What, you've never heard of Equilibrium
? Well, that's not surprising. Equilibrium
a bleak and sensual character-driven action movie about a totalitarian society,
was released at the tail end of last year on a paltry 300 screens after receiving
almost no promotional push. Which leaves me wondering why Miramax even bothers
keeping their genre picture division, Dimension Films, if they're going to produce
genre pictures that are better than many big studios' tent-pole movies, and then
give them throw-away releases (see also Below
while simultaneously opening toilet scrapings like They
on 1,600 screens.
Anyway, if you don't already know why I think Equilibrium stacks up
pretty well against the better known and less critically maligned Minority
Report, then I hereby banish you to my review of Equilibrium.
Believe me, I'm banishing you for your own good. It hurts me more than it hurts
Okay, now that we've gotten rid of the riffraff, we can get down to the question
at hand, which is, "How many licks does it take to get to the center of a Tootsie
Pop?" Let's find out. One . . . Two . . . Thrrrree . . . [CRUNCH]. Thrrrree.
Okay, that's it. The answer is Thrrree. You've been a great audience, thank you
and . . . . What's that? You don't care how many licks it takes to get to the
center of a Tootsie Pop? You want to hear about the Equilibrium DVD? Well,
why didn't you say so?
Okay, well, the DVD doesn't have many extras, and it isn't being marketed as a
"Special Edition", but it still has the Suggested Retail Price of a Special Edition,
which means you'll pay thirty for it. Twenty-two if you go to some place like
Best Buy or Walmart. Which is annoying. Unless it's a specialty market film (anime,
non-Americanized foreign film, etc.), you shouldn't have to fork over anything
more than an Andrew Jackson for a one-disk DVD release. If you want me to throw
in a picture of that guy who was killed by Aaron Burr, then you'd better cough
up a second disc of bonus materials.
Okay, so you sit down, and the first thing on the "Special Features" menu is called
"Finding Equilibrium." You click on it, expecting a nice 20- to 30-minute featurette.
But sadly, it hovers more around five minutes. Like something that premium movie
channels sometimes use to fill space in between Eyes Wide Shut and Coffy.
By now, writer/director Kurt Wimmer must be used to dropping his pants to his
ankles and bending over so he can have sturdy wooden paddle smacked firmly upside
his keister cheeks. "We're releasing your movie on 300 screens." BAM! "Thank
you, may I have another?" "Critics didn't seem to mind when Spielberg borrowed
from George Orwell, Stanley Kubrick, and Ridley Scott, but there's no way they're
going to let you get away with doing the same thing." BAM! "Thank you,
may I have another?" "Oh, by the way, we're not spending any money on bells and
whistles for the DVD release."
Luckily, the DVD does provide us some insight into Equilibrium, because
Wimmer gamely sits down for two commentary tracks, one by himself, and one with
producer Lucas Foster. (There's no cast commentary because, well, that would cost
Wimmer's commentary tracks are an example of how commentary tracks should be done.
No long pauses. No rambling. Wimmer tends to talk a lot about sets and locations,
and he holds the world record for the most excessive use of the metaphorical phrase
"at the end of the day" by any human being since the development of spoken language.
But these are minor sins, since he gives a good mix of cast anecdotes (Taye Diggs
was just learning to drive, and he nearly ran over one of the crew), factoids
("We only had 30 minutes to film this fight scene"), behind-the-scenes oddness
(The dog sounds in the movie were all done by a woman), and pre-production stories
(like the fact that Wimmer developed the Gun-Kata, a fictional school of firearm
martial arts, in his backyard during times when he figured his family and neighbors
couldn't see him and laugh at him). Also, unlike most people who do more than
one commentary track, Wimmer actually realizes that no one wants to listen to
two commentary tracks that have all the same info.
Another thing: Wimmer gets away with saying things like "I don't think this has
ever been done in a film before" and "This scene turned out great" and "This movie
looks better than its 20 million dollar budget." He gets away with these things
because he's usually right, and because he's equally candid about the shots
and sequences where he's unhappy with what he did. Finally, Wimmer uses the commentary
as a platform to address many of the criticisms his film received. He does it
with with wit and a little bit of acid, and he does it without coming off like
a big whiny baby.
The Movie Itself: 8 out of 10
The DVD Features: 5 out of 10