PG-13 Dir: Catherine Hardwicke | Sony | 1h 44min
Plot: What’s it about?
One of the recurring thoughts running through my mind while watching Miss Bala is that I really must seek out the original film of the same name. Not only have several reviews stated that this recent remake is far inferior to the original film, but this one just feels so watered down and pedestrian. I will say that it’s probably not quite as bad as you’ve heard, but it’s still not very good either.
Gloria Fuentes (Gina Rodriguez) is an LA makeup artist who hopes to become a fashion designer one day. She travels to Mexico to help her friend Suzu (Christina Rodlo), but Suzu ends up being abducted. Now Gloria finds herself caught in the middle of drug deals and CIA and DEA business when all she really wants is to get her friend back and go back home. It’s clear that Gloria is in a tough situation, not always knowing exactly who to trust, but the film failed to engage me. There were some early moments that showed promise, and admittedly there were some tense scenes. I’m thinking of when Gloria is attempting to cross the border with money tapped to her body and hidden underneath her car. This scene has some real tension. Unfortunately, that’s just one moment in an otherwise lousy film.
As much as I wanted to enjoy this film, it failed to really click. Part of the reason I feel is the limiting PG-13 rating. The action scenes are loud, but the film feels as if it’s holding back much of the time. That isn’t to say that the R rating would have improved it to the level of greatness, but it would’ve added a welcome grittiness to a film that feels too polished. Rodriguez does fine in the lead even though she doesn’t have much to work with. All I want to do now is check out the original. You can safely skip this one.
Video: How’s it look?
There’s a very unique look and feel to some of the scenes in the movie. Sony has presented this in a very attractive 2.40:1 AVC HD image that’s just short of perfection. Given the visual style of the film, we can (and do) get a lot of dark shots that pave the way for some very solid contrast and stark black levels. The image isn’t challenged at all and I was impressed how well the film held up in some of these scenes. Detail is top notch. This Blu-ray leaves little to the imagination.
Audio: How’s it sound?
This DTS HD Master Audio soundtrack is all over the map, much like the movie itself. I want to say parts of it are like a Fast and Furious film while others try to be a little more James Bond-esque. Suffice it to say that it’s not bad by any stretch, but just a bit overindulgent from time to time. Vocals are crisp and pure, just as we’d expect. The surrounds seem to be overused in some scenes, but they do their part. It’s good, and sometimes dizzying, mix that’s sure to please.
Supplements: What are the extras?
- Deleted and Extended Scenes – Eight are included.
- The Future Is Female
- She’s a Pochita Like Me
- Pageant Dance with Crew
- Where’s Suzu
- Don’t Forget Your Toothbrush
- You’re Safe
- I Know How You Felt
- A Look into the Stunts and Costumes with Catherine Hardwicke – The wardrobes and action rehearsal aspects of the film are profiled here and in pretty intricate detail. I wouldn’t have thought that the costumes of this film were anything special, but it goes to show how precise some of these wardrobe choices really are. Moving on the stunts are shown with the pre-preparation and attention to safety are followed.
- Audio Commentary – Director Catherine Hardwicke, Executive Producer Jamie Marshall, and Associate Producer Shayda Frost combine to form a pretty good track, full of information. Some of the information is repeated in the featurettes (and why not?), but for fans of the film who are looking for a very technically-minded track – look no further.
- Featurettes – Three very basic and brief features that cover some of the film’s more technical aspects.
- Gina: The Unstoppable Strength of a Woman – The headliner is profiled here as is her character and her take on the film.
- The Bigger the Bang: Action on Set – Essentially just that, the stunts, shooting locales and so forth.
- Making of Miss Bala – The obligatory EPK with interviews with the cast and crew as well as some behind the scenes footage.
The Bottom Line
While not as bad as you’ve probably heard, Miss Bala is still a stinker. It just fails to go anywhere interesting. At least it makes me want to seek out the original film. The execution here feels too pedestrian and standard. Skip it.