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WARNER

MOVIE INFO

Director:
Clint Eastwood
Cast:
Matt Damon, Cécile De France, Bryce Dallas Howard, Jay Mohr, Richard Kind, Frankie McLaren, George McLaren
Writing Credits:
Peter Morgan

Synopsis:
George (Matt Damon) is a blue-collar American with a special connection to the afterlife dating from his childhood. French journalist Marie (Cécile de France) has a near-death experience that shakes her reality. And when London schoolboy Marcus (Frankie and George McLaren) loses the person closest to him, he desperately needs answers. Each seeking the truth, their lives will intersect, forever changed by what they believe might – or must – exist in the hereafter.

Box Office:
Budget
$50 million.
Opening Weekend
$220.322 thousand on 6 screens.
Domestic Gross
$32.741 million.

MPAA:
Rated PG-13

DVD DETAILS
Presentation:
Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
Audio:
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
French Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles:
English
Spanish
French
Closed-captioned
Supplements Subtitles:
English
French

Runtime: 129 min.
Price: $35.99
Release Date: 3/15/2010

Bonus:
• “Step Into the Hereafter” Focus Points
• “The Eastwood Factor” Documentary
• Previews
• Digital Copy


PURCHASE @ AMAZON.COM

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


Hereafter [Blu-Ray] (2010)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (March 4, 2011)

At this point in his storied career, I feel more surprised when a Clint Eastwood film doesn’t get nominated for Best Picture than when one does. Perhaps I shouldn’t expect such consistent praise for Eastwood’s work, as he’s not smelled Best Picture since 2006’s Letters from Iwo Jima; even the expansion to 10 nominees couldn’t ensure a place for 2009’s Invictus.

Or 2010’s Hereafter. Oh well – perhaps 2012’s J Edgar biopic will bring Clint back to Oscar’s good graces.

Hereafter follows the stories of three people touched by death and the afterlife. During a visit to Thailand, French journalist Marie Lelay (Cécile de France) nearly dies during a massive tsunami. She comes back to life, but not before she appears to see visions of people on another plane of existence. When she returns home to France, Marie attempts to resume her normal life, but she remains haunted by her experiences and also finds herself obsessed with the notion of life after death.

American George Lonegan (Matt Damon) possesses true psychic abilities and can communicate with the dead. In younger days, he worked as a professional clairvoyant but the gig wore him out, so he turned his back on the field and became a factory worker instead. His brother Billy (Jay Mohr) persuades him to revisit his gift once more to help Billy’s client (Richard Kind) connect with his dead wife. This stirs up issues for George, concerns that get exacerbated when he meets cute, single - and interested - Melanie (Bryce Dallas Howard) at a night school cooking class and their burgeoning relationship affected by his abilities.

Over in London, twins Marcus and Jason (Frankie and George McLaren) live with their substance-abusing mother Jackie (Lyndsey Marshal). She asks one of the boys to fetch her some detox drugs, so Jason does so. On his way home, young thugs pester him, and he runs into the street to evade them. A vehicle hits and kills him, so Marcus must deal with life without his brother. Marcus ends up in foster care and seeks a psychic so he can get one last connection with his dead brother.

I find myself somewhat suspicious about movies that pursue three essentially unrelated narratives. Sure, they can work quite well, but at times, they can seem incomplete. Multiple narratives can often fail to adequately explore their subjects and fall into a number of traps.

Hereafter encounters some of those problems, with the primary concern stemming from the abbreviated nature of the various stories. With only 40 minutes or so apiece to devote to each of the three main characters, none of them can prosper. The film probably develops the George narrative the best, but even that one feels short and incomplete.

The lack of adequate screen time affects each of the tales in similar ways. We don’t feel like we get to know much about the characters, and their journeys come across as superficial. That might not be a big issue in a certain kind of movie, but in one that deals with a concept so enormous, a lack of depth creates a major drawback. We want the film to offer the subject matter enough exploration to develop its themes.

That just doesn’t happen in Hereafter. Instead, the film dabbles in the afterlife without much conviction or introspection. The concept behind the film feels almost like a Macguffin, something to lead the characters around but without much other purpose.

This doesn’t work well, partially because the characters and their narratives simply aren’t terribly interesting. For one, all three leads are awfully quiet, subdued people. They're different in many ways – age, gender, nationality – but lack many real personality differences. Their stories blend together in an odd way because they come with so many basic similarities.

“Dullness” being the major one. Even with all the drama that should accompany characters who go through so much, we don’t feel much connection to these people. We follow what should be major life journeys in such a low-key, bland way that we don’t care.

I should appreciate the typical Eastwood preference for quiet and subdued over loud and forced, but in this case, I think the director goes overboard. He’s so intent on avoiding high drama or spoon-fed feelings that he creates a film with almost no emotion or spirit at all. It’s not quite clinical, but it lacks a sense of purpose.

If Hereafter balanced its turgid nature with intellectual stimulation, it could overcome those flaws. Unfortunately, it ends up as the worst of both worlds: a dull exploration of spiritual subjects that fails to delve into either its characters or notions in a satisfying way. I admire the unusual subject matter but can’t find much of interest to take away from this slow film.


The Blu-ray Grades: Picture B+/ Audio B/ Bonus C+

Hereafter appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.40:1 on this Blu-Ray Disc. The movie boasted a consistently positive presentation.

For the most part, sharpness looked good. Interiors occasionally display light softness, but those instances remained modest. The majority of the movie seemed concise and well-defined. No issues with jagged edges or moiré effects appeared, and edge enhancement didn’t affect the movie. Print flaws also failed to mar the image.

In terms of colors, Hereafter opted for a cool palette. It usually went with an aqua tint at most; its tones stayed fairly chilly and desaturated throughout the film. This meant the hues were subdued but fine given the stylistic choices. Blacks were dark and tight, while low-light shots demonstrated nice clarity. Overall, the film came across well.

Given the introspective, chatty nature of Hereafter, the DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack stayed low-key most of the time. Its most impressive sequence appeared early, as the tsunami presented a punch; during that scene, the soundscape filled out the room in a dynamic, engulfing manner. A terrorist incident later in the film also added a quick jolt.

Otherwise, the flick didn’t boast a lot of memorable audio. Psychic visions used the various speakers in a reasonably full way, but most of the track went with general ambience. It also featured good stereo presence for the occasional bits of score we got.

Audio quality worked fine. Music was gentle but clear, and speech seemed natural and concise. Effects presented accurate elements with nice bass response when appropriate. Again, other than the tsunami scene, nothing here seemed particularly impressive, but the track suited the movie.

Not a lot of extras pop up here. For info about the film, we get Step Into the Hereafter, a collection of “focus points”. This means nine featurettes related to the flick: “Tsunami! Recreating a Disaster” (6:33), “Is There Life After Death?” (3:58), “Clint On Casting” (7:23), “Delving into the Hereafter” (6:00), “Twin Bonding” (5:53), “French Speaking French” (1:45), “Why the White Light?” (3:29), “Hereafter’s Locations – Casting the Silent Characters” (3:03), and “The Eastwood Experience” (4:17). These run a total of 42 minutes, 26 seconds and provide notes from director Clint Eastwood, tsunami sequence designer/VFX supervisor Michael Owens, Scanline VFX compositing supervisor Joe Farrell, Scanline VFX supervisors Bryan Grill and Stephan Trojansky, Scanline CG supervisor Danielle Plantec, underwater DP Mike Valentine, UK stunt coordinator Rob Inch, special effects supervisor Dominic Tuohy, producers Kathleen Kennedy and Robert Lorenz, writer/executive producer Peter Morgan, medium Allison DuBois, parapsychologist Loyd Auerbach, Skeptic Magazine publisher Michael Shermer, twin researcher/author Dr. Nancy L. Segal, Kennedy’s Connie, filmmakers Joel and Graham Fisher, Near Death Experience Research Foundation’s Dr. Jeffrey Long and Jody Long, SF key assistant location manager Peter Moody, SF location manager Patrick O. Mignano, and actors Jay Mohr, Lyndsey Marshal, Cécile de France, Steven R. Schirripa, Bryce Dallas Howard, Richard Kind, Matt Damon, Marthe Keller, Thierry Neuvic, Niamh Cusack and George and Frankie McLaren.

The “focus points” look at various effects, thoughts about a potential hereafter, near-death experiences and paranormal abilities, cast and performances, connections among twins, the movie’s French dialogue, locations, and Eastwood’s touch as a director. These featurettes add some interesting tidbits, but they tend to be pretty superficial. They deliver basics and not much else, so don’t expect a comprehensive view of the film.

Next we find a documentary entitled The Eastwood Factor, which makes its full-length Blu-ray debut here. A much shorter version appeared on the Invictus Blu-ray, and the entire documentary remains available on a separate DVD. I reviewed that full-length 88-minute edition already, so if you’re interested in the program, click on the link for details. Factor shows Eastwood as he discusses some of his movies. It’s a general and not especially interesting look at Eastwood’s career; while it’s decent, it’s never particularly involving.

Ads for Hall Pass and Red Riding Hood. No trailer for Hereafter appears here.

On a second disc, we locate a digital copy of Hereafter. With this, you can paste the movie onto a portable viewing device or computer. Yippee!

With good people behind it and an ambitious framework, Hereafter should deliver a stimulating take on spiritual matters. Instead, it tends to bore, as it boasts neither drama nor intellectual heft. The Blu-ray comes with good picture and audio as well as some decent supplements. Hereafter fails to live up to its goals.

Viewer Film Ratings: 2.7083 Stars Number of Votes: 48
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