Hellion (Blu-ray) (2014)

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Released 24-Dec-2014

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama Featurette-Behind The Scenes-(3:55)
Featurette-Hellion at the Sundance Film Festival (3:41)
Short Film-Hellion Short Film (6:14)
Trailer-x 3 for other Eagle releases
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2014
Running Time 99:01
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Kat Candler
Studio
Distributor

Eagle Entertainment
Starring Aaron Paul
Juliette Lewis
Josh Wiggins
Deke Garner
Dalton Sutton
Cameron Owens


Case Standard Blu-ray
RPI ? Music Andrew Lockington


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English DTS HD Master Audio 5.1
English Dolby Digital 5.1
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 1080p
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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Plot Synopsis

     After he lost his wife Hollis (Aaron Paul) took to drinking and left his two young boys, 13 year old Jacob (Josh Wiggins) and 10 year old Wes (Deke Garner), to look after each other. Jacob is resentful and rebellious, in trouble with the law and when he is caught vandalising cars he is placed into day time detention in a juvenile justice prison. The welfare authorities decide that Hollis has been neglecting his children, and Wes is taken away and placed in the custody of their aunt Pam (Juliette Lewis). Hollis is devastated and tries to reform while Jacob pins his hopes on winning a motocross competition so the family can be reunited. But intentions have a habit of going astray.

     Hellion is an impressive film by writer / director Kat Candler considerably expanding her own short film of the same name (which is included as an extra on this Blu-ray). The scripting is tight, generally avoiding clichés and easy outs, and the dialogue is natural and authentic. Candler has put together a good cast and elicited some quality performances. Aaron Paul (Breaking Bad) is excellent as a basically good man on the edge while first timer Josh Wiggins is a revelation in a role that could easily have gone astray but doesn’t and manages to grip you for the whole of the film. The supporting cast of young actors, including Dalton Sutton and Cameron Owens as some of Jacob’s friends, are also very good while the other better known name in the cast, Juliette Lewis, is fine but does not have a lot to do.

     I do, however, have reservations about the way Candler and DP Brett Pawlak have chosen to shoot the film using constantly swaying hand held cameras, even in the dialogue scenes. When the sequence involves a bit of action, such as a fight or the motocross scenes, which are often accompanied by heavy metal music, the camera is positively giddy and it is difficult to see what is happening. Others may find this less of a problem, but for me the queasiness is compounded by the fact that while the film was shot in the 2.35:1 widescreen ratio it is cropped to 1.78:1 for this Blu-ray, so heads, for example, are frequently only half in frame.

     The scripting with its natural human drama, authentic sounding dialogue and impressive acting help make Hellion a moving and emotional film experience about loss, family and taking responsibility for your actions. It is impressive if you don’t mind the way it is presented.

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Transfer Quality

Video

     Hellion is another film presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1, cropped from the 2.35:1 original ratio. It is in 1080p using the MPEG-4 AVC code.

     As noted in the review, Hellion utilises constantly swaying hand held cameras which effects dialogue scenes but is especially noticeable in sequences with a bit of movement or action. The result is a soft print which is softer when the light source is behind the actor resulting in some very glary frames. Long shots are sharper and the colours glossy digital looking. Skin tones are natural expect for the digital yellowish tones under lights, blacks solid and brightness and contrast is OK except for the glare.

     There is a degree of aliasing and ghosting with fast movement but marks are absent.

     There are no subtitles.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

     Audio is a choice of English DTS-HD MA 5.1 or English Dolby Digital 5.1.

     I listened to the DTS. Dialogue was generally clear. Much of the audio is front oriented with the rears providing mostly music although they were more aggressive during the motocross or football sections with engines and crowd noise. The sub-woofer supported the engines and music.

     The original score by Andrew Lockington was effective and was augmented by a range of heavy metal music from bands including Whiplash, Slayer and Metallica which sounded very good in lossless!

     There are no lip synchronisation issues.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

Behind the Scenes (3:55)

     On set footage and comments from the writer / director, three producers, the DP and 6 cast members, all in four minutes. Superficial.

Hellion at the Sundance Film Festival (3:41)

     Cast and crew at the 2104 Sundance Film Festival.

Hellion Short Film (6:14)

     Kat Candler’s 2012 short film. This one has three brothers, Jacob, Wes and Peter with Deke Garner, who plays Wes in the feature, here playing Peter, the youngest brother.

Trailers

     Trailers for Unicorn City (2:04), The Culture High (2:29) and The Dragons of Camelot (1:37).

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

     There is not currently a Blu-ray US Region A or UK Region B listed on Amazon.com. There is however a Region 1 US DVD which includes the same extras as we have plus a trailer and is in the 2.40:1 aspect ratio. I suppose a US Blu-ray is thus likely to be in that ratio, but for now our Blu-ray is the only one available.

Summary

     Hellion is more engaging than I had expected due to the authentic and realistic situations, a script that does not rely on contrivances and some excellent acting from Aaron Paul and Josh Wiggins.

     The video is distracting due to the queasy hand held filming and the cropped aspect ratio, for which 1 point is deducted from the video in accordance with site policy. The audio is fine, the extras are light but are what is available elsewhere.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Ray Nyland (the bio is the thing)
Thursday, March 05, 2015
Review Equipment
DVDSony BDP-S580, using HDMI output
DisplayLG 55inch HD LCD. This display device has not been calibrated. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderNAD T737. This audio decoder/receiver has not been calibrated.
AmplificationNAD T737
SpeakersStudio Acoustics 5.1

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