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DVD & Blu-ray Reviews
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The Purge Blu-ray ReviewBlu-ray Universal
Oct 06 2013 08:20 PM | Kevin EK in DVD & Blu-ray Reviews
- Studio: Universal
- Distributed By: N/A
- Video Resolution: 1080P/AVC
- Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
- Audio: English 5.1 DTS-HDMA, English DVS 2.0, Spanish 5.1 DTS, French 5.1 DTS
- Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish, French
- Rating: R
- Run Time: 1 Hr. 26 Min.
- Package Includes: Blu-ray, DVD, Digital Copy, UltraViolet
- Case Type:
- Disc Type: BD50 (dual layer)
- Region: ABC, 1
- Release Date: 10/8/2013
- MSRP: $34.98
The Production Rating: 2.5/5
-Unnamed rioter during Red Hour in “The Return of the Archons” (Star Trek TOS)
The Purge is a fairly simple horror/suspense movie, showing one wealthy family’s literal struggle for survival during an annual period of total anarchy. Without spoiling too much, the movie is set in the USA of the near-ish future, at a time when crime and unemployment are somehow at an all-time low. And part of the way the society regulates itself is that once a year, there is a 12 hour period where everyone gets to run rampant without any consequences. Hence, during the annual purge, everyday people engage in murder, robbery and every other sin imaginable. And at the same time, the wealthy in their gated communities hide behind high tech security systems. But can any system guarantee that it can protect you against EVERYTHING?
SPOILERS: So, given that setup, the movie introduces us to James (Ethan Hawke) and Mary (Lena Headey), a wealthy couple living in a beautiful mansion in a gated community. James actually makes his living selling security systems like the one he has in his own home. When the annual Purge begins, James locks down the house and prepares to wait until morning, like the family always does. Except that this year will be different. In what can only be seen as a typical horror movie “What are you DOING?” moment, James’ son Charlie (Max Burkholder) opens the house to a homeless man on the run from a vicious mob. By allowing that man into the house, the family opens itself to attack by the mob, which proceeds to demonstrate that no security system is foolproof. The family debates turning the man over to the mob and winds up in a fight for survival once the house is breached and the rioters begin wrecking havoc inside. There’s a little more, concerning the couple’s daughter Zoey (Adelaide Kane) and how her boyfriend causes an initial problem before the mob arrives, but that’s essentially the story. So, for about 80 minutes, the movie really consists of a cat and mouse game followed by a series of increasingly violent confrontations. And that’s likely what people going to this movie are expecting to see.
MORE SPOILERS: Of course, this isn’t a particularly original idea. We’ve seen stories like this before, dating back to a custom in ancient Sparta. And most specifically in recent years, there was an early episode of Star Trek in the 1960s called “The Return of the Archons” in which a passive, docile society would let loose for a bloody Festival once a year with people literally running wild in the streets for 12 hours. Twelve hours later, the Festival would stop and everyone would return to their normal, friendly selves. With the current movie, we have a brand new iteration of the Festival, this time seen from the point of view of people trying to stay protected from it. We’ve also seen plenty of movies about people besieged in their own homes – everywhere from The Desperate Hours to Panic Room. And that’s not even to get into similar stories like Rio Bravo and Assault on Precinct 13. But in most of those cases, there was usually a deeper thread of discussion in the story. In this case, there’s really just a suggestion about chickens coming home to roost, as the wealthy family reaps what they have sown on their own community. There’s a little bit of introspection as James and Mary debate whether to turn over the homeless man to the mob, which would essentially mean they’re no different from the people outside. But that’s about it for the soul searching. The real engine of this movie is the suspense of waiting for the mayhem to erupt in the house and then the catharsis of the violence that follows. I would argue that this isn’t so much a story as it is an exercise. And it’s an effective exercise if that’s what you’re looking for. For myself, this is a bit of an empty routine – albeit one that’s well produced and shot.
The Purge will be released on Blu-ray and SD DVD on Tuesday, October 8. The Blu-ray release includes a solid high definition transfer of the movie, along with a short featurette. The Blu-ray includes the DVD release within the packaging, as well as the code for obtaining Ultraviolet and Digital Copies of the movie.
Video Rating: 4/5 3D Rating: NA
The Purge is presented in a 1080p AVC transfer that accurately shows a wide variety of flesh tones and lighting schemes. The level of detail is high enough that the viewer can easily see the makeup on the actors in the early daytime scenes. Black levels are solid for the shots where the camera is really looking outside at night or into darkness. Many shots are actually of the home’s security monitors, where the detail and black levels are appropriately reduced.
Audio Rating: 4/5The Purge is presented in an English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix (at an average 3.7 mbps, but climbing up to 5.0 mbps during the big moments). The mix is fairly immersive, with a healthy amount of work for the subwoofer when it comes to delivering the cattle prods. DTS 5.1 mixes are also included in French and Spanish, as is an English DVS mix.
Special Features: 1/5Surviving The Night: The Making of The Purge (8:55, 1080p) – This is a quick BTS featurette, consisting of quick soundbites from the cast and the director about their thoughts on the movie. James DeMonaco talks about how the idea came from a moment of road rage when he wondered what would happen if society allowed everyone to take out that rage for one night a year. The other cast members discuss the morality involved in the choices the characters make.
Ultraviolet/Digital Copy – An insert in the packaging offers an authorization code for downloading and streaming Ultraviolet and Digital copies of the movie.
DVD – Also included in the packaging is the standard definition DVD of the movie, which presents the film in anamorphic picture and Dolby Digital 5.1 sound (at 448 kbps) in English, Spanish and French. The DVD includes the same English DVS track. The DVD also includes the featurette, as well as a menu of trailers of other Universal movies: Scarface, Contraband, End of Watch, Killer Elite, Safe House, The Place Beyond the Pines, Side Effects and The Debt.
The usual menus are included, and a full chapter menu is present.