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Justin Barber
Florence Hartigan, Luke Spencer Roberts, Chelsea Lopez
Writing Credits:
Justin Barber, TS Nowlin

20 years after three teenagers disappeared in the wake of mysterious lights appearing above Phoenix, Arizona, unseen footage from that night has been discovered, chronicling the final hours of their fateful expedition.

Rated PG-13.

Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1/1.33:1 (Varying)
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 87 min.
Price: $39.99
Release Date: 8/1/2017
• Audio Commentary with Writer/Director Justin Barber and Actors Florence Hartigan, Chelsea Lopez and Justin Matthews
• “Sophie’s Story” Featurette
• “Phoenix Found” Featurette
• Trailer and Previews
• DVD Copy


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-Marantz SR7010 9.2 Channel Full 4K Ultra HD AV Surround Receiver;
-Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player
-Chane A2.4 Speakers
-SVS SB12-NSD 12" 400-watt Sealed Box Subwoofer.


Phoenix Forgotten [Blu-Ray] (2017)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (August 3, 2017)

A new entry in the “found footage” genre, 2017’s Phoenix Forgotten takes us to the Arizona location alluded to in the title. On March 13, 1997, sightings of strange lights over Phoenix create curiosity and intrigue among the locals.

In that regard, three teens – Ashley Foster (Chelsea Lopez), Josh Bishop (Luke Spencer Roberts) and Mark Abrams (Justin Matthews) – look into the source of the visuals. They vanish and 20 years later, Josh‘s sister Sophie (Florence Hartigan) reopens the investigation into their disappearance.

Forgotten tells its story via the framework of Sophie’s research, and it uses a documentary setup to show us the info. The movie tells us that Sophie uses this format as her entry point into her pursuit of the truth.

Because of that, Forgotten largely comes across as a documentary, though not one with a concise focus. Honestly, it seems unclear how much of the movie shows Sophie’s final product and how much depicts her work on this project.

Stylistic confusion aside, Forgotten fails to turn into anything scary, intense or memorable. It mixes its styles in a coherent enough manner but it can’t do anything to churn drama out of its material.

During the film’s first two-thirds, we mainly follow the mix of Sophie’s investigation and the “1997” footage. These moments set up the story but don’t seem especially intriguing, as they feel like they exist to fill time more than anything else.

When the third act arrives, we focus entirely on the teens in 1997, and in theory, this ratchets up the action. The kids deal with the mysteries of what they find in the Arizona desert and we get some form of resolution about their disappearance.

However, nothing especially exciting occurs. The movie tosses loud noises and attempts at intensity our way, but none of these muster an impact.

Instead, we’re left with a lot of meandering around the desert and the occasional jolt. The movie uses a framework with a Blair Witch Project feel, as amateur filmmakers go into a remote area and confront the unknown.

Blair Witch managed a certain sense of dread, but Forgotten doesn’t present a similar impact. The characters seem to do little more than say “did you hear that?” or “did you see that?” to each other, and their observations fail to connect.

All of this leaves Forgotten as a toothless thriller. We never invest in the characters and we don’t really care what happens to them. Their adventures lack drama and impact, as does the dull movie itself.

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

Phoenix Forgotten appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.78:1 on this Blu-ray Disc, though the clips supposedly from 1997 used a 1.33:1 ratio. “Found footage” movies always look erratic, and that was the case here.

But since I expected that, I couldn’t complain. The “2017 shots” actually looked very good, as they offered nice sharpness and clarity. Colors were a bit subdued but they seemed fairly full, and blacks/shadows displayed solid delineation.

As expected, the “1997 footage” looked much worse. These videotaped elements tended to be soft and murky, with artifacts and other interference. Colors became muddy and bland as well.

Again, this made sense, as the “1997” material should seem flawed. In the end, this left us with an appropriate transfer for a movie that mixed attractive and ugly visuals.

Whereas some other “found footage” films featured broad soundscapes, the DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack of Forgotten veered more monaural. For much of the movie, the audio focused on the front center channel.

Matters expanded in a mild manner at times, which meant some use of the sides and rears, but those moments usually did little to expand the soundfield. Occasional snatches of score did the most with the side/rear channels, and a few sequences during the third act brought the surrounds to vivid life – too vivid, honestly, since these elements violated any sense that we actually watched circa 1997 videotape.

Speech was fairly natural and concise; some lines got buried but that felt appropriate. Music seemed full and warm, while effects appeared adequate, with decent delineation. Not much here excelled but the audio suited the material – even if I remain bothered by the surround usage for the “1997” footage.

A few extras flesh out the disc, and these open with an audio commentary from writer/director Justin Barber and actors Florence Hartigan, Chelsea Lopez and Justin Matthews. All four sit together for a running, screen-specific look at events that inspired the film and story/characters, sets and locations, various effects, cast and performances, and related topics.

I admit I didn’t expect much from this track, but it actually covers the film fairly well. We get a good overview of relevant areas and the discussion moves at a nice pace. Nothing here threatens to become stellar, but it’s a solid commentary.

Two featurettes follow, and Sophie’s Story runs three minutes, 12 seconds. This one purports to show a TV report about the Sophie character’s investigation. It acts as a decent teaser for the movie but it doesn’t give us anything else.

Phoenix Found goes for seven minutes, 16 seconds and offers notes from Barber, Matthews, Lopez, producers Wes Ball, Mark Canton and Ridley Scott, writer TS Nowlin, and actor Luke Spencer Roberts. We get background about the events that inspired the film as well as aspects of casting and the shoot. This becomes a fluffy PR piece and little more.

The disc opens with ads for Alien: Covenant, Morgan and The Belko Experiment. Sneak Peek adds a promo for American Horror Story: Hotel and we also get the trailer for Forgotten.

A second disc provides a DVD copy of Forgotten. It contains the same extras as the Blu-ray.

If you hope Phoenix Forgotten will reinvigorate the “found footage” genre, you’ll encounter disappointment. Slow and dull, the movie never connects with its subject matter. The Blu-ray offers appropriate picture and audio as well as a smattering of supplements. This ends up as a less than enthralling thriller.

Viewer Film Ratings: 2 Stars Number of Votes: 1
0 3:
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