DVD Review HTF REVIEW: Safe Passage

Discussion in 'DVD' started by Michael Elliott, Mar 28, 2004.

  1. Michael Elliott

    Michael Elliott Lead Actor

    Jul 11, 2003
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    Real Name:
    Michael Elliott

    Safe Passage


    Studio: New Line
    Year: 1994
    Rated: R
    Film Length: 98 minutes
    Aspect Ratio: Anamorphic Widescreen (1.85:1)
    Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1, DD Surround
    Subtitles: English, Spanish
    Retail Price: $19.95

    Wife and mother Mag Singer (Susan Sarandon) is going through a hard period in her life. She has kicked her husband (Sam Sheppard) out of the house and she planning on leaving the town with her youngest son so that she can get the first real job of her life. She raised seven sons and is starting to feel that she hasn’t done enough for herself so she’s hoping a change will bring around some good. The mother is constantly awaken at night due to nightmares where she thinks something has happened to one of her children.

    These fears come true when one of her sons, stationed overseas, is involved in a terrorist attack on a U.S. base. It could takes days for the victim’s names to be released but in the meantime the six other sons arrive home to wait for the news. Over this time the family tries to deal with the past and deal with the future if one of the brothers has in fact been killed. At the same time the father is dealing with an illness that causes him to loose his sight but to him this is a minor thing because his marriage has fallen apart.

    Safe Passage is a film I’ve been meaning to see since it was released ten years ago. The film slipped into theaters very quickly and left just as quietly so this was my first chance to see it and I couldn’t help but feel disappointed in the end result. There are many good elements in the film but the melodrama is just so darn thick that by the thirty minute mark you’ll be losing patients in the characters and the film. The film plays out much like a TV movie so perhaps that’s why it had a hard time in theaters.

    The film’s story is very simple, which means we should have gotten a straight forward drama but instead the screenplay throws in all sorts of flashbacks, which I guess are meant to show how good of a mother Sarandon is but this here really wasn’t needed and is just too cute for such a serious drama. The cuteness is another problem with the film as is the comic relief of the father having blind spells. There are cute scenes popping up all over and the entire look of the family is completely wrong. They live in a dollhouse with a basement and garage and all seven sons are good looking, healthy and seem like leftovers from Leave it to Beaver. With all the goodness going all, it makes the fighting seem all the more overly dramatic.

    The highlight of the film are its performances, which are all first class. Susan Sarandon has certainly proven to be one of the best actresses out there and her performance here comes off very natural and realistic. The screenplay makes her out as a nut, which I think is another problem, but during the tender moments Sarandon really shines. Sam Sheppard steals the film as the father who is trying to come to terms with his wife as well as worrying over his sons. The stuff dealing with the blindness is poorly written so I’m not sure if it was meant as comic relief or if the film was taking the illness seriously. Of all the sons, Sean Astin comes off doing the best work but Nick Stahl, Robert Sean Leonard and Jason London also do nice work. Marcia Gay Harden also does a terrific job as a single mother dating the oldest son.

    The movie features some very good moments including the scene were Sarandon and Harden exchange shots of tequila but overall the overbearing melodrama really kills things. This is a very frustrating movie that throws all sorts of problems at the viewer yet these lifelong problems are taken care of within minutes and the fighting stops until the next issue pops up. Then, forty years of problems are all forgotten in the last five minutes of the movie, which means we’ve sat through this film for no reason. Outside the performances, there’s really very little to recommend with Safe Passage.

    VIDEO---The movie is shown widescreen (1.85:1) and is enhanced for 16x9 TVs. The picture quality is good overall but this isn’t the typical brilliant transfer from New Line. The flesh tones look accurate throughout the film and the black level is deep as well. There’s some dust on a few scenes, especially a dark scene early in the movie. Some edge enhancement also rears its head but overall the transfer is pleasant enough.

    AUDIO---The sound is Dolby Digital 5.1 and is probably the weakest mix I’ve heard from New Line in a while. This is a dialogue driven film so thankfully that sounds fine coming from the center speakers. The Surrounds are rarely used but when they do kick it you can hardly tell there’s anything coming out of the speakers. The mix is rather bland but the 2.0 Stereo Surround track isn’t any better.

    EXTRAS---The theatrical trailer is the only extra included.

    OVERALL---After waiting ten years to finally see this film I must admit that I was highly disappointed in the outcome. The performances are wonderful but that isn’t enough to recommend the film. The DVD from New Line is good enough but don’t expect their usual brilliant quality. If you’re a fan of the film you’ll still want to add it to your collection.

    Release Date: April 6, 2004
  2. SteveGon

    SteveGon Executive Producer

    Dec 11, 2000
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    An off-topic question: so is New Line now releasing some of their catalogue titles? I'm still waiting impatiently for Proof and Night on Earth...

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