Plot: What’s it about?
Antonio (Mario Lopez) has just turned twenty-one, which means he is to be released from prison. After he fell in with some bad elements, Antonio found himself in serious trouble and as such, was forced to leave behind the life he started. So now he returns to the streets as a free man, with no intentions to go back to crime, as he wants to remain on the right side of the law. He seeks to rebuild his life from the ground up and as such, he wants to attain some good friends and keep out of trouble’s path as much as possible. But he soon finds himself around Armando de la Rose (Efrain Figueroa), a local crime boss who wants to give Antonio a job, no strings attached. As time passes, the line between legal and illegal tasks from de la Rose becomes thinner, which makes Antonio nervous and ruins the trust involved. The streets of east Los Angeles are rougher than ever for Antonio, who must survive not only his problems, but also those of the people he associates with, including de la Rosa.
I was not expecting much from Eastside, from premise to the cast to the apparent lack of budget, it all seemed like a recipe for cinematic trash. I’ve now seen the film of course and while it didn’t change my tune that much, Eastside was much better than I had figured. The storyline is rehashed from the start, but the characters are well written and that makes it tolerable, although some new touches would have been welcome. Even with all the cliches however, this one turns out decent enough, kind of like a flick you find on cable and watch through to the end. I don’t know that I’d watch this one often, but I can see myself revisiting Eastside at point, perhaps sooner than later even. Mario Lopez is better than expected, while the supporting cast is also solid, which such names as Mark Espinoza, Richard Lynch, and Elizabeth Bogush on deck. Although Eastside is predictable and not too original, I think it would make a worthwhile rental, to those interested. If you like it a lot however, Artisan has delivered a fine all around disc, so don’t hesitate to pick this one up, it’s well worth the cash involved.
I am pretty sure most of us remember Mario Lopez from his days on Saved By The Bell, but he has done some other projects, including Eastside of course. I’ve never expected much out of former television stars like Lopez, so his work never disappoints and here, he seems better than usual to be sure. I don’t think he deserves a truckload of awards by any means, but Lopez does provide a stable lead here, which the film needs in desperate ways. So don’t expect a breakthrough performance here, but I do think Lopez is able to offer the kind of central turn Eastside needed to survive. In addition to his work on television’s Pacific Blue, Lopez can also be seen in such films as Colors, Depraved, A Crack In The Floor, and Fever Lake. The cast of Eastside also includes Efrain Figueroa (Desperate Measures, Star Maps), Elizabeth Bogush (Tv’s Titans), Gulshan Grover (The Second Jungle Book, Monsoon), Richard Lynch (Invasion USA, Scanner Cop), and Mark Espinoza (Terror in the Shadows, Bondoogle).
Video: How does it look?
Eastside is presented in a 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer. Given the low budget nature of this movie, I am very surprised with how well this visual presentation has turned out. The image looks very clean and sharp at all times, very minimal complaints to be made with this one, very impressive indeed. The colors have a natural gloss to them, but become vivid at times and flesh tones always seem normal, no discoloration at all. I saw no errors with contrast either, as detail remains strong throughout and black levels are well defined also. A few small issues surface here, but nothing serious and as such, I am giving this one very high marks.
Audio: How does it sound?
The included Dolby Digital 5.1 track is good, but lacks the depth and dynamics we usually expect from these surround options. A few scenes have some surround punch, but for the most part, the audio remains within the front channels here. But this is how it should be and instead of forcing surround use, this mix allows for a natural sound, which is always welcome indeed. So some surround presence is found here, especially from the musical soundtrack, but expect a low key, more conservative experience. This disc also includes a 2.0 surround track, in case that better suits your home theater needs.
Supplements: What are the extras?
This disc includes some talent files and the film’s trailer, but also has an audio commentary on deck, very cool indeed. On board here is director Lorena David, as well as Mario Lopez and producer Mark Roberts, who provide an interesting overall session. The three discuss their experiences within the production, as well as the various hurdles they faced, in terms of finance and creative means. If you liked the movie, then I recommend you give this track a spin, it’s well worth the time.