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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Shoot Or Be Shot
Shoot Or Be Shot
Fox // PG-13 // May 18, 2004
List Price: $29.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Ian Jane | posted May 19, 2004 | E-mail the Author
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The Movie:

J. Randall Argue's independent comedy about breaking into the Hollywood machine, Shoot Or Be Shot is unfortunately, just not funny. The premise isn't a bad one. And casting William Shatner as an escaped lunatic is a great idea. But the humor that the concept needed to carry itself out just never materializes.

The film follows Ben Steinman, a struggling art film director who is given the chance to make the kind of movie he wants to make when a b-movie production mogul (Harry Hamlin) decides to spruce up his image by pumping out some arthouse material. When the producers old flame and former main starlet undergoes a makeover in order to get a fair audition for a role in the film, she ends up falling for Steinman. Once production gets underway in the deserts of California, in addition to budgetary constraints Steinman now has to worry about an escaped lunatic named Harvey Wilkes (Shatner). It seems that Wilkes is also a screenwriter and when he finds out that the film Steinman and company are making is going to be mostly improvised, he wigs out and forces them at gunpoint to make his picture instead. Hence the title, Shoot Or Be Shot.

Why independent filmmakers feel the need to consistently make movies about making movies is beyond me, but it is definitely a recurring theme throughout the indy circuit for one reason or another. The problem therein is that it's hard to do something original with the premise and make it funny at the same time, but still remain accessible enough to be able to find an audience. Because of this, the film plays off as tired. It's a little too careful. It doesn't jab hard enough and it doesn't take any interesting risks. It's all well and good to make fun of the Hollywood machine. God knows there are plenty or targets there just waiting to be shot down. But to just make a bland, general statement about it without barbing anything specific enough or harshly enough to be either funny or interesting just results in a predictable and rather dull film. And that's exactly what we have here.

While from a technical stand point it's made well and, in its defense it does contain a couple of kitchy Shatner moments that might make you snicker a little bit, the movie fails to live up to it's grand ideals and you'll see it all coming from a mile away. There aren't any surprises here and without anything in the film to hold our attention, it's really not worth sitting through.

The DVD

Video:

You've got your choice of an anamorphic 1.85.1 widescreen version of the film or a 1.33.1 fullframe version – each version on it's own side of the DVD. There's a mild coat of grain over the entire movie but it's natural looking and doesn't detract much from the film. Colors are fine but the image looks a little soft and there is some edge enhancement noticeable in a few scenes, particularly those that take place outside under the desert sun. That being said, it's not a bad transfer and it is perfectly acceptable, it's just not remarkable.

Sound:

Shoot Or Be Shot is presented in English Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo with optional English or Spanish subtitles. The track has a little bit of reverb on it in a few scenes that's mildly distracting but other than that, it's pretty clean. Dialogue is never problematic and there isn't any hiss or distortion lying underneath. There's not a whole lot of channel separation but when the film is primarily dialogue driven, it's not really needed. Overall, the soundtrack is of average quality.

Extras:

The only extras on this DVD are three trailers for other, unrelated titles available on DVD from Fox.

Final Thoughts:

While the movie looks and sounds just fine, ultimately it's just not very funny, which for a comedy, is the ultimate sin. Shatner has a few nice manic moments but other than that, there's really not much worth recommending about this one. Shoot Or Be Shot earns itself a big ol' skip it.

Ian lives in NYC with his wife where he writes for DVD Talk, runs Rock! Shock! Pop!. He likes NYC a lot, even if it is expensive and loud.

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