The Optimists
Kino // PG // $16.6 // April 25, 2017
Review by Neil Lumbard | posted June 10, 2017
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The Optimists Blu-ray Review The Optimists (also known as The Optimists of Nine Elms) is a drama based on the book written by Anthony Simmons (who directed the film adaptation). Produced by Adrian Gaye (The Stud) and Victor Lyndon (Dr. Strangelove), this London-set film features original music by George Martin.

Sam (Peter Sellers) is a retired entertainer who lives by himself as a street musician. He spends most of his time wandering about the outdoors, traveling, and performing music for those who care to listen to his music. Sam quickly befriends two young kids: Liz (Donna Mullane) and Mark (John Chaffey). He begins to hang out with them and they all go on walks together.

Sam brings them back to his living space and they spend more time together as he continues to play his songs for them. He even decides to get them a pet. Liz and Mark, siblings, are living a modest life with their parents but both seem frustrated with life and want to spend more time with their friend Sam than with their "bossy" parents. Sam (who apparently has no other friends to spend time with) is eager to please the youngsters with his music.

The music is by the legendary George Martin. Commonly known as the unofficial "5th Beatle" to fans of the popular music group, he was the legendary producer of The Beatles music, who contributed to their music legacy. On paper, this makes The Optimists sound like a must-see motion-picture on that basis alone. Yet the film has hardly any music from Martin in it and the music that is featured leaves barely any memorable impression. Despite music being a central aspect of the story, the music isn't even prominent in the filmmaking itself.

Unfortunately, the cinematography by Larry Pizer (Phantom of the Paradise, The Europeans) doesn't make much of a positive impression. The film has a weak color palette and looks grim and drab. It's so dark and murky looking that the film's attempts at whimsy seem out of place beside the mundane atmosphere. The costume design by Pixie Weir (The Gold Robbers) are modest but are well-suited for the characters.

The screenplay was written by Tudor Gates (Barbarella, Twins of Evil). The story is based on the novel written by the director. The film has a remarkably bad story that doesn't go anywhere of interest. The entire film revolves around slight, random city-walking adventures with an older street-musician hanging out with two kids. There's nothing about it that's compelling and it's all rather odd and uninvolving. It feels like an attempt at a sweet-natured family film but it comes across as just a strange, odd, little movie that doesn't go anywhere.

Directed by Anthony Simmons (Four in the Morning, Little Sweetheart), The Optimists is such an abysmally made slog of a movie that it makes one feel less optimistic about filmmaking and movies in general. You can't help but feel like filmmaking is dying when you see a film this bad. Then you have to take a step back and remember it's just one truly awful, awful film that is a blip in filmmaking. Audiences won't find anything to enjoy in this misfired attempt at family whimsy that is a perplexing film in the canon of the brilliant comedian Peter Sellers.

The Blu-ray:


Video:

Presented on Blu-ray in 1080p in the original 1.85:1 widescreen aspect ratio. The Optimists arrives with a decidedly underwhelming presentation. While it's not a total loss and has some good detail and clarity in some scenes, most of the film is riddled with softness, print damage, dirt, and debris from an old, outdated master that has not been restored. This is certainly not a great presentation but one that is merely "acceptable" as a HD presentation.

Audio:

The audio is presented in 2.0 DTS-HD Master Audio. This is an equally underwhelming audio presentation which matches the disappointing video quality. Dialogue sounds muffled and is sometimes hard to understand. The sound is considerably lower than normal and volume is certainly going to need to be adjusted for it. The audio has some hiss and doesn't sound remastered. It is distracting and makes for an average-at-best presentation.

This release includes English SDH subtitles (for the deaf and hard of hearing).


Extras:

The only extras on this release are select trailers for other films released on Blu-ray by Kino.

Final Thoughts:

The Optimists is a underwhelming film which meanders from scene to scene with little to keep audiences interested. It's a poor vehicle for the brilliant Peter Sellers, who delivers a decent performance which is overshadowed by the poor story, direction, and filmmaking.

The filmmaking is far from great and the end result is a total dud. The Blu-ray release from Kino is equally a poor-show with bad PQ/AQ and no extras whatsoever. This is a mediocre release of a bad film and one that can be easily skipped.
 
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