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Reviews » Blu-ray Reviews » Twelve (Blu-ray)
Twelve (Blu-ray)
Fox // R // December 28, 2010 // Region A
List Price: $29.99 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Adam Tyner | posted January 29, 2011 | E-mail the Author
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Okay, so Twelve
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revolves around a pot pusher who goes by the name of White Mike, and if that sounds kinda funny, you're in luck 'cause you hear "White Mike" chanted fifty thousand times in the narration. Another dude has 'roid rage, runs around with a samurai sword, and punches the shower walls until his knuckles are busted and bloody. Oh! And he has a tank fat-packed with piranha in his bedroom. A coked-out sixteen year old or whatever recites the Gettysburg Address, and in another drug-addled haze, her teddy bear collection starts chatting with her in high, squeaky voices. Maybe you're reading all that and think that Twelve sounds like the most indescribably amazing movie in the history of anything, ever. No! You're wrong!

Honestly, the thing that surprised me the most about Twelve is that it's not based on a Bret Easton Ellis novel. It reminded me way too much of The Informers, which is in the running as the absolute worst flick I suffered through in 2010...and remember, this is from a guy who had to review Marmaduke. The Informers and Twelve both have pretty much the same plot and structure: young, rich, pretty white people get bored being so damned young, rich, and pretty, so they destroy themselves with drugs and sex. A bunch of different plot lines dangle around for an hour and a half, and by the end, pretty much everyone's fucked. Fade to black. Roll credits. The big differences here...? One, no nekkid Amber Heard. No Amber Heard, period, actually. Two, Twelve rolls the clock back to high school, so most of the kids really do look like sixteen or seventeen year olds. Normally I'd give a thumbs-up to that, although these actors look so underage that the continual sight of them wearing little-to-nothing seems awfully creepy.

I guess I can get into the plot, not that it
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really matters. Preening, narcissistic, teenaged twats in the Big Apple have oodles of money and plenty of time to kill. College is still however many months off, and their mommies and daddies have all checked out. So, it's throw-caution-to-the-wind sex! Parties! Drugs! And hey, there's a super-shiny new designer drug called Twelve that the kids are starting to get into these days, although there's nothing particularly special about the drug, and it only impacts the plot in very indirect ways. So, yeah, clearly you've gotta name the entire movie after it. Oh! But I was supposed to be talking about the plot. Since his mom died and his pop's restaurant tanked, White Mike (Chace Crawford) is paying the bills by trekking down to Harlem to get the rich kids their green, leafy party favors. His connection down that way is a murderous thug named Lionel (Fitty Cent) who...oh, happened to just shoot Mike's cousin dead, but ssshhhh! Don't tell anyone! It's a secret. Molly (Emma Roberts) is the one and only legitimately good person in the flick, and she has no idea that Mike -- her childhood best friend! the guy who she's been making doe-eyes at for years and years! -- is peddling drugs. ...and he wants to keep it that way. Um, who else...who else...? Oh, there's Sara (Esti Ginzburg), the foxiest girl in school who bats her eyelashes at any dude who has something she wants. Hunter (Philip Ettinger) is a pal of Mike's who likes to slum it in the Harlem rec center and...oops!...gets caught up in the trail of bullet-riddled corpses that Lionel's left behind. Every movie like this has to have a virginal good girl who becomes seduced by sex and drugs, and this time around, that'd be Jessica (Emily Meade). Rory Culkin plays a dopey rich kid who doesn't really like throwing parties but does it anyway, and Billy Magnussen pops up as his psychotic brother, the one with the sword and piranha tank. Um, there's a male model, a wigger-meets-Motion City Soundtrack kid who trashed a Mark Rothko painting in an art gallery, and a bunch of people I care even less about. They
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throw money around, continue to be ignored by their parents, do drugs, fuck each other, and generally wind up miserable, alone, and maybe dead. I mean, that's really all there is to it.

Ack. There's nothing even a little bit redeeming about Twelve. The driving force of the plot is that these kids are rich and bored, and...well, watching bored people tends to be kinda boring itself. Twelve goes so overboard with narration that it's practically like watching a book-on-tape. Everything -- every emotion, every beat -- is hyper-overexplained. Too many of the actors gnaw on the scenery whenever the camera's aimed their way, and they also break out into poses as if this is a promo for an all-new Gossip Girl at 9/8 central, only on The CW. Director Joel Schumacher's favorite visual device -- aside from leering at his disturbingly young cast's topless and/or nipply bodies, I mean -- is setting the flashbacks against vast expanses of nothing. It'll be an actor or two, maybe a single prop, and an otherwise solid white or black background. Subtlety isn't so much the movie's strong point, so you get stuff like a mostly-clean-cut straight A student doping herself up on a pile of teddy bears. Get it? The bears represent her innocence, and she's...agh. Not writing the rest. Even typing that out made me die a little inside. Oh, and the same virginal white girl needs a hit, so she screws a big, scary black dude for drugs. Kinda shocked me when I saw Jennifer Connelly do the same thing in Requiem for a Dream more than ten years ago. Now...? Not so much. The movie also has a bad habit of introducing things without paying 'em off. Why spend so much time showing White Mike staring plaintively off rooftops if he's not gonna jump? Why give a nutjob a fuckin' samurai sword if he doesn't do anything with it? Blah. Twelve does score a quick burst of energy at the end during its batshit insane finale where all these plot points mash together. At least then it's howlingly bad rather than dreary, dull, and ham-fistedly melodramatic. Is it worth suffering through the rest of this dreck to get there? Nope.

Clearly Fox knew they'd come up a-cropper with this trainwreck. Twelve was laughed out of Sundance last year and probably didn't even cover its catering budget when it tanked in limited release, not even cracking the $200K mark. Fox didn't bother to invest a dime more than it had to into this Blu-ray disc, and there's literally not so much as a theatrical trailer for the flick on here. But yeah, you get where I'm going with all this. Skip It.


Video
Twelve looks really underwhelming too. Clarity and detail are both immediately identifiable as high definition but fall below average for a day-and-date release. For a movie that's so desperate to be grim and gritty, I'm kinda surprised that the texture is so soft and silky smooth. Twelve was shot digitally, so it's not as if there's any film grain to accentuate, but I still would've thought something along those lines would be tossed on after the fact. The grimy palette looks bland but is probably representative of the way Twelve looked in theaters. I couldn't spot any hiccups in the compression or anything, although I did notice some edge enhancement during areas of extremely high contrast, and its digital photography means there obviously aren't any nicks or speckling in the source. This Blu-ray disc is a step up over anything DVD could spit out, but I can't say there's a single shot in the movie that impressed me, and just about every complaint I've read about the Red One camera is showcased front and center throughout Twelve.

With no extras and not even a second audio track, Twelve fits on a single layer Blu-ray disc with plenty of room to spare. The image is very lightly letterboxed to preserve its original aspect ratio of 1.85:1, and the video's been encoded with AVC.


Audio
Yeah, the
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parade of high praise just keeps on truckin'. Twelve sports a 24-bit, six-channel DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack, but cinematic it's not so much. Some very light atmosphere slinks into the surround channels, and there are a couple of effects that ping-pong from speaker to speaker, like a basketball dropped during a foot chase and all the demented shit that goes on at the birthday party at the end. Otherwise, the surrounds don't really have much to do, and there's not even all that much stereo imaging up front. The sound design is extremely tame and timid. The subwoofer lets itself get caked in dust whenever it doesn't have any music to reinforce, and even the couple cracks of gunfire don't pack a wallop. Twelve's creaky dialogue also has a tendency to be overwhelmed during the party that takes up pretty much the entire third act of the flick, although I guess you could call that a mercy killing. Substandard.

There aren't any dubs or alternate soundtracks. Subtitles are limited to English (SDH), Spanish, and French.


Extras
Um, nothing. Not even a trailer.


The Final Word
Nope. Skip It.
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