Hop is one of the most recent DVD offerings from Film Movement, a relative newcomer to the field. Essentially, Film Movement releases one title per month; but these aren't your average, run-of-the-mill Blockbuster releases...these are films from all over the world, covering a wide range of genres and cultures. While you can buy these releases directly from the official website (a link is provided below), the most beneficial option is membership: for a relatively low monthly fee, each release is shipped right to your door (sort of like a subscription-based Criterion Collection). If you ask me, it's a great idea, and I'm surprised this method hasn't been used more often. Hopefully, Film Movement will be able to establish a solid fan base in the coming months, as they really seem to be in it for the art of moviemaking.
Anyway, we have a DVD to review here, so back to business. Hop is a landmark achievement for the country of Belgium: Released in 2002, it was their first movie shot digitally (much like the recent Star Wars abominatio…I mean, prequels). While the technical aspects of this film almost overshadow the actual film itself, it's not a bad little story. Here's the basic plot outline: A young African boy and his father---both refugees from Burundi---are living illegally in Belgium. Through a series of events started by an incident with their neighbors, the boy ends up in trouble with the law, eventually ending up separated from his father. Naturally, the main objective is the attempted reunion between the two.
Overall, I found the story to be a little far-fetched, but still enjoyable and entertaining. That's not to say that these events couldn't happen in real life, it's just that the basic story here seems like an odd choice for a movie. I'll be honest here: the acting wasn't exactly the greatest, but at least the characters were interesting. Still, the photography is stunning, and it's easy to appreciate this film visually…even if the story isn't completely your cup of tea. The black and white images are nothing short of spectacular, and speak volumes for the production quality of the film. While I couldn't recommend Hop based on the story alone, there's much more to it than meets the eye. Additionally, Film Movement has put together a decent DVD release for this movie, and it makes for a solid overall experience. Let's see how this disc held up:
Menu design and presentation:
Well, while the extras here give us a taste of other releases from Film Movement, there should have been a bit more attention paid to the main feature itself. Interviews with the director or cast would have helped me appreciate the efforts more, and an audio commentary may have been a welcome addition (though I'm not sure of the extent of the language barrier). This was a visual milestone in Belgium cinema, so it would have also been nice to delve more into the production of the film. In any case, this disc is a little thin, all things considered.
The technical aspects of this disc really help the overall experience. While Hop wasn't the most engrossing film (foreign or otherwise) that I've seen recently, it wasn't a bad effort. Film Movement did a nice job on the disc, but the extras could have been punched up a bit for the film itself. In any case, you can consider this disc Recommended…it won't appeal to all audiences, but it's worth checking out so you can decide for yourself. While it's a little on the expensive side, the asking price of $29.95 is for non-members...subscribers can pay as little as $15 per film, shipped free. With that said, Film Movement is definitely a company to watch in the near future…while their current library may be a bit small, it's growing by the month. Check out more information by using the links below, and see if you can't find something you like.
Randy Miller III is a part-time cartooning instructor based in Harrisburg, PA. He also does freelance graphic design projects and works in an art gallery. When he's not doing that, he enjoys slacking off, general debauchery, and writing things in third person.