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Carl Tibbetts
Cillian Murphy, Jamie Bell, Thandie Newton, Jimmy Yuill, Marilyn Mantle
Writing Credits:
Carl Tibbetts, Janice Hallett

A world away from everything you know.

Taking an isolated break on an uninhabited island, Martin (Cillian Murphy) and Kate (Thandie Newton) are about to find that their island retreat is about to become a prison of unimaginable terror. When a blood soaked stranger (Jamie Bell) stumbles through their door claiming an apocalyptic virus is sweeping across Europe, their lives are turned upside down as they face what could be the end of everything they know. Using all means necessary, they must fight to escape the approaching threat. But escape is only the beginning of their terrifying fight for survival…

Rated R

Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1/16X9
English Dolby Digital 5.1
French Dolby Digital 5.1
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 90 min.
Price: $30.99
Release Date: 2/21/2012

• “The Making of Retreat” Featurette
• Photo Gallery
• Previews


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.


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Retreat (2011)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (February 8, 2012)

For today’s “Adventures in Direct-to-Video DVDs”, we go to 2011’s Retreat. Following the stillbirth of their first baby, married couple Martin (Cillian Murphy) and Kate (Thandie Newton) find themselves at a crossroads. Their relationship was already faltering, and the tragedy only amplified their concerns.

In an attempt to rekindle their marriage, they take a trip to a remote island called Blackholme. They enjoyed happier times there in the past and hope that they can remind themselves why they love each other.

This doesn’t go well. Martin attempts to engage her but Kate seems irritated by his efforts and remains too depressed by the loss of her baby to think of much else.

Matters get worse when a mysterious, injured soldier named Jack (Jamie Bell) washes up on the island. He warns Martin and Kate that a deadly flu pandemic has swept the world and will reach them if they don’t take precautions. Communication problems cut off the cottage from the outside world, so Martin and Kate can’t confirm what Jack claims. Does he tell the truth or is he a dangerous lunatic? We follow this thread and determine what poses the bigger threat to Kate and Martin: the disease or Jack.

As a thriller, Retreat offers a competent piece of work. At the very least, it keeps us guessing through much of its running time, and it’s not afraid of a darker edge. I don’t want to spoil anything, but don’t expect a happy ending here; the film starts out bleak and gets nastier as it progresses.

While it keeps us with it, I can’t say Retreat does much to excel. The characters remain fairly one-note, as each latches onto one emotion and rarely goes outside of that. Martin’s usually impotent, Jack’s intense and Kate cries a lot; we don’t find much else from them through the majority of the film.

Still, I like that the project doesn’t telegraph its story points. While we’re likely to come up with our impressions of the tale’s reality – ie, does Jack tell the truth or is he a dangerous nutbag? – we don’t get a lot to make the answer obvious. It could be either or it could be both, but we’re left to piece together details and figure it out without overt influences from the filmmakers.

While I do appreciate that, I don’t think the movie creates enough real drama to sustain us. Retreat simply becomes too monotonous, as we seem to watch the same scene over and over: Kate and Martin try to take control over Jack and fail. Not a lot else tends to happen, and exposition doesn’t tend to evolve in a particularly natural way; plot points emerge suddenly and without much subtlety.

The movie would probably work better if Jack seemed less overtly nuts. He’s just so darned intense that we’re naturally inclined to mistrust him. Perhaps if he’d been played in a less semi-psychotic manner, we’d have a better balance to affairs, but as the character works, we’re left with little wiggle room to embrace him; our sympathies clearly go toward Kate and Martin.

Plot holes harm Retreat as well. Too many events occur for little reason other than to create movie drama, and a lot of them seem illogical. People who talk of survival then perform actions that seem counterintuitive. Granted, I imagine that people placed in such stressful situations would goof as well, but the film’s internal consistency falters at times.

In the end, Retreat has its moments, and it moves briskly enough to make for a watchable 90 minutes. The film just doesn’t do more than provide basic entertainment, however. It’s a decent thriller but not more.

The DVD Grades: Picture B+/ Audio B+/ Bonus D+

Retreat appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this single-sided, single-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. Though not great, this became a reasonably satisfying SD-DVD presentation.

Sharpness was surprisingly good, given the format’s limitations. A little softness crept in at times, but the movie usually provided nice clarity and delineation. Unfortunately, artifacts could make the film noisy and created a small distraction. I saw no issues with jaggies or moiré effects, at least, and edge haloes failed to appear. Source flaws were non-existent.

In terms of palette, Retreat stayed with a decidedly chilly set of colors. Only a few shots boasted any moderately vivid tones, as these were rare. Otherwise, this was essentially a monochromatic, grayish affair. Blacks were dark and dense, while shadows were fairly clear and concise. Overall, this was an attractive image.

I also felt impressed by the lively Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack of Retreat. The soundfield created a nice sense of place and threw out fine natural action when appropriate. Music always offered good stereo imaging, and various scenes were consistently convincing. These showed a clear sense of place and meshed together in a pleasing way, with components like wind, waves, aircraft and storms used to embellish the material.

Audio quality always seemed fine. Effects were dynamic and clear, with deep bass and good punch. Music showed similar strengths, as the score was lively and full. Speech came across as natural and concise. I liked this track and thought it added a lot to the movie

Only minor extras appear here. The Making of Retreat lasts 16 minutes, 19 seconds and offers notes from writer/director Carl Tibbetts, producer Gary Sinyor, and actors Thandie Newton, Cillian Murphy, and Jamie Bell. “Making” looks at story and characters, the project’s roots and development, cast and performances, sets and locations, and some other filmmaking areas. This turns into a fairly efficient and competent overview.

(By the way, is it ironic that Sinyor says he and Tibbetts wanted to make something that wouldn’t go straight to DVD? Though IMDB lists an October 21, 2011 release date, I couldn’t find any indications that it ever played in theaters.)

We also get a Photo Gallery. In this, we see a running four-minute, 18-second montage that shows shots from the movie; no behind the scenes images appear. It’s forgettable.

The disc opens with ads for Meeting Evil, The Woman in Black, Detention, In the Land of Blood and Honey and Wyatt Earp’s Revenge. These also appear under Previews. No trailer for Retreat appears here.

Expect a decent but unexceptional thriller from Retreat. The movie boasts some passable entertainment value but it’s too erratic to really succeed. The DVD provides very good picture and audio but lacks substantial supplements. Thriller fans might dig this one, but they shouldn’t anticipate greatness from it.

Viewer Film Ratings: 4 Stars Number of Votes: 2
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