IDENTITY | DVD REVIEW [SEPT 6, 2003]
Identity is the story of ten people who get caught up in a desert storm, and are forced to seek shelter at a roadside hotel until the storm passes. As the night progresses the people get knocked off one by one. In typical Agatha Christie fashion you have absolutely no idea who the killer is. Each body is found with a room key, only the key numbers appear to be counting down with each successive victim. Identity is a film where nothing is as it seems, absolutely everyone is a suspect, and all the while being the smartest thriller you will see this year. Itís fun, itís fresh, and itís one of the few thrillers that will keep you guessing right up to the end.
Thatís all synopsis Iím going to give you. The thing about Identity is that the less you know about the story, the more enjoyable the film is. In fact, in order to remain pure I read no news on the film and absolutely no reviews before Kris and I saw it in the theatre. Luckily it paid off. Identity is worth it. If you havenít seen it yet, stop reading and go check it out.
The crop of actors for the film really aids in overall believability. You have John Cusack, Ray Liotta, Rebecca DeMornay, John C McGinley, even Jake Busey and Amanda Peet with top notch performances. In fact, after seeing Igby Goes Down and Identity I actually believe Amanda Peet might have a sliver of acting talent. The character performances are so fleshed out and downright believable that not once, throughout the filmís plethora of extreme plot twists, is your suspension of disbelief compromised. Identity is one of the few must see films of the year.
Straight off I have to say this disc wins the Ugliest DVD Cover of the Year Award. They have taken a wonderful poster (the bloody handprint with a screaming face in the middle; each finger a silhouette of a person), and replaced it with something that looks vaguely like the Hollow Man cover, only far more half-assed. They made John Cusack look like James Gandolfini for God sakes.
Theatrical vs DVD
The disc has decent menus (the options are featured on different clickable signs in front of the rain soaked hotel) but the overall design leaves something to desired. By clicking ďplay filmĒ you have the option to watch it in glorious widescreen or craptastic fullscreen (who the hell would want that? 4:3? This is a 2.35:1 movie! Thatís just butchering the original composition!) After you select your aspect ratio you have the option to see the theatrical version, or the extended version with the alternate ending. Both are good, so I suggest watching the theatrical followed by the extended version.
Aside from that you have the trailer from the film, a commentary from the director, the option to watch the deleted scenes (not all scenes from the extended version are accessible) with or without the directorís commentary. You have a fairly interesting storyboard comparison, and a making of the film from STARZ, which, refreshingly happens to be less self-congratulatory than your standard HBO special. After that you have static pages of actor filmographies, but no bios on the actors.
So you have a sort of mediocre disc. The film is great, the extended version of the film is a welcome addition, but the rest of the special features are standard fare for most special editions. But when you think about how infrequently you actually re-watch special features I think they did a pretty good job.
You wonít spend too much time with the special features, but I guarantee the film will see some replay in your collection.