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Falling Down (1993) Print E-mail
Wednesday, 27 May 2009
Image"Falling Down" is a little known film, but perhaps one of the better films directed by Joel Schumacher.  I remember seeing this film on television back in the mid-1990s.  It was rather engaging, but I only ever remember bits and pieces of the film, so I was thrilled when the film was announced for release on Blu-ray.  The film unfortunately is not as good as I remember and that is one of the reasons why it didn't four stars from me.

"Falling Down" is a film about being fed up with the rudeness of the people in this country and mass consumerism.  Michael Douglas stars as William Foster, a disgruntled ex-defense department employee.  The film begins with a traffic jam, of which we are all familiar with.  The weather is stifling and the noise around Foster is mounting to a breaking point.  Foster was supposedly on his way to work when this traffic jam strikes, but as we later find out he was fired from his job months ago.

Eventually, Foster snaps and exits his vehicle and begins his journey on foot.  He is trying to make his way to his ex-wife's place to see his daughter for her birthday.  Not having enough money for a phone call, he enters a convenience store to get some change.  Unfortunately, the foreign storeowner is a jerk and insists that he buy something in order to get change.  The owner tries to sell the soda for 85 cent (yes, 85 cent not 85 cents).  This doesn't leave enough change for the phone call.  Foster snaps when the owner pulls out a baseball bat.  Foster proceeds to demolish the store on the principle that the prices are way too high.

Next, while he is taking a rest, Foster is harassed by some gang members.  When a gang member pulls a knife on him and tries to take his briefcase, he beats them with the bat that he took from the store.  Of course, the gang members don't back down and come after Foster with a car loaded with guns.  They miss and instead flip their car.  Foster arrives at the scene and picks up their bag of guns, and before leaving feels the need to shoot one of the gang members in the leg to show him the concept of hitting his target.

Now armed with assault weapons, he goes into a fast food restaurant to get some breakfast.  When the workers their insist that he missed breakfast by three minutes, he throws a fit and pulls out a gun.

The movie continues with several violent incidents by Foster, all because the world does not make sense.  I must say that I have to agree with what Foster was feeling in this film.  I'm not saying that I would go postal like he did, but I am fed up with the traffic jams, the rudeness of people, the monetary rewards for useless services.  This is where this film succeeds.  This is a film that is not afraid to raise those racy issues.  Foster attacks the world because there is no humanity left.  Ironically, by performing acts of violence, he becomes just like the people that he is hurting. Schumacher directs this beast.  He is best known for his work on the third and fourth Batman films, as well as "Phone Booth" and "Cousins."  He does a great job of capturing the crazy world that drives Foster to jump off the cliff.  Despite Foster's horrible actions, you still feel for the guy.  His wife left him and took his daughter and the people around him are simply insensitive humans.

"Falling Down" gets a new video transfer for this Blu-ray release, and the simultaneously standard DVD re-release.  Unfortunately, there are still several issues that plague the transfer.  For me, the most noticeable issue was the fluctuation of color, brightness and contrast when a single shot throughout the film.  There was one point in which the tint of the image changed from red to green in a single shot.  It took me right out of the film.  The black levels are decent but not entirely rich.  The shadow delineation is slightly above average, yielding separation in the folds of the costumes.  The details and textures are a bit weak.  The entire image appears soft throughout.  There is also edge enhancement applied to the track.  The original print also suffers from various scratches, blemishes, dust and dirt.  Colors are not vibrant but are suitable to the style of the film.  Fleshtones are a bit oversaturated, with a push toward the higher end of the spectrum.

I'm not sure what Warner Bros. did, or did not do to the audio for this restoration.  Oddly, the audio track is a Dolby TrueHD 2.0 track.  Throughout the film I switched between direct stereo and Neo 6: Cinema modes.  Neither mode was entirely suitable, but I would lean toward the Neo 6: Cinema mode.  This mode decodes the stereo image and places some information in the surround channels.  While most of the audio was lumped to the center channel, the left and front channels were still prominent.  With no LFE channel all the sound effects such as gunfire and explosions lacked any bottom end to them.  The entire track sounds boxy.  The dialogue is generally clear, but it fluctuates in volume level throughout the film.  Overall, the entire track is mastered far too low in volume.  In the stereo mode, separation is good.  The soundscape has a wide span.  I'm still not sure why this film wasn't given a 5.1 remix, but the stereo track isn't horrible for what it is.  However, in today's audio world, the stereo track just doesn't cut it for me.

There are relatively few special features to this Blu-ray release.  First, there is an audio commentary with director Joel Schumacher and actor Michael Douglas.  Schumacher is engaging and provides interesting information.  Douglas doesn't have much to say, but does offer some of his opinions about his character.  The only featurette on the disc is "Deconstructing D-Fens."  This is an interview with Douglas that contains much of the same information that is offered up in the commentary.  Lastly there is a theatrical trailer.  The Blu-ray release comes housed in a Digibook edition, the same as how "The Shawshank Redemption" was released.  This includes a 30-page booklet with photos and notes.  This is great for a collector, but not the best for those that want to be able to put it on their Blu-ray shelf.  You may find yourself buying some extra blank Blu-ray cases to house many of the Warner Bros. titles.

"Falling Down" is an interesting film that brings to light issues of intolerance in this country.  The video and audio quality are not that spectacular, but a worthy upgrade.  I recommend picking up this title.

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