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Category:    Home > Reviews > Thriller > Mystery > Drama > Murder > Genocide > Serial Killer > Apt Pupil (1998/Image Blu-ray)/Hostage (2005/Lionsgate Blu-ray)/ Hush (1998/Image Blu-ray)/Medium Raw – Night Of The Wolf (2008/Anchor Bay DVD)/Nowhere To Run (2003/Image Blu-ray)/The Ties That Bind (

Apt Pupil (1998/Image Blu-ray)/Hostage (2005/Lionsgate Blu-ray)/Hush (1998/Image Blu-ray)/Medium Raw – Night Of The Wolf (2008/Anchor Bay DVD)/Nowhere To Run (2003/Image Blu-ray)/The Ties That Bind (1995/Mill Creek Blu-ray)/Wrecked (2010/IFC/MPI Blu-ray)


Picture: B/B/C+/C/B-/C+/B-     Sound: B/B/C+/C+/B-/C+/B-     Extras: C/B-/C-/D/D/D/C     Films: B/B-/D/D/D/D/C



What follows is a mix of thrillers that did not work, now coming out on Blu-ray and DVD, though one is a definitely winner.



Bryan Singer’s Apt Pupil (1998) is that film, based on the Stephen King book, where a high school student (the late Brad Renfro in one of the best performances of his too-short career) is obsessed with Nazis and genocide.  Further encouraging his interests is his belief that an old man in his neighborhood (Ian McKellen) is actually a former Nazi who has been hiding out as a harmless immigrant in plain sight and he will be pushed to reveal the truth no matter what.  Then it all gets darker.


I was stunned when this was not a hit or that it was not rediscovered later, especially being one of the best (few good) adaptations of a King novel on film, but some felt it trivialized The Holocaust.  However, I felt it was a bold look at evil, how it illicitly transfers, is insidious and how it grows when unchecked.  Before Singer got caught up in Superhero genre films, he was one of the best thriller directors alive, but this might have just been too much for some audiences to handle.  At the time, Singer was still taken as seriously as David Fincher.  You can see why.


There are some very dark moments, some fine performances, serious suspense and this is a thriller about something.  Even David Schwimmer gives a good performance along side Bruce Davison, Elias Koteas, Joshua Jackson, Joe Morton and others in a very convincing film that may just be a minor genre classic.  Extras include a trailer and making of featurette.



Florent Siri’s Hostage (2005) is the one film here we reviewed before when Disney owned Miramax and issued it on DVD a while ago, which you can read about at this link:





Six years later, the film holds up enough to see it if you missed it because it is the last time star Bruce Willis tried to do something ambitious (now he takes big roles or sleepwalks through his films while collecting his paychecks, which wastes his talents as much as our time) but it was n to any kind of hit and that hurt his box office status in a profound way from which he never recovered.  Ben Foster shines as the villain.  Extras are the same as that out of print DVD.



Jonathan Darby’s Hush (1998) pits Jessica Lange as an over-possessive mother with a dark secret against Gwyneth Paltrow as the new girlfriend and more of her son, played by Johnathan Schaech.  That set up had potential and there is some interesting counter chemistry between the actresses, but the potential is never realized in the formulaic script or in its lame ending.  Sad because the money was here and so was the locations, but it is a silly dud and even Nina Foch and Hal Holbrook in supporting roles cannot save it.  Sony/TriStar licensed this to Image and there are no extras.



Andrew Cymek’s Medium Raw – Night Of The Wolf (2008) is even sillier, not a film about werewolves, but about a serial killer called “The Wolf” (Yawn!) who is in a mental institute that suddenly has a power outage, so guess who is going to be on the loose?  Sillier still, X-Files star William B. Davis is the evil head of the institute essentially recycling his performance from that show in the goofiest way.  John Rhys-Davies is the detective in the middle of this bore and it is not even good as a curio.  Extras include a trailer, Deleted/Extended Scenes, Alternate Ending (all of which make no difference) and feature length audio commentary by Cymek, who also acts here.



Robert Harmon’s Nowhere To Run (2003) was a lame attempt to mainstream Jean-Claude Van Damme in this revenge actioner that is too comical and broad to work despite a screenplay co-written by then-hot Joe Eszterhas (Basic Instinct, Jagged Edge) as land developers try to get rid of Rosanna Arquette, but Van Damme will stop them?  When this died, it was the beginning of the end for the actor on the A-list.  Kierin Culkin, Ted Levine and Joss Ackland also star in this Columbia Picture issued by Image and there are no extras.



Wesley Strick’s The Ties That Bind (1995) was at the tail end of the “enemy within” cycle of thrillers and one too many as a good couple (Moira Kelly, Vincent Spano) adopt a chi9ld that actually belongs to a part of psychotic killers (Keith Carradine, Daryl Hannah) from the people who got lucky with The Hand That Rocks The Cradle but this thriller does not rock at all.  Instead, it is a clichéfest that never goes anywhere, is very contrived and Hannah did this kind of thing much better in Blade Runner.  Disney’s Hollywood Pictures released this and Mill Creek has issued the Blu-ray.  There are no extras.



Finally we have Michael Greenspan’s Wrecked (2010) with the fine actor Adrian Brody as a man who wakes up to trouble stuck in a wrecked car.  However, this is yet another ‘stuck in a” movie where the main character is stuck in one place or space the whole time and the makers do their best to make it interesting.  Thanks to Brody, this is more watchable than most such films and most of the entries on this list, but eventually runs into the same troubles and results in too much of what we have seen before.  Extras include a few making of featurettes and a trailer.



The visual winners here are the 1080p 1.85 X 1 digital High Definition image on Pupil and 1080p 2.35 X 1 digital High Definition image on Hostage, looking goods for their age and closets to the original 35mm film prints.  They have some minor items holding them back (a little softness here and there, etc.) but clearly have solid HD masters, even if they are not very recent ones.  Following them are the 1080p 1.85 X 1 digital High Definition image transfers on Run and Wrecked, which are somewhat problematic with some degradation (on Wrecked, it is more on purpose, while Run has an older HD master) making them better than a DVD but at least Run could have looked better.  Hush at 1080p 2.35 X 1 digital High Definition image and Ties at 1080p 1.78 X 1 digital High Definition are the weakest of the Blus here with older HD masters that are weak and dated, even with a few good shots, not what they could have been.  The anamorphically enhanced 1.78 X 1 on Medium is weakest of all, styled down to look monochromatic and lacks detail, depth and has poor Video Black.


The DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mixes on Pupil and Hostage also make them the sonic leaders on the list with solid soundfields that show how well recorded both are and make for fine home theater presentations outdoing their DVD counterparts.  Pupil was originally issued in Sony Dynamic Digital Sound 8-track sound, but Sony and Image have stuck with 5.1, though I wonder if more sound was here.  Run and Wrecked also have DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mixes, but they are not as good and Run is a generation down or so like its picture, as is Hush with the same mix, but it is lower sounding and too much towards the front speakers.  Ties has DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 2.0 lossless Stereo when it was a 5.1 release and is miscredited as Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo, so this is not even the original sound mix and Medium has a Dolby Digital 5.1 lossy mix that by default is as good as Hush and Ties.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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