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Click above to purchase "Unbreakale" at amazon.com

 

Unbreakable
Vista Series

review by Zach B.

 

Rated PG-13

Studio: Disney

Running Time: 120 minutes

Starring Bruce Willis, Samuel L. Jackson, Robin Wright Penn

Written and Directed by M. Night Shyamalan

Retail Price: $29.99

Features: Behind-The Scenes, Deleted Scenes,

Specs: 2.35:1 Anamorphic Widescreen, English Dolby Digital 5.1, English DTS 5.1, Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1, French Dolby Digital 5.1, English Closed Captions, English Captions, Spanish Subtitles, THX Certified, Two-Disc Set, Chapter Search (28 Chapters)

"They say this one has a surprise ending."

 

No one expected what kind of phenomenon "The Sixth Sense" would be. All that it had was the normal print and television adveritising, and just seemed like any old thriller Disney was releasing. This was all wrong. Not only did it stay number one at the box office, it went down as one of the top grossing domestic films with well over 280 million dollars. And that twist ending. Man, that twist ending which the world loved and made audiences come back for more.

It seems that a movie like "The Sixth Sense" is a fluke, seeing how the film's writer and director, M. Night Shymalan, had two failures before that (but did co-write the family hit "Stuart Little"). However, "Unbreakable" truly establishes M. Night Shymalan as a wonderful and careful storyteller, and not a "one hit wonder". While the film didn't gross "Sixth Sense" numbers (I didn't expect it to considering this is a film you can only need to watch once), critics did praise it but there wasn't a large word of mouth on it. It had a pretty big opening but then just kept dropping and dropping... it didn't hold steady like "The Sixth Sense".

"Unbreakable" follows David Dunn, a man who seems to have a pretty average life. He has a son, a wife (in which there are some martial problems) and works as a secuirity guard for the local university. However, as we see at the start of the film, David is involved in a train accident, and he is the only survivor of that horrible wreck. Confused and vulnerable, David's life seems to be spinning, until he gets a mysterious card from Elijah Price, an comic art dealer, which makes David wonder as well as explore why he exactly survived. As the film goes on, we learn about David and Elijah, as well as their strengths and their weaknesses, and what exactly binds the two together.

First things first, this film is intense (that is a good thing). Shyamalan's script is really sharp, with many good lines and analogies which do get you thinking. Even better is his direction, as he uses a lot of symbols and images to get his point across, but not too much across so that the viewer can make his or her own conclusions about what is going on. His symbolisms may seem a bit overused, and that we've seen them again and again and again, but by the end of the film, you realize just how well placed and good they are (I'd mention them, but I don't want to give the movie away! Let me just say "opposites"...)

The acting is simply flawless. Bruce Willis as David is a very low-key but heartfelt performance. David Dunn is an emotionally vulnerable character with some deep secrets, and Willis captures him perfectly. Samuel L. Jackson's performance as the brittle boned, comic-obsessed Elijah was pretty Oscar® worthy (no nomination though). He plays a man who has felt so much pain and is always expecting it, yet deep inside he's very intellectual and truly knows certain things with much confidence. Robin Wright Penn and Spencer Treat Clark (Lucius from "Gladiator") give nice performances as well, which make it all more believable (plus M. Night Shyamalan does a cameo as a drug dealer, he did one in "The Sixth Sense" as a doctor).

Now, the movie's technical side is breathtaking. The editing and camera shots used in the movie really bring it to life. Just notice the opening scene on the train, as we see Willis talking with the woman who sits down next to him. We view it back and forth inbetween the seats. The sound effects and James Newton Howard's score brings a lot of tension and feeling into some really key scenes. Edurado Serra, Dylan Tichenor as well as David Acord and Allan Byer all deserve some Oscar nods.

When it comes to M. Night Shymalan's films now, it won't be about how good or bad it actually is, but rather what is that twist ending. Shyamalan does pull a twist ending here, and it is somewhat shocking. However, at the same time, it can be predicted and is not the most original ending in the world. In fact, a character admits that the ending has been used over and over. Don't get me wrong, I did like the ending, but unlike "The Sixth Sense", you sorta did see it coming after the symbolisms given throughout the film, and this movie does not warrant repeat viewings either. I felt there could have been some better endings actually, in fact, one that I predicted during the movie I thought would have worked as well. But I still feel this ending is strong, though a bit unoriginal.

I found "Unbreakable" to have a few flaws, but still enjoyable. Things that I felt should have been more expanded on is the aftermath of the train wreck. While I know the story should have been kicked into high gear after that (and it did), I felt there should have been just a little more tension with it. Also, the power that we learn of that Willis has does not feature an origin of sorts, such as how and why he got it. Some things are better unknown, but I felt some insight should have brought into this. Plus, there is a climatic sequence, which I have mixed feelings about. I felt it wasn't really needed to advance the story, but rather to establish Dunn and what he holds as well as lead into the twist ending. Still, that brings some tension and a little more development into Dunn's weakness, so in that way I think it fit pretty well. With that said, I felt the movie was a little bit (but not majorly) uneven, and it could have had some balancing. But with what transpires, it is still enjoyable and will keep you on the edge of your seat.

I did enjoy "Unbreakable" a little more than "The Sixth Sense", due to the less amount of plotholes and the more spiritual side to it (Shyamalan's movies seem to have really good depth with spirituality, like in "The Sixth Sense" and the overpanned "Wide Awake"). However, I have to say I did enjoy the ending in "The Sixth Sense" more. Still, "Unbreakable" proves M. Night Shyamalan is a marvelous, leading Hollywood force with much more than a single hit, with some extreme raw talent and excellent skills. Despite some slow parts, "Unbreakable" is a rewarding movie that is well worth your time.  

"Unbreakable" is presented in glorious 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen that is THX certified which truly shows off the visual beauty the film has to offer. Though I must admit this transfer disappointed me. It's not a bad transfer at all, a very good one in fact, but I was disappointed with it when compared to Disney's usual offerings as of late. For their first title as a Vista Series, it should have been just as good or even better than usual offerings, but alas, it's not. There is some grain here and there, and it's the Disney transfer I've seen with the least amount of blemishes. I only saw blemishs very few times throughout the film. But what wrecks this transfer is constant shimmering and a whole lot of edge enhancment that really annoyed me. Noise appears as well as the halo effect sometimes around actors or people. Colors are very good, this movie has a unique color paltette that is filled with moody colors that often reflect the film. Detail is good and black levels are great. This transfer is not perfect (though here and there it looks it), but it's not that bad. I just expected a lot better, especially for this movie.

Once again, Disney includes Dolby Digital 5.1 and DTS 5.1 English mixes. Each are very interesting tracks that feature good surround use and trap you deep into the film. The sound in this movie is more low-key (like the movie), but just because it is doesn't make it bad. It's really quite good. Surrounds are very active and have quite a nice mix to them. I often felt the action and suspense around me, there's a lot of sounds in the film that make it a bit eerie and creepy and they sound great on either track. Things get pretty imerssive. Dynamic range is excellent, but what I liked is how the smallest sounds really made an impact. The rain, a little bang... just some small things to make it all the more real. The action portions sound particulary nice, and there is a good balance between surrounds. Dialogue is crisp and eays to hear. Each track is truly outstanding and while the DTS wins again, it won't matter which one you choose since they are both so well crafted and so well mixed. A lot of great creative mixing here that really brings the film to life. French and Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 tracks are also included as well as English captions, English closed captions and Spanish subtitles.

It seems everyone is rolling out their new special edition lines (as of writing this, "Infinifilm" from New Line is about to launch within a few weeks). Here comes Disney's new flasgship series named after their own distribution company, Buena Vista. "Unbreakable" is the first title in their "Vista Series" and will probably be the dominant special edition banner for their non-animated films. Their animated films have the collector's editions and while Disney has put out special editions before from their various production companies, this title on the box will probably unite them all ("The Sixth Sense" was a special collector's edition if you may recall, since Disney didn't have a DVD title then for supplement filled live-action films on DVD and Hollywood Pictures didn't have their own line of special edition discs... Disney probably just scrambled to do that or something).

So let's talk about what "Unbreakable" holds. It's a two-disc set, and all the features are housed on the second disc. I have to say, I think all of it could have fit easily onto a single disc. With that said, for a special edition, there really isn't so much to behold. Perhaps Disney should have added a few things to the mix, or maybe have a different title to launch (no pun intended bwahahahahaha) their new special edition line.

On the second disc, we're treated to only a few things. Behind-The-Scenes is a docuementary-type feature which is divided in chapters and covers aspects of making the film. Barry Mendel, Shyamalan, Willis and a lot of others are interviewed about a lot of the film's features. It has clips from the film and behind the scenes footage. It's not fluffy at all and one of the best featurettes/documentaries I've seen on DVD. Too bad it's a mere fourteen minutes.

Comic Book and Superheroes is a ninteen minute featurette that focuses on the film's comic book themes. It has interviews with Jacksons, Alex Ross and other comic moguls who talk about the impact comics do have. It's a nice supplement that fits well into the film. It also has clips from the film.

Train Station Sequence is a really nice multi angle feature. You can have the final 5.1 mix, the score in 5.1 only and the effects in 5.1 only as you toggle through the final product and the storyboard. Very,very cool. Too bad you can't switch through the audio though. The stills are actually in non-anamorphic widescreen.

Ah, Deleted Scenes. Seven to be exact, complete in 5.1 Dolby Digital and 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen. M. Night introduces each scene and explains why they were cut. I liked all the scenes a lot. Yes, I felt some should have been cut but others really should have been in the film despite Shyamalan's comments. Please do check these out! You can watch each seperate or play them all.

Finally, Night's First Fight Sequence has an intro by Shyamalan and like "The Sixth Sense" DVD, it has another short film by him he did as a youngster called "Millionare". He hates it, but it's all in good fun. It's even in non-anamorphic widescreen! Gotta love that cheesy music too.

As you can see, "Unbreakable" isn't feature loaded as one would expect, but there are some things to point out. The packaging is really nice complete with Alex Ross art and a spiffy production booklet inside. The menus are also nice. I was glad to see the supplements in anamorphic widescreen, and hopefully to see future Disney supplements like this (like New Line). Believe it or not, I was disappointed there were no trailers and TV spots as I really did like the film's advertising campaign. Sadly, the isolated score track with commentary from James Newton Howard was cut out of the release for whatever reason. The film has a great score so I was not too happy about that. Also, when will Shyamalan record a commentary track? I'm really glad to see him involved in the DVD releases, but I think a commentary from him would be outstanding.

"Unbreakable" is a great, rewarding cinematic experience and just further proves that Shyamalan is a true visionary. While the film is not for everyone and the DVD features are a bit disappointing, the presentation reflects the film as it should be. Go "break" out your cash (HAHAHAHAHAHA I MADE A FUNNY) and check out "Unbreakable".

(4/5 - NOT included in final score)

(4/5)

(4.5/5)

(2.5/5)

(4/5, NOT an average)

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