O is a harrowing movie headlined with strong writing but even stronger performances from a young and impressive cast, primarily Mekhi Phifer and Josh Hartnett. The Blu-ray offers up an OK video transfer but the DTS-HD MA more than makes up for it even when not all the features from the DVD were ported over.
Echo Bridge | R – 90 min. – $14.99 | July 17, 2012
Directed by: Tim Blake Nelson
Writer(s): William Shakespeare (play, “Othello”); Brad Kaaya (screenplay)
Cast: Mekhi Phifer, Josh Hartnett, Julia Stiles, Martin Sheen
Theatrical Release Date: August 31, 2001
Features: Interviews, Deleted Scenes
Number of Discs: 1
Audio: English (DTS-HD MA 5.1), English (DTS-HD MA 2.0)
Video: 1080i/Widescreen 1.78
Disc Size: 22.5 GB
Codec: MPEG-4 AVC
THE MOVIE – 3.75/5
Note: This review contains spoilers.
Plot Synopsis: O is Odin James (MEKHI PFIFER), a star high-school basketball player and NBA hopeful. Even though he’s the only black student at the elite Palmetto Grove Academy, he has the adoration of all, including the team’s coach (MARTIN SHEEN) and the Dean’s beautiful daughter, Desi (JULIA STILES). Odin’s troubled friend Hugo (JOSH HARTNETT), the coach’s son, is deeply resentful of his father’s preference of Odin on and off the court. When Hugo plots a diabolical scheme to sow the seed of mistrust between O and Desi, it sets in motion a disturbing chain of events which erupts into a firestorm of breathtaking intensity.
Quick Hit Review: I remember seeing this in theaters back in 2001 and recall it being in the wake of a string of school shootings, which only brought a spotlight onto this film which deals with a high school and a violent ending. Harrowing in its premise, O is a well crafted drama directed by Tim Blake Nelson and written by Brad Kaaya based on the William Shakespeare play, “Othello”.
It’s well acted through and through headline by Mekhi Phifer with an amazing performance closely followed by Josh Hartnett who back in the early 2000s showed promise (nowadays he’s sticking with smaller, independent flicks it would seem). Julia Stiles also turns in a nice performance as well.
O is the kind of movie you’re probably not going to want to watch more than once, or at least not revisit until after a several years like I did. The acting is what makes it memorable but the story itself also provides for some great suspense and a certain dread as the end came nearer.
SPECIAL FEATURES – 1.5/5
This disc includes some Deleted Scenes (9:32; SD) and Interviews (6:53; SD) with the cast and director. Missing from the DVD release is a director’s commentary, a “Comprehensive Analysis of Key Basketball Scenes” and the “Newly Restored Classic Film Othello”. Why at least the commentary wasn’t included is beyond me…
VIDEO – 3.25/5
From the beginning, I noticed more than a few dust marks and while this transfer of O isn’t technically bad, it’s merely average. The 1080i transfer on the whole looks fine by compared with other catalogue Blu-ray releases, it doesn’t have the same level of detail though the color balance seems to be decent as are the black levels. Compared with the DVD, it’s a slight step up.
AUDIO – 4.5/5
While the video might not impress, the 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track does not disappoint. The dialogue sounds very nice and well balanced coming mainly from the center channel with idle chatter coming via the front and rear channels, however during the basketball games or when the suspense picks up, this lossless track goes into overdrive with an amazing aural experience.
OVERALL – 3.25/5
Overall, O is a harrowing movie headlined with strong writing but even stronger performances from a young and impressive cast, primarily Mekhi Phifer and Josh Hartnett. The Blu-ray offers up an OK video transfer but the DTS-HD MA more than makes up for it even when not all the features from the DVD were ported over. Given the low MSRP, if you can nab this in the $5-10 range, it’s well worth it.