Studio: 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment
US DVD Release Date: November 2, 2010
Theatrical Release Year: 2010
Rated: PG-13 (for mature thematic material including a disturbing image)
Running Time: 89 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
Subtitles: English (SDH), French, Spanish
Movie: 3 out of 5
Crash meets The Ten Commandments is, perhaps, the easiest way to describe writer/director John Ward’s direct-to-video feature, I Am, a series of interconnected characters and stories related to the laws of Moses, set in modern-day Los Angeles and starring a mostly unknown cast. The initial story of Angeilica Vita, a wealthy socialite diagnosed with terminal cancer who uses her inheritance to blackmail a cryogenics researcher to freeze her until a cure can be found is a bit far-fetched, but it does set up the other stories in the film, and features a chilling (no pun intended) performance by Christinna Chauncey as Angelica. Her performance turns creepy when she manifests as a drug-induced hallucination to the blackmailed researcher, Dr. Ortus (Greg Fisk). The strongest story is the relationship between assistant District Attorney Aaron Rossdale (Jay Ward) and newspaper reporter Alice Bordeaux (Amy Holland). Rossdale is running for the office of District Attorney, but becomes conflicted when he learns that Alice, whom he has been publicly dating, is a single mother whose daughter was fathered by her married oncologist. His friends and colleagues try to convince him that such a scandal could end his career. Ward is convincing in his role, and Holland gives Alice some depth in what could very easily be a one-dimensional character. Jay Hindle is very good as Lance Vita, the smarmy marketing consultant that lacks a moral compass, convincing a nearly bankrupt bottled water company to launch a new brand known as “God Water,” and also has no problem bribing witnesses to perjure themselves to have his missing sister declared dead so he can access her inheritance. The weakest story has detective Jake Russell (Stefan Hajek) on a vengeful quest for justice against Dr. Ortus, who killed his young bride during an experimental procedure. The story is poorly executed, and, worse, Hajek’s performance is wooden and and unconvincing. The interconnecting character that all of the stories have in common is X (Tomas Boykin), who appears in many scenes as a therapist or bartender, but whose real identity is rather obvious, and is the glue that really holds this movie together. The sequence where his identity is revealed is an obvious nod to The Sixth Sense.
John Ward, who cut his teeth writing and directing story segments for a series of Bible Study DVDs called Liquid, has a good eye, keeping I Am visually interesting and manages to bring high production values to this low-budget film produced by Mariners Church in Irvine, California. In fact, much of I Am was originally shot for use in Liquid a part of its study on the Ten Commandments. To the film’s (and Ward’s) credit, the film is never preachy, except for the use of title cards indicating which commandment the film is relating to at that moment. If it were not for those title cards, most audiences would never realize this was a faith-based film.
Video: 3.5 out of 5
Shot with high-definition cameras, I Am manages to convey a cinematic look for most of its running time. Fox is presenting the film in its original 1.78:1 aspect ratio, with anamorphic enhancement. Detail is good, although there is some occasional softness and and minor compression artifacts. Colors and flesh tones are consistent, with decent black levels.
Audio: 3 out of 5
The Dolby Digital 5.1 track, encoded at 448 kbps, is pretty much what you would expect from a low-budget drama driven by dialogue. Surrounds are used primarily for atmospheric effects and music, dialogue remains centered (and intelligible) for much of the film, and the LFE is rarely if ever used.
Special Features: 1 out of 5
The only special feature is a music video for the song Say Goodbye by Katherine McPhee. It is a typical movie tie-in video, with McPhee singing the song in various locations interspersed with clips from the movie. The music video is presented in 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen and Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo, encoded at 192 kbps.
Overall: 3 out of 5
I was quite surprised by this film, with some fine performances by a mostly unknown cast and an impressive directing job by John Ward. The extras are slim, but the DVD is definitely worth a rental at the very least.