The Review at a Glance: (max score: 5 )
Audio/Video total rating:
( Max score: 100 )
Studio and Year: Anchor Bay - 2008
MPAA Rating: R
Feature running time: 93 minutes
Disc Format: BD-25
Video Aspect: 1.78:1
Audio Format(s): English uncompressed 5.1 PCM, English Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles: English SDH
Starring: Christian Slater, Sarah Ann Schultz, Christa Campbell, Robert Giardina, Cuba Gooding Jr.
Directed by: Tibor Takacs
Music by: Steve Edwards
Written by: Eric James
Region Code: A
Blu-ray Disc release Date: September 29, 2009
"Nothing is what it seems"
Best-selling author Wes Wilson's self-help book about honesty has saved millions of relationships. But when his fiancé is abducted and declared dead, Wes suddenly finds himself hunted by hired killers, beautiful spies, and a ruthless criminal mastermind with a taste for both style and violence. What does Wes have than an international smuggling ring wants? Why did his late bride-to-be keep a secret room full of weapons? And who can he trust when nobody is what he or she seems to be?
Lies and illusions begins by introducing its central character Wes Wilson, (Slater) a successful author whose latest self help book on relationships is being celebrated at a gala in his honor. His fiance Samantha (Schultz) is cleverly introduced and the couple seem very much in love. Afterward after Wes and Samantha leave they are confronted in the parking lot by masked men who assault Wes and appear to want something from Samantha. A well dressed man named Isaac (Gooding) appears and refers to Samantha by the name Alicia and asks her for the return of something that she stole from him. He intimates that they she once worked for him and disappeared with the goods (diamonds). She pleads with them not to hurt Wes and states that he knows nothing about the stolen diamonds. Wes regains consciousness in time to see the men force Samantha into a car and speed away. In the days that follow the police search for her and recover the vehicle along with part of her dress and blood trails left on and around the car's location. Her body is never found but she is presumed dead. Wes is devastated but as time passes he attempts to pick up the pieces and move on. In her will Samantha left her house to Wes and after meeting with her attorney he moves in. A year goes by as Wes tries to get his career and life back on track. He comes home one day to find what he believes to be someone in his house. He doesn't find anyone but while searching he comes across a secret room in the basement which is hidden behind a false wall. He finds a room full of advanced communication equipment and weaponry. Wes is left feeling that he truly had no idea who Samantha was or what her job entailed. During a book interview Wes meets Nicole, a reporter, and the two begin dating. Isaac resurfaces and he and his henchmen begin following Wes/Nicole. Isaac's attempt to recover the missing diamonds intensifies which now puts Wes and everyone around him in danger. He soon discovers that there is more going on than he could have imagined as his seemingly quiet life begins spiraling out of control.
This movie starts out fairly well. Its plot is far from original but good execution has the ability to drive a story like this. Unfortunately as it unfolds it falls into a series of ridiculous contrivances and insipid situations that that see it progressively degenerate to the point of utter folly. The screenplay features poorly staged fight and chase sequences and the film's notably low budget doesn't leave room for credible special effects. The music score is a bit strange to me. At times it really doesn't seem to coincide with the film's elements and feels like an afterthought. I also find the handheld camera work to be distracting. This could easily be a made for TV movie. Both Christian Slater and Academy Award winner Cuba Gooding Jr. bring two big names to the cast but the poorly developed script just didn't leave them much room to work. I must admit that this was a disappointment. Considering its decent opening and thematic potential it ultimately left me feeling relieved when it was finally over.
The rating is for violence and language.
AUDIO/VIDEO - By The Numbers:
REFERENCE = 92-100 / EXCELLENT = 83-91 / GOOD = 74-82 / AVERAGE = 65-73 / BELOW AVERAGE = under 65
**My audio/video ratings are based upon a comparative made against other high definition media/blu-ray disc.**
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- Low frequency extension:
- Surround Sound presentation:
- Dialogue Reproduction:
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- Black level/Shadow detail:
- Color reproduction:
Lies and illusions comes to Blu-ray Disc from Anchor Bay HE featuring 1080p VC-1 encoded video that has an average bitrate of 16 mbps and lossless uncompressed 5.1 channel PCM audio that has a constant bitrate of 4.6 mbps.
I watched this film and Streets of blood back to back and both exhibited image problems that deteriorated the quality of the high definition video presentation. Here contrast was raised to image distorting levels that washed out whites and left colors appearing unnatural against the muted and select palette used. Fleshtones were on the reddish side and lacking in tonal variety. Certain sequences were filtered which added a white hazy glow to them which exacerbated the blown out white effect. Black levels were respectable but slightly crushed and shadow detail was good enough to reveal a fair level of depth in low light sequences. Resolution was a mixed bag as the level of high definition detail varied. Close ups tended to lack subtle refinement and resolute sharpness while wide angle pans exhibited clearer definition and discernible nuance. Grain was noticeable and appeared in fine even layers that never rose above moderate levels. A large portion of the film appeared to have been shot on rainy or overcast days which made even brighter sequences seem gloomy. The result is a drab, predominantly dull looking high definition presentation that rarely takes advantage of all the Blu-ray format has to offer. The lossless PCM soundtrack is primarily front focused with minimal but effective use of the surround platform to extend the soundstage. The presentation was satisfying and competently conveyed the elements present in the film's soundtrack. Dialogue was crisp and well articulated. The front three channels delivered the bulk of the sound and did so with good clarity and imaging. The surrounds and sub saw occasional use and supported the soundtrack's elements with spatial dimension and bass response that accompanied the film's music.
- The making of Lies and illusions featurette - 11 minutes
Lies and illusions is a formulaic, bland, and monotonous film that is anything but thrilling as its poorly scripted/developed screenplay and uninteresting characters leaves it best categorized as a made for television B movie. Its debut in high definition on Blu-ray from Anchor Bay HE doesn't offer impressive video quality and a standard making of documentary and theatrical trailer are the only bonus features included. I did appreciate the option of lossless sound and the mix was quite decent. This film just fell too short of the mark and this presentation has little redeeming value so unless you are already a fan I would skip this one.
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