Looker

January 28, 2012 7 Min Read

Review by: Christopher Bligh

Plot: What’s it about?

Since the seventies, Michael Crichton has been a force on the printed page and behind the camera. With films like The Great Train Robbery, Westworld and his adaptation of Coma, he’s proven himself as a worthy writer-director. When it came to the early eighties, Crichton took a break to get a few films off the ground and Looker tells the tale of murder, technology, plastic surgery in the world of science fiction.

One day, a model brings specific measurements to plastic surgeon Dr. Larry Roberts (Albert Finney). What is not known is a series of deaths link to the same kind of measurements which puts Dr. Roberts in a corner and entering him in a world of corporate technology where models are being used in the hands of computer visualization and the ones behind everything have bigger plans beyond it all.

What started out as one thing turns out to be a combination of a lot of ideas without being fully centralized and Looker is a watchable and intriguing film with a feel that there could’ve been so much more with the material with the ideas given and a film at 93 minutes that should’ve been longer. There’s a lot of directions the film goes into and some of the effects give it some visual amusement but the overall effect is decent but never great. Granted, Crichton does solid work with very little dialogue, but it’s trying to put too many eggs in one basket that in this case hurt the films potential.

As for the actors, its good to see the cast together in the same movie. Albert Finney brings that charm with the ladies to the role of the top plastic surgeon in California and one that uses his intelligence to getting to the bottom of a deathly situation, Susan Dey proves to be a willing partner with Finney and James Coburn is in the film too brief to be in the same effective category with the other two making for more of an extended cameo than a decent supporting performance. Even though all of them bring a presence in the scenes they are in, like the film, it’s enough to be passable when there’s nothing else to watch but not enough to put it above average.

Video: How does it look?

Looker is shown in a widescreen presentation for the first time and if you compare it to its pan and scan predecessor on VHS, there is a big improvement. The 2.40:1 aspect ratio captures the visuals and the camerawork more effectively on DVD than any other format the film has been shown on, especially when one imaginative weapon is in use. There is a lot of colors and the film is more visual than relying on story and shooting the film wide captures an overall good looking film and a decent presentation on DVD in terms of picture quality.

Audio: How does it sound?

The Dolby Digital 2.0 track is not a wonder for the ears as it provides an average soundtrack of the time but does come into effect when a special weapon is fired throughout the film. Aside from this and a few effects, this provides an ordinary track of the early eighties that pretty much sums up a normal video soundtrack that doesn’t expand throughout the outer or inner channels of the home theater. This disc also has a French mono track along with English subtitles.

Supplements: What are the extras?

No matter how major or minor a title is from Warner, most of the time they go as far as they can go to make a solid DVD for their titles and this is no exception starting with an introduction to the film from director Michael Crichton and it’s interesting to see how he hasn’t changes much throughout the years along with giving a better than decent four minute take working on the film looking like an excerpt from a longer documentary.

Although that is not present on the DVD, instead the viewer is treated to an audio commentary by Crichton and he gives a detailed account into the making of the film and what caused this project to get the wheels in motion. What isn’t covered is scenes that were cut that appeared in the television version of the film, one of which this viewer had seen and felt would’ve benefited being included on the DVD or even in the film itself as it provided a key element into the motives of this mysterious corporation of visual presentation.

Despite that omission, like many directors who don’t get around to being on the audio end of chatting up about a film, its a commentary track like this that makes a viewer not only intrigued by his past work and the work being seen, but wishes that Crichton would do more of it for his own films along with the films that had his involvement in literary source or uncredited touch ups. Overall, a better than average look from the eyes and mouth of the director.

Finally, there is a theatrical trailer for Looker along with one strangely of The Dukes of Hazzard direct to DVD film.

With a lot of good ideas and not enough time to explore them with some credibility, Looker has its share of fun and intact visual look in the widescreen format but makes one viewer wish there was more to it than the finished product and the DVD makes for a good own for fans of the film, but a casual rental for others.

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