August Rush (HD-DVD/DVD Combo Format; Warner Home Video)
Picture: B+/C+ Sound: B+/B- Extras: C- Film: C
Note: This film is also available in
the Blu-ray format.
films want to be about music, use too much of it and usually pick bad music to
add. Even when they get good songs, they
place the recordings in the wrong places or give us bad remakes thereof. When they try to add the idea of music to the
music, you get disasters like Xanadu,
sent up so well in a recent stage musical revival. Kirsten Sheridan has been moving into an odd
music direction, though her last film Disco
Pigs (reviewed elsewhere on this site) was in 2001, or six years ago. Now, she is finally following up with August Rush (2007) about a young orphan
boy whose ability to hold onto music helps him survive.
is interesting and had plenty of potential, but the film goes from promising to
highly problematic and worse as the script quickly runs out of character study,
ideas, goes for formula, illicit appeals to pity and collapses into a downright
embarrassment. Of course, you can watch
the film and hold onto the first reel, but that is just not being honest.
Highmore (making the “kids movie” rounds and a good actor at least) is Evan
Taylor, a picked-on outcast at an orphanage who loves music and has a profound
connection to it. His first chance to
leave comes in the form of a social worker (Terrence Howard) who tries to reach
out. When Evan gets to New York City, he
misses the man, gets caught up with a street singer and after a few more dumb
moments deals with a Fagin-type of character played by Robin Williams (Hook) who gives one of the most
unintentionally shrill and lame performances of his career.
for the film, Hook co-writers are
the main writers of this mess and as with the attempt at magic in the Spielberg
film, they just make mud, but this is far worse. To paraphrase one of our writers, mud pies
are more like it. This includes a
contrived love affair between a singer and debutante (Johnathan Rhys Meyers and
Keri Russell, in their first film together since Mission: Impossible III?) and that gets off to a phony, tired start
with a lame moment where they see the moon clearly and someone else is playing
Van Morrison’s classic hit Moondance
on his guitar. (Insert Match Game buzzer noise here.) Then Meyers starts to sing to it!!!
more Match Game buzzes here!)
gets cornier and more melodramatic in the worst way. Sometimes, it is like a very bad remake of Hook, but on the cheap, short and
automatic pilot. The actors do try, but
the more it goes on, the more it falls apart.
Amazingly, some people bought this, though it bombed at the box office. However, it just might become some kind of
dumb cult film. However, it will give us
all new respect for Castle’s 1979 romp Skatetown,
U.S.A., which was far more sincere and believable by comparison.
2.35 X 1 digital High Definition image was shot in Super 35mm film by Director
of Photography John Mathieson, who has lensed Ridley Scott’s films of
late. The film looks good and he is good
with subtle lighting (see K-PAX,
reviewed elsewhere on this site) and he is one of the only reasons anyone is
talking about this film at all. The HD
side of this Combo disc has the same early flaw that the anamorphically
enhanced DVD side (which has poor Video Black and other detail and depth
problems that make it no match for the HD side) has in an opening shot of the
sun that has its natural concentric circle pattern on the lens degraded in a
digital way. We saw this before on the
Blu-ray, but not HD-DVD, of Training Day
(in separate reviews on this site) that we can also call the “sun circle
problem” that should not be in either version.
The transfer has lesser, but equally noticeable snags like this and we
doubt the Blu-ray does not.
TrueHD 5.1 mix is not as all-the-way as similar recent film fare (like the even
more obnoxious Across The Universe)
in sound design, but is good and can even be interesting, though Mark Mancina’s
score is a very mixed mater. The Dolby
Digital Plus 5.1 version on the HD side and Dolby Digital 5.1 version on the
DVD side are not as good in that descending order. The better sound moments help, though.
scenes of mixed interest are the only extras.
- Nicholas Sheffo