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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Blast From The Past
Blast From The Past
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Review by Aaron Beierle | posted January 4, 2000 | E-mail the Author
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"The Zone"; It's something that I've been able to do for the past few years. Many have asked how I've survived sitting through numerous horrid films. It's a state of almost zen clarity. It's something that must be used wisely, since after hitting a certain level, it's hard to revive me. There is the lowest level where I'm just mildly annoyed. Of course, there's also level 5, which is the kind of coma where the ushers in the theater usually have to come into the theater with those heart paddle things that they use on "ER" to shock me back into life.

While watching "Blast From The Past" I came dangerously close to level 5. A film with a decent concept but zero laughs, "Blast From The Past" tells the tale of the Webber family. Father Calvin Webber(Christopher Walken) is a brilliant scientist/inventor with a touch of paranoia. It's 1962 and his wife Helen(Sissey Spacek) is 9 months pregnant. The Cuban Missle crisis is seemingly reaching it's peak and after hearing about it on TV, Calvin shows the guests at the party he's throwing the door and herds his wife into the fallout shelter he's created. A massive space with all the comforts of home, Calvin ends up locking the door to the shelter after a plane crashes extremely locally. The doors unfortunately won't open for 35 years, the amount of time it'll take for the radiation to clear. While waiting, the two parents(and eventually their new son Adam) get along fine. They've got supplies and even raise food. Brilliant Calvin teaches young Adam the ways of the world(or at least his world) during the time they're underground. And boy, are they underground. The film spends entirely too much time underground when it should be moving forward to the point where the door opens...

Finally, 35 years(felt like 35 hours in theater-time, to me)later,the door unlocks and Calvin steps outside to find himself horrified at what's happened to culture. It's Walken's few moments here talking to his family about what he's just seen in the streets of LA that provide one of the very few laughs in the film. Soon, they find that they're running low on supplies. It's up to Adam to head out into the world to find enough food and supplies as well as maybe, if it's possible, a wife for himself. On second thought, maybe he should have stayed underground: the film becomes a train wreck the second young Adam heads into the streets of LA, quickly making a new friend: she's Eve, played by Alicia Silverstone(whose career I can no longer logically defend in conversation with others), a cynical young girl who doesn't seem to do much of anything at all. Adam spends his first days away from home living in a Holiday Inn(the hotel staff tells him to "dial '9' on the phone to get out" and he says "of where?") I know that's funny, but I'm not laughing. I'll try and take a look at why that is: it's mainly because Brendan Fraser plays Adam with absolutely no subtlety. Adam doesn't seem like the well schooled man his parents had raised him as; walking around Los Angeles, he just seems more like a total idiot, walking down the street going "Wow! The sky!" That's what the movie is filled with: that kind of inane and completely boring dialogue. There's no layers to any of the thoughts from these characters; it's just joke after failed joke. It doesn't help either that Silverstone makes Eve a completely unlikable character with her shrill performance. The fact that she's given a completely unflattering hairstyle doesn't help either. I'm a guy. I have no idea about fashion or hairstyles or what women go through. I do know though, that Silverstone's hair in this film, which is usually hanging down covering half her face, looked bad enough that I almost found it distracting. It's the performances of these two which ruin a great deal of the film. I didn't care enough about the Adam character to worry about if he would find his way home again, I was too annoyed by Silverstone's whiny Eve character to care if she'd finally realize she loved Adam.I was even annoyed with the filmmakers for thinking the Adam and Eve bit was funny.

Thankfully, some comedic spark( or to be more direct, someone who's actually talented at comedy ) enters in the second half of the film in the form of Dave Foley(from the great TV comedy "Newsradio"), as Eve's roommate. Troy follows Adam and Eve(get it? Adam and Eve! Wow, now that's funny.) to a dance club where Adam proceeds to wow the crowd with what he's learned during his dance lessions in the fallout shelter with his mother. As far as the dancing goes, it's pretty amazing. For some reason though, it just falls flat. Maybe it's because Frasier is too cartoony to take serious or the film has become far too predictable at this point to save itself from falling off the cliff. Why can't it be both reasons? I see no reason why not.

I actually really liked director Hugh Wilson's previous film, "The First Wives Club". That film had moments of sharp laughs and great performances. It even worked some dramatic moments in well. This film is absolutely frustrating, mainly because although it brings an interesting plot to the table, it has absolutely nothing new or fresh to say. It's not charming, it's not cute and it's definitely not funny. Maybe if the writers had added some ideas to the story rather than trying to string it along from joke to joke, it might have worked. As it is, "Blast From The Past" simply never clicks. As I was about to fall into a complete coma, the credits rolled. For a film advertised as a comedy, I must say that I didn't laugh once. I frowned more than a few times, but I definitely didn't laugh.

The DVD VIDEO: New Line delivers a wonderful 2.35:1 anamorphic transfer on "Blast From The Past"(a full-frame edition is also included, but cuts off quite a bit of the image). Images are clear, crisp and sharp, providing a very good amount of detail throughout. The 60's color palette is represented perfectly with accurate color rendition, as is the streets of 90's LA as Adam steps into the present day. Color saturation is excellent, as is contrast. Even the neon glow of the streets is well defined, as is shadow detail. Flesh tones remain accurate throughout. As with nearly every New Line offering, there's no problems with the image to distract, such as pixelization, shimmering, or any print problems such as grain. What's really worth noting is just how consistent this transfer stays throughout- exterior, interior, night, day, "Blast From The Past" remains vibrant, sharp and and beautiful.

SOUND: In terms of sound, "Blast From The Past" is mainly built upon a foundation of dialogue that never sounds thin or compressed and consistently sounds full and rich, but the remainder really stands on it's own: the score, full of swing and current pop tunes is one of the strongest I've heard lately, filling the room and sounding wonderfully well-defined and thrillingly rich- it's definitely a "blast".

MENUS: Cool animated main-menus with scenes from the movie; sub-menus are basic.

EXTRAS: A love tester game(that unfortunately requests that you put your thumb on the screen- I know, it's a little weird.), the trailer and cast/crew bios are the other main extras. There are also some DVD-rom features such as web links, games and more.

Final Thoughts: I've never been dissapointed with New Line's work as they continue their track record here with one of their best transfers; although there aren't many worthwhile extras here, I think that viewers will be very pleased with this disc's quality. I couldn't stand the movie myself, but if you liked it, you certainly won't be dissapointed with New Line's DVD.
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