March 22, 2007

DVD Review: Sublime

Sublime is the second release from Raw Feed, the new specialty imprint from Warner Brothers. The first film was the slasher film Rest Stop. This second film steps in a different direction, allowing the label to demonstrate some diversity in what it is going to offer. This film steps away from the blood buckets, although it does have its share, and moves into more of a psychological horror style, more Jacob's Ladder and less A Nightmare on Elm Street. It tells the story of an everyman who is confronted with the fears of his life. Sublime is a film that tries very hard, but just does not quite make it to the end, moving in fits and spurts. Is it worth seeing? Perhaps.

The story centers on George Grieves (Tom Cavanagh), an everyman type character with a loving family and a successful career. He lives a comfortable life, although his life is questionable, a fact that is pointed out to him, rather pointedly by his brother. This brings George's life into something of a crisis, his fears begin to crowd for space in his mind as he prepares for an impending surgical procedure.

George goes to the hospital to undergo a colonoscopy. He meets his doctor, Dr. Sharazin, and his nurse, Zoe, and heads off for the procedure. Now here is where everything takes a turn. When George wakes up there is a distinct feeling that things are not quite right. Things happen that all point towards some sort of mistake. He has wounds where there shouldn't be wounds, the people around him act strangely, and George finds it impossible to convince anyone that anything is wrong. Is George losing his mind? Perhaps his fears are becoming reality. Whatever the case is, George's life has taken a turn for the bizarre.

The story sets itself up decently, but each point is given away by a flashback, so if you do pay attention you will be able to pick up on it, robbing it of any power to really shock or allow audience revelations. It is a film that is reaching for the stars but fails to break free of the atmosphere.

The film feels long. As I sat there in front of the television, I kept glancing at my watch waiting for the end to come. Sure, there are some interesting points, but the pacing is so slow that it really taxed my attention span. And for the record, I do not have a problem with slower paced films, so long asit can hold my attention.

Sublime has a lot of interesting elements. I love the whole fear manifested aspect, the main characters descent into his own personal hell. There is also a very creepy atmosphere set up, you can feel your skin crawl as the effective performance of Tom Cavanagh combines with the well done score. Then, when the twist comes, and you know its coming, in fact you have probably already guessed it, it still garners a reaction. Then there is the torture scene, featuring some wonderful Samuel L. Jackson-esque speechifying from Lawrence Hilton-Jacobs, this was probably my favorite part of the film just for being so strange.

The problem lies within the pacing, some poor dialogue, and the way the many of the points are overemphasized to the point of not having to work for them. These elements just brought the overall work down.

Audio/Video. Neither one is all that bad. The audio is Dolby Digital 5.1 and while the soundstage doesn't seem all that big, sounds perfectly well. The video is presented in 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen, it is decent, a little grainy. The grain can be explained by the fact that it was shot in super 16 and then matted to the widescreen ratio.

Extras. There is a modest selection of extras (you get a bunch more if you get the Target exclusive version).
  • Commentary. The track is with director Tony Krantz and writer Erik Jendresen. This is a pretty good track in that it offers a lot in an easy to listen to format. I just didn't care for the explanation of the political subtext that "purposefully" injected into the story. Frankly, I didn't care for that aspect, maybe it is my not particularly caring about political subtext in my thrillers.
  • Interviews. There are two interviews, one each with the writer and the director. I have similar feelings to them as I did with the commentary. All of the political talk just struck me as being self-important, kind of "look at me." Perhaps a bigger complaint is the lack of editing by those who put them together. Each interview has moments of them asking the subject to repeat themselves, or adjust their microphone, or turn towards the camera. Basically, things that should have been cut out. Not very professional.
  • Surgical Exorcism. This is the full scene that is glimpsed during the film.

Bottomline. Is it worth watching? Sure. It is a film that tries way to hard for greatness, perhaps given some more thought it could have been very good. There are a couple of decent performances and Katherine Cunningham-Eves is gorgeous. Worth a rental.

Very Mildly Recommended.


Post a Comment