Get on the Bus

January 28, 2012 7 Min Read

Review by: Fusion3600

Plot: What’s it about?

This film doesn’t have much of a traditional storyline, so if this synopsis seems weak, rest assured the film is filled with plot movement and character development. The star of this film is a large bus, driven by George (Charles Dutton) and the mission of this bus is to carry a load of black men to The Million Man March. As the bus travels to Washington, D.C., the men inside learn more about each other and the problems they face. The man in charge seems to be Jeremiah (Ossie Davis), who is an elder with good advice, although not all of the men will listen to him. The band of riders is diverse and unique, with each man having his own reasons for taking the trip, even if they’re unsure of the reasons just yet. Some of the bus riders include an angry actor (Andre Braugher), a homosexual (Isaiah Washington), a recently fired airline worker, a former gang member, and all sorts of other people, from all walks of life. Will this bus trip and the march change these men at all and if so, how will they change their lives afterwards?

The basic premise seems a little contrived and the film can become very contrived, but Get On The Bus is a solid motion picture in the end. I wasn’t that impressed with it on the whole, but then again, I wasn’t let down much either. As usual, Spike Lee’s direction is basic and uninspiring, but his cast more than compensates for his shortcomings here. At the head of an impressive ensemble cast are Charles Dutton and Ossie Davis, who turn in superb performances in this picture. I also found the other cast members to be good also, which adds a lot of depth to the film and that’s always welcome in a flick such as this. I found the material to be decent for the most part, which means some parts were terrific, some were average, and some was downright awful. But the cast makes the best of the weaker sections and as such, the film never lags much. I think this runs too long overall and has some slow spots, but in the end, Get On The Bus is recommended, though a rental should handle most cases.

I don’t think he is a bad director by any means, but I’ve never understood why Spike Lee is so praised. I have liked several of his films and think his work is solid, but he has no real signature elements, aside from overuse of the race card at times. I have no problem with someone using racial issues in a film, but Lee seems obsessed with it, as very few of his films don’t linger on the issue. In that respect, I think Lee helps push stereotypes and the like, as he presents black people as usually drug users and criminals, which strikes me as odd. When Lee allows his characters to naturally develop, his movies turn out much better, but often forces them to be defined by their skin color, which is a sign of his weakness as an artist. Other films directed by Spike Lee include Do The Right Thing, Crooklyn, Mo’ Better Blues, Summer of Sam, Malcolm X, and Girl 6. The cast here is very solid and includes Ossie Davis (The Client, Grumpy Old Men), Bernie Mac (Above The Rim, House Party 3), Harry J. Lennix (Titus, Bob Roberts), Charles Dutton (Surviving The Game, Rudy), Richard Belzer (Species II, North), Andre Braugher (Thick as Thieves, Primal Fear), and many others.

Video: How does it look?

Get On The Bus is presented in a 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer, with a full frame version included on the disc’s flip side. This was a rather low budget picture, so some grain appears on the print, but this is still a solid effort. I saw no evidence of compression errors here, while the source print shows minimal marks and debris. The colors and contrast look pretty good also, but the grain does hinder the sharpness at times. This is an adequate transfer, but due to the abundance of grain present, I am forced to knock the score somewhat.

Audio: How does it sound?

The included Dolby Digital 5.0 track is a good one, which provides an active audio experience. I think the track hits the high points with the musical soundtrack, which sounds full and terrific in this mix. There isn’t much in terms of sound effects, but the ones that do come up are handled well, though your surrounds won’t have to work much here. The focus here is the dialogue, which is present in crisp and fine form here. This disc also includes 2.0 surround tracks in English and French, as well as subtitles in English, French, and Spanish.

Supplements: What are the extras?

This disc includes some talent files, as well as an audio commentary track from director Spike Lee. In between patting his actors on the bus, Lee gives some good production information, although on the whole, Lee is too self promotional in the end. If you like this film though, I think you should give the commentary track a spin.

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