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DVD Reviews

HTF REVIEW: Red Eye



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#1 of 19 OFFLINE   Matt Stone

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Posted January 13 2006 - 12:46 PM

Posted Image
Red Eye
Directed By: Wes Craven

Studio: Dreamworks
Year: 2005
Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1 (Anamorphic)
Running Time: 1 Hr. 25 Mins.
Rating: PG-13 (Some Intense Sequences of Violence and Language)
Audio: 5.1 Dolby Digital (English, French), 2.0 Dolby Digital (English)
Subtitles: English, French, and Spanish
MSRP: $29.95
Street Date: 10 January, 2006

Review Date: 13 January, 2006
(Ratings are out of five stars)

Summary
I’m a horror geek. You don’t have to have read too many of my posts on this fine forum to know that. I defend the genre to my last breath, and worship the masters of the macabre. Wes Craven is one such master. Starting out as one of the pioneers of the 70s horror genre (noted for it’s bleak, visceral nature), with films like Last House on the Left and The Hills Have Eyes, Craven made an early name for himself. He went on to again help reinvent the slasher with 1984’s A Nightmare on Elm St, and further reinvented the genre with 1996’s Scream. Craven joins my select all-star team with the likes of John Carpenter and Sam Raimi. That’s not to say that he isn’t without the occasional stinker. His career is spotty at best, but he’s made so many important films that it’s hard to fault him for it.

Coming off of the absolute bomb, Cursed, Craven decided to step out of the true horror genre and tackle a more accessible thriller. I generally laugh at society’s need to draw a line between horror and thriller (see: Silence of the Lambs), but in this case it’s accurate. Where horror tackle’s physical violence and vulnerability (as well as internal conflict), the thriller shies away from outright violence and opts to focus on internal, non-physical horror. Red Eye is just such a thriller. It-girl, Rachael McAdams takes on the role of Lisa, a self-motivated hotel manager traveling cross-country from her Grandmother’s recent funeral. Batman Begins villain Cillian Murphy plays the films antagonist who pulls Lisa into an assassination plot. I won’t give away much of the plot, because it’s pretty thin. This film had a terrific teaser trailer (that premiered in front of Episode 3, if I recall correctly) that revealed very little about the plot. Unfortunately the marketing executives being as they are decided that a more up-front campaign was in order and released a series of TV spots and trailers that gave away most of the film.

If I sound like I’m down on the story, I am. At least, a little bit. Character interaction is really where it’s at in Red Eye. The interplay between McAdams and the excellent Cillian Murphy is the central aspect of this film and really keeps the narrative moving. Craven mentioned on the commentary that this film is really an independent character piece set in a big production thriller. He couldn’t be more right. The entire second act is composed of McAdams and Murphy talking. You’d expect it to get boring, but both actors’ subtle, nuanced performances keep the film rolling right along. Behind the scenes, Craven and the rest of the crew use their vast horror/thriller knowledge to keep you on the edge of your seat (to abuse an overused phrase). The editing is very fast paced and highlights the movement of the characters. Robert D. Yoeman’s cinematography is spot-on perfect. Composition is beautiful in every shot and the camera movement is used effectively to create tension and the feeling of movement. I didn’t know Yoeman’s name before seeing this film, but realized I was already a fan having seen his great work on Bottle Rocket, Rushmore, The Royal Tenenbaums, The Life Aquatic, and Dogma.

Individual performances drive Red Eye. The plot is fairly ho-hum, but the characters interact so well with each other that it doesn’t really matter. Much like other recent thrillers (Cellular and Phone Booth both come to mind), the film’s simplicity works to its advantage. It provides a stage for the actors to work on and not much more.

Film Rating: Posted ImagePosted ImagePosted ImagePosted Image

Video
The last Dreamworks film I had the chance to review was the surprisingly impressive The Island. I wasn’t happy with the transfer on that DVD, but fortunately Dreamworks has redeemed themselves and provided a very clean, very film-like transfer. The color palette in the film is fairly subdued, but flesh tones look very accurate and the few exterior shots look beautiful. I watched this film on my Infocus 4805 projector, and was unable to find any edge enhancement or pixelation problems. This was a nice change of pace from the artifacting found on The Island. I noticed a bit of grain in a few shots, but it was nothing obvious. As I’ve stated before, I’d take some grain over the soft look of a lot of newer transfers any day of the week. This is a very, very good transfer.

For the un-enlightened, a Full Frame version of the film is also available.

Video Rating: Posted ImagePosted ImagePosted ImagePosted ImagePosted Image

Audio
Aside from a notable action sequence found toward the end of the film, Red Eye is primarily a talking heads film. Most of the sound comes out of the front and center channels with some occasional LFE. Marco Beltrami’s score is very good and utilizes the surround channels more than any on-screen action. Some may be upset at the lack of a DTS track on this release, but the Dolby Digital track sounds very good. Voices sounded crisp and accurate with no audible hiss from the boom. This isn’t a film you’re likely going to put on to impress your friends, but there aren’t any significant problems with it.

Audio Rating: Posted ImagePosted ImagePosted ImagePosted Image

Extras
The Making of Red Eye (11:38) – A quick behind-the-scenes summary of the making of the film. Both video featurettes repeat a lot of the information Craven covers in the commentary. This is a standard, by-the-book, interview based feature.
Wes Craven: A New Kind of Thriller (10:50) – This featurette focuses more on the thriller-nature of the film, but it’s along the same lines as the first extra. Craven expounds on his desire to try something new after the cursed production of his previous film. Nothing too groundbreaking here.

The big extra on this disc is a commentary with Wes Craven (with added comments from Producer, Marianne Maddalena and writer, Carl Ellsworth). As I stated before, I’m a huge Craven fan. I’ve loved all (or at least most) of the commentaries I’ve listened to on his other films, and this isn’t different. Wes is very good at verbalizing his feelings about making the film, his actor’s performances, and the overall process of completing a film in today’s studio environment. Craven covers the entire production, including tweaking the film after early audience reactions, and developing the film organically as it was being filmed. Apparently a good deal of unscripted material made it’s way into the film as more of an improvisational directing style. Very interesting stuff if you’re a Craven fan.

A big loss for Dreamworks is leaving out the excellent first teaser trailer for the film. I’d love to have that on DVD, so I see it as a real missed opportunity. Your mileage may vary.

Extras Rating: Posted ImagePosted ImagePosted ImagePosted Image

In Closing…
Okay, so I’m biased, but not biased enough to dig Cursed. Craven’s one of my favorites, and Red Eye is his best film since Scream 2 (not saying too much there). He’s used his expertise to craft a film that relies on the excellent character acting rather than plot. Still, I can’t get over the feeling that a lot of this film was film-making by committee. Too much of it was dependent on studio concerns regarding early audience feedback. I think it’s important for a director to lead, and sometimes that means making pragmatic decisions. The end result of a film should not depend on the opinions of the masses. This is still a very fun film to watch. I highly recommend it to those of you who have liked recent fast paced thrillers along the lines of Cellular and Phone Booth. If you’re on the fence, give it a rental first. It may not be the best film you’ve ever seen, but it’s a good hour and a half of fun.

Overall Rating: Posted ImagePosted ImagePosted ImagePosted Image

Matt Stone
13 January, 2006
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#2 of 19 OFFLINE   Mark Lucas

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Posted January 13 2006 - 02:14 PM

I'm satisfied with seeing this film once in the theater. If the dvd had the great teaser trailer in 5.1 then I would've jumped all over it though.

#3 of 19 OFFLINE   John Geelan

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Posted January 14 2006 - 03:08 AM

I'm looking forward to seeing this from Netflix later today.
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#4 of 19 OFFLINE   Michael Reuben

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Posted January 14 2006 - 03:36 AM

Nice review, Matt. I had more fun at Red Eye than at all the bloated nonsense that passed for thrill rides last year (including Batman Returns, Revenge of the Sith and King Kong). As I walked out of the theater, it occurred to me that Craven had done something that Hitchcock would have appreciated -- grounding the film in appealing performances and keeping the rest of it simple.

Unlike many of the now forgotten "It-girls", Rachel MacAdams is the real thing -- an exceptional actress who might just turn out to be a movie star too. She and Cillian Murphy make the film.

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#5 of 19 OFFLINE   Chris Tedesco

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Posted January 14 2006 - 03:57 AM

I don't understand why people liked this movie...I just don't. The third act was pretty ridiculous and through out the whole movie I never felt the tension. Good acting, just a blah movie.

#6 of 19 OFFLINE   Matt Stone

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Posted January 14 2006 - 04:04 AM

Quote:
Unlike many of the now forgotten "It-girls", Rachel MacAdams is the real thing -- an exceptional actress who might just turn out to be a movie star too. She and Cillian Murphy make the film.


I completely agree with you there. Both of them have a charisma factor that you don't see with a lot of modern actors. Pairing them up was brilliant from a casting perspective.
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#7 of 19 OFFLINE   Jeff Whitford

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Posted January 14 2006 - 04:11 AM

I watched it last night. It was entertaining.
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#8 of 19 OFFLINE   Shaun

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Posted January 14 2006 - 09:29 AM

I actually think the audio on this disc is very good. As little bass as there is, when it's there it's very powerful. Those airplane fly-overs were some of the best I've heard.
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#9 of 19 OFFLINE   Ben J Loews

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Posted January 14 2006 - 12:09 PM

Great film I thought overall.

====Spoiler====


I really didn't like the bit where the rocket is fired into the hotel suite, it looked so cheap and low budget it made me cringe.

-------------------


Apart from that I thought it was a decent popcorn film.

#10 of 19 OFFLINE   Mark Lucas

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Posted January 14 2006 - 03:25 PM

I actually thought the VFX during that sequence were quite good but I saw it on a theater screen so what do I know? Posted Image

#11 of 19 OFFLINE   TravisR

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Posted January 14 2006 - 03:38 PM

I've seen it theatrically and on DVD and unless they
actually shot a rocket at a real building,
I don't think it could have looked much better than it did. Posted Image

#12 of 19 OFFLINE   John*D

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Posted January 15 2006 - 05:48 AM

I was upset that it wasn't anything SUPERNATURAL. B/c of that trailer and his RED EYE, it threw me off... Posted Image It's still worth a rental.


#13 of 19 OFFLINE   Scott Temple

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Posted January 15 2006 - 04:50 PM

I missed Red Eye in the theater (didn't know anything about it) but I purchased the widescreen DVD for three reasons.
  • I kept hearing how good it was from numerous people and I noticed a lot of others were buying it.
  • Rachel McAdams is the star and me being a fan of not only Lacey Chabert, but the film Mean Girls and the entire Mean Girls team made me want to see Red Eye even more.
  • I love horror films and thrillers.
And Red Eye is definitely a thriller.

When Lisa (McAdams) writes that note in the Dr. Phil book to tip off the sweet old lady about what's going on I was so worried that she (the older woman) would be killed for finding out. I was pretty sure Lisa wasn't going to die at any point in the film because McAdams is the star, but I still hated to see her go through that hell.
That's the mark of a really great movie. When you can feel the suspense and care about the characters enough that you're worried about the possibility of them getting hurt or dying.

And yes, Rachel McAdams is a very talented actress. Her character in Red Eye, Lisa Reisert, is a vast departure from that of Mean Girls' Regina George. I've seen Mean Girls so many times that it was strange seeing Rachel play someone sweet and caring. And she looks great either way, a blonde or a brunette.
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#14 of 19 OFFLINE   Matt Leigh

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Posted January 16 2006 - 07:59 AM

I seriously thought everyone phoned it in except for the two main leads. Even Brian Cox who is almost always dependable looked bored throughout the film.

The whole film looked terribly cheap but it was made with the visual panache of a 1970s thriller and certainly kept the tension and momentum up all the way until the credits rolled.

#15 of 19 OFFLINE   Stephen Orr

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Posted January 17 2006 - 12:23 AM

Rented it. Liked it. Forgot it.

#16 of 19 OFFLINE   Ben J Loews

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Posted January 17 2006 - 12:31 AM

Maybe ive been spoiled with things like the Columbian ambush scene from Clear and Present Danger, top RPG bazooka wielding action in that film.

#17 of 19 OFFLINE   Dave Scarpa

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Posted January 17 2006 - 01:54 AM

I thought this to be a nice little thriller and probably Craven's best film in Years. The Ending stretched Logic somewhat

Jack's Job was done why go back to her house

Still it was entertaining
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#18 of 19 OFFLINE   Mike D

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Posted January 17 2006 - 12:01 PM

I saw this in the theater but haven't yet watched the DVD. I remember thinking it was a compact, taut, thriller and liked it quite a bit as I had no expectations. In retrospect the film seems kind of schizophrenic as it starts like a romantic comedy then shifts into high tension and ends as a kind of horror film with a relentless bogeyman. Nevertheless I thought all the parts were successful and look forward to watching it a second time.

For a good review discussing some of the societal and personal subtexts see here.

For those wondering about the trailer it may still be viewable at
http://www.apple.com...mworks/red_eye/ (Quicktime)
or http://www.dreamwork....tsr_wm_750.asx (Windows Media)

#19 of 19 OFFLINE   ChristopherBlig

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Posted January 21 2006 - 04:08 PM

saw this in the theater and the way it began up until Cillian Murphy comes into the picture was eh but things picked up when it was between the two (agreed) and I could've done without the disgruntled couple (came off phony adding an Hollywood "fun idea" element and the Chips captain has done better) Bottom line: the middle was very well done but the bookends take it down sadly.

Final analysis: 3 out of 4 (3 1/2 without the bookends)

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