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 » Dark Matter
Dark Matter
Universal // R // April 14, 2009
List Price: $24.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Brian Orndorf | posted March 25, 2009 | 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
Recommended
E - M A I L
this review to a friend
P R I N T
Printer Friendly

THE FILM

The American Dream is placed into the care of a Chinese cosmology student in "Dark Matter," a welcomingly unique drama that uses tenets of academic discussion and culture shock shift to build suspense and an air of tragedy. Buttressed by outstanding, unpredictable performances and a beguiling mood of raw nerve collegiate ambition, "Matter" develops erratically but intelligently. It's a modest statement of desire, but it comes together with great cinematic conviction.

Liu Xing (Ye Liu) has come to an American grad school to study cosmology under the respected Professor Reiser (Aidan Quinn), who looks to his Chinese students to help build a model of the origins of the universe. Living under the guidance of sponsor Joanna (Meryl Streep), Lui Xing enjoys the spoils of an American education and liberal campus life, bearing down for his eventual dissertation. When he stumbles upon a major discovery involving his pet subject of dark matter, Lui Xing tastes glory. However, his foreign ambition rankles the academic elite, leading to a betrayal that sends the young dreamer down a dangerous path of unstable behavior.

If there's an immediate miracle to celebrate about "Dark Matter," it has to be how the film can consistently introduce cosmology subjects and terminology and not lose the viewer completely. It's an impressive feat from director Chen Shi-Zheng, who generates a shockingly accessible world for his motion picture. Not that "Matter" is only a complex study of the heavens; the feature is a psychological drama first and foremost, taking place on the battlefield of Lui Xing's growing doubt. After all, nothing grabs the viewer faster than the disintegration of genius-level potential, no matter how approachable the lecture room discussions are.

Admittedly, "Matter" cuts a few corners when it comes time to balloon out Lui Xing's mental decomposition. Perhaps the feature was a victim of a hasty editorial push to get the story down to 90 digestible minutes, because the snipped connective tissue is missed. The finished product moves speedily from Lui Xing's introduction to his depression, with mystical inner monologue sequences that play with elemental inspiration left in an unfinished state within an abrupt motion picture. Chen directs with outstanding visual gusto and a gutsy sympathetic perspective, but he's powerless to the almighty edit, with a few too many chunks removed from the narrative to lend the overall picture its ideal psychological thrust.

Holding "Matter" high is the cast, with special attention to Ye Liu's performance as the eager, but ultimately stunted Lui Xing. The character makes an incredible journey from bright-eyed people pleaser to ruin, and the performance finds those notes perfectly, adding a few unexpected touches of anxiety as the character's innocence is pushed back by the established pomposity of faculty egos. Streep and Quinn add detailed supporting work with very little screentime, lending needed dimension to bystander roles.

THE DVD

Visual & Audio:

DVD Talk was provided with a DVD-R screener copy of "Dark Matter" for review. Final A/V quality wasn't available for examination.

FINAL THOUGHTS

"Dark Matter" isn't a perfect film by any means, but I admired its imagination and the weight provided by the performances. The ultimate conclusion of Lui Xing's journey is perhaps a bit too hard to swallow within the context of the film, but that doesn't dilute a strong effort all around to bring a passionate story of mistreated determination to life.


For further online adventure, please visit brianorndorf.com
Popular Reviews
1. Snowpiercer
2. Nightbreed: The Director's Cut
3. The Purge: Anarchy
4. The Vanishing
5. La dolce vita
6. Pee-wee's Playhouse: The Complete Series
7. Deliver Us From Evil
8. Married to the Mob
9. WKRP In Cincinnati: The Complete Series
10. Kingpin


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