Directed by Joel Schumacher
Studio: Twentieth Century Fox
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 1080p AVC codec Running Time: 95 minutes
Audio: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 English
Subtitles: SDH, French, Spanish
MSRP: $ 29.99
Release Date: December 28, 2010
Review Date: December 23, 2010
Joel Schumacher examined the lives and loves of young college graduates in St. Elmo’s Fire, a fairly superficial and not very interesting slice-of-life look at young adults after college graduation starring some of the film world’s (then) hottest up-and-coming actors. Twelve, his latest effort, takes a look at a different generation of young people and at an even more crucial moment in their development, on the verge of graduating high school. Sad to say, the film is even more vapid and vacant than the earlier effort with not one of its hodgepodge of characters worth even a second glance, much less an extended focus on three days in the lives of these spoiled, aimless posers who live only for popularity, coolness, and clout achieved by the latest designer duds and designer drugs.
White Mike (Chace Crawford) has dropped out of school in order to sell weed to his prep school buddies. One of his drug addicted best friends Charlie (Jeremy Allen White) gets himself killed while trying to rob pusher Lionel (Curtis Jackson) of a grand’s worth of “Twelve,” the latest addictive substance in demand among the denizens of the party circuit. Another friend gets blamed for the murder, but the kids are all too busy with their own addictions to drugs and status to notice or care. Mike does have one human connection whom he really cares about, Molly (Emma Roberts) whom he lies to in order to maintain a semblance of normalcy. Events culminate at an elaborate eighteenth birthday party being thrown for Sara (Esti Ginzburg) by a boy who’s eager to gain her good graces, Chris (Rory Culkin). Chris’ unstable black sheep brother Claude (Billy Magnussen) knows his brother is being used, however, and it’s just a matter of time before his hair-trigger temper causes him to take control of the situation.
The screenplay by Jordan Melamed is based on the novel by Nick McDonell, but it’s so jammed packed with characters that no one really gets the screen time to develop a real persona or participate in an interesting story. To aid in helping the viewer keep track of all of these people, there is a narrator (Kiefer Sutherland) who fills us in on all of the backstories of these kids, with Schumacher sometimes showing us pertinent reminiscences in stylized white reenactment sequences with minimal props and usually in pantomime. The narrator editorially comments constantly on events as they transpire in such a matter-of-fact tossed-off pseudo-serious manner that it’s unintentionally hilarious, but it’s hard not to laugh at all of the absurd notions of this hapless movie. One character Jessica (Emily Meade) gets so hooked on Twelve that she blows $1000 of her own savings and then begins offering sexual favors to the drug dealer for more drugs, all in a two-day period. Colleges these kids aspire to like Harvard, Dartmouth, and Wesleyan get mentioned a lot, but no one here appears to be a rocket scientist in terms of intelligence, and there isn’t a single sign of anyone studying or working on anything the least bit academic. It’s parties and popularity that’s all anyone in this high society snob parade seems to care about. These are girls who are so convinced of their own allure and desirability that they assume a guy has to be gay if they don’t want to hit on them at first sight.
It probably isn’t fair to knock the soap opera-ish performances turned in by the cast as the material they’re working with isn’t exactly Dostoyevsky, but apart from Emma Roberts’ sincere Molly, the ladies of the cast are an insipid and uninspired bunch (and even Emma Roberts’ attempt at portraying intoxication is embarrassing). Some of the gentlemen fare a bit better. Chase Crawford’s performance is pretty surface and shallow, but Billy Magnussen has the instability stuff down to a science (all those years on As the World Turns have helped). Rory Culkin plays the patsy pretty well, and Curtis Jackson has the physical stature to back up his thuggish posture. Ellen Barkin as one of the only adult presences in the movie (apart from police investigating the murder of Charlie) gets only one scene to show us the disconnection of the parents from their children, but she’s effective enough with the short amount of time she’s being given.
The film is presented in its theatrical aspect ratio of 1.85:1 and is presented in 1080p using the AVC codec. Images are very sharp (except when the director wants them to be gauzy and artsy or the whites to bloom) with generous amounts of detail available. Color is nicely rendered with accurate and appealing flesh tones. Contrast has been applied well though it registers as a bit hot in a few instances. The film has been divided into 24 chapters.
The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 sound mix has only sporadic ambient sounds of New York City nightlife spread around the soundstage though music does get placed noticeably in all the available channels giving the sound some sense of immersion. There is one very effective moment when spoken memories triggering in someone’s head are split between the separate right and left fronts and rears, but otherwise, spoken words are placed directly into the center channel.
There are no bonus features, not even the film’s theatrical trailer.
There are 1080p promotional trailers for Street Kings, Machete, Wild Target, Unstoppable, Cyrus, Mirrors 2, Predators, Vampires Suck, The A-Team, and Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps.
1.5/5 (not an average)
Twelve is an empty soap opera featuring many young and inexperienced actors trying gamely to put across a story of their generation that just never rings true. Though the video and audio of this Blu-ray are the release’s only claim to fame, it’s hard to imagine anyone finding much of merit in this dire drama.