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Douglas Pratt

By Douglas Pratt Pratt@moviecitynews.com

DVD Geek: Source Code

An inspired variation of the Groundhog’s Day gimmick, Source Code, from Summit Entertainment, is about an Air Force pilot placed in the body of a teacher on a commuter train and charged with finding out who planted the bomb on the train before it explodes, and replaying the same ride again and again until he solves the puzzle.  There is a romantic component to the story, naturally, and more than one life affirming, love affirming conclusion, leaving a viewer feeling both happy and satisfied, several times, after a stimulating and exciting ride.  Jake Gyllenhaal stars, with Michelle Monaghan, Vera Farmiga, and Jeffrey Wright.  In that the film also evokes aspects of Quantum Leap, there is a cleverly chosen cameo appearance by Scott Bakula.

The picture is presented in letterboxed format only, with an aspect ratio of about 1.78:1 and an accommodation for enhanced 16:9 playback.  The opening montage of Chicago on a bright, sunny day, before the plot even gets started, is so beautifully executed it is well worth playing over several times itself.  The 5.1-channel Dolby Digital sound has some reasonably good separation effects and a decent amount of power.  There is an alternate Spanish audio track in 5.1 Dolby, optional English and Spanish subtitles, a generalized and sporadic trivia subtitle track, 35 minutes of passable interview featurettes with the cast and crew that effectively build in detail as they advance, and a decent 7-minute overview of the scientific and technological concepts being tweaked within the story.

There is also a fairly good commentary track featuring Gyllenhaal, director Duncan Jones and screenwriter Ben Ripley.  They do talk a lot about the story, but in an informative manner, discussing everything from its ‘train of thought’ development to its metaphysics.  They also speak about the performances, Jones’ challenge to make the repeated sequences not feel redundant, and the excellent production designs (Gyllenhaal:  “I love searching through things, I just have to say.  There is something as an actor.”  Jones:  “There were a lot of metal edges on this set.”  Gyllenhaal:  “That’s true.”  Jones:  “I think you cut your hands up so many…”  Gyllenhaal:  “That is so true.  Duncan agreed to do the movie and it was 4 months later that we were making the movie and so the train, occasionally, due to the speed at which we made the movie, and really how the movie moves, too, it sort of mimics itself.”  Jones:  “Jake’s hands looked like sliced bacon by the end of the shoot.”  Gyllenhaal:  “I do grab onto a lot of really sharp edges that don’t look sharp but are.  I had bloody hands.”  Jones:  “We had a very busy nurse on set.”  Gyllenhaal:  “And different hand inserts, because Duncan didn’t like the bloody hands.”).

One Response to “DVD Geek: Source Code”

  1. abuckley says:

    I didn’t mind the movie, I thought it had some good plot elements. If they’d thrown in a groundhog I would have been completely sold :)

    We recently started a weekly geek entertainment news, movie and comic book reviews podcast…Trilogy! http://www.planetkibi.com/trilogy-everything-comes-in-threes.html Please feel free to have a listen… :)

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Tsangari: With my next film, White Knuckles, it comes with a budget — it’s going to be a huge new world for me. As always when I enter into a new thing, don’t you wonder how it’s going to be and how much of yourself you are going to have to sacrifice? The ballet of all of this. I’m already imaging the choreography — not of the camera, but the choreography of actually bringing it to life. It is as fascinating as the shooting itself. I find the producing as exciting as the directing. The one informs the other. There is this producer-director hat that I constantly wear. I’ve been thinking about these early auteurs, like Howard Hawks and John Ford and Preston Sturges—all of these guys basically were hired by the studio, and I doubt they had final cut, and somehow they had films that now we can say they had their signatures.  There are different ways of being creative within the parameters and limitations of production. The only thing you cannot negotiate is stupidity.
Filmmaker: And unfortunately, there is an abundance of that in the world.
Tsangari: This is the only big risk: stupidity. Everything else is completely worked out in the end.
~ Chevalier‘s Rachel Athina Tsangari

“The middle-range movies that I was doing have largely either stopped being made, or they’ve moved to television, now that television is a go-to medium for directors who can’t get work in theatricals, because there are so few theatricals being made. But also with the new miniseries concept, you can tell a long story in detail without having to cram it all into 90 minutes. You don’t have to cut the characters and take out the secondary people. You can actually put them all on a big canvas. And it is a big canvas, because people have bigger screens now, so there’s no aesthetic difference between the way you shoot a movie and the way you shoot a TV show.

“Which is all for the good. But what’s happened in the interim is that theatrical movies being a spectacle business are now either giant blockbuster movies that run three hours—even superhero movies run three hours, they used to run like 58 minutes!—and the others, which are dysfunctional family independent movies or the slob comedy or the kiddie movie, and those are all low-budget. So the middle ground of movies that were about things, they’re just gone. Or else they’re on HBO. Like the Bryan Cranston LBJ movie, which years ago would’ve been made for theaters.

“You’ve got people like Paul Schrader and Walter Hill who can’t get their movies theatrically distributed because there’s no market for it. So they end up going to VOD, and VOD is a model from which no one makes any money, because most of the time, as soon as they get on the site, they’re pirated. So the whole model of the system right now is completely broken. And whether or not anybody’s going to try to fix, or if it even can be fixed, I don’t know. But it’s certainly not the same business that I got into in the ’70s.”
~ Joe Dante

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