DVD Review HTF REVIEW: Cellular

Discussion in 'DVD' started by Michael Elliott, Jan 10, 2005.

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  1. Michael Elliott

    Michael Elliott Lead Actor

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    [​IMG]

    Cellular


    [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]/[​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]




    Studio: New Line
    Year: 2004
    Rated: PG-13
    Film Length: 95 minutes
    Aspect Ratio: Anamorphic Widescreen (2.40:1)
    Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1, DD 2.0 Surround
    Subtitles: English, Spanish
    Retail Price: $27.95




    On a typical bright and sunny day in L.A., mom and teacher Jessica Martin (Kim Basinger) is getting ready to leave her house when a group a men break in and take her hostage. Jessica is thrown in some attic but she isn’t quite sure where she is or what all of this is about. The attic has a phone that is busted but Jessica is able to fix it to where she can make one phone call. That one call goes to Ryan (Chris Evans) who is told about the kidnapping but he think this is some sort of joke. Finally he realizes that this woman’s life is in danger so he contacts a local cop (William H. Macy) but things aren’t as simple as they seem.

    Cellular is based on the story by Larry Cohen who most will remember for his cult/exploitation films like the It’s Alive trilogy as well as God Told Me To. More mainstream crowds will know his screenplay to Phone Booth and all of these films have quite a lot in common with Cellular. When it comes to Cohen, whether he’s the director or just the screenwriter, his stories always have some sort of paranoia when it comes to technology or current situations in the world. The paranoia this time has to do with a kidnapping and the importance a cell phone could have in these situations.

    Sadly, Cohen didn’t write the screenplay here so I’m sure a majority of his story has cut out in order to have a more intense Hollywood picture but some of the paranoia and satire is still on hand. The biggest problem with the film is that all sorts of plot holes are left in, which really keeps this from being a step above others in its genre. The brain aspect of things are pretty much thrown out the window but even with the weak plot and stereotype characters we’ve still got a pretty good film on our hands.

    While I had a very good time with the film this review will probably come off sounding like I didn’t enjoy it. Again, there are so many plot holes throughout this film that it’s rather hard to get into it too fully. Throughout the first hour Basinger is held in an attic and not once does she ever try to escape nor does she ever even see if there would be a possible way to escape. The stereotypical female character is on full display here as she sits on the ground, cries and just waits for the bad guys to show up and throw her around the place.

    The stereotypes aren’t just centered on her character however. The bad guys in the film are another minor problem because not once was I ever really worried about them nor did they ever frighten me. You could say I never felt any pressure that they’d kill Basinger because, well, this is a Hollywood film. As with most bad guys in Hollywood films, these villains show how tough they are by constantly calling their female hostage a bitch. I’m going to guess they showed their toughness by calling her a bitch at least fifteen times and this here came off a lot more childish than scary.

    Even with the plot holes and silly characters somehow the director gets this film to work. About halfway through I simply turned off my brain and went along with the ride so as long as you aren’t expecting anything brilliant then you should enjoy the ride. The best part of the movie was seeing all the various ways a cell phone could be used in this kidnap situation. We get to see the hero use the recorder as well as more tension thrown into the situation when the cell battery starts to go down. The Cohen paranoia also leads the way for some funny scenes including one dealing with a lawyer and another constant joke about all the troubles cell phone users have to put up with.

    Chris Evans makes for a good hero and helps keep the film somewhat believable because he looks like an actual person who’d get caught up in this type of mess. He comes off as the guy next door and not some muscle bound action hero. Kim Basinger suffers from a fairly weak character but she does what she can. The real star is William H. Macy, who like Evans, comes off as being a real guy put in a real situation. His cop must shine through towards the end of the movie and it was fun seeing a smaller guy go up against the big bad guys. With the performances and fun set up, Cellular works well but it needed a bit of a stronger battery.


    VIDEO---New Line presents the film widescreen (2.40:1) and is enhanced for 16x9 TVs. Apparently we’ve entered a new wave since HD-DVD is on the way so perhaps we should be taking notes on whether studios are messing with current DVD transfers so that people will make the jump to HD. If people are worried about the studios doing this then I’ve got good news for them because this release from New Line is up to their usual high standards.

    This is an extremely beautiful film when it comes to the colors, which are on perfect display during the opening scenes. We see Basinger walking her son to school and the beautiful greens of the grass really stand out as do all the pink flowers that are in the background. The color detail is very strong here and makes for a very pleasant viewing experience. The detail is very strong throughout the film but I found this opening sequence to be the best part of the transfer. Flesh tones looks accurate throughout and the darker scenes also appear very nice. The darker scenes take place in the attic and towards the end of the film but these look as natural as any of the stuff on the outside. The sunny L.A. looks wonderfully natural with the transfer here. There was no print damage to be seen and only a few instances where I noticed any edge enhancement.

    AUDIO---The film is presented with a Dolby Digital 5.1 track as well as a 2.0 Surround track. I know it’s early in 2005 but it looks like we’ve got a contender for one of the best tracks of the year. I really wasn’t expecting much of a track for this type of a film but I’m always happy to be surprised. As usual, dialogue is contained in the center speaker and no problems are presented here. The dialogue is up front, very clear and pack a nice punch mixed in with all the action. The highlight of the track is the Surrounds, which are constantly in use and they get a lot of time to show off. There are various scenes in the film where we get cars driving off and the separation here is very well done. During all the chases we’ve got constant movement from the left to the rights, which makes for a nice listen. The rears are also used throughout for various sound effects ranging from breaking glass to shots being fired. The music score and various rock songs sound wonderful as well.

    EXTRAS---The extras menu as well as the back of the package says we get an audio commentary with director David Ellis and writers Larry Cohen and Chris Morgan. This is somewhat correct but not totally. We’ve got an audio commentary with the director as well as his daughter the stunt coordinator and his sister who also served as the producer. Throughout the track they call other members of the film on their cell phones and this includes Ellis and Cohen. The director and his siblings are quite annoying during certain aspect of the track but overall they are constantly talking and telling about the production of the film. However, jeez are they annoying. The daughter is constantly laughing for no apparent reason and sorry, but it was annoying. When the “others” are brought in we really don’t get to know too much. It’s a shame the screenwriter and writer weren’t more involved.

    Next we get three different documentaries, all taking a different look at cell phones and this movie. Celling Out runs just under twenty minutes and features five chapter stops. We start off with all sorts of older footage on how phones have changed throughout the years. We then get some so-called experts telling us how we talk through a phone. Sound stupid? Well, it somewhat is but if you stick in there we get some nice information. Dialing Up Cellular runs over twenty-five minutes and comes with six different chapter stops. This here takes a look at the making of the film and features interviews with the cast, director and others involved in the film. We get interviews with Basinger, Macy and Evans, which tells us why they’re doing the film. The most interesting aspect is the interview segments with Larry Cohen as he talks about how the story came to be. He originally pitched his “phone” movie to Hitchcock but the film never got made until Phone Book. Code of Silence: Inside the Rampart Scandal runs just under thirty-minutes and once again we get six chapter stops. I’m not going to hesitate in calling this the best extra on the disc and I might say it’s even better than the feature itself. This documentary takes a look at a real event in L.A. where several cops were brought up on stealing drugs. This here tells us the story and goes into detail about the trial as well as how this incident played an impact on this film. I really can’t say anymore without giving spoilers for the film so we’ll leave it at that.

    Up next are five alternate/deleted scenes, which are 16x9 enhanced. We’ve got a play all option or you can pick these one by one. Each scene also has an optional audio commentary with the director. The first scene is an alternate introduction to Ryan and his friend. There isn’t much of a difference here so there’s really no reason to say one’s better than the other. We also get an alternate ending, which only runs a few seconds longer than what’s in the film. I’m actually glad this one here was left out. The three other scenes were cut because they really don’t serve any purpose to the film. A theatrical trailer is also included as are trailers for The Butterfly Effect, After the Sunset, Highwaymen, The Aviator[/b][/i] and Blade 3.

    OVERALL---Even with all the plot holes and stereotypes, the film is a good time as long as you don’t take it too serious. New Line delivers fans of the film a very good DVD with some nice extras to boot. The transfer is up to their usual high standards and the audio mix is excellent.


    Release Date: January 18th, 2005
     
  2. David Galindo

    David Galindo Screenwriter

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    Ive been lookin forward to this release...good to know that the DVD is top notch!

    One of the best thrillers last year, in my opinion. Excellent review! [​IMG] [​IMG]
     
  3. Andrew Radke

    Andrew Radke Screenwriter

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    I agree. I saw this in the theater last summer and loved it. Definitely a great popcorn flick. I especially liked the comic relief provided by William H. Macy. I'd highly recommend this if you're looking for an hour and a half of mindless fun. [​IMG]
     
  4. Jonny_L

    Jonny_L Stunt Coordinator

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    This had a cool concept and although I havent seen it yet, I'll probably throw it in.

    Anyone else notice that the poster/cover is nearly an exact duplicate of Spy Game from a few years ago?
     
  5. David Galindo

    David Galindo Screenwriter

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  6. Paul D G

    Paul D G Screenwriter

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    Ah, good ole Cover Art Template #8.

    -paul
     
  7. Lewis Besze

    Lewis Besze Producer

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    I just rented this and Catwoman together[ many calls Catwoman the worst movie of the year],let me just say that I take Catwoman any time of the day,and twice on Sunday over this garbage, and I actually hate cats! [​IMG]
     
  8. David Galindo

    David Galindo Screenwriter

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    Just saw it again today, man its great...though I think New Line was pretty generous in special features (two 20 min. featurettes have almost nothing to do with the actual movie, and the theatrical trailer is anamorphic widescreen with 5.1 sound!)

    I really enjoy this disc [​IMG]
     
  9. Colin Jacobson

    Colin Jacobson Producer

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    As are the deleted scenes - definitely a nice touch.

    So are you happy or unhappy about the two featurettes that only tangentially relate to the movie? I like that kind of "beyond the film" thing, at least when it's good. These two featurettes are pretty informative, especially the one about the Ramparts scandal...
     
  10. David Galindo

    David Galindo Screenwriter

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    Ive only seen the history of cellphones one, which was pretty neat. Ill watch the other one tonight.
     

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