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BUENA VISTA

MOVIE INFO

Director:
Andrew Davis
Cast:
Kevin Costner, Ashton Kutcher, Sela Ward, Melissa Sagemiller, Clancy Brown, Omari Hardwick, Alex Daniels, Adam Peńa
Writing Credits:
Ron L. Brinkerhoff

Tagline:
When lives are on the line, sacrifice everything.

Synopsis:
Kevin Costner and Ashton Kutcher star in The Guardian, the powerful, action-packed drama that takes you inside the never-before-seen world of the elite Coast Guard Rescue Swimmers. Reeling with grief in the wake of a mission gone tragically wrong, legendary Rescue Swimmer Ben Randall (Costner) is given a mission he doesn't want - training raw recruits. Once there, he knocks heads with cocky Jake Fischer (Kutcher), a swimming champ driven by a painful secret, who's more interested in breaking Ben's records than saving lives. But Ben also sees Jake has what it takes to be the best of the best. Filled with spectacular rescues in the lethal waters of the Bering Sea, The Guardian is a riveting and compelling story that dives straight into the heart and soul of real heroes, the unsung guardians of the sea.

Box Office:
Opening Weekend
$18.006 million on 3241 screens.
Domestic Gross
$54.983 million.

MPAA:
Rated PG-13

DVD DETAILS
Presentation:
Widescreen 1.85:1/16x9
Audio:
English Dolby Digital 5.1
Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
French Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles:
English
Spanish
French
Closed-captioned
Supplements Subtitles:
None

Runtime: 139 min.
Price: $29.99
Release Date: 1/23/2007

Bonus:
• Audio Commentary with Director Andrew Davis and Screenwriter Ron L. Brinkerhoff
• Alternate Ending
• Deleted Scenes with Optional Commentary
• “The Guardian: Making Waves” Featurette
• “Unsung Heroes: So Others May Live” Featurette
• Sneak Peeks


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EQUIPMENT
Sony 36" WEGA KV-36FS12 Monitor; Sony DA333ES Processor/Receiver; Panasonic CV-50 DVD Player using component outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Sony SA-WM40 Subwoofer.

RELATED REVIEWS


The Guardian (2006)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (January 22, 2006)

What’s worse – a movie that seems bland for its first two acts but ends well, or a flick that’s pretty interesting much of the way but that collapses badly in its finale? I suppose that depends on the film, but today I’d go with the second option. Though 2006’s The Guardian largely keeps us entertained for its first 90 minutes or so, it squanders any goodwill during its last act.

The Guardian introduces us to Coast Guard rescue diver Ben Randall (Kevin Costner). A legend in the force, he needs a break from active duty after a mission that nearly kills him. Ben gets assigned to training duty and he works with a class of new recruits.

This group includes hotshot swimmer Jake Fischer (Ashton Kutcher). Cocky and arrogant, Jake plans to break all of Ben’s records and establish himself as the greatest diver of all. The movie depicts their ups and downs as they go through Jake’s training.

Note that my discussion of Guardian will include some spoilers. If you’d like to avoid those, jump ahead to the part of the review that looks at the DVD’s technical attributes.

I don’t want to overstate the movie’s charms during its initial segments, but it works pretty well. Sure, it’s tremendously derivative. You’ll get plenty of reminders of Top Gun and An Officer and a Gentleman throughout the flick as we see the tensions between Ben and Jake. (Why do movies like these always feature some guy named “Jake”? Annapolis went with a “Jake” as well.) There’s no originality on display as we see the strained relationship between the mentor and his pupil.

“Derivative” doesn’t necessarily mean “bad”, however, and the first two acts of Guardian prove perfectly entertaining. The flick opens well with a couple of very exciting action sequences, and the training of Jake and his class is just interesting enough to keep us involved. You won’t find anything revelatory on display, but you’ll probably have a good time with the material.

And then we come to the ending – or endings, I should say. Not since The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King has a movie featured so many conclusions. Just when you think Guardian is done – bam! Another scene! The film just doesn’t know when to quit. We find many potentially acceptable finishes, but the story refuses to take any of them. It just keeps going and going and going.

This means that Guardian is much too long, and it continues well past the point of acceptability. Let this flick clock in around 100 to 110 minutes and it offers an enjoyable little action drama. Let it run 139 minutes and it turns into a bloated, tedious piece of melodrama.

I could better forgive the movie’s excessive length if the multiple endings worked better. Unfortunately, they get worse and worse as they continue. I think the flick should end after Jake’s graduation. Give us a quick scene after that to wrap up the characters and we’re good.

But Guardian decides it needs to show Jake on the job. Fine – go through the exercise with him and Ben and finish it there. Use Ben’s lack of nerve as a life lesson, send him back to his wife and let us leave the theater.

Of course, that doesn’t end matters. When Jake gets trapped on a rescue, Ben comes to help. Great – allow Ben to redeem himself with one last triumph and end the misery.

God help us, the flick just keeps going. After Ben saves Jake, he sacrifices himself again when the line that pulls them to the helicopter frays. Not only does this scene still fail to conclude matters – another ending or two remain – but also it gives us a tremendously unsatisfying character development.

Look, I don’t mind downbeat endings. I loved the emotional finish of Titanic, and since I count Se7en as one of my all-time favorites, I obviously don’t object to unhappy finishes. If a movie requires a dark or sad conclusion, that’s more than fine with me.

Unfortunately, Guardian doesn’t need an ending like that. In fact, it’s the kind of movie that really should give us a happy finish. For bizarre reasons I can’t comprehend, it chooses to kill off its main character. I guess it does so for a cheap emotional kick, but it doesn’t work.

Instead, Ben’s death leaves the viewer – or at least this viewer – angry. That’s not because I feel a great attachment to Ben and I’m upset that he kicks. No, it bothers me because it’s crummy filmmaking. Maybe I’d care less if I’d not been stuck with the 74 prior endings – these push patience – I’d have been more willing to accept this bad choice. However, my great desire to see the flick finally end gets compounded with the idiotic nature of the ending to make things worse.

Boy, I can’t remember the last time I felt so angry at the end of a movie. As I left the theater, I ranted and raved at my date about the filmmakers’ stupidity. At least the film provoked an emotional reaction from me; I usually just say “it was okay” when I depart the theater.

The Guardian had me in “it was okay” mode for its first 100 or so minutes. Those multiple endings totally squandered the right to mediocrity, and the extremely poor choice for its ultimate finish left me irate. This is a professionally made film that occasionally entertains. Unfortunately, too many endings and some idiotic decisions squandered my goodwill and made me actively dislike the flick. The movie abuses the viewer with bad choices to end up as a dud.


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

The Guardian appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. The disc presented a consistently satisfying transfer.

Really, my only complaint came from the presence of some light edge enhancement. Mild haloes popped up at times, and those created some minor softness. Otherwise the movie seemed crisp and concise, with good definition at most times. Jagged edges and shimmering failed to materialize, and I saw no signs of source defects.

Guardian went with a high contrast look that minimized the impact of colors. The palette became warmer during romantic scenes but usually stayed fairly chilly. Within those constraints, the hues seemed accurate and well developed. Blacks were dark and tight, while shadows offered good clarity and delineation. This was a solid image.

Even better material came from the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack of The Guardian. The movie’s many action sequences offered great opportunities for involving audio, and the mix didn’t disappoint. Waves roared and crashed around us while helicopters zoomed. The track used all five channels to excellent effect and consistently impressed. Quieter scenes worked well too, as they showed nice involvement, but it was the more active pieces that made this an “A-“ mix.

Audio quality demonstrated strong support. Speech was natural and concise, with no edginess or other problems. The score sounded bright and bold, and effects demonstrated terrific range and clarity. They showed crisp highs and deep bass. I found nothing about which to complain during this excellent soundtrack.

As we move to the DVD’s extras, we open with an audio commentary from director Andrew Davis and screenwriter Ron L. Brinkerhoff. Both sit together for a running, screen-specific chat. They discuss script and story, cast and performances, sets, locations and water tanks, visual effects and filming at sea, research, realism and liberties, and other production basics.

At all times, the men offer a more than competent chat, and they dig into the expected notes. While I can’t find anything worthy of criticism in the commentary, I also can’t cite any elements that make it noteworthy. The track does what it needs to do and nothing more. Davis and Brinkerhoff provide a decent exploration of their film; they just never give this commentary a level of insight or verve that would turn the conversation into something memorable.

Four Deleted Scenes and an Alternate Ending appear. We find “Randall and Skinner Square Off” (1:47), “Jake and Emily at the Laundromat” (2:00), “Lindsey Is Reassigned” (1:25) and “Jake Visits Emily At School” (1:50). The “Alternate Ending” lasts three minutes, six seconds. Of the four cut sequences, only “Reassigned” seems interesting, mainly because it lets us know what happened to the Lindsey character. The others are superfluous and dull.

I won’t relate what happens in the “Alternate Ending”, but if you’ve seen the final flick, you can probably guess. It’s predictable and perhaps superior to the ending that shows up in the movie. I don’t know – I don’t like the way the theatrical release finishes, but then again, this clip does seem lame.

We can watch the deleted scenes with or without commentary from Davis and Brinkerhoff. The “Alternate Ending” lacks commentary but comes with an intro from Davis; he gives us similar notes for it. The information proves useful as we learn about the cut scenes and find some nice details.

Two featurettes follow. The Guardian: Making Waves fills 11 minutes six seconds. It gives us movie clips, behind the scenes elements, and interviews. We hear from Davis, producer Tripp Vinson, 2nd unit director Ronald Hersey, US Coast Guard consultant Jeff Loftus, USCG rescue swimmers/film advisors Bob Watson and Joseph “Butch” Flythe, USCG rescue swimmer trainees Eric Stoecker and Matt Schmidt, production designer Maher Ahmad, executive producer Peter MacGregor-Scott, visual effects supervisor William Mesa, stunt coordinator Alex Daniels, and actors Kevin Costner, Ashton Kutcher, Brian Geraghty, Clancy Brown, Sela Ward and Melissa Sagemiller. “Waves” looks at research and authenticity, locations, sets and shooting the water sequences, actor training, cast and performances, Davis’s impact on the production, stunts, and hopes for the flick.

Should you expect “Waves” to come across as anything other than breathless and promotional? No, not really. Some decent shots from the set appear, and we learn a little about various production issues. However, the show remains superficial and never acts as a very interesting program.

Unsung Heroes: So Others May Live goes for five minutes, 36 seconds, and includes comments from Davis, Costner, Kutcher, Brown, Flythe, Watson, USCG helicopter pilots Ally Schuler, Nevada Smith, and Dan Molthen, USCG rescue swimmers Tom Bolen, Sara Faulkner and John Hall, and Watson’s daughters Katelyn and Sydney. “Heroes” looks at actual Coast Guard rescue work. We see some video footage of their endeavors and hear remarks about their various attempts. There’s also a more specific focus on Hurricane Katrina.

This is a valuable topic and it could’ve been a fascinating program, but unfortunately “Heroes” doesn’t become that show. It throws out the expected praise and sentiment but fails to turn into something substantial. In essence, it’s another promo for the flick, so don’t anticipate a strong piece.

The DVD opens with a few ads. We get promos for The Prestige and Disney Blu-Ray discs. These also appear in the set’s Sneak Peeks domain.

Despite its predictable nature and a “been there, done that” feel to the story, The Guardian manages to entertain – for a while. Unfortunately, the movie takes some serious wrong turns and runs way too long. These factors make it badly flawed in the end. The DVD offers very good picture and audio along with some decent extras. I like the DVD but feel very disappointed with the movie itself.

Viewer Film Ratings: 4.25 Stars Number of Votes: 52
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