The Host is a film I have already covered in my review of CN
Entertainment's region 3 disc, which you can find here.
Four viewings in I still rate it as the best monster
movie in years and thoroughly recommend you hunt it out
in one form or another.
purpose of this review is to look at the content of Optimum's
recent UK region 2 release, to see how the picture and sound
measure up to the high standard set by CN Entertainment's
disc, and to take a trip through the extras to see if that
2-disc status is justified.
region 3 release excelled here, but Optimum have clearly
gone to the same digital or film master And come very close
to matching it. The picture quality is almost identical,
with contrast, colour and detail all very impressive and
almost no visible digital noise. The bit rate is only very
slightly lower than that on the region 3 disc. The framing
is 1.85:1, which gives very slightly more picture information
on the sides than the region 3 disc. The picture is anamorphically
DTS track from the region 3 disc is absent here, but the
5.1 included here comes in a very close second, with great
use of surrounds for atmospherics and strong use of LFE
bass for the creature's footsteps.
subtitles are, like those on the CN Entertainment disc,
a little Americanised in their translation.
where the Optimum 2-disc release leaves the extras-free
CN Entertainment disc standing. Mind you, even this falls
short of KD Media's 4-disc Korean release, which includes three
commentary tracks that have not been included here.
only extra here is the UK Theatrical Trailer
(1:35), which is a little less shy about showing the creature
than the Korean trailers (see below), but keeps it to glimpses
and sells the tension of the film well.
categories on this disc are sometimes sub-divided further
– the very nifty menu does not reveal at first glance just
how much there is here.
Creature contains six featurettes.
Actually a featurette on the initial design artwork and
models, built around an interview with the artist Jang
Hee-chul. Fascinating to see alternative concepts for
the creature. The designs themselves are beautifully rendered.
the Creature (11:20)
A companion piece to the above, built around interviews
with Jang Hee-chul, artists Oh Woo-jin and Lee Ji-sung,
storyboard artist Ha Kwang-min and director Bong, and
includes a further selection of excellent concept drawings.
This connects with the previous featurette and covers
the selection of the effects house, some on location footage
and plenty of interviews with crew members whose Korean
name captions are not translated.
More interviews and interesting footage of the construction
and operating of the the life-sized animatronix monster
the Creature (16:26)
Four key effects shots in various stages of development,
showing the animatic, the plate (no effects), the animation
(various stages of development, composited) and the final
Gag effects shots created for a laugh using footage and
creature CG model, plus some half-done stuff.
Making of The Host has seven further featurettes.
Making of The Host with Director Bong Joon-ho
Director Bong and his fellow scriptwriters take us on
a breezy trip through the genesis of the story and characters
and of some of the key locations, one of which I'd have
sworn was a set before seeing this. Other contributors
remain unidentified as the Korean name captions are not
Storyboards for some of the sequences from the film, accompanied
by the appropriate slice of the film soundtrack.
Joon-Ho's Direction (4:54)
Actors and crew pay tribute to their hard working director,
who is shown on location in some welcome behind-the-scenes
footage. For the first time the Korean name captions are
of the Sewer (9:41)
The cast and crew recall the delights of filming in the
Seoul sewer, an experience that required them all to be
inoculated in advance of the shoot against a particularly unpleasant breed of
tapeworm that dwells there.
Not exactly a recruiting video for the Korean film industry,
it's nonetheless highly engaging.
Film Departments (9:00)
The work of a number of technical departments is highlighted
here, including stunt co-ordination, art direction, set
decoration and special make-up, all of it interesting.
Bong once again comes across as a director who gets involved
with even the smallest details.
Physical Effects (5:08)
A welcome five minutes in the spotlight for the a group
is work is usually unappreciated by the viewer, those
who create the physical results of the CGI effects, covering
everything from squashed cars and splashes to the 'Agent
Yellow' gas and the depositing of people from the monster's
An interesting look at the creation of the monster sound
effects that reveals the creature's voice was supplied
by actor Oh Dal-soo of Oldboy
and Lady Vengeance
and details some surprising solutions for its movement,
my favourite being the decision to create its footsteps
using a squid and a punch-bag. Some of the footage of
actors in the sound booth is priceless.
Crew has three inclusions.
The oddest extra on the disc has a number of unidentified
crew members get honest about working on the film and
director Bong, with their voices disguised and the camera
focussed on their feet.
Production Team (14:30)
Key crew members recall the tougher elements of the shoot
in a welcome change from the backslapping that too often
dominates supporting featurettes.
Korean Life (6:31)
American visual effects supervisor Kevin Rafferty talks
about his first visit to the set and Korea itself, which
is cut with on-set footage and comments from key crew
Characters has a further three entries.
A featurette that looks at the casting of the two youngest
characters and includes extracts from the audition tapes.
The lead actors talk briefly about their characters, which
is cut with appropriate behind-the-scenes footage. This
could have been longer.
the Actors (5:18)
Behind-the-scenes footage of the lead actors training
in archery and the use of firearms.
Some intriguing footage is included here, all of which are
presented in good quality anamorphic widescreen. Some of
them are single shots, while others are fully edited sequences.
I'd lay money on the Korean disc having an optional commentary
track by director Bong on this, which would help to identify
exactly where a couple of the scenes were originally located
and just why they were removed. The real surprise is that
there are some composited CGI shots in here.
Goodbye to The Host (4:45)
The crew look back at the project through some very rosy
Actually three trailers – the first two avoid showing the
monster and include effects shots in their pre-CGI state,
the last giving only glimpses.
are also trailers of other Optimum
of Murder, Shaolin Soccer
someone who has let slip a few moans about the puny number
of extras on some so-called special editions that often
split the film and features over two discs purely to con
you into believing you're getting something special, here
I have no complaints whatsoever. This is the standard by
which all 2-disc special editions should be judged. There
are 20 featurettes here, over 23 minutes of deleted scenes
and four trailers, all of them interesting and that collectively
run for over three hours. Now THAT is a special edition.