Evil is brought to life in this psychological thriller starring Zoe Saldana (Avatar) and Patrick J. Adams (TV’s “Suits”). Based on the best-selling suspense novel by Ira Levin, Rosemary’s Baby features a teleplay by James Wong (TV’s “American Horror Story”) and Scott Abbott (Queen of the Damned) and is directed by Agnieszka Holland (HBO’s “The Wire”). Also starring Jason Isaacs (the Harry Potter franchise) and Carole Bouquet (For Your Eyes Only), the Rosemary’s Baby Blu-ray and DVD each include two featurettes.
Zoe Saldana stars and produces this remake of the original classic by Roman Polanski, based on the book by Ira Levin. In the update Rosemary and her struggling writer husband, Guy (Patrick J. Adams), move to Paris (hardly struggling if they can afford to move to France) to find greener pastures. Their past isn’t explained, because in retrospect I still don’t know what Rosemary did or does for a living. Patrick is a writer and I assume that they’re living off of the retainer or advance that was given to him by the publishing company. Granted, he’s still unpublished and the whole notion of them being independently wealthy doesn’t fly. Okay, I just found out that Rosemary was a dancer and that they socked away enough cash on her dancer’s salary to live in France.
Once they get settled in to their new pad, courtesy of the local university, where Patrick will be teaching English, they begin to try and adapt to their posh surroundings. Yes, faculty housing is hardly posh, but the makers would have you believe that every inch of Paris is posh including faculty housing. An accident forces them out of university housing and into a very lovely apartment owned by a mysterious and filthy rich benefactor who also just happen to be the folks that Rosemary ran into earlier in the city during a robbery in which a purse snatcher was foiled. Later on it’s found out that the rich couple played by those that are not completely sleep walking in their roles, Carole Bouquet and Jason Isaacs, want what Rosemary’s got. Her baby. For what purpose? That you will have to find out if you can make it to the end.
Since I’m sure even the most rabid horror and film aficionado has already seen the original classic I’m not going to mince words on this remake. It’s pretty awful and a waste of talent in front and behind the camera. I know a vanity project when I see one and this is Saldana’s project – even several of her family members get producer credits having never produced anything before. Hey, it’s the whole “people that know people” scenario. It’s odd. Let’s start with some minor dissections of the glaring problems that I found in this new television remake. The violence – I have no problem with and was surprised that they went as far as they did with it. It was like watching TV’s Hannibal. No complaints there.
My main and #1 grip is the way Saldana portrayed Rosemary. Rosemary for all intents and purposes is beyond naive and beyond a fish out of water. She has this wide-eyed view and trust of the world, which I could almost believe, if it wasn’t for her being a touring dancer. Yeah, maybe she had never been outside of the country but she’s way to nice and trusting. It was one big eye roll and groan after another whenever she was onscreen. Patrick Adams hot of his fame in Suits is a weak stand in for her husband. He often just glares as opposed to what John Cassavetes brought to that role in the original. Usually when I see actors glare and/or just stand there and glare it’s usually a testament to the material instead of the actor’s acting ability. Adams is better than this material.
The only people that seem to be having any fun here are Bouquet and Isaacs as the neighbors from hell. They relish every moment and are the saving grace in my one-star grade of the feature itself. In closing there’s really not that much to say. New York has been substituted for France and some of the actors and script are dreadful in this remake. One could go their entire lives without watching this version of Rosemary’s Baby and they would be better for it.
Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
Clarity/Detail: Filming in France does have its perks and the expansive shoot takes advantage of the large cityscape. Contrast levels were nice and untouched and the HD presentation had plenty of subtle and not-so-subtle detail to it. Both are good things.
Depth: Paris was its own character and it was captured beautifully and presented in an even more beautiful fashion on this Blu-ray. Interior shots of the various apartments and other destinations really came through. I really liked the low light used in the couple’s apartment. Usually low light is used to calm but the way it was used here gave it an added “creepiness” to the goings on.
Black Levels: Black levels were consistent and did not detect any instances of intrusive crush.
Color Reproduction: The color palette was bold when it needed to be and also pulled backed a bit, too. I don’t think they shot this in the summer time, so there are instances of cloudy and overcast days.
Flesh Tones: Everyone looked great unless they were on the verge of dying a horrible death or giving birth to the spawn of Satan.
Noise/Artifacts: I only detected a couple of instances of noise but nothing major.
Audio Format(s): English DTS-HD MA 5.1
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish
Dynamics: This lossless audio presentation of Rosemary’s Baby on Blu-ray is surprisingly dynamic and robust. Death and despair surround the good guys and you, as a viewer, will feel the impending sense of dread. It’s music to your ears in a weird way.
Low Frequency Extension: The LFE channel handles the many instances of carnage with ease. Car accidents, shooting, stabbings, you name it, all have that added kick in the pants without distortion and just right bit of “oomph.”
Surround Sound Presentation: The surround sound channels are great and you will feel like your Rosemary’s roommate. You’ll also be able to here through the thin walls – all of the creepy chatter. It’s a very cool and enveloping audio track with regards to the surround sound channels.
Dialogue Extension: Dialogue levels are great and you’ll be able to understand everyone in BOTH languages without any problems.
I was expecting little more in the supplemental fathers section but we get a couple of the usual self-congratulatory featurettes instead.
- Fear is Born: The Making of Rosemary’s Baby (12 minutes, HD) – This is a short and by the numbers featurette where everyone talks about how everyone working on the project is. Been there, done that.
- “Grand Guignol: Parisian Production Design” Featurette (6 minutes, HD) – This is a better featurette that focuses on the production design and the pleasures and challenges of filming on location in France.
Rosemary’s Baby was a giant misfire. If you want to see the real deal then go forth and seek out the excellent Criterion Collection Blu-ray of the original and skip this one altogether. The averaged out grade give the Blu-ray a benefit of the doubt, because the video and audio are above average, with below average special features. A 3-star is about right for the remake of Rosemary’s Baby on Blu-ray.
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