WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
After surviving a horrific train wreck that killed every one onboard but himself, a stadium security guard (Bruce Willis) gets a mysterious note from an eccentric comic book dealer (Samuel L. Jackson) who believes that he’s blessed with superpowers. The movie spins an intricate story of self-discovery as both men try and discover the truth behind Willis’ character.
IS IT A GOOD MOVIE?
A painstakingly slow mystery which after an initial viewing, left me talking about it for days. The movie itself works on several levels, as both a comic book story and conventional drama, carefully revealing the clues to the puzzle before bringing the truth into the light. Adding to the brilliant story is the fact that the movie boasts some phenomenal cinematography, good acting and one hell of a great score. As viewers, we are thrown into a world which we know little about and like Willis, are compelled to stumble and sift through the various pieces of information thrown our way. What I truly dug about the movie was its final revelation, which while not terribly mind blowing, unlocks a completely new way of looking at the movie. I honestly can’t remember a flick which so quickly forced me to pull a "180" on how I felt about its characters and their collective roles.
Although the DVD brags of a THX certified transfer (2.35:1 widescreen anamorphic), the video quality wasn’t quite as good as I would’ve hoped for. I freaked out during a number of scenes when the image started to shimmer and soft spots started to pop up onscreen. How the makers of the disc allowed this to happen is beyond me but it proved to be a major disappointment. Still, given that a lot of the movie dwells on using dark and gloomy colors, the rest of the DVD comes through quite nicely. Grain and print defects are practically non-existent and black levels are extremely detailed throughout the entire flick.
Bruce Willis, who after years and years of playing the action hero (which is in no way a diss to the great John McClane), has finally come into his own as a more “serious” thespian. His nonchalance and casual approach to his character was perfect and he clocks in yet another believable and compelling performance. Samuel L. Jackson, as the nutball comic book collector with the weird personality ticks, served as the perfect complement to Willis’ character and they come off as being diametrically opposite. While the acting was solid across the board, the movie’s visuals (which were eerily reminiscent of Se7en) and moody score were the icing on the cake. Like a dark comic book/illustrated novel, the flick employs cold and bleak colors which set an atmospheric tone for the rest of the plot and storyline development. It’s so hard to review a movie like this without directly delving into the specifics of the mysteries hidden beneath its surface so I'll stop now and just recommend that you see the movie yourself. Easily one of the best films of the year.
Kicking off the supplements is “Behind the Scenes”, an all too brief 15 minute "making of" documentary which covers the making of the script, soundtrack and directing styles of Shyamalan. It’s an interesting look but only briefly manages to get into the dynamics behind this kick ass movie. I would’ve loved to have seen a much longer and more thorough documentary. Next up is “Comic Books and Superheroes” (19 minutes) which provides viewers with an adequate introduction to the world of comic book art and the fantastic characters who call it home. We get interviews with artists like Frank Miller (who’s best known for his work on the Batman: Dark Knight series) and Dave Gibbons who speak about what drives their works and why comics are so endearing to them. Also included on the DVD are 7 deleted scenes which are meticulously presented and look like they came straight out of the movie (not in rough footage). Running about 20 minutes in total, you can also choose to have the scenes introduced by Shyamalan and run back to back consecutively.
“The Train Station Sequence” allows viewers to jump between the final cut and storyboards of one of the movie’s more elaborate scenes, using the DVD’s multi-angle feature. It’s a fun little extra which would’ve been even better had we been able to watch a split screen presentation of both options. Rounding out the extras are “Shyamalan’s First Fight Sequence” which although having nothing to do with the movie, is a 2-minute clip shot on really crappy home video showing the director’s early foray into filmmaking. Funny stuff. While the DVD features some great menus spiced up with cool animation and that haunting score, there are no trailers or TV spots at all on the disc. If there’s ONE movie for which I would’ve loved to have had the preview, this was it and I can’t get over the fact that no promotional stuff made it onto the DVD.
While this is the first in the Vista Series of DVDs, I’m not exactly impressed with what they have to offer. You’d think that they’d at least include one commentary track, some trailers or a more comprehensive "making of" documentary. While the supplements and deleted scenes are definitely worth checking out, I can’t help but wonder how much better this release could’ve been if they’d just gone the extra mile and spiced things up a bit. Canadian fans should note that the Alex Ross artwork (2 postcards) which should’ve been on the DVD somehow got dropped because of a printing error. Not a great first effort from the gang over at Disney for their supposedly “premium” line of discs. f you loved Unbreakable, it’s still a worthy investment but if you’re a casual viewer, I’d only recommend it as a rental.