The Review at a Glance: (max score: 5 )
Audio/Video total rating:
( Max score: 100 )
Studio and Year: Sony Pictures - 2010
MPAA Rating: R
Feature running time: 96 minutes
Disc Format: BD-50
Encoding: AVC (MPEG-4)
Video Aspect: 2.40:1
Audio Format(s): English DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio
Subtitles: English, English SDH
Starring: Forrest Whitaker, Adrien Brody, Cam Giganet, Clifton Collins Jr., Fisher Stevens, Maggie Grace
Written & Directed by: Paul Scheuring
Music by: Graeme Revell
Region Code: A,B
Blu-ray Disc release Date: September 21, 2010
"Everyone has a breaking point"
Adrien Brody and Forest Whitaker star in this shocking psychological thriller about twenty-four men who are pushed to the brink of madness when an experiment simulating life within a state prison spins horribly out of control.
The Experiment is character driven psychological thriller that revolves around a varied group of men who are offered $1000 a day to participate in a two-week research project that simulates life with a state prison. After undergoing physical and psychological screening the 24 chosen are transported to an empty facility and unequally divided into two groups, inmates and guards, with the former being the larger of the two. The rules are simple and consist of things like, no one leaves, all inmates must eat all of the food given them, inmates don't touch the guards, there is to be no violence, and lastly any violations noted by the guards must be addressed by them within 30 minutes with punishment that is commensurate. The facility is sealed and monitored by video cameras and a red warning light with the power to terminate the experiment should the need arise. Things begin simply enough but as the 24 volunteers slip deeper into their roles, power corrupts, fears escalate and the experiment spins horribly out of control.
Based on the infamous "Stanford Prison Experiment" conducted in 1971 at Stanford University The experiment is a direct to video dramatization of the study which was designed to test the psychological effects of becoming a prisoner or prison guard. The outcome is quite interesting and those curious can find plenty of information on the original study on the internet. The film focuses on two central characters in Travis (Brody), and Barris (Whitaker). Two seemingly like minded, and easy going individuals from completely different backgrounds. One is assigned as a guard and the other as a prisoner. Once they assume their respective roles the boundary between that and their personal identities erodes. A bit more abruptly in Barris' case as it descends to a sadistic behavioral level. The changes in Travis are motivated primarily by the actions of the guards and their treatment of the inmates. Watching as he slowly transforms from a passive to aggressive persona is interesting and well played by Adrien Brody. Whitaker is equally strong as the soft spoken nebbish that becomes enamored and empowered by his authority which unleashes his truly darker side. As for the film I found it thought provoking but not especially absorbing. Character development (other than a little on Brody's character Travis) is poor and the lack of detail on the experiment, who/what/why, never materializes. Barris' fiefdom, the aberrant escalation of violence, and the loss of humanity displayed by a select group of individuals feels too over the top to be genuinely compelling but the film has enough substance to keep interest going. When all is said and done this is a watchable but unremarkable thriller that's subject matter makes for interesting coffee table discussion.
The rating is for strong, disturbing violence including a scene of rape, language, some sexual content and nudity.
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:
The Experiment comes to Blu-ray from Sony featuring 1080p AVC encoded video that has an average bitrate of 26 Mbps and lossless DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio sound that has an average bitrate of 2.6 Mbps.
This is an excellent high definition video presentation that boasts warm, inviting colors with deeply saturated primaries and vivid hues. Fleshtones are nicely delineated with warm tonality and diverse complexional quality among the cast. Detail is in abundance as images look crisp with clearly resolvable fine minutia, and three dimensional depth that on occasion provides a near infinite visual perspective. Blacks are deep with excellent dynamic range and noticeable gradational stages. Contrast is strong which provides plenty of pop to colors and whites without washing them out. The video has a dynamic, pleasing, and pristine quality that looks great throughout the presentation. The DTS-HD MA soundtrack features crystal clear dialogue, snappy dynamics and a subtle, yet involving surround sound mix. I was impressed with the implementation of both spacial dimension and discrete directional sounds that created an occasionally immersive listening environment (the sequence involving the voices in Adrien Brody's mind that traverse room are a great example). This worked hand in hand with a punchy low end the supported the film's music, and source material, to build tension and help drive the story.
- (HD) Previews - 30 days of night: dark days, Game of death, Harry Brown, The secret in their eyes, The pillars of the earth
- BD-Live enabled
Based on the infamous "Stanford Prison Experiment" conducted in 1971 at Stanford University The experiment is a dramatization of the original study which was designed to test the psychological effects of becoming a prisoner or prison guard. I found the subject matter thought provoking however the film suffers from a thin plot, underdeveloped characters and frenetic pacing which relegates it to the watchable but could have been better category. Its presentation on Blu-ray Disc from Sony features excellent high definition video and crystal clear lossless surround sound. Based upon its controversial subject matter and high quality presentation I recommend tossing it in your rental queue and taking it for a spin.
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