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Equilibrium: DVDetails
Reviewed by Jason Myers, © 2003

Format: Movie
By:   Kurt Wimmer (Writer/Director)
Genre:   Sci-Fi/Action
Released:   May 13, 2003 (DVD release)
Review Date:   May 12, 2003
Audience Rating:   R
RevSF Rating:   8/10 (What Is This?)
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 you.

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 money.)

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.

RevolutionSF Ratings:

The Movie Itself: 8 out of 10

The DVD Features: 5 out of 10

The world looks mighty good to RevSF Film/DVD Editor Jason Myers, because Tootsie Rolls are all he sees. Whatever it is he thinks he sees, becomes a Tootsie Roll to he.

 
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