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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Substitute 4: Failure is Not An Option
Substitute 4: Failure is Not An Option
Artisan
List Price: Unknown [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Aaron Beierle | posted April 27, 2001 | E-mail the Author
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The Movie:

No, this is not a joke, there really is yet another "Substitute" sequel, yet again starring Treat Williams. This is the 4th feature, "Failure Is Not An Option" (apparently, a theatrical release is not an option here, either.), directed by Robert Radler, who also directed the 3rd "Substitute" feature. If you have cable and were not able to sleep one night, I'm sure you've probably run across one of the films from the series, which has Williams' substitute infiltrating a class and then kicking ass.

This time, he's asked to infiltrate a millitary academy that's been turned into a white supremacist cult. It's up to the "substitute" to get in and take out the bad guys. That's about all there is to the plot. Like the other films in the series, character development, plot, quality dialogue and other such things like that are not in the film's vocabulary.

But, more interesting than anything going on in the plot (and none of that is particularly of any interest) is the addition of model Angie Everheart as the school nurse. She's a decent actress and she looks beyond great. She provides momentary distraction from the rest of the film.

Williams isn't a particularly bad actor, which makes his continuing role in films like this particularly questionable. The rest of the actors though, are what you would expect from a film like this - they go from bad to worse. And, well, at least it didn't do what another army-themed film I recently watched called "Rangers" did - buy an ending from a old, different movie and add it on at the end. Nope, the "Substitute 4" can be bad enough all by itself.


The DVD

VIDEO: Artisan offers up a decent anamorphic transfer for the film. It's not a particularly high-budget piece with strong visuals, but in terms of quality, sharpness and detail are rather good. There are some moments throughout the film where the image looked slightly soft, but overall, above average.

There were some additional faults that came up throughout the movie. Edge enhancement is occasionally lightly visible, and some print flaws were noticable on several occasions. A couple of slight traces of grain and pixelation also appeared. These problems did take away from the already little enjoyment I got from watching the film (I sat there going, "where's Angie Everheart? More Angie Everheart!").

This isn't a particularly colorful film - most of the film takes place in rather dull looking rooms or bland looking outdoor backgrounds. What little colors there are on display look decent. A fair anamorphic transfer, but nothing great.

SOUND: "Subtitute 4" is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1, but I wasn't particularly thrilled by the sound presentation of the film. As I've seen with many low-budget actioners like this one, it may be in 5.1, but the sound design isn't terribly creative. Although there is some surround use throughout the picture, several opportunities for additional use were missed. Dialogue has a rather rough quality to it at times, which gets a little irritating.

MENUS:: Very basic animated menus, but easily navigated.

EXTRAS:

Commentary: This is a commentary from director Robert Radler and, to be honest, I couldn't listen to the whole thing. The director puts for a pretty low-energy discussion of the proceedings, and takes the whole thing way too seriously. He talks about the performances as if they're award winning, and it all gets a little too much after a while. There are some decent details about how the production was able to go on a low-budget (including some discussion of a scene that got the film an NC-17 before it had to be edited) and how the whole "cable action" genre generally works and is dealt with by the studio.

Also: Photo gallery, cast/crew bios, production notes w/behind-the-scenes footage.

Final Thoughts: Even for the low-budget action (or, as I call it "cable action") genre, "Substitute 4" remains a pretty dull actioner. Artisan's DVD provides decent audio/video and a couple of fair extras. Not recommended

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