The Mountain Between Us Blu-ray Review
Love in the face of adverse weather conditions
Idris Elba and Kate Winslet do a by-the-numbers The Edge-style survival flick blended with an unnecessarily contrived by-the-numbers romance.Palestinian director Hany Abu-Assad's romantic survival drama starts off well enough, with Idris Elba's surgeon boarding a plane with a rushing-to-get-to-her-wedding Kate Winslet, both desperate to make it through a deadly storm which has grounded all sane pilots by whatever means necessary, leaving their twin-prop unsurprisingly torn to shreds. After an innovative in-plane crash scene, we get a well-paced recovery sequence, as the two lick their wounds before deciding how they are going to deal with this - stay put until they run out of food, or try and get down off the mountain and risk death in doing so. So far, so by the numbers. But Abu-Assad gives us a decent enough first act.Ultimately The Mountain Between Us doesn't fall apart in its near unending montage of survival movie cliches, badly edited into an almost literal best-of compilation as the two stumble their way through the harsh terrain, but actually in its increasingly dominant romantic subplot. It's got some decent beats to it, and the two leads have the acting chops - and chemistry - to make it work, but the script is infantile and frequently painfully so ("I've never felt so alive"), making the focus on burgeoning love an ugly eyesore in the beautiful landscape. It's a shame as it leaves the film without an identity; neither a good survival flick nor a good romance, it just sits uncomfortably with a cold foot in both camps.
Picture QualityThe Mountain Between Us comes to UK Region Free Blu-ray courtesy of 20th Century Fox who offers up a reliably impressive 1080p/AVC-encoded High Definition video presentation framed in the movie's original theatrical aspect ratio of 2.4:1 widescreen.
With a serviceable budget, and a few decent effects blended in to keep your suspension of belief in, the digitally shot production mainly stands out in terms of the stunning location shots, bringing the cold and brutal snowy environment to life in all its two-tone blue-and-white magnificence.
A largely demo offering.
Detail is really very good indeed, offering fine object focus on the wreckage of the plane and the weary visages of the lead characters, and arguably given better focal material through these elements than the wide open expanse, which merely affords picture-postcard broad vistas that, admittedly, look excellent themselves. Darker sequences hold up with minimal problems, perhaps struggling a little under the rudimentary lighting conditions, but still rounding out what is a largely demo offering that's just shy of reference perfection.
Sound QualityFox's UK Blu-ray release affords the film the same spectacular DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 track that adorned the US Region Free disc released over Christmas, delivering the aural side of things with keen precision and a suitably amount of punch where necessary.
Demo and reference excellence.
Certainly the first act affords some of the most conventionally bombastic material with the emergency and ensuing crash, but the isolated locale is hardly a breeze, with an almost perpetual harsh wind beating across the surrounds, and plenty of surprise pitfalls along the way not least including the predatory wildlife. The bleak and unforgiving environment allows for a surprisingly claustrophobic atmosphere, and whilst dialogue remains firmly prioritised across the frontal array, and is delivered clearly and coherently throughout, it's this aforementioned atmosphere that stands out, alongside perhaps the effective score. Demo and reference excellence.
ExtrasThe UK package also matches up to its US counterpart in terms of extras, with a decent package headlined by an Audio Commentary from Director Hany Abu-Assad, which is suitably complemented by a number of additional features.
A decent package.
Love and Survival: Creating Chemistry spends the best part of a quarter of an hour looking at the integral relationship between the two leads, whilst the 10 minute Mountain Between Them: Shooting in Isolation focuses more on the striking backdrop. There's also a 5 minute Featurette, The Wilds: Survival Stunts, that focuses on key elements like the crash, and the disc is rounded off by a quarter of an hour of Deleted Scenes - complete with Optional Director's Commentary - as well as a Gallery and Trailer.
VerdictNeither a good survival flick nor a good romance.
20th Century Fox's Region Free UK Blu-ray release of The Mountain Between Us matches up to the preceding US Region Free release from late last year in terms of excellent video and hard-to-beat audio, also affording us a decent selection of extra features, leaving this a very good release for fans to pick up. Those interested in these kinds of survival flicks will likely find nothing new here, with two game and engaging actors put through the frozen ringer and unfortunately forced to commit to an unnecessary and contrived romantic subplot with equal aplomb. But it's Elba and Winslet doing survival romance, leaving it seldom less than watchable at the end of the day.
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