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Click above to purchase "Extreme Limits" at amazon.com

 

Extreme Limits

review by Ren C.

 

Rated R

Studio: Fox

Running Time: 93 minutes

Starring Treat Williams, Julie St. Claire

Written by Steve Latshaw

Directed by Jay Andrews

Retail Price: $34.98

Features: Audio Commentary, Photo Gallery, Biographies, Theatrical Trailer

Specs: 1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen, English Dolby Digital 5.1, English Dolby Surround, English Closed Captions, English Subtitles, Spanish Subtitles, Chapter Search

Released: August 7th, 2001

There are certain movies where it is obvious that an honest effort has been put into the movie, and despite the best efforts of cast, crew, and everyone else involved, things just didn't come together. This is not one of those movies. This falls under the textbook definition of B movie, looking like it was made for all of about twelve dollars. The plot, such as it is, is mindboggling, and the actors look like they are reading their lines off a cue card. To give the movie some credit, it is able to steal from some of the best, both figuratively, and in the cases of the stock footage, literally.

The movie opens with Hunter (John Beck) and his daughter Nadia (Julie St. Claire) in Moscow, on a search for the mythic Tesla Ray. This weapon is supposedly more powerful than a nuclear bomb and is responsible for the destruction of a half million acres of trees in Siberia in the 1950s. Of course, the ray is found, and we are given a demonstration when Hunter has to stop the terrorists who want to steal the ray. If at around this point you're waiting for Harrison Ford to show up, it's completely understandable.

Having attained the ray, it must now be returned to America into the waiting hands of the CIA. Of course, first Hunter and Nadia must get onto a plane with a bunch of "C-list American celebrities", their words, not mine. Amongst these C-list celebrities are pretty much every stereotype that you've come to expect, including the drugged out supermodel, and the Hollywood bitch. Now, if you can't figure out from here what happens next on the plane, I don't think you've ever seen an action movie. In which case, don't start with this one. Please, go rent "Die Hard 2", you'll thank me later.

I don't think I'll be spoiling anything for anyone to skipping ahead to after the inevitable plane crash. The objective here is for Nadia to get the ray back into American hands before it is stolen by generic evil terrorist Buck (Hannes Jaenickie). Meanwhile, the passengers on the plane have to try and survive the extreme cold, and bear attacks. No, that is not a misprint, bear attacks.

I don't think that it is possible for me to say enough bad things about this movie. The one plus that I noticed was that it is just hovering on that line between "so bad it's good" and "so bad you should never watch under any circumstances." There are several points in the movie that were unintentionally funny, including the fact that terrorists are chasing these people who are in possession of the most powerful weapon in the world, so why would no one think to use it? It's the major plot holes like this that irked me; of course, they had to fight for space on the list with everything else about this movie that irked me.

It's a fairly mixed bag here, actually. Those scenes specifically shot for the movie look fairly good; while those "lifted" from other movies look like stock footage from 1972. The new portions of the movie are very clear with good color tones, if occasionally hazy. There is no oversaturation and blemishes are minimal enough so as not to be distracting. However, scenes from such movies as "Cliffhanger" used in this movie look only slightly better than terrible with blemishes seemingly all over the print. It provides for a very distracting watching experience, and one that is very schizophrenic.

The Dolby 5.1 track actually sounds really good, with effects and the very nice score coming through well. Dialogue, such as it is, comes through clearly and sounds crisp. The track is especially good when compared to the subpar video quality. Also included is a Dolby 2.0 track, along with English and Spanish subtitles and English closed captions.

This is one of those movies where a special edition would seem like overkill, so the features that Fox has supplied are just right. Without question the most enjoyable feature is the Audio Commentary with director Jay Andrews, actress Julie St. Claire and cinematographer Andrea Rossotto. I think that this may well be my new favorite commentary, as the three spend the entire length of the movie doing little besides cracking on every aspect of the movie. This movie is BAD, and these three know it. Andrews is especially funny as he admits to ripping off Renny Harlin-literally, having problems with the actors and hating the locations. This is when he is not hitting on St. Claire, with her threatening to hit him in return. This is one of those movies where the only purpose is to make fun of it, and thankfully, this commentary does just that.

Also included is the Theatrical Trailer, which more accurately seems like a home video trailer, Biographies of some of the major players, and a Photo Gallery of what seems like publicity stills prepared for the film.

I'm a little torn about this. There is no question that this is a B-level, absolutely horrible movie. Watching the movie by itself I would have no hesitation in giving it a big thumbs down. The video, as I said, is slipshod, and the audio is only standard. The retail price is outrageous, and I'm not exactly sure who Fox is marketing this to. I have to say though, if you enjoy commentaries at all, give this movie a rental, and prepare to be entertained. In fact, don't watch the movie on its own, just with commentary, it's easier that way.

(1.5/5 - NOT included in final score)

(3/5)

(4/5)

(2.5/5)

(2/5, NOT an average)

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