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Joel Schumacher
Nicolas Cage, Joaquin Phoenix, Catherine Keener
Writing Credits:
Andrew Kevin Walker

A private investigator is hired to discover if a "snuff film" is authentic or not.

Box Office:
$40 million.
Opening Weekend
$14,252,888 on 2370 Screens.
Domestic Gross

Rated R.

Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
English DTS-HD MA 2.0
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 123 min.
Price: $29.99
Release Date: 1/8/2019

• Audio Commentary with Director Joel Schumacher
• Interview with Director Joel Schumacher
• Vintage Featurette
• TV Spots
• Still Gallery
• Trailer


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8mm [Blu-Ray] (1999)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (December 30, 2018)

A dark thriller, 1999’s 8mm introduces us to Tom Welles (Nicolas Cage), a private detective who engages some high-profile clients. His reputation leads him to the employ of Mrs. Christian (Myra Carter), the widow of a wealthy industrialist.

When she opens her late husband’s private vault, Mrs. Christian finds an amateur film that appears to depict the murder of a teenage girl. Tom takes the case to discover if the girl lived or died, a pursuit that leads him into a seedy underworld.

As frequent readers of my reviews may already know, I loved 1995’s Se7en and it remains my choice for the best movie of the 1990s. When I first saw that 8mm came from Se7en screenwriter Andrew Kevin Walker, I thought it displayed a lot of potential and really looked forward to seeing it.

When I initially watched 8mm in 1999, I didn't think it was in the same class as Se7en but I felt it offered the kind of exciting and unnerving experience I wanted from this genre. It certainly didn’t come across as a classic, but I felt it largely achieved what it set out to do.

Now that I've seen 8MM a few more times, I'm not so sure about that conclusion. As I rewatched the film, I frankly felt pretty bored with the entire enterprise.

Granted, that's sometimes the danger of viewing thrillers a second or more time, as they potentially lose excitement when you know what will happen. However, that doesn't seem to be a factor with really well-made movies.

After all, Se7en still gets my adrenaline pumping after 23 years. Others like Silence of the Lambs and Psycho continue to do their nasty work after all this time as well.

8MM simply doesn't come to close to that kind of company, and on subsequent viewings, the tedium of the film comes through more clearly. What thrills it offers seem cheap and predictable.

Director Joel Schumacher seems like a poor fit for this sort of movie, as he fares best with glossy enterprises. Schumacher displays the seediness of the world his characters inhabit well enough so that you get an exterior view of it, but there's never any sense of depth or exploration or understanding.

With Se7en, director David Fincher really got the viewer involved in the atmosphere and created an overall sense of the place and mood. 8MM might freak you out a bit that first time through, but once you watch it again and see just how little actually happens, you'll quickly become tired of the whole enterprise.

Every aspect of the production seems competent but unexceptional. Cage doesn't do too much with his role as Tom, and he actually seems surprisingly blah throughout much of the film. Cage tries so hard to stifle his usual quirky tendencies that he goes overboard and makes the character too flat.

We do find a good supporting cast, as 8mm features talent like Joaquin Phoenix, Catherine Keener and James Gandolfini. They add a bit of needed depth to the proceedings.

Almost 20 years after its initial release, I don’t view 8mm as a bad film, for it creates a moderately interesting take on a seedy world. Nonetheless, it fails to become more than mildly compelling, and it ultimately disappoints.

The Disc Grades: Picture C+/ Audio B/ Bonus B-

8mm appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. The transfer showed some mild issues.

For the most part, sharpness was good. However, exceptions occurred, as some aspects of the flick – mostly wider elements – could be a little mushy and ill-defined. Still, the majority of the film demonstrated positive delineation.

I witnessed no jagged edges or shimmering, but I saw light edge haloes at times. In terms of print flaws, I detected a couple small marks but no notable issues.

8mm went with a subdued palette, and the colors lacked much impact. Some of that seemed by design but some of it reflected the less than stellar film stocks in use, so expect hues that appeared decent but unexceptional.

Blacks were dark and tight, and shadows showed good clarity much of the time, though a few interiors could seem a little murky. Much of the film looked fine, but the image felt too erratic for a grade above a “C+“.

Though heavy on ambience, the DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack appeared more than adequate. The soundfield gave us a decent sense of atmosphere, and it kicked into higher gear when necessary.

Unsurprisingly, those moments occurred mainly during the scenes that conveyed action/thriller elements. Though a lot of the track lacked ambition, the “money shots” kicked to life well enough to balance out the less involving bits.

Audio quality satisfied. Speech seemed natural and concise, and I noticed no edginess or other problems.

Music was bright and dynamic, while effects appeared solid, without obvious distortion or other issues. While not a great mix, the audio seemed acceptable for the material.

When we shift to extras, we start with an audio commentary from director Joel Schumacher. Recorded for the original DVD from 1999, this brings a running, screen-specific look at story/characters, cast and performances, sets and locations, music, editing, cinematography, background areas and issues with the MPAA.

Schumacher delivers a pretty solid commentary here. He tells us a fair amount about the production and also gets into issues related to the pornography at the movie’s core, all with verve and appropriate humor. Well, Schumacher’s joke about how James Gandolfini died during the shoot plays less well now than it did in 1999, but this still becomes a strong chat.

A circa 2018 Interview with Director Joel Schumacher runs 21 minutes, eight seconds and provides his thoughts on how he came to 8mm, casting and performances, research and reactions to the film. Some of the content repeats from the commentary, but the perspective of 20 years allows Schumacher to give us a different look at the flick.

From 1999, we get a Vintage Featurette. It goes for five minutes, seven seconds and includes notes from Schumacher and actors Nicolas Cage and Joaquin Phoenix. As expected, this becomes a superficial promo piece.

In addition to the film’s trailer and three TV Spots, we find a Still Gallery. It presents a running montage of 86 images that mixes movie shots, pictures from the set, publicity elements and advertising. It becomes a decent compilation.

A dark thriller in the Se7en vein, 8mm tries desperately to deliver a grim, harrowing tale. However, it never manages to become anything more than mediocre, as the end result lacks real impact. The Blu-ray brings us erratic visuals as well as pretty good audio and a few supplements. 8mm comes with occasional thrills but it usually seems lackluster.

Viewer Film Ratings: 3 Stars Number of Votes: 2
0 3:
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