A Beautiful Mind

The game is flawed.

A review by Mike Shea   Movie Rating: ( * * * * · )    DVD Rating: ( * * * * · )

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People are often baffled when I tell them I don't even want a basic plot summary of a movie, but A Beautiful Mind is a perfect reason why. Everyone knows that surprises shouldn't be spoiled, but even in a movie where surprise isn't the only motivator, you are better off not knowing anything but whether or not the movie is good, great, excellent or just plain sucks. Even scenes like the make-out session in American Pie 2 (nay, you shall not see a review of this movie as the DVD came broken and I don't plan on reordering it) are easily ruined when we hear about them later. Even a single repeated line of dialog removes just a bit of the enjoyment we would have gotten hearing it for the first time on the screen instead of around the water cooler. A Beautiful Mind was flawed for me when I watched even something as tame as the Academy Awards. It is a great movie, but it is far greater the less you know walking in.

Beautiful Mind is a great movie on many levels. There are three distinct acts in this story, each very different from one another. Ed Harris once again breaks out of traditional roles in one far more sinister, if a little wooden. Each of them do a great job all the way through the movie.

If I could point out only two faults with the movie, it would be these. One, I found that once you knew the plot of the movie it was not as enjoyable. While there was much to discover on a second viewing, the movie plays out far better the less you know about it. Second, I found some of the romantic scenes to be a little tacky and not very fitting with the character. The scene pointing out the stars and a second scene between our heroic couple later on in the bedroom were both a bit too Hollywood for me. Sometimes true love and commitment can be shown with far less. Let our imaginations do the work.

The DVD for A Beautiful Mind is a great version of the film. It includes a 1.85 to 1 16x9 enhanced picture with a Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack. There are two commentary tracks including a very content-rich and technical commentary with Ron Howard. There are a pack of deleted scenes and featurettes all in this two disc set. Movies as good as this really warrant such attention on the DVD. The extra material can turn any casual viewer into a true film buff.

People love ruining movies. The advertisement industry spends billions each year ruining plot lines for movies that are best discovered when viewed. I love discovering hidden films that have much more in them than the back of the box lets on. A Beautiful Mind would have been better without all the hype or glitz simply because many of us who know the basic idea going in would have been far more surprised. It is a great movie on many levels and one I highly recommend.