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Point Break (Pure Adrenaline Edition) Print E-mail
Monday, 04 August 2008
ImageIn 1991, “Point Break” made some large waves.  Considered a cult classic by a small age range (those that are now approximately 26 to 30 years of age), “Point Break” was the blockbuster flick of the summer.  Usually viewed now as more of a comedy than action film, somehow “Point Break” is still nostalgic for many of us.

This film brings together beach weather, surfing, spirituality, law, and bank robbing into one big ball of fun.  After an injury ends Johnny Utah’s college football career, he turns his attentions to the FBI.  After graduating from the academy, Utah is assigned to Los Angeles’ bank robbery division.  Utah (Keanu Reeves) is a typical young hot shot that is dedicated to absurd theories and getting his man.  Utah is partnered with FBI veteran, Angelo Pappas (Gary Busey). 

After the most recent robbery by the Ex-Presidents, Pappas shares his surfer theory with his new partner.  Utah must undertake learning to surf in order to find the bank robbers.  Along the way, Utah finds the ultimate adrenaline rush with the help of Bodhi (Patrick Swayze), and of course a romance with surfer girl, Tyler (Lori Petty).  Utah struggles internally between what he knows is the right thing to do and friendship.

“Point Break” was the ultimate in cop chasing, surfing fun for the summer of 1991.  It clearly has influenced some of the surfer films that have followed, namely “Blue Crush.”  The plot moves along quite nicely.  There are no real lulls in the film to speak of.  Every scene plays its part.  There are plenty of laughs (I mean surfers who are bank robbers, seriously now) and plenty of action.  But overall, the film is made up of clichés and borrowed plots.
The acting in this film is adequate, but not astounding.  Keanue Reeves brings a few qualities of “Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure” to this film (obviously, much smarter though).  The part of Johnny Utah suits the limits of his acting talents.  Patrick Swayze was even able to bring power to the otherwise bland dialogue.  All his hype about adrenaline, the ultimate rush and the spirit of the waves is almost believable.  Gary Busey brings a comedic performance to the table, and gives humor to the FBI for once.  However, his performance was completely shadowed by the comedy of John C. McGinley as the director of the bank robbery division.  Lori Petty plays a decent love interest with a fully developed character, if only to become the insurance policy in the end.

Unfortunately, for fans this will not be the greatest Blu-ray video transfer.  It is passable for the age of the film, but certainly not a demo disc.  While some scenes can be quite astonishing, visually, this occurrence is too few and far between.  Every aspect of the film in a visual sense is hit or miss.  There is an uneven color palette across the film and within scenes themselves.  Now, some of this is due to the difficulty of shooting a film in the harsh sunlight present at the beaches.  For this reason the film contains flat, realistic colors, with no saturation and almost inaccurate fleshtones.  Close up scenes can contain quite nice details, however at other times the details become soft, yielding a nearly out of focus scene.  As expected grain is present through the film, but surprisingly not as much as there could have been.  Fox did a great job at restoring that aspect of the film.  Some minor scratches are still present however.  Interestingly, the grain that is present makes the ocean appear pixilated at times.  While there are no compression artifacts in the crashing waves, it still does not appear fluid.  My biggest problem was with the black levels.  The inconsistency caused much of the film to appear flat.  Although, I must say that there are some intense wave sequences that were reproduced nicely.  And finally, there are absolutely no details visible when it comes to shadows and dark screen areas.  There is not a very smooth transition in contrast.

The audio track has been re-mastered to 5.1 and presented in DTS-HD Master format.  Originally mixed and released with a 4.0 track (also present on the Blu-ray), it was quite the undertaking to create a passable 5.1 surround mix.  The original center channel mix is unfortunately poor and could not be fixed during transfer.  It contains poor equalization and at many times, clipped sound effects.  From the very beginning, the gunshots were harsh and distorted.  Sometimes, even the original production dialogue recorded was clipped and extremely apparent in DTS-HD.  When the new mix was created the introduction of a discrete LFE channel and separate left and right surround channels caused an imbalance in the EQ.  The mid to low range frequencies are dominant throughout the film.  Some scenes contain muddy sounding mixes.  Much of the ADR was poor as the film suffers form the flapping lip syndrome that plagues beach movies.  Dialogue can clearly be heard and seen not matching the movement of the actors.  While not the greatest remastered audio track, it is better than most (ie: “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid”).

The Blu-ray contains pretty standard special features.  All the features were present on the Pure Adrenaline Edition standard DVD release back in 2006.  The package contains some deleted scenes, which are presented in the worst quality imaginable.  Looks like the scenes were transferred from an old, dusty, beat up VHS tape.  There are four featurettes on the disc: “It’s Make or Break,” “Ride the Wave,” “Adrenaline Junkies,” and “On Location: Malibu.”  And finally there are some Fox trailers and a photo gallery.  There are no audio commentaries and all the special features are presented in a 480i resolution.

“Point Break” promises original viewers a good time.  However, for those just seeing it for the first time may find it silly and pointless.  A definite buy for fans out there and worth a look for newbies

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