Review by Gordon Justesen
Stars: Antonio Banderas,
Angelina Jolie, Thomas Jane, Jack Thompson
Director: Michael Cristofer
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1, French, Spanish, & Portuguese Dolby Digital 5.1
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 2.35:1
Features: See Review
Length: 118 Minutes
Release Date: March 26, 2002
“You cannot walk away from
The first time I saw the preview trailer for Original
Sin, it was at a screening of the movie Bounce, released in late
2000. The release of the movie itself was delayed until late summer 2001, a
decision that must have been made once it became clear that Angelina Jolie’s
other summer release, Tomb Raider,
had hit blockbuster status. All along, MGM must have never had complete faith in
the movie, especially when its opening weekend contenders are no less than Rush
Hour 2 and The Princess Diaries.
Having finally seen the movie, I can certainly say that while it boasts two
strong leading stars, Original Sin is the type of cheap thriller that is best suited for cable TV,
particularly those cheeseball USA network original movies of yesteryear.
Set in Havana in
the late 1800s, the movie stars Antonio Banderas as Luis, a prosperous man whose
wealth comes from his coffee planting business. He has the money and the life
any man would kill for, but the one thing he wants, which he doesn’t have, is
to be married and totally in love. What he requires of his bride are truth,
kindness, and young enough to bare children. He soon imports his bride to be
from the United States. Her name is Julia (Angelina Jolie), a devilish beauty
who is looking to start a new life in Havana and leave her past behind. They
first got to know each other through letters they have sent to one another,
though she appears nothing like she does in the accompanying photos.
The two are soon
married, and begin a sweet happy engagement with one another, at least that what
it looks like. Luis has soon given her access to all of his financial resources.
Anyone who’s seen Martin Scorsese’s Casino as many times as I
have will instantly know how that gesture will turn out. In the midst of their
passion-filled marriage, Luis is encountered by a private investigator (Thomas
Jane), who claims to have been hired by Julia’s sister to check up on her
whereabouts and well being. And what do you know, not too long after she has
indeed gotten control of his heart and that Luis discovers that the woman he
married is really an imposter, Julia suddenly disappears with all of Luis’
money and possessions. Desperate to get everything he lost back, Luis engages in
a pursuit of Julia. It’s all in question that when he reaches her, will he
kill her in rage, or give her one more chance? Will she come back to him, or
does she have more treacherous surprises in store? At that point, I just about
asked myself, “Do I really care?” My guess is you really have to be very
involved in the story by this point, and I wasn’t involved for a single
It’s really hard
to care about the outcome of the tired plot. The only reason this movie will
garner any viewers are the love scenes between Jolie and Banderas, and I must
confess, Ms. Jolie is always a pleasure to look at without any clothes on.
However, these love scenes are very few and they are very much overshadowed by
the overwrought story.
is all style and absolutely no substance whatsoever.
MGM has issued a fair and
generally decent anamorphic transfer that has its share of flaws, but not as
many has the movie itself. Scenes in lighter areas are the best moments, and the
scenery of Havana looks rather nicely in this presentation. It’s only the
darker lit scenes that pale in comparison. A number of these scenes include
moments of grain and loss of definition. A mixed looking disc, but not a
horrendous looking one by far.
This is mostly a picture
made up of dialogue, but it does have its share of supposedly suspenseful
moments, which are heard nicely well in this 5.1 audio mix. There’s also a
beauty of musical score by the brilliant Terence Blanchard, a veteran of Spike
Lee movies, whose music is the best thing about the movie. Spoken words come
through as clearly as can be, making this an adequately done presentation.
The main highlight of this
release is the fact that it’s an unrated version, including around two minutes
of footage considered too racy for theaters. On the features level, MGM seems to
have strayed far from their usual “Special Edition” brilliance. Included is
a running commentary by director Michael Cristofer, a music video for Gloria
Estefan’s song “You Can’t Walk Away From Love”, an animated photo
gallery, and trailers for this film and the much superior release, Hart’s