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Friday, February 3, 2012

The Disappearance of Alice Creed DVD Review

Reviewed by Jami Ferguson
On a suburban street, two masked men seize a young woman.  They bind and gag her and take her to an abandoned, soundproofed apartment. She is Alice Creed (Gemma Arterton), daughter of a millionaire.  Her kidnappers, the coldly efficient Vic (Eddie Marsan) and his younger accomplice Danny (Martin Compston), have worked out a meticulous plan. But Alice is not going to play the perfect victim – she isn’t about to let her captors use her as capital without a fight.   Alice enters into a battle of wills which strains the already fractious relationship between the two men. As the deadline for the exchange draws nearer, all three are brought close to the breaking point, with Vic and Danny’s foolproof plan descending into a desperate struggle for survival.  In a tense power-play of greed, duplicity, and survival we discover that sometimes disappearances can be deceptive, and even the most meticulous plans can go awry if you don’t choose your victim wisely.

Film (3 out of 5 stars) 

Ever wondered how to take an empty apartment and turn it into a prison for the woman you just kidnapped? This film starts as a how to video that will teach you exactly that. You’ll follow our two kidnappers, played by Eddie Marsan and Martin Compston, as they choose the right bed to shackle poor Alice to, bolt it to the floor and apply sound proof material to the walls. Future kidnappers/serial killers of the world, take notes. These two appear as though they have paid attention to a few episodes of CSI, and have learned to cover their tracks well. They seem to be the most methodical, well organized kidnappers I have ever seen. I begin thinking that if everything goes according to plan, these is going to be a very boring movie. That is not the case.
This British crime thriller, written and directed by J Blakeson, does not use blood and gore, but is definitely what I would all graphically realistic. Topics such as when and how a kidnap victim uses the bathroom are thoroughly detailed. There is (both hetero and homo) sexual content – this is definitely not one of those R rated films you would still show a mature teenager.
This is not one of those movies, where the kidnappers are really likable either. They aren’t good people in extreme circumstances who you start to feel for. Surprisingly, the kidnap victim isn’t little miss innocent either. There are a lot of twists and turns, some expected and some not. I’m not a fan of spoilers in movie reviews so I will leave it at that. (Turns out I saved my spoiler for my final thoughts – but don’t say I didn’t warn you).
I am a fan of movies where bad stuff happens. I enjoyed watching the bad stuff unfold in this film. It’s interesting that there are only three actors in this film. I’ve never seen such a short cast list, but all three actors did a great job carrying the film.

Video (3 out of 5 stars) 

As will all movies in existence, I would have rather seen this on the Blu Ray format and know the Blu Ray video quality would be far superior. But for DVD, this was not bad. A great portion of the movie takes place inside one apartment, so I wouldn’t say that the director really pushed the limits of DVD video quality. Rather than the standard bars at the top and bottom of the screen this movie had a black box all around. I’m used to watching wide-screen movies, and didn’t find it particularly bothersome.  The flesh-tones were consistent and the detail was acceptable for a DVD.

Audio (3 out of 5 stars) 

English, Dolby Digital 5.1 sound is offered, along with English and Spanish subtitles. This just may be my own personal problem but I could have used the subtitles a few times to understand the dialogue. I realize the kidnappers were speaking English at all times, but there were a few lines where I paused the movie, turned up the sound a little, and hit rewind, so that this California girl could make sense of the conversation between the British and (I’m guessing Scottish) bad guys.  This is a mostly front channel mix but the soundtrack is spread across all of the channels and the sub-woofer is well utilized by that too.  There’s some minor ambient effects on the satellite speakers but this is mainly a center speaker mix. Overall, the sound quality was pretty good but not great.

Special Features (2 out of 5 stars) 

I enjoyed the special features but I wish there was more of them.  What is available was very interesting but I think that an in depth behind the scenes featurette would have added a lot to the extras.  Here is what is available:
Outtakes – It’s enjoyable to see the actors crack up during such serious scenes.
“Phones” deleted scene – Not extremely interesting. Available with commentary turned on or off.
“Alice Gets the Gun” extended scene – Watching this with the commentary turned on, I found the director’s comments very interesting. He explains the difficulties in this scene and some specifics of how and why it was shot in the manner that it was. Future/wannabe filmmakers might enjoy the details.
Storyboard Comparison – It was interesting to see the storyboarded visions come to life.
Theatrical Trailer – Trailer represents the film well. This is not one of those movies where anything interesting is found in the trailer. Had I seen that first, which I did not, I would have wanted to see the film so I’d call that a successful trailer.
* Note about the Audio Commentary with Writer/Director J Blakeson – this is found in the set up menu under audio.  It’s not actually part of the special features menu like you would think.

Final Thoughts (3 out of 5 stars) 

I know I said a few paragraphs earlier that I am not a fan of spoilers in movie reviews but I do have one small detail to comment on. Whether it’s Batman, or this film, I don’t understand why people can hide their identities from friends or loved ones with a mask (and scratchy voice in the case of Batman). If my husband were to put on a ski mask, and stick a gun to my head, I would know that my kidnapper was not a stranger. In the case of my husband, I would probably notice a Star Wars T-Shirt sticking out from under his kidnapper overalls and there would be a Star Wars blaster or Star Trek phaser present instead of a handgun. Visual clues aside, I would be certain who was kidnapping me once he spoke!
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