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Cronos - Blu-ray Review

5 Stars


Cronos Blu-ray Review

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Made with the familiar passion and fire-like intensity Guillermo del Toro usually brings to his projects, Cronos spellbinds from the beginning prologue to its haunting final scene.  It’s no surprise then that Criterion would see fit to present it on blu-ray.  Originally shot in 1993, Cronos is simply the best example of quality horror that decade would see fit to produce.  It won that year’s Aerial Awards (Mexico’s top film honor) and while released internationally, it went shamefully ignored in America – as usual.  Yet, this poetic film about vampires was the world’s introduction to the type of fairy tale and dark art del Toro would continue to make with films like Mimic, Pan’s Labyrinth and Hellboy.

When aging antiques dealer Jesus Gris (Federico Luppi) uncovers a strange golden mechanical device from deep within one of his antiques, he unleashes a bizarre serious of cravings from within him.  These cravings are only cured by allowing the device to pierce his skin from time to time as he explores exactly what the device is able to do to calm the change his inner – and then physical - self is going through.  It’s a strange beetle-like device, yet Jesus finds himself drawn more and more to it.  He feels younger.  Stronger, too.  He feels good when he’s around it.  And he looks it.  Yet, it seems his granddaughter Aurora (Tamara Shanath) is the only one who recognizes that the mysterious device is evil.

When his shop gets destroyed by Dieter de la Guardia (Claudio Brook), a millionaire with murder on his mind and lust in his heart for the device, and his disturbed son, Angel (Ron Perlman), Jesus finds himself leaning toward the beetle in order to fend off their attacks.  They want the Cronos device that keeps Jesus feeling younger - and desiring more blood and less sunlight - by the day.  The collision the events in the movie are spiraling toward will be head-on and affect everyone in Jesus’ life.

In the character of Jesus we have a fully developed and fully believable person.  We also have some strong acting from Luppi.  The “miracles” happening to his body are some pretty fantastic changes and his expressionistic face carries the consequence extremely well.  This is his story and what happens is mostly delivered through his POV.  For the audience, his portrayal of a man at odds with time and himself does wonders to project the transformation from human to monster.

Yes, this is a retelling of the classic vampire situation, yet it’s incredibly unique and subtle in its approach to the actual horror it depicts.  There is no rushing to the next “effect” shot; this film is handled with a surprising amount of maturity for a first-time feature film director.  It’s marked with the skill one would expect a director to develop over time - not arrive with.  There are no artificial music cues designed to make the audience jump and then recoil with.  No typical teenagers eager to get laid either.  In fact, there’s nothing juvenile about Cronos at all.  It is simply strong and skilled atmospheric moviemaking.


Component Grades
Movie
Blu-ray Disc
5 Stars
5 Stars
Blu-ray Experience
5 Stars

Blu-ray

Blu-ray Details:

Available on Blu-ray - December 14, 2010
Screen Formats: 1.78:1
Subtitles
: English SDH
Audio:
Spanish: DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0
Discs: 50GB Blu-ray Disc; Single disc (1 BD)

As far as sonic upgrades go, you can’t get much better than this Criterion release. The original DVD transfer was an abysmal mess, but with this newly remastered 1080p transfer we have an entirely new film. The dirt has been manually removed from the print and the scratches have been removed, too. Essentially, the film has never looked better than it does with this release. The stereo soundtrack has been remastered and is presented in a Spanish DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 (with portions of English dialogue as was intended by the director). It won’t rattle the roof, but it is better than what went before.

Supplements:

Commentary:

  • There are two commentaries on the Blu-ray disc.  The first, recorded by del Toro in 2002, is interesting as he is such a fascinating and imaginative person.  The second, with producers Arthur H. Gorson and Bertha Navarro and coproducer Alejandro Springall, is a new inclusion to the film and is quite static.  It, too, is in English.

Special Features:

As with all Criterion releases there is an informative booklet included with the disc.  This 42-page book includes an essay about the film written by Maitland McDonagh who has written articles about the cinema in Film Comment and other publications.  Yet, the star of the supplemental material is the ‘Welcome to the Bleak House’ feature, in which we get to tour del Toro’s “man cave”; some truly wondrous and fascinating toys in there concerning the curious side of human nature.  The Special Features include the following:

  • ‘Geometría’ – a short film by del Toro (7 min)
  • Welcome to the Bleak House (11 min)
  • A Collection of ‘Cronos’ Interviews
  • Guillermo del Toro (18 min)
  • Cinematographer Guillermo Navarro (13 min)
  • Ron Perlman (8 min)
  • Federico Luppi (6 min)

Photographic Gallery

Original Trailer

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