Discussion in 'DVD' started by Cameron Yee, Mar 1, 2009.

  1. Cameron Yee

    Cameron Yee Executive Producer

    May 9, 2002
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    Cameron Yee
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    The Lucky Ones

    Release Date: Available now (released January 27, 2009)
    Studio: Lions Gate
    Packaging/Materials: Single-disc DVD case
    Year: 2008
    Rating: R
    Running Time: 1h55m
    MSRP: $27.98

    Video1.78:1 anamorphic
    AudioDolby Digital: English 5.1, English 2.0
    SubtitlesEnglish, Spanish

    The Feature: 3/5
    Cheaver (Tim Robbins), Colee (Rachel McAdams) and T.K. (Edward Pena) are soldiers flying back to the States after their respective tours in Iraq. Each has been wounded, though only Colee's and T.K.'s injuries are combat related. Cheaver's back was hurt when a port-a-potty fell on him, but despite the embarrassing story he's happy to be alive and finished with his service. The other two are on leave and scheduled to return in 30 days.

    When they land in New York, all outgoing flights have been cancelled due to a blackout. Instead of waiting it out, the three decide to share a car and drive towards their destinations. Cheaver's going to St Louis for a family he hasn't seen in almost two years and T.K. and Colee are both going to Las Vegas, though each for radically different reasons. T.K. won't share what his is at first, though he won't deny it involves hookers, while Colee is going to see the parents of her friend who was killed in the line of duty.

    But of course things don't go according to plan, mostly because Cheaver comes home to a wife who wants to divorce him and a son who needs $20,000 to go to Stanford. With his life upended, Cheaver seems a little unstable, so T.K. and Colee make it into a road trip to Vegas, where Cheaver can maybe win some money and T.K. and Colee can finish their business. Along the way the advice-spewing T.K. learns he doesn't have the answers for everyone, including himself, and the naive Colee discovers as close as she was to her fellow soldier, she didn't really know anything about him. Sprinkled among their personal journeys are encounters with RV-driving prostitutes, an unscheduled party at a rich man's house, and even a tornado. When all is said and done, returning home isn't easy, but if the three didn't have each other it'd be a whole lot harder.

    By now we've learned movies related to the war in Iraq don't sell. The combination of a current, ongoing event and the inevitable "big message" ultimately don't appeal to moviegoers who are just looking for a distraction. But the war remains a compelling subject and one worth exploring, though it's now clear filmmakers need to take a different approach.

    Director Neil Burger tries something different with "The Lucky Ones," taking the weighty concerns of soldiers adjusting to life back home and wrapping them in the episodic and sometimes lighthearted format of a road movie. It makes the film more accessible overall, but the weight remains regardless of the presentation; it's the proverbial elephant in the room, and a pretty large one at that. Ultimately the movie feels a bit like the salesperson who chats you up about sports and the weather before hitting you up for the sale - for many people it'd be simpler if the seller just got to the point. And while it's refreshing for a film about soldiers to have characters whose lives are not entirely about the military, presenting them in a way I found to be consistent with my friends who have entered the service, the depiction can feel a bit disingenuous when it's clear there's an underlying, and nearly unspoken, message. Though always respectful of and thankful for the service men and women, it's most decidedly against the war. The main characters' struggles speak to that as well as a few choice encounters with civilians. It's a message no one is surprised by nor distracted from, which in the end makes this lighter, roundabout approach just seem superficially ambiguous. What ultimately elevates the film are the uniformly good cast performances, in particular McAdams who imparts a three-dimensionality to a character who could have been overly simplistic.

    Video Quality: 4/5
    The film is correctly framed at 1.78:1 and anamorphically enhanced. Black levels are very good, stable and deep. Wide shots show a drop in equivalent detail compared to close ups, though sharpness in general can look a touch soft. Color and contrast look good however, flesh tones skewing warm but never looking unnatural. Patches of compression noise are visible from time to time, but the picture is free of blemishes, edge halos or other signs of undue digital processing.

    Audio Quality: 4/5
    The Dolby Digital 5.1 mix features clear and intelligible dialogue with light soundtrack support in the surrounds and a smattering of environmental effects. One set piece pulls out all the stops and puts the entire array to work and proves both powerful and enveloping.

    Special Features: 1/5

    "A Look Inside: The Lucky Ones" (15m30s): The featurette touches on the characters and plot and includes interviews with the director, producer, writer and each of the cast members. Some time is also spent on the technical challenges of shooting so many scenes inside a car.

    • Control Room
    • Religulous
    • W.
    • The Family that Preys
    • Everybody Wants to be Italian
    • I Do (How to Get Married and Stay Single)


    The Feature: 3/5
    Video Quality: 4/5
    Audio Quality: 4/5
    Special Features: 1/5
    Overall Score (not an average): 3.5/5

    Though the approach to the subject matter proves problematic, good performances save "The Lucky Ones." The technical qualities of the presentation are quite good, though the special features package is pretty meager.

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