Plot: What’s it about?
Vanessa Hudgens stars as Apple, an impregnated teen who runs away from her abusive mother June Bailey (Rosario Dawson) to go live with her father. Brendan Fraser plays her father, and when he learns she’s pregnant, he turns her down. Apple wishes to live with her father after she’s had a rough history with all of her previous living arrangements, including a foster parent who used to sexually abuse her. Apple is then forced to live on the streets and she then finds a friend in Frank McCarthy (James Earl Jones). Frank is a priest and is more than willing to guide Apple towards a better path. Clearly she’s reluctant at first, but she eventually warms up to him. Apple also warms up to the other girls at the shelter for pregnant girls where she now lives. Credit must be given to the makeup team here, because both Hudgens and Dawson are hardly recognizable here. It wasn’t until the end credits that I actually knew Rosario Dawson was in the film. I wish I had more kind words to say about the rest of the film, but sadly I just can’t muster much praise. Read on.
I admire the heart behind the story (which is fact-based), but too often, it’s simply over-dramatic and cheesy. There’s about a scene too many of Apple’s abusive mother confronting her and getting into an altercation with her. In one scene she shows up after a church service and accuses Apple of being a beggar (among other things). It just lost me after a while. Much of this film feels like a Lifetime special made exclusively for women. I admire Hudgens getting deep into the role, but it sometimes feels as if she’s auditioning on stage. She definitely doesn’t take a subtle approach here. There are other obvious plot elements as well. One of the girls at the shelter wants to run away and make it on her own and of course, wants Apple to join her. Apple’s father eventually comes around, but we’ve seen this all before. I was reminded (slightly) of Monster, which starred Charlize Theron as a prostitute-turned-serial killer. It was certainly harder to sympathize with that character, it at least displayed a more honest look at this kind of life. I won’t say Shelter is without its merits, however. There’s an effective scene between Apple and her father late in the picture that could’ve gone in a different, more dramatic direction. Thankfully, it stays more true to real life and in turn, is more effective because of it. I wish the rest of the film felt like this. I wanted to like the film, but couldn’t. It’s well-intentioned, but ultimately too sappy for its own good. Skip it.
Video: How’s it look?
While the transfer is essentially worry-free, I did find the colors to appear a bit washed out and duller than I would’ve liked. It’s by no means a bad transfer, but I just wish the colors had a bit more brightness to them. Maybe this was intentional to present the film more accurately, but I wasn’t crazy about it. Details were strong and flesh tones appeared accurate. Rosario Dawson wore false teeth in this film and it certainly shows, probably not something many WANT to see, but it’s here and in HD no less. So ultimately, if your expectations aren’t too high then I think you’ll find this transfer satisfying.
The image is AVC encoded with a 2.35:1 ratio.
Audio: How’s it sound?
The DTS HD track accompanies the film as it should. I doubt anyone will use this disc to show of their system, but that’s fine. It serves the film well with accurate sounding vocals that were always clear. There are a few occasions of background noise on the streets and on scene where Apple wrecks a car, but mostly this is front heavy. Fans should have no issues with this track.
Supplements: What are the extras?
- Deleted Scenes – Just under six minutes, most are extended bits. There is a nice moment that reveals more about the James Earl Jones character and his past. It’s worth checking out.
- Making of Gimme Shelter – This piece goes for about 13 minutes and is a pretty standard look behind the scenes. We see some of the real life people the film is based on and why the film was made. There are decent notes, but it’s pretty self-congratulatory.
- Digital Copy