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New Line Home Cinema presents
"We're just teenagers, and we're bored."
DVD ReviewHavoc is a frighteningly realistic look at what I like to call the "Eminem Posers." This subculture consists of rich, teenage Caucasians who think and act like something they're not: gangster rappers. Eminem isn't solely to blame for this, though, as late-'80s rappers like Vanilla Ice and even the vastly underrated 3rd Bass have had teens acting like this for many years. Still, these kids have never been as realistically and annoyingly portrayed on film as they are in Havoc, which is really only valuable for those who are curious to finally see "all" (or most of) Ms. Anne Hathaway.
The story revolves around a group of these teens from Pacific Palisades, California. By day, they attend high school and retire home to their parents' lush and large homes. At night, they patrol the streets and various hang-outs just looking for a good time, regardless of how much trouble it will put them in. Of course, their parents don't see any of their outdoor activities and think of their kids as well-behaved, good students, with endless possibilities and bright futures ahead.
Allison (Hathaway) is the main focus; a young, beautiful girl with an active sex life, mainly involving her boyfriend, Toby (Mike Vogel). Allison, her best friend, Emily (the seemingly always-naked Bijou Phillips), and Amanda (Shiri Appleby) are bored with their current nightlife and venture downtown, where they meet a Latino gang fronted by Hector (Freddy Rodriguez). Allison soon has the hots for Hector, but as she becomes more and more involved with his hardcore gangster' lifestyle, the danger begins to mount.
Despite the initial draw of a risqué performance by Hathaway, Havoc is a major misfire for this young, talented actress. Director Barbara Kopple actually does a nice job taking the audience on a realistic journey through the landscape of Southern California, and gives her film a nice, gritty look. Stephen Gaghan (Traffic) is responsible for the screenplay and co-wrote the story, which definitely has potential, but this is a film that is almost single-handedly ruined by a series of incredibly poor performances by actors who are usually much better than they are here.
Hathaway actually isn't bad, but seems to be much more comfortable when she's tackling lighter subjects. It's really the supporting cast who drag Havoc down, and makes it all the less surprising that the film never made a splash at theaters.
While Joseph Gordon-Levitt gives one of the best performances of the year in Mysterious Skin, he's nothing more than an incredibly annoying bit player in Havoc. It is painful to listen to his "white boy from the 'hood" speech. Mike Vogel is almost equally annoying as Allison's boyfriend, and every time he's in a scene, you expect someone more "hardcore" to just beat the crap out of him. Freddy Rodriguez, known by most as Federico from Six Feet Under, instantly has us wishing the solid actor would stick to playing embalmers.
Again, this story has major potential, but it's difficult to stay with when you can't care a lick about any of the characters.
Rating for Style: B-
Rating for Substance: D
Image Transfer Review: This 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer is just about what we would expect from a new, moderately-budgeted film. Despite some grain problems during the darker sequences, the images are very detailed, and sharpness is well-handled. The colors are nicely rendered as well, with solid blacks, accurate fleshtones, and good contrast levels.
Image Transfer Grade: B+
Audio Transfer Review: There are three audio tracks to choose from: Dolby Digital 5.1, 2.0, and a DTS mix. It's pretty much a crapshoot between the DTS and DD 5.1, but neither overly impresses. There aren't many action sequences, so a lack of dynamic activity on any of the tracks isn't surprising, but I expected a bit more bass presence from both the DTS and DD5.1, and this lack of punch in that department keeps much of the music from reaching its full audio potential. The dialogue is clear and blends in well with the rest of the mix.
Audio Transfer Grade: B-
Disc ExtrasFull Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 20 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, Spanish with remote access
1 Original Trailer(s)
3 Other Trailer(s) featuring The Purifiers, 50 Cent: Refuse 2 Die, 11:14
Packaging: Keep Case
Extras Review: The only extras are the theatrical trailer and three previews for other New Line Home Video releases.
Extras Grade: D
Final CommentsIf your idea of a good time at the movies involves a naked Anne Hathaway and teenagers drinking, puking, and having sex, then this unrated version of Havoc is the DVD for you. New Line's disc doesn't have much to offer, aside from an impressive video transfer and merely decent audio.
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