Big Trouble in Little Movie
It’s always interesting to see what veteran actor Samuel L. Jackson – who has been in over 100 movies in a film career that stretches over four decades – does in-between his bouts as the former Director of SHIELD.Certainly he’s not been above picking a few prize turkeys, with reliable supporting roles in Tarantino’s films largely being the only non-blockbuster work of any significant merit he’s done over the last few years. Yet for all the flops he certainly picks some diverse work, and a few ridiculously silly gems certainly prove worth watching if you can trawl through the rest, not least the love-it-or-hate-it Snakes on a Plane, a limited budget semi-comedy action-horror flick which was thoroughly unpretentious and largely preposterous fun. Jackson’s Big Game almost falls into the same category, a similarly limited-budget Finnish production with a glossy finish that often makes it indiscernible from films which cost a hell of a lot more. Looking like Air Force One crossed with Cliffhanger, only by way of a 13 year old Finnish star, Big Game is a strange little beast that won’t quite entertain the same ‘Snakes crowd, but at least distinguishes itself from Jackson’s usual inter-MCU DTV trash.It tells some preposterously convoluted tale of a young teen boy on his first solo hunt in the wilderness who comes across the crashed escape pod from Air Force One, containing none other than the President of the United States. With terrorists hot on their trail – looking to kidnap and publicly execute the man – it’s up to the two of them to escape and evade in the depths of the wilderness. Big Game feels like it was almost entirely borne from the mind of a child. This seems like nothing but a criticism, but if seen through those eyes, it actually gives the cheap and cheerful little feature – which jumps from one clichéd setpiece to the next – a unique edge. This isn’t so much the tale of Sam Jackson’s President kicking ass Air Force One style, it’s as if a child watched White House Down or Olympus Has Fallen and went on a camping trip and imagined himself the hero who saves the President’s life from gun-toting villains. It far from succeeds in doing everything it sets out to do, but the lack of pretentiousness, wilderness setting, and presence of Sam Jackson all go a long way to make a nothing movie something more than nothing.
Big Game certainly looks a far more visually impressive feature than it arguably should.
The UK Region B-locked Blu-ray release promotes a slick, polished 1080p/AVC-encoded High Definition video presentation which certainly does a great job with the digital cinematography which, in turns, shows just how far you can go with a decent HD camera, some good locations, a little slo-mo and a large helping of Abrams’ signature lens flare. There’s plenty of detail on offer, with the piece afforded excellent skin textures, background flourishes, clothing weaves and location-based depth. Scene-setting shots reveal stunning landscapes in all their glory, whilst even some of the more effects-driven sequences (despite the budget) remaining pretty sharp. There are no obvious flaws – digital or otherwise – and overall it’s a largely impressive presentation.
The accompanying DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track also does a great job with the material.
Whilst promoting dialogue up front and centre, clearly and coherently across the frontal array, it’s the effects – and perhaps even the score – which allow Big Game to take on a far grander feel than it rightly ought to, with several well-staged explosive setpieces allowing for plenty of dynamic range, LFE input and surround usage. From the powerful thrum of Air Force One soaring the skies to the thunderous roar of the missile launchers the terrorists hope to bring it down with; from the heavy impact automatic weapons fire to the whipping of helicopter blades overhead, whatever little this film has to offer it promotes in the best possible way, dominating the array with power and potency. It’s a surprisingly grand-scale offering which helps the film further stand out.
ExtrasA short series of Interviews with the Cast and Crew, and a VFX Breakdown comprise the only extras on offer here, but that still bests the US Anchor Bay release. Although some might argue that at least the US disc offered both the Theatrical and Unrated Cuts of the film, not only is Big Game uncensored on its 15-rated UK BD debut (reinstating Jackson’s signature M-word from the cut Theatrical release which was 12A) but we appear to have gotten the longer cut first time around anyway.
Blu-ray VerdictBig Game doesn’t even attempt to break conventions, instead celebrating its offbeat blend of Cliffhanger and a straight-face Home Alone, and all the President-in-danger actioners out there, from Air Force One to, more recently, White House Down and Olympus Has Fallen. Seen from the viewpoint of the child that is arguably its true star – as something of a kid’s fantasy – it’s unpretentious fun, although it far from hits all the right notes even with such limited aspirations.
A little bit goes a long way in this silly piece of preposterous fun.
Despite the budgetary restrictions, Big Game looks and sounds far better than it rightly ought to and, with a couple of extras to round off the disc, even the BD package is decent enough for fans to enjoy. I’m sure most will – understandably – wait until this is added to Netflix before checking it out; as long as you don’t expect much, it’s a enjoyable little action-adventure to pass the time with.
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