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HBO presents
Full Eclipse (1993)

"Look, I don't put that kinda stuff in my body. I'm gonna have to just say no."
- Max Dire (Mario Van Peebles)

Review By: Dan Lopez   
Published: October 05, 2001

Stars: Mario Van Peebles, Patsy Kensit, Bruce Payne
Other Stars: Anthony John Denison, Paula Marshall
Director: Anthony Hicox

Manufacturer: WAMO
MPAA Rating: R for (extreme violence, sexuality, gore)
Run Time: 01h:36m:34s
Release Date: August 21, 2001
UPC: 026359113024
Genre: action


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
B- CC+B D+

DVD Review

In Full Eclipse, Max Dire (Mario Van Peebles) is a police detective whose partner is near death after being shot during a hostage situation. When his partner makes an instant, mysterious recovery, Max is confused by the improbability of the occurance. To add to this strange healing, his partner also becomes a sort of super-cop, capable of virtually anything. Things end badly when Max's partner, despite his new found energy, kills himself for unknown reasons. Soon afterward, he is contacted by Adam Garou (Bruce Payne), the leader of a special, secret squad. He tells Max that he can help ease his problems if he would join his team and fight crime in their own, particular way. As it turns out, their way utilizes a weird serum that grants amazing strength and physical power turning them into werewolf-like creatures. While energized, they take out bad guys left and right, and then quietly sink back into the night from whence they came. Max is obviously skeptical and wary at first, but he's eventually forced into becoming one of them. Max eventually decides that he'll have to go against the grain of this 'pack' of crime-fighters in order to stop the horrible mutations that Garou's formula is causing.

While Full Eclipse is initially exciting and interesting, it decays into an overly simplistic, badly orchestrated horror film about midway through. When it starts, it's a totally two-fisted, John Woo-esque, slam-bang, action flick, but then it suddenly slows to a crawl when the awkward animal serum plot begins. There's an extraordinary amount of time dedicated to hinting that the serum turns its users into wolf-like beings, but the hints are so strongly obvious that if anyone hasn't figured it out after the first 5 minutes it would surprise me. So, what starts out as an extremely able action film, turns into a sort of medical horror story that is unintentionally laughable. I mean, when you promise things like vampires or werewolves in a movie, the audience wants to SEE them do their thing, not 50 minutes of them wondering if they actually are one of those creatures, unless that's the whole point.

There is an unavoidable, comic book feel in that the special Garou squad all wear weird, black latex jumpsuits and have giant, retractable, bony claws (comparisons to The Uncanny X-Men are expected). It's silly really, and it doesn't excuse itself by offering something else to be impressed by. By the end of the movie, the action hasn't really lived up to the potential or standards set by the earlier parts of the movie. Mario Van Peebles does an admirable job, though, as Max Dire. He's always been a relatively underused and underappreciated actor, and it's sad to see his talents go to waste in such a poor horror film. I also don't think it helped matters much that some silly makeup was used on the "wolf squad" to give them feral features.

I guess I shouldn't be too surprised with the eventual downfall of Full Eclipse, as Anthony Hicox was also the man who brought us Waxwork and Hellraiser III; not exactly the most confidence inspiring titles in the annals of cinema. There are a number of similarly themed films that work much better; off the top of my head Blade and X-Men, among others. Full Eclipse is generally a quick, entertaining, cheap film, but has no real lasting power.

Rating for Style: B-
Rating for Substance: C

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio1.85:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes
Anamorphicyes


Image Transfer Review: While the image is basically pleasing, it has quite a bit of grain and pixelation in the backgrounds, especially in the many scenes with smoky interiors. The source print is not very clean; there are obvious speckles and dust all over the place. Things are generally sharp and well rendered, especially the purposefully muted color palette, but the hazy visuals bring out unwanted movement and shimmer. Respectable quality, but on a technical level, a bit on the sloppy side.

Image Transfer Grade: C+

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0English, Spanishyes


Audio Transfer Review: The Dolby Surround track is about what you'd expect. There's a lot of front speaker action and directionality, but the surrounds aren't used for more than just a few, minor, ambient effects. It all sounds good, though, and there is no harshness or flatness. When the soundtrack gets loud and active, the mix delivers where it should. Unfortunately, this isn't often enough.

Audio Transfer Grade: B

 

Disc Extras

Static menu
Scene Access with 14 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, Spanish, French with remote access
Cast and Crew Biographies
Cast and Crew Filmographies
Packaging: Snapper
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extras Review: Some minimal bios and French, English, and Spanish subtitle tracks. Basic menu design utilizes promotional photos, but nothing special. The inside of the snapper case's fold out has a listing of chapter stops, which the film could have used a few more of.

Extras Grade: D+

 

Final Comments

If you're a dark action fan, Full Eclipse might be worth renting, but it certainly doesn't have the same, constant edge that similar projects have had.

 


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