Tuesday, October 25, 2016

High-Rise Blu-ray Review

Reviewed by Allie Schembra
High-Rise stars Tom Hiddleston (The Avengers) as Dr. Robert Laing, the newest resident of a luxurious apartment in a high-tech concrete skyscraper whose lofty location places him amongst the upper class. Laing quickly settles into high society life and meets the building’s eccentric tenants: Charlotte (Golden Globe® nominee Sienna Miller, American Sniper), his upstairs neighbor and bohemian single mother; Wilder (Luke Evans, Beauty and the Beast), a charismatic documentarian who lives with his pregnant wife Helen (Golden Globe winner Elisabeth Moss, “Mad Men”); and Mr. Royal (Academy Award® winner Jeremy Irons, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice), the enigmatic architect who designed the building. Life seems like paradise to the solitude-seeking Laing. But as power outages become more frequent and building flaws emerge, particularly on the lower floors, the regimented social strata begins to crumble and the building becomes a battlefield in a literal class war.

Film (2 out of 5 stars)
Reviews of High-Rise tend to lean toward the good, with some comments stating that it’s a funny dark comedy. I, however, disagree. I sat through the entire two hours of the movie wondering what the heck was going on and more than once wondered what I was even watching. Tom Liang is a doctor who, after his sister passes away, moves into one of five high rise towers on the outskirts of London. The tower is all-encompassing, with a pool, gym, school for the children, supermarket, and other amenities. It’s a 40-floor tower, where the higher your social status is, the higher the floor you live on. Tom, being middle class, is on the 25th floor. He meets Charlotte, the single mother who lives above him and Wilder, a resident of the second floor, and they become friends. 

Also living in the building is the architect, who lives on the 40th floor with his wife, and Monrow, one of Liang’s medical students. As time passes, the differences in class status becomes more and more prominent, with the upper class hosting parties, closing off sections of the tower and taking advantage of their higher status. When the power and water service go off, the tower descends into chaos. Tom tries keeping things normal, but one night, during a party, Monrow commits suicide by jumping off the 39th floor. Residents of the lower floors wonder why the police were not called and why it’s being covered up. Wilder, who is known as the building instigator and troublemaker begins wreaking more havoc throughout the building and the chaos caused by power and water outages. 

As the tower society breaks down, everyone finds their life on the line as the lower floor residents make their way up to the higher floors and the higher floor residents do their best to keep everyone out. Tom’s sanity isn’t safe, either. After the death of Monrow, who Tom is convinced killed himself because of a petty action Tom took at work, he tries keeping it together, but falls right into the middle of it all, when he tries to figure out what’s going on. A few months later, it seems Tom and Charlotte are but a few of the residents left in the tower as it now looks like a post-apocalyptic world. But, life goes on and Tom and Charlotte just try to make it through the day.

I viewed this movie at least two weeks ago and have been letting it sit in my brain for that long. There are times when if I let a movie sit in my brain, I begin to like it more. Unfortunately, this was not the case. For most of the movie, I wondered what the heck I was watching and trying to make sense of it all. While watching the special features, I learned the movie is an adaptation of a book and many times, if I don’t like a movie, I’ll pick up the book to see what it was about or what went wrong. I have no interest in doing that with this movie.

That’s not to say the acting wasn’t good. I am a fan of Tom Hiddleston, so will likely always give him a chance. Sienna Miller was also good. Maybe I’m typecasting her, but I like her best when she’s playing a character from the 60s or 70s. She seems to have the look and the attitude down. Jeremy Irons is great, both creepy and weird, and I wish he had more scenes. My main problem with the movie was the story. I just didn’t enjoy it or really follow along. It seemed like it was a bunch of random things mashed together to make a movie.
Video (2 out of 5 stars)
The 1080p widescreen presentation of High-Rise was average at best. The sets were good, and seemed very post-apocalyptic and the color scheme was appropriate. Some scenes were brighter than others, but mostly the palette was muted. Scene transitions were smooth and I notice any issues. It just wasn’t a very interesting or memorable picture to me.
Audio (3 out of 5 stars)
The English 5.1 DTS-HS Master Audio was the best part of the movie. The dialogue was clear and the volume level was mostly even. There were a couple of moments were it got loud due to the echo in couple of scenes (that were intentional), but it wasn’t too distracting. Subtitles in English SDH and Spanish are available if needed.
Extras (2 out of 5 stars)
The special features were interesting, but not that memorable. I rushed through them in order to just be done with the movie.
  • Commentary with actor Tom Hiddleston, director Ben Wheatley, and producer Jeremy Thomas
  • Building the World of High-Rise: 70s Style -- a chat with the designers of the movie. All discussing how they brought the 70s to life without making it seem like they were trying to make fun of the period.
  • Heady Special Effects -- how the head for the medical school scene was made.
  • Breaking Down High-Rise and its Tenants -- Cast members break down the movie, the characters and the comparison to the book.
  • High-Rise: Bringing Ballard to the Big Screen -- Cast and crew talking about adapting the book and bringing it to life on film.
  • Theatrical Trailer
  • Also from Magnolia Home Entertainment
Summary (2 out of 5 stars)
Everything about this movie was below average for me. No matter how long I let it sit in my brain, I still can’t figure out what it was really supposed to be about, what the point of it was and why I was even watching it. I was not entertained and anytime I sit though a movie wondering “what the heck am I watching” I know I should just turn it off. Instead, I powered through and finished it. I was no more entertained at the beginning than I was at the end. High-Rise, for me, is an utterly forgettable movie and I recommend you pass on it.

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