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BIG AIR

MOVIE INFO

Director:
Darren Bousman
Cast:
Timothy Gibbs, Michael Landes, Wendy Glenn, Benjamin Cook, Lolo Herrero, Salomé Jiménez, Brendan Price
Writing Credits:
Darren Lynn Bousman

Tagline:
Mark the date. You can't stop what's coming.

Synopsis:
After the tragic death of his wife and child, famed American author Joseph Crone travels from the United States to Barcelona, Spain, to reunite with his estranged brother, Samuel, and dying father, Richard. However, fate has a different plan or Joseph as his life becomes plagued with strange happenings and the constant sightings of the number 11. Curiosity quickly turns to obsession, and Joseph soon realizes that this number holds a horrific meaning not only to himself but possibly to all of religion. Isolated in a foreign country with only the support of his companion, Sadie, Joseph soon realizes that 11/11/11 is more than just a date; it's a warning!

MPAA:
Rated PG-13

DVD DETAILS
Presentation:
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
Audio:
English Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles:
Spanish
Closed-captioned
Supplements Subtitles:
None

Runtime: 82 min.
Price: $14.99
Release Date: 4/24/2012

Bonus:
• Audio Commentary with Writer/Director Darren Lynn Bousman and Executive Producer Laura Bousman
• Three Deleted Scenes
• “Making of” Featurette


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EQUIPMENT
Panasonic 50" TH-50PZ77U 1080p Plasma Monitor; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.

RELATED REVIEWS


11-11-11 (2011)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (May 24, 2012)

For a supernatural thriller with a date-related twist, we head to 2011’s 11-11-11. Successful novelist Joseph Crone (Timothy Gibbs) finds himself crippled by grief caused by the deaths of his wife Sarah (Salomé Jiménez) and son. After a support group meeting, he gets into a car wreck that leaves him lucky to be alive – though the depressed Joseph doesn’t appreciate this, as he’d rather be dead.

Following this event, Joseph hears from his brother Samuel (Michael Landes) that his estranged father (Denis Rafter) will soon die from a terminal illness. Despite his emotional and physical distance from the elder Crone, Joseph flies to Barcelona to visit with his relatives. All the while, Joseph experiences weird visions, most of which connect to the number “11-11-11”. This builds to a climax as the creepy elements grow and the calendar heads toward November 11, 2011 – or 11-11-11.

In my view, the best movies of this sort tend to be understated. The harder a film tries to spook us, the less effective it tends to be; I like flicks that start quietly and earn their chills without heavy theatrics.

That’s one of the many reasons I didn’t care for 11-11-11. Like many modern genre flicks, this one starts out with attempted creepiness set all the way to the max, so it has nowhere to go. When the movie opens with the usual trappings – spooky music, choppy editing, odd visuals – then how can it build?

It can’t, and 11-11-11 doesn’t. With its Creepometer pushed into the red from the very beginning, we find ourselves disinterested before long. No movie can sustain constant scares – or even chills – so the returns decline on a consistent basis. We might be set on edge a bit at the opening, but that quickly dissipates, as we soon realize the film offers a lot of fat and no meat.

11-11-11 usually feels like cheap cinematic techniques in search of a story. The characters always appear sketchy, as they’re never better drawn than a few basic traits. This seems especially problematic in terms of Joseph; he’s a haunted skeptic without much else to define him. The other receive no better exposition, and we don’t learn anything about them that lets us become interested in them.

The basic tale itself could’ve had some potential, but 11-11-11 fills out the plot in such a meandering way that it fizzles. We hear a lot of talk about potential concerns – too much talk, as this becomes a downright chatty flick. Characters stop abruptly to deliver exposition, with only cheap attempted scares to potentially leaven the proceedings.

They don’t help – all the “boo” moments in the world won’t perk up this turgid offering. Nor will the filmmakers’ hyperactive attempts to use cinematic techniques to spook us. The camera almost literally never stops moving; while 11-11-11 avoids much “shakycam”, it still spins, pans, zooms and pivots like crazy. This becomes a total distraction, as we just want the stinking camera to stay put for a moment or two.

Add to that rapid-fire cuts and the usual faux-creepy music for more cheesy scare tactics. I don’t mind these techniques in moderation – or in support of a more solid script – but as used here, they feel like desperate attempts to do all the work the story and characters should do.

11-11-11 tries very hard to give us depth via its exploration of spiritual issues. I should put “exploration” in quotes because the movie does little more than pay lip service to these discussions. They’re one-dimensional at best and feel gratuitous; I get the sense 11-11-11 wants to be nothing more than a straight horror film but it thinks it needs something else to make it “important”. (Ooh – more quotes!)

For some strange reason, I prefer movies with interesting participants and intriguing narratives to those with nothing more than filmmaking gimmicks. Unfortunately, we only get the latter in 11-11-11. Throw in consistently lackluster, wooden acting and this becomes a forgettable clunker.


The DVD Grades: Picture B/ Audio B/ Bonus B-

11-11-11 appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. The movie came with a pretty good SD-DVD transfer.

For the most part, sharpness seemed positive. Some light edge enhancement affected wide shots and could make them a bit soft, but the movie usually offered fairly solud definition. Shimmering and jaggies didn’t become an issue, and source flaws remained absent.

As with most horror flicks, 11-11-11 went with highly stylized tones. Interiors veered toward amber, while exteriors seemed either chilly blue or a bleached look. These didn’t tax the image but they were fine within the visual design. Blacks appeared reasonably deep, and shadows looked acceptable; some low-light shots were a little dense, but this didn’t become an issue. Ultimately, I thought we got a better than average image for standard-def DVD.

Though not especially ambitious, the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack of 11-11-11 seemed satisfactory. The mix usually focused on general environment, and that side of things worked well. The audio used the speakers in a natural manner that created a good soundscape.

Music also featured nice stereo imaging, and the surrounds contributed to the ambience. The back channels didn’t have a lot to do, but they added to the film’s aura. The showiest sequence probably featured a car crash, which let the vehicle move to the rear right in a convincing way; some creepy bits during the climax also offered solid material from the back. The whole package connected together in a reasonably involving manner.

Audio quality was positive. Music showed nice range and clarity, while effects offered good accuracy and punch. The smattering of loud scenes showed solid definition, and they lacked distortion. Speech was also concise and natural. Nothing here dazzled, but it achieved its goals.

A few extras fill out the set. We open with an audio commentary from writer/director Darren Lynn Bousman and executive producer Laura Bousman. Both sit together for this running, screen-specific look at the project's origins and development, story/character/script topics, sets and shooting in Spain, cast and performances, budgetary issues, post-production, the movie's release and critical reception, and spooky occurrences during the production.

Darren dominates the conversation, and I don’t regard that as a bad thing. He provides a consistently chatty, honest presence who covers the movie in a very satisfying manner. If the film itself had been half as interesting as the commentary, I’d have recommended it; this becomes a pretty terrific track.

Three Deleted Scenes fill a total of three minutes, 59 seconds. The first comes from early in the film and shows Joseph and Sadie outside a support group meeting, while the other two provide more attempts at creepy exposition with Joseph’s brother and father. None of them deliver anything interesting.

We wrap with a 25-minute “Making of” Featurette. It includes notes from Darren Lynn Bousman, co-executive producer Loris Curci, production designer Mani Martinez, and actors Wendy Glenn, Michael Landes, and Timothy Gibbs. The featurette looks at the movie’s themes, story and characters, influences and inspirations, Bousman’s work on the set, cast and performances, sets and locations, alleged spooky moments during the shoot, and general thoughts about the flick.

With a little more time available than the usual “Making of” show, this one digs into its subject a little deeper – though not a lot deeper. Much of it sticks with the standard fluffy talk, so don’t expect much from it. Still, it gets into the situations a bit better than usual, and it comes with decent footage from the set.

With 11-11-11, we get a horror flick without much to it. The film tries to be deep and go beyond the standard scares, but it can’t; it lacks real meaning and feels more like a package of cheap cinematic tactics. The DVD delivers pretty good picture and audio as well as some useful supplements highlighted by a particularly strong commentary. I feel pleased with the quality of this release but can’t recommend the film itself.

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