Plot: What’s it about?
There are some movies that come around and we don’t hear much about them. Some are “critically acclaimed” and find new life when it reaches home video (DVD). Some, like “Shoot em Up” are just bad movies. Yep, if you missed this disaster in the theaters there’s probably a reason why and you’ll probably be glad that you didn’t waste your hard-earned money on this pitiful excuse for a movie. Now I’m sure that this film has its fans, every bad movie does and the Internet Movie Database rates this (as rated by users) at a 7.2 which means that there are fans of this movie out there, but I’m not one of them. Writer/Director Michael Davis first penned this movie eight years ago just before the Columbine shootings and, thus, he sat on the script for a while for logical reasons. Davis then went onto write and direct a series of independent films like “100 Girls”, “Girl Fever” and “Monster Man” before embarking on this journey. How he secured Clive Owen and Paul Giamatti for the leads in this movie I’ll have no idea, but I don’t think either one of them will be getting another Oscar nomination for their work here.
Owen stars as Smith, someone we know nothing about but through bits and pieces sprinkled throughout the film. Smith, a loner, has a passion for carrots and a seemingly never-ending supply of them throughout the movie (this is never fully explained and probably for good reason). Smith encounters a pregnant woman about to get whacked by a hit man, but not before Smith kills him with, you guessed it, a carrot. The woman delivers a baby only to die shortly thereafter and Smith is now an unwilling father. Smith has to then endure thousands of bullets whizzing by and evidently newborn babies aren’t bothered by the sound of gunfire (or at least this one wasn’t). We learn that Hertz (Paul Giamatti) is after the baby to kill him as the bone marrow in the child is to be used to help heal a potential Presidential candidate. We’re kind of all over the map here, aren’t we? Smith then takes refuge in Donna (Monica Bellucci), a prostitute who serves as the child’s source for food. The rest of the movie is the same as the first, plenty of sliding through doors, carrot-eating and a whole lot of shooting.
I was thankful that the movie was only 86 minutes long as I don’t think I could have endured much more. I will give it to Michael Davis, it’s obvious he does have talent and there are some pretty funny one-liners in the movie. Clive Owen gets most of the good parts and Paul Giamatti is trying his darndest to make something out of nothing. Davis is obviously inspired by John Woo movies and his homage to Woo’s operatic style is a miserable failure. There’s no grace to this gritty film and the violence is seemingly endless. Granted I realize the title of the movie is called “Shoot em Up”, but you figure that the movie would have some redeeming qualities and I was hard-pressed to find any. Owen had come off a string of pretty high-profile movies before this, with “Children of Men”, “Closer” and “Sin City” to name just a few. Love it or hate it, “Shoot em Up” is here, but you’ve now been warned…
Video: How does it look?
Until I put “Shoot ’em Up” in the Blu-ray player, I’d only seen one of New Line’s HD titles and I was amazed at how good it looked. Granted, it was “Hairspray” and that probably set the bar very high. This offering isn’t quite the polished piece of perfection that “Hairspray” was and is, but then again it’s not supposed to be. The 2.40:1 VC-1 HD transfer looks great and as gritty as the movie is, this transfer embraces that and gives us a very stylized look and feel. The creases in the actors’ faces are more visible, the darks are darker and the flesh tones have a very surreal feel to them. This looked like a Robert Rodriguez movie. There’s a bit of grit in some scenes, but it’s nearly impossible to tell if it was done intentionally or a fault of the transfer. Considering New Line consistently put out top notch transfers on standard DVD, I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt here. While the plot may not be superb, the transfer is.
Audio: How does it sound?
Again, New Line gives us one hell of an audio mix with a near flawless DTS Master Audio mix. Again, I compare this to “Hairspray” which was so fluid and robust that it seemed hard to top. Then again, comparing this movie to “Hairspray” is apples to oranges (or perhaps I should say, carrots). As the title suggests, there is plenty of shooting and I was hard-pressed to find many scenes that didn’t culminate in some sort of gunfight. The soundtrack is never challenged and I have to admit that this is one movie that really makes it fun to own a surround sound system. New Line has again delivered on the technical level.
Supplements: What are the extras?
New Line has vowed that they’re going “Blu-ray” only in light of Warner’s announcement and as such, we get a pretty well-equipped disc. We start off with a commentary track by writer/director Michael Davis, though a lot of his comments are a bit redundant on the picture in picture commentary (it’s about time Blu-ray, HD DVD has had this since its inception)! There are nine deleted and extended scenes, all available with or without commentary by Davis and we get the obligatory “Making of…” featurette as well. There are also three trailers included.