The Ladykillers

The Ladykillers (2004)
Buena Vista Home Entertainment
Cast: Tom Hanks, Irma P. Hall, Marlon Wayans, J.K. Simmons, Tzi Ma, Ryan Hurst
Extras: Outtakes, Deleted Scenes, Featurette, Script-Scanner

Remakes are always a bit dubious in my book and the better the original, the harder it gets, of course, to create a remake that at least matches its source, let away outshines it. In this case the original was a phenomenally funny black comedy with a hilarious jug of British humor. The remake, starring Tom Hanks in the lead, and with the Coen brothers in the director’s chair was certainly a promising proposition, as they are undoubtedly some of the most qualified people to tackle this project. And yet, ’The Ladykillers’ is falling flat on its face. Transposing the story from England to the American Bible belt doesn’t really help as it loses the romantic Victorian touch and brooding rainy/foggy atmosphere of the original. The Southern drawl further adds distraction and the attempt to polish dialogues also didn’t work out so well. In short, despite my excitement over this film, I found ’The Ladykillers’ to be quite a bore to be honest. The film is not funny at all, it lacks personality and most importantly it lacks tension and suspense as the plot is slowly fumbling along.

Buena Vista Home Entertainment is presenting the movie in its original widescreen aspect ratio in a transfer that is enhanced for 16xTV sets. The image is absolutely clean and without grain or noise. Colors are bold and rich and black levels are absolutely solid. I found some of the digital matte paintings to stand a bit too noticeable however, sometimes breaking the illusion. The transfer also shows some edge-enhancement, creating visible halos around contrasting edges. The compression is free of artifacts and ensures that the colors and all the picture’s details remain fully intact at all times.

Audio comes in 5.1 channel Dolby Digital presentation that is well produced and makes good use of the surround channels. Frequency response is wide and very natural, as expected, creating a lively sound field that always convinces. The dynamic range is equally impressive with good basses and clean high ends. Dialogues are well integrated and always understandable.

The DVD contains a few extras, such as a selection of Outtakes and some deleted music scenes. A featurette rounds out the release, offering some insight into the master-guitar maker who provided the instruments for the film’s little ’band.’

To me ’The Ladykillers’ remake is a sore disappointment and I will always prefer the original – which is also available on DVD from Anchor Bay. The story is wound much tighter, the humor is dark and side-splittingly funny and the film itself will keep you on the edge at all times. All these things, this remake unfortunately does not do. Skip the remake and go straight to the original in this case!