Vantage Point UMD for PSP
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During an historic counter-terrorism summit in Spain, the President of the United States is struck down by an assassin's bullet. Eight strangers have a perfect view of the kill, but what did they really see? As the minutes leading up to the fatal shot are replayed through the eyes of each eyewitness, the reality of the assassination takes shape. But just when you think you know the answer, the shattering final truth is revealed. VANTAGE POINT is a mindbending political action-thriller starring Dennis Quaid, Matthew Fox, Academy Award® Winner Forest Whitaker (Best Actor 2006, The Last King of Scotland), with Sigourney Weaver and Academy Award® winner William Hurt (Best Actor 1985, Kiss of the Spider Woman).
Vantage Point, which aspires to be a cunningly twisted thriller, comes equipped with plenty of hurtling action, handheld camerawork, what-was-that? editing, and a plot that has multiple, contradictory agendas writhing like a nest of snakes. It's all set a-boil within a few blocks of a town square in Spain where a U.S. President is targeted for assassination. Although the movie lasts 90 minutes, the events it depicts are mostly over with in a quarter-hour or so--but seen, rewound, and reseen from half a dozen different (you guessed it) vantage points. The first line in the credits reads "Original Film," apparently the name of the production company. "Gimmick Movie" would be more accurate; the opening reel, effectively jolting, affords an initial overview of the events through the eyes, lenses, monitors, and dueling sensibilities of a TV news producer (Sigourney Weaver), her activist-minded reporter (Zoe Saldana) and crew. Everybodys in Salamanca (actually, Mexico City) for the start of an international conference to reaffirm Arab-Western commitment to the fight against terrorism. Terrorism, of course, sees this as an ideal moment to break out. As gunshots and explosions reduce everything to chaos, the clock is reset to zero and we proceed to revisit the scene as experienced by several Secret Service agents (namely Dennis Quaid and Matthew Fox), an American tourist with camcorder (Forest Whitaker), sundry locals--including three who may be caught up in a love triangle or a conspiracy or both--and even the President himself (William Hurt).
For a while, this is mildly diverting: that guy, or that gesture, so sinister when glimpsed across the plaza in one run-through, now appears harmless in close-up--or vice versa. But there's no real ambiguity (so stop with the careless comparisons to Kurosawa's Rashomon)--this is a shell game in which the peas aren't worth tracking. Despite decent actors, the characters might as well be holograms (although poor Forest Whitaker is saddled with "motivation" of surpassing sappiness), and the casting telegraphs several twists: one redoubtable good guy practically gives a wink-wink, nudge-nudge that he's really bad, etc. The movie declines to specify which nutjob philosophy the terrorists espouse, and their numbers are multi-ethnic. There's also a laborious suggestion that they have bloodthirsty, reactionary counterparts among the President's inner circle, which perhaps qualifies as redeeming socio-political comment and prompts a meaningless declaration of deep meaning from the Prez. The whole megilleh finally comes down to an extended car chase through impassably claustrophobic streets that would mark a lurch into unintentional self-parody--if only that point hadn't been passed a couple of rewinds earlier. --Richard T. Jameson
Stills from Vantage Point (click for larger image)
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TITLE: Vantage Point (2008) • PG-13 • 1:30:01
Dennis Quaid, Forest Whitaker, Sigourney Weaver, William Hurt
Pete Travis (Director)
Rashomon (1950) for the modern generation — that is, a horrendous event is witnessed by a number of people, and then retold from their various vantage points. While, obviously, NOT an original concept, the filmmakers do get bonus points for how well they (re)told the story. Highly recommended.
See the other reviews on this page for more detail and/or other opinions regarding the plot of the movie.
VIDEO: 2.40:1 • Color • 480p • MPEG-2 (4.7 Mbps)
Within the confines of the DVD format, this transfer exhibits very-good to frequently excellent picture quality. This film's gorgeous cinematography is presented surprisingly well in this DVD transfer — which features richly saturated colors, good contrast and very-good shadow detail. In addition, the night scenes and dark indoor scenes (of which, there are many) are mostly un-crushed and free of artifacts. Also, relatively fine detail (for a DVD) is evident in the brighter scenes and in many of the close-ups of actor's faces and their clothing. Lastly, there are no obvious artifacts such as banding, specks, white dots, hair-lines or color fluctuations to detract from the image. Overall, this movie's presentation on DVD has very good picture quality, and should satisfy the majority of viewers who have good scalers in their televisions or their audio/video processors.
AUDIO: Dolby Digital 5.1 (448 Kbps)
The audio quality presented by the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack on this disc is very good! Dialog was clear and natural sounding, and is well-placed. The surround channels were fairly active and very directional — with ambient sounds being used to effectively convey the feel of the on-screen environments. Plus, there are plenty of occasions where deep, energetic bass is evident. This soundtrack, while NOT a modern lossless high-definition soundtrack, is still an excellent 5.1 soundtrack — which should satisfy all but the vast majority of listeners.
EXTRAS: Director's Commentary
Interviews with Cast & Crew
None of the extras were reviewed.
Essentially what we have is a sort of political Groundhog Day with the movies first 20 minutes or so being replayed over and over from the point of view of characters who witnessed or were involved in the assassination of the President of the United States at the start of an anti-terrorism summit in Spain.
While the story is interesting the first few times we see it, it soon degenerates into a long car chase that while propelling the film to its conclusion feels sort of flat. One positive here is that Travis has assembled a great cast much of which is unfortunately underused. While not a bad effort this one could have been much better.
The Blu-Ray disc offers excellent picture and sound quality as it should on such a recent release. The extras include a commentary by Travis, three making of featurettes and a preview gallery. The BluRay exclusive GPS Tracker was nowhere to be found on my disc.
If you need to see this one rent it.
On the downside, the story that turned out to be the actual events was quite convoluted, and pretty implausible. Some little things about the main characters motivation were not fleshed out enough to engage an emotional response from the audience.
So here's the deal,
I enjoyed vantage point as an UNBOX rental, but probably won't be buying the DVD.
3 1/2 *