The Darwin Awards

January 28, 2012 4 Min Read

Review by: Fusion3600

Plot: What’s it about?

Detective Michael Burrows (Joseph Fiennes) is a brilliant profiler, he can deduce incredible details about people, even from the quickest assessment. So he serves an important purpose on the San Francisco Police Department, where he helps profile crime scenes and of course, the criminals involved. He is also obsessed with The Darwin Awards, which are given to people who lose their lives thanks to stupid decisions, therefore helping the human gene pool. Another quirk is that despite his crime scene awareness, the mere sight of blood causes him to faint. When this illness causes him to lose a murder suspect, he is cut loose from the force and seeks to help insurance companies follow up on unusual claims. He is partnered with a claims investigator (Winona Ryder) and if he can use his profiling skills in this avenue, he’ll land a permanent job. But as he soon discovers, there is a lot more to those he profiles and to his own lifestyle choices.

As a fan of The Darwin Awards website, I was curious how the concept would lend itself to cinema. I have to admit the overall result is inconsistent, but the actual Darwin Award recreations are impressive. The unusual death and injury scenes are well crafted and sometimes ingenious. The sequence where the two investigate a missing truck in particular, as that one scene is reason enough to watch The Darwin Awards. But outside of those recreations, the movie is not that great. Not bad, but not good and I was always just waiting on the next Darwin Award recreation. Joseph Fiennes tries his best, but comes off as a weaker Monk type, while Winona Ryder looks good, but the role doesn’t give her much to work with. The other bright spot is all the cameos, so at least its fun to see who pops up next as the movie rolls on. The Darwin Awards turns out to be mildly entertaining, highlighted by the death/injury set pieces, so I think a rental is the best call.

Video: How does it look?

The Darwin Awards is presented in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen. As you’d expect from a new release, this transfer looks terrific and leaves little room for concern, some great work from Fox here. The film’s bright and bold visuals come across in full impact here, with vivid colors streaming throughout the picture, high detail presence, well defined black levels, and no signs of errors, so it all looks flawless, almost. I did note a couple of small problems, but nothing to be worried about and fans should be satisfied.

Audio: How does it sound?

The audio here is well presented, but this kind of material is not always ideal for audio bliss, so don’t expect much beyond the basics. There is some nice surround presence and dynamic audio at times, but for the most part, this is dialogue driven and based in the front channels, which is what the material seems natural within. But the Darwin Award recreations do allow the surrounds to open up, so those sequences sound terrific. The vocals come through in clean, crisp form and the music sounds good also, no real complaints to be made. This disc also includes English and Spanish subtitles.

Supplements: What are the extras?

This disc includes a seven minute promotional featurette, as well as some brief cast & crew interviews.

Disc Scores