K-Pax (SE)/ B+, A
Universal/2001/121/ANA 2.35

      What happens when a man appears in Grand Central Station claiming to be an alien? Well, he's trotted off to a mental hospital before you can say K-Pax. The first shot of Prot, the man from another world, is intentionally soft, effectively conveying a difference about the man and the opening scenes set the visual tone beautifully.
    Director Ian Softley proves a solid story-teller with K-Pax. He's content to deliver clean plot line unfettered by typical genre conventions. The well-written script by Charles Leavitt script cuts to the quick in effectively getting to the heart of the story. For a leisurely paced film there's remarkably little fat. 

Prot's master class in astronomy. ©Universal

      Aspects of K-Pax  do slide toward sentiment, but it never fails to stay within the bounds set up by its own world. There are parallels between Prot and Randle P. McMurphy in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, though each film retains its very unique personality and distinctive point of view. A few moments seem staged, like the mass hysteria scene. Overall, it's a nice change to get a dose of science fiction without a special effect assault.
     The film has a fine sense of humor. It manages to get to the heart of some typically irksome aspects of society that we encounter. In a room full of doctors do you call everyone doctor? Excellent shorthand filmmaking to create the home life of Dr. Powell. There's a strong hint that at some point Prot will become a threat to the establishment, but the script manages to skirt the predictable.  K-Pax is laced with philosophy of right and wrong, and acceptance of people, and even religious philosophy, but they are given a poetic feel that prevents them from turning banal.  
     Ed Shearmur's score matches nicely with the material.  Nighttime New York gets a poetic treatment from Softley and cinematographer John Mathieson.    
      Kevin Spacey is quite remarkable as Prot. He keeps eccentricities under control, letting only little bits creep into the character. Prot's simple delivery of dialogue is eloquent. Jeff Bridges delivers a very natural performance as Dr. Mark Powell. It's typically understated and unaffected Bridges: He simply exists naturally within the film's framework. You have to appreciate such a natural presence. 
      This special edition DVD of K-Pax is one fine looking presentation. The very bright transfer balances with excellent contrast range. Transparent  full bandwidth resolution produces consistently stunning images.. Beautiful black levels are reflected by Chapter 6, a  paradigm of balanced black level presentation. Overall glossy look. Shadow detail is balanced and bright Outdoor scenes have a lot of punch. The color is splendid. Color depth is terrific. It helps create an outstanding dimension to the picture. The darker scenes come to special life because of the rich colors.  Get a glimpse of that blue ball in the backyard background at the Powell home. Meticulously clean edges in scenes that are typically difficult to deliver with perfection. Fine details are extremely stable. The DTS surround is very directional and even caught me unawares a few times. 
   The special edition contains seven deleted scenes, an alternate ending, and audio commentary from director Ian Softley. In addition, there's a making of short, a short montage of photos taken by Jeff Bridges during production. 

Reviewed on a Sharp 9000VX DLP Projector

 



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