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Reviews » Blu-ray Reviews » The Pyramid (Blu-ray)
The Pyramid (Blu-ray)
20th Century Fox // R // May 5, 2015 // Region A
List Price: $32.99 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Ian Jane | posted May 26, 2015 | E-mail the Author
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The Movie:

Grégory Levasseur's 2014 movie The Pyramid is set against an Egypt in turmoil. The Arab Spring uprising is in full effect, riots are happening, smoke is billowing up from parts of the city and yet the pyramids that the country is so famous for still stand. It's amidst this backdrop of political chaos that we meet Miles (Denis O'Hare) and Nora Holden (Ashley Hinshaw), a father/daughter archeology team working on a dig outside of Cairo away from the doom and gloom of current events. Using satellites, they've been able to uncover a never before seen pyramid, an important discovery being documented by Sunni Marsh (Christa Nicola) and her team of videographers and documentarians.

As the chaos erupting in Cairo starts to spread, the archeologists and documentary crew are ordered to evacuate the dig. Instead, they take shelter inside the pyramid and it's here that they realize that, of course, they're not along. Something has been waiting inside the pyramid for centuries and it's not happy that these humans have disturbed it…

This one starts off with some serious promise. There's potential in the concept of mixing up real world problems like those that spilled out of The Arab Spring uprising with a narrative horror film and, had it been done right, The Pyramid could have cashed in on that in interesting ways. It doesn't happen. Instead the film tosses aside the interesting setup in favor of one cliché after another, relying almost entirely on tried and true jump scares rather than any attempt to build any sort of lasting horror. It's moderately entertaining in a cheap and superficial way but it adds nothing of originality or interest to the genre. The sad fact of the matter is… we've seen all this before, and we've seen it done far more effectively than it's been handled in this movie.

The themes of the old versus the new that run through the movie are represented not only in the positing of the modern Middle East (the uprising) with the old Middle East (the pyramids) but also in the ways in which Miles and Nora conduct their business. He's an old fashioned archeologist, the kind who wants to get his hands dirty, whereas she's only too happy to let computers do as much of the work for her as possible. But it doesn't go anywhere. It opens up the door for these contrasts to mean something but closes it before they can and we wind up with yet another found footage film, complete with on screen character intros to make it painfully clear who everyone is and what their role in the movie is. The movie doesn't ask you to think, instead it almost goes so far as to ensure you don't have to.

To be fair, those aforementioned jump scares work well enough. There are a few good ones here that you won't see coming and as superficial as they are, you'll get a bit of an adrenaline rush at least momentarily when they occur. The movie also has some pretty nice location photography working in its favor and the way that it uses what certainly looks like actual news footage in with the footage shot specifically for this feature is clever. The editing in the early parts of the film works quite well and the integration is fairly seamless. The found footage aspect doesn't wind up doing anything interesting for the narrative, however, and some bad CGI takes us out of a few moments that otherwise might have been pretty intense.

Adding insult to injury are a couple of performances of questionable quality. Dennis O'Hare fares reasonably well in his turn, bringing a bit of smarts and class to the character, but Ashley Hinshaw doesn't do much of interest with her character. She runs around and looks scared a lot but it's hard to buy her as an archeologist when she's played as ‘pretty vacant.' To be fair, most of that has to do with the way her part was written but her take on the character never rises above that. The rest of the cast are efficient enough, but completely forgettable. And that's the problem with the movie: it's completely forgettable and entirely mediocre.

The Blu-ray Set:

Video:

The Pyramid arrives on Blu-ray framed at 2.35.1 widescreen in AVC encoded 1080p high definition. This was shot on high definition digital video so obviously there are no issues with grain or print damage. The image, when the movie is outdoors, is crisp and clean and nicely detailed and while there is some noticeable shimmer the disc is well authored. Some of the scenes that take place inside the titular pyramid are a bit murkier and show some minor crush resulting in a loss of shadow detail. In those outdoor scenes though, we wind up with some really nice color and skin tones. Black levels are nice and if this isn't perfect, it's fine.

Sound:

The main audio option on the disc is an English language DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio with subtitles provided in English and Spanish though optional Spanish and French language Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound tracks are also included. The lossless mix is quite good, there's some solid channel separation in the front left and right speakers throughout most of the movie and the rear channels fill in with the score and some pertinent directional effects when the story calls for it. Levels are nicely balanced throughout and dialogue is always easy to hear and plenty clean. The score has good depth and range to it and there are no problems to report here.

Extras:

There are a few extras here, but most of them are minor at best. We get a moderately interesting extended ending that we can't discuss because it would spoil things and we get four separate featurettes, none of which are more than two and a half minutes long and which feel more like EPK material than anything substantive. There's also a still gallery and a theatrical trailer here, animated motion menus and chapter selection. That's it. This is hardly barebones, but the extras here are pretty weak.

Final Thoughts:

Neither good enough or bad enough to really stand out, The Pyramid has some interesting ideas and a few good jump scares but offers nothing more than that. The Blu-ray from Fox is light on extras but it does look and sound very good. Those with a thing for Egyptology might be intrigued by this, and fine, if that's you then give it a rental… but everyone else can keep looking. Nothing to see here. 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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