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Dorian Gray (Blu-ray / DVD)

Dorian Gray on Blu-ray and DVDReviewed by Uncle Creepy

Starring Ben Barnes, Colin Firth, Rebecca Hall, John Hollingworth, Caroline Goodall

Directed by Oliver Parker

Distributed by E1 Entertainment


Over the years Oscar Wilde’s novel The Picture of Dorian Gray has seen dozens of adaptations. This latest big budget one turns out in the end to be a fairly faithful one with a few pitfalls here and there. Before we get to that, though, a quick summary of the plot for those unfamiliar with the tale (and shame on you if you aren’t).

Dorian Gray (Barnes) is a strapping young lad with the world at his feet. He’s come into a great sum of cash thanks to an inheritance, and his good looks only further enhance everyone’s want or need to be around him. Upon his arrival in London he is quickly befriended by Lord Henry Wotton (Firth), who then turns the young man on to a seedy lifestyle filled with all kinds of sex that eventually leads to betrayal and violence.

While Dorian enjoys his newfound lust and popularity, an artist friend paints a portrait that captures him in all of his youth and glory. As his ego would have it, Dorian offers up his very soul to be able to forever remain as young as he is in that picture. However, youth comes with a price, and in order to stay as dashing as he is, he must commit some pretty vile acts.

Dorian Gray on Blu-ray and DVDIn return for said acts Dorian the man remains full of life while said portrait begins to quickly age and rot … a constant reminder of his misdeeds and home to his evil.

Director Oliver Parker crafts a fine retelling of this classic story that’s filled with a plethora of R-rated material only hinted at in other adaptations. Barnes and Firth are a charming and evil duo, and both turn in for the most part pretty top-notch performances. So what kept this one from rating a bit higher? Clocking in at one hundred and twelve minutes, it just feels to damned long. The runtime isn’t exactly what you would call excessive, but parts of the film just drag on endlessly, and that’s a real shame because when Dorian Gray is good, it’s actually very good. Some more time tightening this up with a fine editor would have gone miles to make the experience far more engaging than it was.

Speaking of looks, the 1080p high definition transfer is solid as a rock. The film is dark, but the blacks are rich and inky and the colors really pop when they need to. The image is sharp throughout, and the detail at times is pretty stunning. Given that the film itself is on the quieter side of the fence, the DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 lossless audio track does a fine job of keeping things as crystal clear as they need to be.

Dorian Gray on Blu-ray and DVDThe DVD version, while not as good looking as its Blu-ray cousin, does a fine job of delivering a serviceable image and also shares the same special features.

At first glance it seems like there’s quite a bit included here, but in reality most of the featurettes are on the really short side. Things kick off with a commentary with director Oliver Parker and screenwriter Toby Finlay that’s rather dry and technical. If you make it through this audio track, you’re a far more patient man than I am. From there we get over forty-five minutes of on-set interviews, a ten-minute behind-the-scenes look, and then several short featurettes covering everything from wardrobe to the painting itself (which I should mention is quite something to see as it deteriorates, even if it is CGI, and thankfully the filmmakers went with the “less is more” approach as far as how many times it’s shown). Add on a photo gallery, several deleted scenes (mostly just expository stuff), and a blooper reel featuring a very giggly Ben Barnes; and we’re finished.

While this new version of Dorian Gray won’t exactly set the night on fire or have you popping it in for repeat viewings, it still manages to rise above the usual crop of adaptations and is very much well worth a look.

Special Features

  • Audio commentary with director Oliver Parker and screenwriter Toby Finlay
  • On-set interviews
  • Behind-the-scenes featurette
  • Make-up and wardrobe featurette
  • The Painting featurette
  • Smithfield Market featurette
  • Visual effects featurette
  • Blooper reel
  • Deleted scenes
  • Photo gallery

    Film

    3 1/2 out of 5

    Special Features

    3 1/2 out of 5

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  • Steve Barton

    You're such an inspiration for the ways that I will never, ever choose to be.

    7 Comments

      • And you’re asking this is the Dorian Gray review comments section why? LOL

        To answer your question … yes a review for Squeal is forthcoming!

        • Hey can we post comments about “Neighbor” in here also or is the “Burning Bright” review comment section for those.

          • is that the one about the tiger that keeps getting younger and younger until a crazy sorority chick shows up and runs a hacksaw across a picture of it and then it dies and gets eaten by pig people from the ozarks? that movie was awthum.

          • Ahah! So THAT’S the connection! Was totally curious about how a classic tale could make you think of hillbilly pig people! Good show, sir! LOL

    1. Yep, the length is irksome but the quality is still high. It definitely feels like it was originally envisioned as a two-part drama.

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