DVD Talk
Release List Reviews Shop Newsletter Forum DVD Giveaways Blu-Ray Advertise
Reviews & Columns
Reviews
DVD
TV on DVD
Blu-ray
International DVDs
Theatrical
Adult
Video Games

Features
Collector Series DVDs
Easter Egg Database
Interviews
DVD Talk Radio
Feature Articles

Columns
Anime Talk
XCritic.com
DVD Stalk
DVD Savant
High-Def Revolution
Silent DVD

discussion forum
DVD Talk Forum
Resources
DVD Price Search
Customer Service #'s
RCE Info
Links

DVDTalk Info
Review Staff
About DVD Talk
Advertise
Newsletter Subscribe
Join DVD Talk Forum
DVD Talk Feeds


Special Offer

Search: For:
Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Power Trip
Power Trip
Docurama // Unrated // September 26, 2006
List Price: $26.95 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Eric D. Snider | posted October 29, 2006 | E-mail the Author
Buy from Amazon.com
C O N T E N T
V I D E O
A U D I O
E X T R A S
R E P L A Y
A D V I C E
Rent It
E - M A I L
this review to a friend
P R I N T
Printer Friendly
THE MOVIE

One of the advantages of living in the Soviet Union was that you didn't have to pay for electricity. The state provided it. Free electricity and free beatings, that was the deal. When the Soviet republic of Georgia declared independence in 1991 (shortly before the Soviet Union fell), regulated, reliable electricity was one of the first casualties. Freedom meant living in the dark, at least for a while.

"Power Trip" tells the story of AES Corp., the American company that came into Georgia in 1999 to provide power to the people and faced myriad problems in doing it. The Georgians had been getting power however they could, tapping into wires, stealing from neighbors, etc., usually dangerously. AES set out to install meters, establish safe hookups, and -- this was the kicker -- charge people for the service.

When you're used to paying utility bills, paying for electricity sounds reasonable. But when it's always been free before, and when the average residential electrical bill is $24 -- compared to the average Georgian monthly salary of $15-$75 -- you're probably not going to like it. The Georgians didn't. When the film begins, only 10 percent of them were paying their bills. As a result, AES couldn't afford the materials necessary to produce enough power -- and much of the power they were producing was being diverted by the Minster of Energy to fatcats who NEVER paid their bills. Old ways die hard, even a decade after the regime has fallen.

Documentarian Paul Devlin follows the leaders of AES through a year of ups and downs in the Georgian capital of Tbilisi. Piers Lewis, AES' affable, self-deprecating project director, says he won't cut his hair until 50 percent of their customers are paying their bills. (It gets very long.) He recounts how AES shut off the power at the airport for non-payment, until an incoming flight terrified them into paying it after all.

AES seems to be doing all it can. It was founded by Dennis Bakke, a well-spoken man who came from a family of preachers and who acts like he came from a family of preachers, and who seems sincere when he talks about electricity as a fundamental need that AES is happy to supply. They just need people to PAY for it, that's all.

There are near-riots when non-paying customers are disconnected, and some comedy when angry residents smash the newly installed meters -- as if THAT'S going to help them get their power back. AES director Michael Scholey becomes a national celebrity, so frequently does he appear on Georgian television to discuss the crisis.

The entire film has a feeling of bemusement to it, as if filmmaker Devlin can scarcely believe it's happening. It all plays like a surreal comedy of errors. But it has a serious side, too. A Georgian journalist says, "Electricity is very much connected with hope.... People have lost hope."


THE DVD

The film is mostly in English, subtitled where necessary. There are no alternate language tracks or alternate subtitles.

The DVD comes with a thick booklet showcasing Docurama's many other documentary titles.

VIDEO: The movie's original aspect ratio -- 4:3, standard full-screen size -- is preserved. It was shot digitally to begin with and looks pristine on DVD.

AUDIO: As is often the case with documentaries, the sound quality varies depending on how improvised the shooting conditions were. These filmmakers had top-quality sound equipment, though, and the DVD mix (Dolby Digital Stereo) is more than adequate.

EXTRAS: There are six deleted scenes (8:55 total) that were probably cut only for time. They all add a bit of color and texture to the story and could well have been included in the film itself. (Well, except for the one called "Paraskiing Music Video," which is a couple minutes of paraskiing set to Georgian music. I don't know what the deal is with that.)

Also included is the complete satiric Georgian cartoon (11:08) of which a brief clip is shown in the film. It's subtitled for us, but I'm guessing a lot of the humor has been lost in translation. It's one of the more surreal and bizarre comedy pieces I've seen.

A few Georgian public service announcements (1:55 total) urging people to conserve electricity are included for added flavor. They're fun.

There are text bios for eight of the filmmakers, rather amateurishly written and poorly punctuated. (Commas are especially abused, both through overuse and underuse.)

Finally, the film's theatrical trailer is included.


IN SUMMARY

The movie itself is an interesting little specimen, serious enough to be socially worthwhile but light enough to be entertainment. It's not something you'd watch again and again, though, and the DVD treatment is adequate but not exceptional. A rental should be enough.

(Note: Most of the "movie review" portion of this article comes from the review I wrote when the movie was released theatrically. I have re-watched it in the course of reviewing the DVD, however.)

Popular Reviews
1. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2014)
2. Frank Miller's Sin City: A Dame to Kill For
3. The Equalizer (2014)
4. Doctor Who: Season 8
5. Ben-Hur (Diamond Luxe Edition)
6. Natural Born Killers: 20th Anniversary
7. Star Trek: The Next Generation - Season Seven
8. The Long Goodbye
9. Tales From The Crypt / Vault Of Horror
10. Guardians of the Galaxy


Special Offers
DVD Blowouts
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.
7.
Alien [Blu-ray]
Buy: $19.99 $9.99
8.
9.
10.
Special Offers
Release List Reviews Shop Newsletter Forum DVD Giveaways Blu-Ray Advertise
Copyright 2014 DVDTalk.com All Rights Reserved. Legal Info, Privacy Policy, Terms of Use