I haven’t seen a film as bad as Hereafter in a long time. And it’s surprising. Clint Eastwood behind the camera, Matt Damon in front, it makes you wonder how the film could turn out to be so terrible. Dealing with death and life after death, what could have been an intriguing and powerful film, turns into a two hour snooze fest. The film misses the mark on just about every count and aside from one very well done sequence, there isn’t much worth seeing here. Now that Hereafter has hit Blu-Ray, it’s time to revisit it. Why exactly did the film flop so hard? Read on and find out.
Hereafter is a mess. An absolute mess where nothing works and everything fails. The film literally peaks in its opening sequence, which is a very well done and rather breathtaking Tsunami scene. The effects are great and it’s staged perfectly. Unfortunately, what follows is a lethargic, slow moving and relatively lifeless film that will have you looking at your watch more than you would hope to.
The film covers three story lines, which really don’t have anything to do with each other. Aside from the overarching theme of death and the afterlife, and an unconvincing and arbitrary ending where all three characters insignificantly cross paths, the three story arcs are pretty much stand alone.
First we have George, played apathetically by Matt Damon. George is a psychic who can speak to the dead. He has gained this ‘power’ due to a surgery he had when he was younger where he died a few times on the table but eventually pulled through. Ever since then he has been able to communicate with the dead. Entirely believable, right? George has retired from the profession though, he doesn’t want to talk to the dead anymore. “It’s not a gift, it’s a curse!” he cries, as his brother (Jay Mohr) tries to persuade him to continue. True happiness doesn’t find George until he enrolls in a cooking class and meets Melanie (Bryce Dallas Howard). When he starts to fall for her, he tries harder than ever to distance himself from his special ‘gift’.
Next there is French telejournalist Marie (Cecile de France). While nearly drowning in a Tsunami, she experiences a near death experience that changes her attitude and perspective on everything. She believes that during her near death experience, she visited the afterlife and is now determined to write a book about it.
Lastly, we have Marcus, a young British boy (played alternately by George and Frankie McLaren), who tries to cope with the death of his identical twin brother, who died in an accident caused by some school bullies. Marcus also has to deal with his mother, a junkie who can’t properly care for him.
Check out the rest of our Hereafter review.
Although Warner Bros. provides a nice Blu-Ray package for the film but it still doesn’t make up for how bad the movie is.
Accurate colours and lifelike felshtones appear throughout and contrast is very solid. Detail is strong, especially facial detail and while the Tsunami scene still looks great, it does look a lot more fake than it did in theatres, but that was inevitable. Tom Stern’s wonderful cinematography shines and despite a bit of softness here and there, the picture looks really good. Audio is also great. The crashing of the waves during the Tsunami sound all too real as they ferociously destroy everything in their path. Easily the highlight in terms of audio, the Tsunami scene sounds very good. The rest of the track is strong as well though as dialogue is reproduced quite clearly and Eastwood’s score haunts the track perfectly. Atmospheric and environmental effects are balanced well and overall, it’s quite an immersive track.
Special features include:
The focus points feature is the same thing we’ve seen with past Warner Bros. Blu-Rays, such as Inception and The Town. There are nine focus point featurettes and you can watch them individually (they total up to about 45 minutes) or you can watch them as a seamless in-movie experience. The featurettes explore things like making the Tsunami scene, what the cast thinks of the afterlife, the connection between twins, what the cast thinks of Clint, how the film was cast, the locations used for the film etc. Pretty much everything you’d expect is covered here.
The next and last feature is the 129 minute documentary on Clint Eastwood. Directed by Richard Schickel, the documentary alone may be worth the price of the Blu-Ray. Morgan Freeman narrates and takes us through Eastwood’s impressive career in a fascinating and often insightful manner. It’s a great documentary and well worth a watch for any Eastwood fan or any fan of film in general.
While the disc looks and sounds good enough, and the special features are pretty solid, the film itself is really bad. I could probably recommend this disc just for the Clint Eastwood documentary alone, but if you’re buying the Blu-Ray mainly for Hereafter, I’d urge you to reconsider. Especially if you haven’t yet seen the film. If you have seen it and you enjoyed it then the Blu-Ray would make for a good purchase. But if you’re new to the film, I’d highly recommend a rental first. Aside from the impressive Tsunami scene, there is nothing worth seeing here and ultimately the film turns into a two hour window to catch up on some sleep.
Movie Score: 1.5/5
Video Score: 3.5/5
Audio Score: 3.5/5
Special Features Score: 5/5
Overall Score: 3.5/5
Hereafter was released on Blu-Ray on March 15th, 2011