There are certain movies out there that are destined to be hits. I’m talking Harry Potter and Batman or, essentially, any super hero movie. We know it and we accept it. One thing that’s always fascinated me about the movie business are those little films that could. You know what I’m talking about here, those films like Clerks or My Big Fat Greek Wedding. Those that were made on a small budget and became both critically and commercially successful. Good for them, I say. In June 2013 a little movie called The Purge hit theaters and though it was lacking in the “critically-acclaimed” department, it managed to rack up $65 million at the box office. Not bad when you consider the budget for the film was a scant $3 million. Not surprisingly a sequel is already in the works. I suppose there’s no discernible formula to make one of these films – if there was, everyone would be making them, right? Nevertheless, no matter what your take on this type of film let’s delve into this little movie that could and hope that it’s not a predictor of the future.
The Purge poses a question of morals, set ten years in the future everything is fine. Unemployment is under 1%, crime is at an all-time low and the “new” founding fathers have attributed this to an annual “purge.” What is this, you ask? Once a year, for a 12 hour period, anything goes. All murder is legal, all hospitals and other services (fire and police) will not respond. Yes, there are those that are immune, but by and large this is a chance for all to vent. Literally. James Sandin (Ethan Hawke) has managed to prosper in this new economy as his company sells security systems. He’s done very well for himself and when the purge hits, he’s got nothing to fear. This changes when his son, Charlie (Max Burkholder) lets a potential victim (Edwin Hodge) in the house. The mob that was after this “bloody stranger” (that’s actually how he’s credited in the movie) isn’t too happy that he’s under protection, so they give an ultimatum: release the stranger so they can kill him, else they’ll break in and everyone dies. What to do. What to do?
I’ll go on record here and will say that I think I’d be in favor of a purge. Granted it’ll never happen, but to get rid of some folks that are sucking our government dry of money might make for a moral booster, don’t you think? Let the hate mails ensue, I could care less. Anyway, I digress…I actually liked The Purge and have always been a big fan of Ethan Hawke, even back in his days in movies like Explorers and Dead Poet’s Society. The movie is simple to figure out, it’s short (86 minutes) and delivers a pretty quick one-two punch. What’s not to like? Hawke is the only recognizable name here, but that’s fine since the story itself is what really drives it. Without giving too much away, the movie does end in somewhat of an open-ended nature…which obviously paves the way for the sequel. For some bona fide thrills, I’d check this out – just make sure the doors are locked.
Video: How’s it look?
Universal presents The Purge in a pristine 2.40:1 AVC HD transfer that’s really hard to knock. Granted it’s a new to Blu-ray movie and, as such we can expect little (or no) errors to surface and this is indeed the case here. The majority of the film takes place at night and/or indoors, and black levels and contrast work very well off one another. Detail is impeccable as we see the individual hairs on Hawke’s mane of hair, the little nuances of blood on the various shirts throughout and the eeriness of those damn masks. Suffice it to say that this is yet another shining example of a new to Blu-ray film that just looks downright amazing. Enough said.
Audio: How’s it sound?
What impressed me even more than the way this looked was the way that it sounded. This robust DTS HD Master Audio soundtrack is hitting all the marks with vocals sounding rich and strong, surrounds are effectively used and a very heavy front stage. The main thing that stood out to me was the sheer depth of the soundtrack. The sound that the doors made when the house was secured (or unsecured), the sound of the guns when fired and the sound of the door coming off the front of the house. It’s a great-sounding mix and it certainly added another element of tension to the film.
Supplements: What are the extras?
Unfortunately, even with the success of the film, we’re treated to only one scant extra: “Surviving the Night: The Making of The Purge” – in this we get some behind the scenes interviews, the motivation for the script and a few clips from the movie.