, though color accuracy is fine. The DTS-HD track is heavy on the center channel for dialogue, with music and atmospherics occasionally cropping up in the surrounds, though without too much directionality. Extras start with a commentary from director Michael Cristofer, who discusses the film's production and story in greater detail. After that, we're treated to a music video from Gloria Estefan and the film's trailer.
Aside from the steamy scenes between Antonio Banderas and Angelina Jolie, there's very little to recommend Original Sin. Even fans of the film are going to be hard-pressed to pick this disc up since the audiovisual upgrade is minimal from the DVD. I guess fans who missed out on the film's original release might want to pick this Blu-ray up for rental, but otherwise it's hard to recommend.
Original Sin is guilty of too many sins to count.
Review content copyright © 2011 Gordon Sullivan; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
* 2.35:1 Non-Anamorphic (1080p)
* DTS HD 5.1 Master Audio (English)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (French)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (Spanish)
* English (SDH)
Running Time: 118 Minutes
Release Year: 2001
MPAA Rating: Unrated
* Music Video