Reviewed by: Matt Brighton
Plot: What’s it about?
When I first saw the previews for Kate & Leopold I must admit that the first thing that crossed my mind was “Oh no, Meg Ryan! What were you thinking when you decided to do this film?” However, with its wonderful blend of romance, comedy, and slight drama, Ryan alongside Hugh Jackman, Liev Schreiber, and Breckin Meyer kept the almost cheesy plot going great with wonderful acting and delightful characters. An all-star cast with a mediocre story line can either be a “must see” or a tremendous let-down.
The movie begins following around an obviously unhappy Duke of Albany, Leopold (Jackman). He is facing pressure to quickly choose a wealthy wife in New York City during the late 1800’s. Leopold is an intelligent young man and is in the process of inventing the elevator when he begins observing an out-of-place stranger skulking around the city. When Leopold follows the stranger one night, he unknowingly falls into a time portal taking him to modern day New York. The stranger who returns to the New York of today with Leopold is Stuart (Schreiber), a seemingly worthless and eccentric dreamer who discovered the portal by jumping off the Brooklyn Bridge. Stuart takes the unconscious Leopold back to his place in inner New York City. In the apartment directly below Stuart lives Kate McKay (Ryan), a successful, but unhappy business woman, who also happens to be Stuart’s ex-girlfriend. Kate and her brother Charlie (Meyer) don’t believe that “Leo” is from a different time but take him in while Stuart is in the hospital. You see, all elevators in modern time have broken down since Leo’s arrival, and Stuart falls victim to one such malfunctioning device. The curious Leopold explores the modern city with Charlie, helps Kate out at work, and teaches everyone lessons of dating (or shall I say “courting”). In a particularly funny scene, Leopold easily derails J.J.Æs (Bradley Whitford) ill-intentions for Kate by catching him in numerous lies, including his claims to speak French fluently, and his knowledge of opera.
Meg Ryan is, once again, placed in the typical but lovable role of a bubbly, babbling, and scatter-brained independent woman who finds romance in an unexpected manner. Ms. Ryan’s charm is as evident as ever here, but how many times can she recycle this sort of character? Hugh Jackman is charming and delightful as Leopold, yet, the screenplay is light and a bit unrealistic, Leo all too quickly adapts to his new modern environment. Breckin Meyer was absolutely perfect for the part of Charlie, the goofy younger brother and struggling actor. Surprisingly, he and Meg Ryan had excellent chemistry as brother and sister. Leiv Schreiber was a bit t bit hit and miss, but this Blu-Ray offering is a step up for this film.
Video: How does it look?
The 1.85:1 AVC HD image for Kate & Leopold is a definite improvement over the previous standard DVD. There’s still the slightest bit of softness associated with the image as a whole, but I did notice an immediate improvement in fine detail. Colors are very bold in some scenes and a few seemed a bit washed out. Then again it’s not often that you get 19th century wardrobes mixed with those of the 21st century. Flesh tones seem stable and consistent, Meg Ryan’s skin seems as if it has never had any sort of flaw. There seems to a fine layer of grain on some of the exterior shots, but nothing too distracting. Some of these Lionsgate titles are a bit hit and miss, but this Blu-Ray offering is a step up for this film.
Audio: How does it sound?
While a new DTS HD Master Audio soundtrack is present, it’s really not too much of a step up over the previous Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack. Dialogue sounds as we’d expect and as far as romantic comedies go, there’s not a whole lot going on in the surrounds. Jackman’s very deep, pronounced vocals resonate through the center channel and the majority of the action takes place in the front stage. This isn’t a powerful mix and while it’s a bit of an improvement over the previous release, it’s really of no consequence. A good effort, nonetheless.
Supplements: What are the extras?
I know I sound like a broken record when I say this, but the supplements for Kate & Leopold mirror that of the Director’s Cut DVD from a decade ago. We start off with the same audio commentary by director James Mangold as he gives us a bit of insight on the shoot, production and challenges of the film as a whole. Mangold has given better audio commentaries than this, for sure. Seven deleted scenes with optional commentary are included as is the same “On the Set” featurette with some behind the scenes footage of the cast and crew. We wrap up with the costume design featurette focusing on the differences between 19th and 21st century outfits.