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Reviews » Blu-ray Reviews » Girls Against Boys (Blu-ray)
Girls Against Boys (Blu-ray)
Starz / Anchor Bay // R // February 26, 2013 // Region A
List Price: $24.99 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Adam Tyner | posted February 24, 2013 | E-mail the Author
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P R I N T
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Shae (Danielle Panabaker) is still reeling after getting dumped by her middle-aged and more-than-a-little-bit married boyfriend, so she does what any other rational twentysomething-year-old woman would do: girls' night out! It seems like it's going
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pretty well, too, with the fresh wounds of that breakup bandaged over by barrel drums of liquor and her tongue rammed down some reasonably good lookin' guy's throat. Tragically, as dawn breaks, that meet-cute makes way for a tragic rape. Unsure who to talk to or where to go, a shellshocked Shae tries to explain the situation to her ex (Andrew Howard), and that ends with her nearly being raped for the second time in the space of a few hours. When she goes to file a report with the police, one officer sneers "you look alright to me", and another is too busy trying to slurp every last ounce of Sprite out of that styrofoam cup to give much of a damn of whatever it is that Shae's blathering on about. So, fuck it. With her pal Lu (Nicole LaLiberte), a pistol, and a seething hatred for an entire gender in tow, Shae storms out in search of vengeance, slaughtering every last son of a bitch who did her wrong.

The obvious point of reference for a rape-revenge movie like this is I Spit On Your Grave. Hell, one of Shae's attackers even played a rapist in the remake. It's just that Girls Against Boys isn't about rape. In fact, what little of the critical assault is seen remains out-of-focus, with the camera fixated instead on Shae's weathered keychain from the Sanrio store. It's not about revenge either. Shae and Lu's reign of terror on anything with a Y chromosome is largely out of the way more quickly than you might expect. What Girls Against Boys is ultimately about is sisterhood. Still, is Lu trying to use torture and murder to ease Shae's torment, or is she using it as an excuse to revel in her own misandry? The list of people who mistreated or attacked Shae isn't particularly long, and once they're out of the way...what's next on the hit parade?

Girls Against Boys awkwardly stumbles into this odd middle ground where it's not balls-out exploitation (pun kind of intended), and it's a really long way from some philosophical arthouse flick. I like Danielle Panabaker as an actress well enough, but she's too much of a blank slate here. That makes sense when she's been deadened by the rape, with a slight grin at the sight of her tormenters' dismemberment and
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brutal murders as the only sign of life. You barely get to know her as a person before the assault, she's an automaton for a big chunk of the second act, and there's not a real glimmer of humanity until Girls Against Boys has just about drawn to a close.

Panabaker is more or less dead air, outshone at every turn by Nicole LaLiberte as the seductive devil on Shae's shoulder. Girls Against Boys as at its most interesting when exploring the dynamic...the escalating tension...between Shae and Lu, but that's glossed over surprisingly quickly. The first act drones on for far too long, and the best stuff near the end is dispatched so much faster than it ought to be. Most revenge movies focus primarily on the assaults, and I'm intrigued by the fact that Shae and Lu hardly seem to care, more interested in quizzing each other about the nutritional information block on a box of Cap'n Crunch or belting out Donovan's "Sunshine Superman" into the barrel of a gun. I guess that's supposed to reflect that the two of them view men with such contempt that they're barely worthy of their attention...the juxtaposition of horrific murder and romantic-comedy-style whimsy. I get the general idea, but it doesn't really hit its mark.

Girls Against Boys is pretty much grindhouse by way of a first year Women's Studies major. Unevenly paced, only sporadically engaging, not trashy enough for exploitation fanatics but not nearly as thoughtful as it thinks it is to play for a more philosophical crowd: yeah, a marginal rental at best. Rent It.


Video
Shot with a variety of digital cameras, Girls Against Boys generally looks terrific on Blu-ray. The image is startingly crisp and detailed throughout. Colors are generally subdued -- sort of like squinting on a late summer afternoon -- but appear to be rendered accurately enough. Its bitrate is nothing to write home about, but that doesn't ever get in the way of the compression. No real complaints at all.

Single layer disc. No matting. AVC encode.


Audio
Girls Against Boys sports a 16-bit Dolby TrueHD 5.1 soundtrack. This thriller doesn't bother with the usual sorts of cat-and-mouse chases, so the surrounds aren't really used to ratchet up the intensity or anything like that. The sound design is teeming with atmosphere and ambiance, though, and there are some impressively smooth pans from the fronts to the rears when appropriate as well. Bass response is modest but effective enough, really only rattling the room with the club music blaring throughout Shae's wild night out. Dialogue is consistently rendered cleanly and clearly, not marred
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by so much as a flicker of distortion and never struggling for placement in the mix. Nicely done.

Subtitles are offered in English (SDH) and Spanish. The only other audio option is a commentary track.


Extras
  • Audio Commentary: Writer/director Austin Chick and actress Danielle Panabaker sit down for Girls Against Boys' commentary track. The discussion's a little too low-key and relaxed, peppered with an awful lot of gaps of complete silence, and it's not one of those commentaries where I'm left with a half-page of highlights to rattle off. A few of the ones I jotted down include an unused prosthetic penis, bonecutting sound design, the travails of Shae and her nice-guy coulda-been-a-boyfriend slurping down bad clams, and way more chatter about vomiting than you'd probably waltz in expecting to hear.

Chick mentions in his commentary that the reel of deleted scenes couldn't be included due to hiccups with music licensing, so...yeah, not much in the way of extras.


The Final Word
How can a rape/revenge flick where a rapist gets his legs sawed off be this tedious and awkwardly paced? With an Applebee's-level-of-bland lead and a pseudophilosophical streak stomping all over its trash cinema trappings, Girls Against Boys is only particularly memorable as a showcase for scene-stealing Nicole LaLiberte. Not recommended, but if you've gotta watch it, Rent It.
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