Chaos Theory (Blu-ray) (2008)

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Released 1-Jun-2011

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Comedy Menu Animation & Audio-Hand writing lists on cards plus score.
Interviews-Cast & Crew-Three principals, director and producer.
Theatrical Trailer-2:48) Standard def. 2.35:1, 16x9 with poor image quality.
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2008
Running Time 83:44 (Case: 85)
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Marcos Siega
Studio
Distributor

Magna Home Entertainment
Starring Ryan Reynolds
Emily Mortimer
Stuart Townsend
Sarah Chalke
Mike Erwin
Constance Zimmer
Case Standard Blu-ray
RPI $19.95 Music Gilad Benamram


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Linear PCM 48/24 5.1
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 1080p
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits Yes, Action begins instantly.

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

     It's an unusual movie going experience to view a film with absolutely no idea what to expect. When a copy of Chaos Theory turned up for review, I knew nothing except that the star was Ryan Reynolds. His name alone was enough for me to want to see the film. I find Reynolds to be one of the most likeable and reliable actors around. He picks interesting projects, and is one of the few actors - like Paul Rudd - who can be funny without being silly. Since his first big screen appearance in Ordinary Magic (1993), Reynolds' name has been attached to over fifty individual projects and with Buried and Green Lantern he is currently on a career high. He has, though, had some past career problems. He has lost some supporting roles because he was too tall, vetoed by a number of diminutive leading men. Now that he is an undisputed star, his tall muscled frame has been an embellishment to movies such as The Proposal. Perhaps Chaos Theory was going to be another rom-com success for the young actor.

     Not so. Chaos Theory is a total surprise, walking the fine line between comedy and potential tragedy with grace, charm and intelligence. We begin with middle-aged father, Frank Allen (Ryan Reynolds), having a "let's talk" with his future son-in-law. The subject is Frank's cherished daughter, Jesse, and whether the young man is a worthy prospect. Frank tells the groom-to-be a story about how he, Frank, came to marry Jesse's mother, Susan (Emily Mortimer), with ardent competition from his best friend Buddy (Stuart Townsend). Frank's tale then jumps seven years and we have visible evidence of the great love that has grown between the father and daughter (Matreya Feder). We also see the feisty Susan's understandable impatience with her rather pedantic husband. Frank is an uptight efficiency expert, who plans every minute detail of his life to the second. It is breakfast time on the day of an important seminar Frank is conducting on the judicial use of time. To give Frank an additional ten minutes at home with her and their daughter, the wily Susan has adjusted the clocks. Unfortunately she has made the adjustments the wrong way, and Frank now has ten minutes less to catch his ferry. He misses the ferry, has to reschedule his seminar, is so annoyed with Susan that he allows himself to be picked up by a blonde at a bar (Sarah Chalke). The chaos has begun, and continues unabated. To tell more would spoil the plot of the film. Through his misadventures Frank uncovers a truth from the past that threatens to destroy his family, his friendship with Buddy, and lead to murder and suicide.

     Although the individual ingredients may be a trifle shop worn, the wonder of this film is that it has all been done with a sense of style, wit, drama, comedy and economy. Amazingly, the action of this film runs just over eighty minutes. The tight screenplay by Daniel Teplitz creates believable characters who make the potentially implausible situations perfectly acceptable. Teplitz has created situations and dialogue which contain a refreshingly biting honesty. Note the hotel room exchanges between Frank and Paula, his bar pick-up. Both drama and comedy are handled beautifully, with economy and realism. The director, Marcos Siega, hails from TV, and since this feature debut has directed episodes for Dexter and The Vampire Diaries, as well as the pilot for the upcoming Charlie's Angels series. Siega does not employ TV style techniques here. There are no showy set-ups or camera movements, but a much more traditional and measured use of the widescreen camera. Also from TV is director of photography Ramsey Nickell. Her beautiful widescreen compositions tell the story without ever distracting from it. The makers continually make choices which are not the obvious ones, but so right for this film. Consider the depiction of the bar fight between Frank and the ferry worker, the hotel room "sex scene" and Frank's nude streak in a sports arena. Not what you would expect.

     The honesty of this film is also seen in the performances. A barely-off-the screen Ryan Reynolds gives a beautifully controlled performance. He handles the drama realistically with just the right amount of comic brilliance breaking through at appropriate moments. This is a really subdued performance, physically and emotionally, and possibly the best thing the actor has done to date. Emily Mortimer (City Island) plays a character who is allowed to be totally unsympathetic at times, but always real. We know she is wrong, but that she is acting on what she believes is the truth. Stuart Townsend (Queen of the Damned) makes Buddy a flawed but very possible alternative for Susan's affections. This film is all about human relationships, and the bond between Buddy and Frank is never allowed to deteriorate to the "buddy film" level. Also good is Sarah Chalke (Roseanne and Scrubs), whose character takes the clichéd one night stand with the blonde at the bar, and turns it on its head. This is the kind of "supporting" role and performance that should be Oscar nominated. Also good is Matreya Feder as the young Jesse.

     One adverse criticism I have is regarding the music used in the film. The original music is attractively bland and forgettable. However, use is also made of catalogue recordings, and while the first couple were used effectively I found that there was just too much of it.

     I guess this 2008 production was a box-office failure, as I had never heard of it. That's a pity, because it is an almost perfect little film that takes a bag of old clichés and assembles them into a fresh and intelligent comedic tour de force. Along the way there are also themes of loving relationships - man with woman, man with child, man with best friend. Comedy, from the Greeks to Shakespeare, always contained the potential for tragedy - with the reverse also true. That is true of life, and it is the dramatic truth at the core of this modest gem.

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Transfer Quality

Video

     The sharpness on this Blu-ray disc is a little disappointing. When the film begins the image is perfectly sharp, but there are many sections in which the image is a little fuzzy, looking like a very good DVD transfer rather than a 1080p disc. The image is presented at 2.40:1 with the cinematography making excellent use of the widescreen frame.

     As is the case with many modern films, there is a general orange tinge to many of the scenes, with extremely tanned skin tones. Some of the exteriors burst into vivid green lawns, and other striking primaries, but there is a rather subdued look to the entire film. Detail is good, though that sporadic fuzziness does detract at times. Shadow detail is fine. I was not aware of any artefacts at all. This is a rather lacklustre Blu-ray transfer of a film that should have had better treatment.

     There are no subtitles.

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

Audio

     There is one audio stream, 5.1 Linear PCM 48 kHz/24 bit, 5.1 at 48 kHz.

     The soundtrack is as low-keyed as the visuals. The dialogue is the important thing here, and that is delivered impeccably. All dialogue is front and centre and crystal clear, without any sync problems or glitch of any kind. There is very little directionality, except for the occasional effect, such as the car crash, and the music, both original and catalogue. The original music, written by Gilad Benamram, does sound very good, with each of the small number of instruments beautifully reproduced, and bass support coming from the subwoofer. The surrounds basically provide ambience and add to the music mix.

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

Extras

     This is a film for which I would have appreciated some more background information.

Main Menu

     The menu is presented with a close-up of a live action hand writing lists on cards - as the main character does in the film itself, accompanied by some of the original music.

Interviews (9:47)

     Presented 1.78:1, and 16x9 enhanced, these short segments are presented in good standard definition. Although the interviews are short, the cast and crew present intelligent comment on the film, and not the customary back-slapping, self congratulatory meaningless nonsense that is the norm. Those who contribute are : Ryan Reynolds, Emily Mortimer, Stuart Townsend, Director Marcos Siega, Producer, Frederic Golohan.

Theatrical Trailer (2:41)

     Be warned! Do NOT watch the trailer first, as it reveals a number of key plot developments .Presented in standard definition at 2.40:1, 16x9 enhanced, this is, despite being a "spoiler", a very good trailer. It presents exactly what to expect of the film in a very interesting and attractively amusing manner. The trailer has colour on a par with the film, but the image is extremely fuzzy.

Censorship

    There is censorship information available for this title. Click here to read it (a new window will open). WARNING: Often these entries contain MAJOR plot spoilers.

R4 vs R1

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

    There is no Blu-ray release of this film in the United States. The DVD release has just over five minutes of "additional scenes", but does not have the interviews that are on our release.

Summary

     Here is an unexpected pleasure for adult audiences tired of the tediously dull and repetitious "comedies" that proliferate today. True, a number of plot chestnuts are recycled, but it is the sensitive reworking and their combination that makes you forget that somewhere you've seen all this before. The script is intelligent, and the direction transparent. The trio of leading players is first rate, with Ryan Reynolds proving that he is much more than a handsome fool. The Blu-ray image is mostly fine, but not quite what we have come to expect of this medium. This is one memorable surprise of a film. The extras are very light on.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Garry Armstrong (BioGarry)
Thursday, June 16, 2011
Review Equipment
DVDSONY BLU RAY BDP-S350, using HDMI output
DisplaySamsung LA55A950D1F : 55 inch LCD HD. Calibrated with THX Optimizer. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to DVD player. Calibrated with THX Optimizer.
AmplificationOnkyo TX-DS777
SpeakersVAF DC-X fronts; VAF DC-6 center; VAF DC-2 rears; LFE-07subwoofer (80W X 2)

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