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Case Number 05720: Small Claims Court

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Gothika: Special Edition

Warner Bros. // 2003 // 98 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge Diane Wild (Retired) // December 3rd, 2004

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All Rise...

In high school, Judge Diane Wild went through a gothika phase, but she ended up hanging with the prepikas and the jockikas. (Of course, adulthood finds her among the geekikas at DVD Verdict.)

Editor's Note

Our reviews of Gothika (published March 23rd, 2004), Gothika (Blu-Ray) (published December 6th, 2007), and Gothika (HD DVD) (published January 12th, 2008) are also available.

The Charge

Not Alone.

The Case

The original Gothika DVD release is no longer alone, either. The review by Judge Eric Profancik sums up the movie well, so I'll wait while you go read it.

Finished? Really? Well these next paragraphs are for those of you who are cheating and need a brief plot analysis:

Halle Berry (Monster's Ball) is Dr. Miranda Grey, a psychiatrist at a women's institute for the criminally insane. After a strange experience with a mysterious woman on a bridge, Miranda wakes up as an inmate at the institute, accused of killing her husband.

The acting is compelling, with good performances by Berry and Robert Downey, Jr., as a fellow doctor who is attracted to Miranda. The first two-thirds of the film is effectively atmospheric, if not as scary as the filmmakers would have us believe, but the final third was disappointingly unoriginal both in script and direction.

The first disc contains the original DVD material, including commentary by director Mathieu Kassovitz (The Crimson Rivers) and cinematographer Matthew Libatique, a music video, and the theatrical trailer.

I really wanted to like Kassovitz because he was so adorable as an actor in Amélie, but that shallow desire was crushed by his self-congratulatory tone in the commentary—especially considering that the movie was neither a commercial nor critical success. The two men are enthusiastic about the technical aspects of filming, but their single-mindedness doesn't allow for discussion on the personalities involved (other than a couple of comments that everyone on the set fell in love with Berry. Who would have guessed?).

Disc Two is where the special edition features reside. The featurette "On the Set of Gothika" is the usual behind-the-scenes comments and more self-congratulations, but this time Kassovitz is joined by the cast and crew. "Painting with Fire" is much more interesting, providing an exploration the special effects, particularly the innovative use of CGI.

The most fun extra is a clip of MTV's Punk'd, Ashton Kutcher's prank show, where Halle Berry is forced to wait outside the premiere of Gothika because the room has reached its fire code capacity. Berry's increasing frustration is evident as she is refused entry to her own premiere, but she never really makes a fool of herself as do many Punk'd victims.

Another MTV extra is a behind-the-scenes featurette of the making of Limp Bizkit's "Behind Blue Eyes" music video. This one shows Berry to nice effect as well—she and her male fans are probably grateful to see her well-groomed (translation: hot) in these extras, since she's a mess for most of the movie. There's a payoff at the end of this featurette when she plays a prank on lead singer Fred Durst, but it's too long a wait for one interesting moment.

I'm not sure where the entertainment value is in the other extra, "Enter Woodward Penitentiary," which is a set of case files and patient interviews. They add little to the movie—the patients here aren't characters we've met—but are disturbing vignettes of insanity. Fun, fun.

The extras menus are annoying, forcing you to press the arrow keys on your remote control to see the options—it's almost like every extra is an Easter egg, but not quite.

Technically, this set is excellent. The print is flawless and showcases the somber grey, black and blue palette to great effect. The Dolby Digital 5.1 sounds are applied well, with crisp dialogue and realistic—and occasionally creepy—use of the surrounds. The cover image on the slipcover to the set is a somewhat cheesy hologram, but I suppose that's fitting for a somewhat cheesy movie.

Gothika: Special Edition is Warner's double-dip for a movie that doesn't deserve double your money. No amount of additional extras make up for a weak script, and these extras aren't extra-special. Guilty of all charges.

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Scales of Justice

Judgment: 75

Perp Profile

Studio: Warner Bros.
Video Formats:
• 1.85:1 Anamorphic
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
• Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (French)
• English
• French
• Spanish
Running Time: 98 Minutes
Release Year: 2003
MPAA Rating: Rated R
• Drama
• Horror
• Mystery

Distinguishing Marks

• Director and cinematographer commentary
• Limp Bizkit "Behind Blue Eyes" Music Video
• Theatrical Trailer
• Making-of Featurettes "On the Set of Gothika" and "Painting with Fire"
• "Enter Woodward Penitentiary" featurettes
• Punk'd featuring Halle Berry
• "Making the Video: Limp Bizkit 'Behind Blue Eyes'"
• DVD-ROM PC weblink


• IMDb
• Official Site
• DVD Verdict review of Gothika

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