Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Paper Towns Blu-ray Review

Reviewed by Jami Ferguson
Adapted from the bestselling novel by John Green, PAPER TOWNS is a coming-of-age story centering on Quentin, a high school senior who has been in love with his enigmatic neighbor Margo since childhood. After taking him on an all-night adventure through their hometown, Margo suddenly disappears--leaving behind cryptic clues for Quentin to decipher. The search leads Quentin and his quick-witted friends on an exhilarating adventure that is equal parts hilarious and moving. Ultimately, to track down Margo, Q must find a deeper understanding of friendship--and true love.

Film (3 out of 5 stars)
Quentin, aka “Q” (Nat Wolff) is a teenage boy living in Orlando, Florida. One of the best days of his life was when Margo Roth Spiegelman (Cara Delevigne) became his neighbor. Quentin and Margo quickly become inseparable. On one of their adventures they discover the body of a man who has committed suicide in a nearby park. The incident affected each child in different ways. Fast forward to their senior year of high school and Margo and Q barely speak. Quentin thinks of Margo often and it seems as though she may not even notice him anymore.

As Quentin lay in bed, Margo climbs through his window. With little explanation she asks him to be her getaway driver, using his mom’s car, as she takes revenge on their classmates. Apparently her boyfriend Jase has been cheating with her closest friend. Additionally, she wants retribution on the friends that knew about the deceit. Margo’s plan is detailed. She arranges it so that Jase is caught having sex with her friend in the basement. When he flees naked, Quentin takes a picture on his cell phone which will later ensure his safety from retaliation. Margo leaves an M at the scene of each crime, and does not attempt to conceal her identity. Her other plans involve dead fish and hair removal. 

Margo not only has detailed plans, she has connections in unlikely places. She takes Q to the Sun Trust Center building where they look out on the city from one of the higher floors. This is the first time Margo refers to their neighborhood as a paper town. During the night, Margo expresses remorse for drifting apart from Quentin and admits her part in a school dance where the girls ignored him. Quentin heads home and goes to bed, thinking about what his relationship with Margo will be like in the morning.

At school the next day, Margo’s desk is empty. After several days of absences, Quentin is concerned. Her parents assume she has run away, and her mother in particular is not very concerned. Quentin starts finding clues that Margo has left behind. He enlists the help of his close friends Ben (Austin Abrams) and Radar (Justice Smith) in locating Margo. The boys are soon joined by Radar’s girlfriend and Margo’s friend Lacey and head out on a road trip to upstate New York. Margo’s clues have led them to a paper town (one that exists on a map to help detect a false copy). Radar and the others are on board for the ride but are concerned with returning home in time for prom. Q will not leave without Margo and he remains in the New York town of Agloe to find Margo.

Paper Towns is based on John Green’s 2008 novel of the same name. You may know Green from his novel The Fault in Our Stars, which was adapted for film by the same screenwriting team Scott Neustadler and Michael H. Weber. The movie is definitely geared toward the young adult audience which will enjoy watching the teenagers find themselves, break some rules, and journey through typical rites of passage. Margo is quirky and mysterious and no one really understands her. I could see this appealing to the teenager that’s always followed the rules and never stepped outside the box. As an adult viewing the film I wanted to know more about why Margo decided to walk away from her life at that point in time. Basically, I was far more interested in the first half of the movie than the second.

The young actors in the film are all well cast. They are just slightly older than the high school seniors they portray with Cara Delavigne being 23 in real life and Nat Wolff soon to be 21. They didn’t pull a 90210 and cast actors in their thirties to play the students. I expected it to be a little more like The Perks of Being a Wallflower, but this story lacked the depth to be comparable. I did enjoy watching the film but once was probably enough. I doubt I’ll revisit this film, even though I am a big fan of repeated viewings (often in the same day).
Video (4 out of 5 stars)
Paper Towns is presented on Blu-ray courtesy of 20th Century Fox with an AVC encoded 1080p transfer in a 2.40:1 ratio. The film looks best in the bright daylight shots but holds up well during Margo’s extended night time revenge plot. Searching for Margo in a dimly lit, abandoned property, there are some important details like pin holes in a map which are easily discernable.
Audio (4 out of 5 stars)
Music is an important part of Paper Towns' DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track. Environmental sounds are authentic and realistic with clear and intelligible dialogue as well. The film lacks sound effects or opportunity to explore the range of your surround sound but it more than adequate for a teen angst drama.
Extras (3 out of 5 stars)
  • Deleted Scenes – Just under four minutes of deleted scenes with optional commentary by Jake Schreirei and John Green. 
  • Alternate Scene (1:57) - "Shake It Off" 
  • Paper Towns: The Making Of (21:09) - Your basic behind the scenes featurette with cast interviews. 
  • John and Nat: Lightning Round (8:04) - A Q & A session with the book’s author questioning the actor. 
  • John and Cara: Lightning Round (5:15) - The actress Cara Delavigne is the target of the questions in this Q & A session. 
  • Gag Reel (3:08) 
  • Promotional Featurettes - Memorable Moments (1:04), Coming of Age (1:15), Road Trips (1:15) and Lurlene (1:02) 
  • Audio Commentary - Jake Schreier and John Green provide an informative and enjoyable commentary. 
  • Gallery (2:04) - View stills with optional auto or manual advance. 
  • Theatrical Trailer (2:26) 
Summary (3 1/2 out of 5 stars)
Paper Towns was a good, but not great movie. It was well worth the time to watch and kept me entertained. It will likely fail to become one of the movies I watch repeatedly, in part because I have so many better options in my Blu-ray collection. Stars Cara Delavigne and Nat Wolff have a good rapport and are able to carry the film. I have not read the book which may have offered the detail about Margo’s situation I was looking for. It’s definitely targeted at a YA audience who can relate to wanting to run away during their senior year of high school.

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