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BUENA VISTA

MOVIE INFO

Director:
M. Night Shyamalan
Cast:
Bruce Willis, Samuel L. Jackson, Robin Wright
Writing Credits:
M. Night Shyamalan

Tagline:
Some things are only revealed by accident

Synopsis:
Bruce Willis and Samuel L. Jackson star in a mind-shattering, suspense-filled thriller that stays with you long after the end of this riveting supernatural film. After David Dunn (Willis) emerges from a horrific train crash as the sole survivor -- and without a single scratch on him -- he meets a mysterious stranger (Jackson). An unsettling stranger who believes comic book heroes walk the earth. A haunting stranger, whose obsession with David will change David's life forever.

Box Office:
Budget
$75 million
Opening Weekend
$30,330,771 on 2,708 Screens
Domestic Gross
$94,999,143

MPAA:
Rated PG-13

DISC DETAILS
Presentation:
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
Audio:
English Uncompressed PCM 5.1
English Dolby Digital 5.1
French Dolby Digital 5.1
Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
Portuguese Dolby Digital 5.1
Thai Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles:
English
Spanish
French
Chinese
Thai
Bahasa
Malaysian
Korean
Closed-captioned
Supplements Subtitles:
English
Spanish
French
Portuguese
Chinese
Korean

Runtime: 107 min.
Price: $20.00
Release Date: 4/1/2008

Bonus:
• “Behind the Scenes” Featurette
• “Comic Books and Superheroes” Featurette
• “Train Station Sequence” Multi-Angle Feature
• Deleted Scenes
• “Night’s First Fight Sequence”
• Previews


PURCHASE @ AMAZON.COM

EQUIPMENT
Panasonic TC-P60VT60 60-Inch 1080p 600Hz 3D Smart Plasma HDTV; 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


Unbreakable [Blu-Ray] (2000)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (April 17, 2014)

After the stunning success of 1999’s The Sixth Sense, it was almost inevitable that M. Night Shyamalan’s follow-up wouldn’t do as well. That came true in 2000, as Unbreakable managed a decent take at the box office but didn’t turn into a legitimate hit.

That said, the movie still enjoys a pretty good reputation among film fans – especially after all the stinkers Shyamalan released in later years – so Unbreakable deserves some attention. On a trip to Philadelphia, a train derails and kills all aboard – except for passenger David Dunn (Bruce Willis). Not only does he survive, but also he emerges from the wreckage without even any superficial injuries.

At a memorial for the victims, David receives a mysterious message that asks how many days he’s ever been sick. After some thought, David realizes that he’s never taken ill or had injuries of any sort. The strange card leads him to “Limited Edition”, a store devoted to comic book art and run by physically fragile devotee Elijah Price (Samuel L. Jackson).

Why does David intrigue Elijah? Because he believes the lone survivor of the train wreck might just be a real-life superhero gifted with invincibility. Initially David scoffs at this seemingly absurd notion, but as time passes, he slowly starts to explore this possibility – with stunning results.

If nothing else, Shyamalan deserves credit for the ambition displayed in Unbreakable. While it would’ve been awfully easy for him to create a follow-up that did little to deviate from the Sixth Sense template, he chose to do something rather different.

Not that I could call Unbreakable a radical departure, as it shares a mix of stylistic similarities with its predecessor. Both tell their stories slowly and in a low-key manner, and both build to a big reveal. We don’t get anything as revelatory as the major twist in Sixth Sense, but we do end up with a significant “surprise”.

In addition, both films focus much more on their characters than on flash or major events. It’d be hard to find a superhero movie with less action than Unbreakable, though that lack of sizzle comes totally by design. As Shyamalan mentions in this disc’s supplements, Unbreakable essentially limits itself to material that would normally occupy the first act of a traditional superhero film; it takes up the time meant to introduce the character before the rest of the movie gives us action.

That makes it much more of an “origin story” than usual. In a standard offering, we’d spend the first third or so with information about how the character became “super”, and then we’d follow that personality on adventures.

This doesn’t occur in Unbreakable, as it concentrates almost entirely on the origin side of things. Heck, the flick ends just as we discover who the hero’s nemesis will be, and even the one semi-sorta action sequence really just exists to confirm that the hero is who he thinks he is. Imagine if a Spider-Man movie ended right after Uncle Ben dies and the Norman Osborn becomes the Green Goblin – that’d be similar to what we see here.

Shyamalan makes it work, though, probably because unlike Spider-Man, Batman, Superman or most other superheroes, Unbreakable deals with an unknown quantity. The story and characters come from Shyamalan’s own concept, not from a pre-existing property, so we have no already established thoughts about David or any of the others. It takes the entire movie to establish what’s really happening with him and develop him as a character.

Because of this, we’re not left to wait for David to turn into Whateverman, and this means we don’t end up with the impatience that would dog a movie based on an established hero. While I understand why comic book adaptations explore origin stories, those segments can be a bit of a drag, especially for all the fans who already know where the developments will lead. If one of the films about those characters attempted almost two hours of introduction, it’d be a disaster.

In this case, though, Shyamalan makes it work because we really don’t have expectations about where it’ll go. Heck, the vast majority of the flick makes it unclear whether or not David even boasts any superpowers; he could easily be just an ordinary guy. Nothing happens to deviate from that plan; it’s not like he can fly or climb walls.

This allows Unbreakable to become a particularly unusual and involving example of the superhero genre. It’s too bad the movie didn’t do better at the box office, as I would’ve been interested to see where a sequel would’ve gone.

As it stands, Unbreakable will have to remain one of a kind. Those who expect slambang action from this superhero tale will leave disappointed, but those eager to see an unusual character story should like it.


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

Unbreakable appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this Blu-Ray Disc. This was a mediocre presentation.

Sharpness looked inconsistent, partially due to some edge enhancement; I saw light but persistent haloes throughout the movie. Some shots looked pretty accurate and concise, but plenty seemed somewhat soft and fuzzy. The image lacked shimmering or jaggies, but it came with a smattering of print flaws; though not heavy, I saw occasional specks and marks.

In terms of palette, Unbreakable favored reasonably natural hues. The film took on a somewhat blue tint during interiors, and those shots tended to seem a bit muddy. Overall, the colors were fine, though. Blacks seemed decent to good; they could lack great depth but they were acceptable, and low-light shots were about the same. This wasn’t a terrible image, but it lacked the detail I expect of Blu-ray.

The film’s uncompressed PCM 5.1 soundtrack worked pretty well, though one shouldn’t anticipate a ton of pizzazz despite the fantasy elements involved. This might be a superhero movie, but it’s not one with lots of action and sizzle, as it emphasized character beats. A few scenes opened up the room pretty well – like those at a football stadium or on the train – but those remained pretty subdued; heck, the flick cut away before the opening crash, so we didn’t even get a big slam-bang piece there.

Despite the subdued nature of the mix, it seemed satisfying. The soundscape offered well-placed elements that cropped up in logical spots and meshed together in a smooth manner. This wasn’t a kick-butt mix, but it suited the material.

Audio quality seemed strong. Music was bright and full, with good delineation of the elements. Speech remained concise and distinctive, while effects offered solid clarity and range, with nice punch when appropriate. This was a track that merited a “B”.

Only a handful of extras fill out the disc. Behind the Scenes goes for 14 minutes, 17 seconds and features comments from writer/director M. Night Shyamalan, producers Barry Mendel and Sam Mercer, sound designer Richard King, art director Steve Arnold, editor Dylan Tichenor, director of photography Eduardo Serra, costume designer Joanna Johnston, composer James Newton Howard and actors Bruce Willis and Samuel L. Jackson. We learn of the project’s roots and development, story/characters, storyboards, shot structure and camerawork, costume and visual design, sound and score. Despite the program’s brevity, it touches on a lot of topics and does so in a satisfying manner. This becomes a tight overview.

Comic Books and Superheroes runs 19 minutes, 22 seconds and offers notes from Jackson, Spirit creator/author of Comics and Sequential Art Will Eisner, artist/author of Understandng Comics Scott McCloud, artists Dave Gibbons and Alex Ross, Go Girl! creator/author of The Great Women Superheroes Trina Robbins, writer/editor Denny O’Neil, writer/artist Frank Miller, and Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay author Michael Chabon. They discuss a variety of superheroes and themes, with some connection to Unbreakable. “Books” lacks a particularly concise thread and kind of wanders all over the place, but it still offers good insights from a mix of compelling participants.

Next comes a Multi-Angle Feature for the film’s “train station sequence”. This allows you to compare storyboards with the final scene. It goes for four minutes, 11 seconds and provides a decent implementation of its concept, though I’d have preferred split-screen to show both elements at the same time.

Seven Deleted Scenes occupy a total of 28 minutes, 29 seconds. (That total includes intros from Shyamalan.) Some interesting pieces appear, and these help flesh out a few character areas such as the problematic relationship between David and Audrey. That said, none seem terribly significant, so I don’t think the film suffers for their excision. (I’m happy that one reveals why Audrey and Joseph have so much junk food with them at the hospital, though.)

Shyamalan’s comments offer a nice complement to the scenes. He sets them up for us and explains why he cut them, so his notes add to the experience.

Finally, Night’s First Fight Sequence shows a two-minute, 27-second clip. It gives us a segment from Millionaire, a videotaped flick Shyamalan shot as a kid. Given the director’s youth, it’s not as awful as he claims in his intro, though it does beg the question: why does a guy armed with a gun bother to get into a fistfight?

The disc opens with ads for Blu-ray and National Treasure 2: Book of Secrets. No trailer for Unbreakable pops up here.

M. Night Shyamalan’s follow-up to his smash hit The Sixth Sense, Unbreakable doesn’t work quite as well, but it still accomplishes its goals. We get an involving variation on the superhero genre with nice twists along the way. The Blu-ray provides mediocre picture, solid audio and a smattering of interesting bonus materials. The lackluster visuals disappoint, but the movie remains a good one.

Viewer Film Ratings: 5 Stars Number of Votes: 1
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