Pro-Active Entertainment // 2004 // 95 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // June 30th, 2006
So this is what going insane while being on fire feels like.
Folks, the event you all have been waiting for has finally arrived. Evan Marriott, he of Joe Millionaire fame, has landed his first movie. The plus side is you Evan fans get to see the man flex his acting chops. The downside is that he's in the thing for like 45 total seconds and the movie sucks. And he can't act.
I will give this to director Jeremy Isbell: he knows how to do his grassroots marketing. In fact, you'll be able to see all the local news clips talking about his movie, as well as a clip from Entertainment Tonight (?!?). He squeezes the footage in at the beginning of the film, forcing you to wade through five minutes of ego-masturbatory footage before the actual film starts. My suggestion: consider it a stay of execution. Because once the film proper gets rolling, you'll be eyeing the closest blunt object for a session of vigorous self-bludgeoning.
Isbell is going after clever with this homegrown action movie. There's some movie-within-a-movie stuff happening as well as some forced social commentary about America's fascination with reality television (I promised myself I wouldn't use the word "meta-narrative" in this review). End of all Things is a dopey little movie, hampered by convoluted storytelling, ridiculous and overblown effects, and sound quality that will rupture the eardrums of hyenas.
Here's the story: Isbell plays an independent movie producer from Tulsa, Oklahoma, struggling to get his pictures distributed by a Hollywood studio. The constant rejection takes a toll on his psyche, so he decides to put together the ultimate action movie. To accomplish this formidable task, he decides to craft sequences so authentic they look real, and in fact are real. If he has to set a girl on fire in a convenience store, so be it. Or have someone really get his head blown off in a gunfight. Or drown his actress in a pool. It's no holds barred, and his methods soon envelope the city of Tulsa in chaos. But they haven't seen anything yet. The grand finale is yet to come: a nuclear explosion. Can the United States government intercede before Tulsa is turned into a smoking crater?
All of this is merely an excuse for Isbell to play with some funky camera angles and rudimentary effects like slow motion, audio distortion and welfare visual wizardry. For the 90-odd minutes this sucker runs, buckle in for incessant, poorly-rendered explosions imposed over the live action and profoundly cheeseball effects like -- what appears to be -- explosions lifted from Streets of Rage 2 and pasted onto the barrels of shotguns. There's simply way too much of this crap.
But that's not the worst part. No, what makes this film close-to-unwatchable is horrendous sound. I seriously feared for the life of my speakers. Distorted and scratchy, the audio mix sounded like that Camaro with the blown speakers that the kid who thought he was really cool drove around with Sir Mix-a-Lot blaring at the highest volume the stock deck would go to. Horrid, horrid, horrid.
Add to that the lack of a menu system, no chapter selection, no special features and a cheap-ass full frame transfer, and you've got a disc with faults so overwhelming, it swallows any semblance of innovation Isbell had going, which, unfortunately, was not much to begin with. Stand clear, kids.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Pro-Active Entertainment
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono (English)
Running Time: 95 Minutes
Release Year: 2004
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Official Site