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Sony Pictures Home Entertainment presents
"It's so hot. I feel like I'm in hell."
DVD ReviewOn paper, the casting of Julianne Moore and Samuel L. Jackson together is a dream. Moore, with her quiet Method performances seems like the perfect complement to Jackson's aggressive bravado and sheer coolness. They're featured together in 2006's Freedomland, a thriller that now makes its DVD debut from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment.
Brenda Martin (Moore) stumbles into a New Jersey hospital with blood covering her hands. After getting bandaged up, Brenda meets police detective Lorenzo Council (Jackson), a man who watches over a rundown, predominantly African-American neighborhood. Brenda works there at a children's center, so she is generally accepted by the community. She reveals to Lorenzo that her car was stolen with her son still inside. Lorenzo, Brenda, her cop brother Danny Martin (Ron Eldard), and a group of women who search for missing children set out to find the boy. Standing in their way is the local community, which is up in arms about the amount of attention now paid to finding this Caucasian boy, when so little time would be spent on one of their African-American children. There's more to Brenda's plight than she's telling Lorenzo, and it might take the leader of the search party, Karen Collucci (Edie Falco), to bring the truth to the surface.
The truth behind Freedomland's big mystery is eventually revealed, but it leaves a sour taste in the mouth. Sure, everything makes sense, but the central revelation is anti-climactic, and makes the last 20 minutes of the film completely uninteresting. It almost seems as if a half hour of the film was cut, as there isn't any build up to the revelation, while the aforementioned ending seems to have been slapped together and poorly edited.
Moore's performance is a rare study, for her, in over-acting, but she pulls it together in the end to give a powerhouse monologue that occurs during the "big reveal." Jackson is sort of going through the motions here, and doesn't get one of his trademark powerful tirades to deliver. The pair has another riveting scene together that is completely ruined in its final stages. After an intense, insightful conversation, Moore and Jackson come very close to each other, physically. However, while we're expecting an embrace, at the least, they wind up just sitting there, doing nothing for an awkward minute. Sure, characters don't always kiss or hug in a scene such as this, but this pause diffuses all of the emotional tension that was built up so well for most of this sequence. One needs to look no further than this scene for a hint of the many problems with Freedomland.
Rating for Style: C+
Rating for Substance: C-
Image Transfer Review: Both a 2.40:1 anamorphic widescreen and a pan-and-scan presentation are included on this single-sided, dual-layer disc. Both are virtually identical, featuring crystal clear images throughout. A few instances of softness crept up, but there's nothing in terms of print flaws. Black levels are appropriately deep, contrast is well handled, and the color palette remains bright and vivid throughout.
Image Transfer Grade: A-
Audio Transfer Review: The audio is a Dolby Digital 5.1 mix that aggressively uses the surrounds to accommodate a series of impressive directional effects. The bass provides a more robust experience during the more exciting sequences, while the dialogue is always easy to understand.
Audio Transfer Grade: A-
Disc ExtrasFull Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 28 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, French with remote access
10 Other Trailer(s) featuring Click, Friends With Money, Underworld: Evolution, Little Man, Marie Antoinette, Basic Instinct 2, The Boondocks, The Forgotten, The Missing, S.W.A.T.
Packaging: Keep Case
Extras Review: Unfortunately, the only extras offered are previews for other Sony films.
Extras Grade: D
Final CommentsThere's a reason so few saw Freedomland in the theater: it's a poorly crafted movie. Sure, there's a central mystery that's solved, but we never really care much about the central characters involved. Sony apparently didn't care enough to include any extras on their DVD either, although the audio and video are quite pleasing.
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