Powder Blue (2009) [Blu-ray]

Genre(s): Drama
Image Entertainment || R - 106 minutes - $35.98 || May 26, 2009
Reviewer: Brian Oliver || Posted On: 2009-07-13


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.:: F I L M ::.
The Film

S P E C I A L
.: F E A T U R E S :.

Special Features

.:: V I D E O ::.
Video

.:: A U D I O ::.
Audio

B L U - R A Y
.:: EXCLUSIVES ::.

Blu-ray Exclusives

.:: O V E R A L L ::.
Overall
.::MOVIE INFORMATION::.
Director: Timothy Linh Bui
Writer(s): Timothy Linh Bui & Stephane Gauger (story), Timothy Linh Bui (written by)
Cast: Jessica Biel, Ray Liotta, Eddie Redmayne, Forest Whitaker, Kris Kristofferson, Lisa Kudrow, Patrick Swayze


.::DVD INFORMATION::.
Supplemental Material:
  • Feature Commentary
  • Featurette
  • Photo Gallery
  • Trailer


Technical Information:
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Widescreen (2.40)
  • English (DTS-HD MA 5.1), English (Dolby Digital 5.1)
  • Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish

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.::THE FILM::.

Thanks to Crash, there have been an onslaught of ensemble dramas to come out of the woodwork over the years; most of them were either forgettable or downright bad. While Iím hesitant to say Powder Blue is a Ďbadí movie, I canít tell you its any good either.

One thing you have to know before even starting to watch the ensemble drama is a certain amount of suspension of disbelief. Going in, you know the plot has to be at least a little contrived in order to fit each characterís stories together including almost forcing them to interact with each other in some way, even for only a couple minutes (or yet a quick glance). Powder Blue luckily doesnít do too badly of a job with that sort of thing, though it is odd that out of the four main characters, only one has the thinnest connection with the rest.

Forest Whitaker, who also served as a producer, plays Charlie, a man who wants to give up on life after his new wife is killed in a car accident. He staggers around Los Angeles with his life savings in a backpack ready to give it to the person who will kill him because he cannot go through with it himself. After two unsuccessful approaches Ė one with a cross-dressing male hooker and the other a lonely mortician (more on him later) Ė he wonders the streets looking for answers and finally is befriended by a recently divorced waitress (Lisa Kudrow). Is she his savior?

Rose-Johnny aka Scarlett (Jessica Biel) is an exotic dancer with a comatose son in the hospital with only a prayer for a miracle keeping her sanity together. She works for an asshole of a boss Ė played by Patrick Swayze in a late 80s style hairdo Ė and has a masochistic side to her striptease (youíll know the scene). One night she is befriended by...

Jack Doheny (Ray Liotta), an ex-con who has recently been released after serving a 25-year stint for his crime boss (Kris Kristofferson in a very small role). Poor Jack, though, after finally getting freedom had found out he is dying of cancer and doesnít have long to live. But for some reason heís taken a liking to Scarlett.

Finally, slightly creepy and very lonely mortician Qwerty Doolittleís (Eddie Redmayne) story begins after he hits a dog... that belonged to Scarlett. See where this is going? Anywho, all Qwerty wants, other than a normal name, is a relationship with a woman but the problem is he gets nervous anytime heís around someone heís attracted to and needs a desperate hit on his inhaler.

On the surface, Powder Blue has all the signs of an average ensemble drama where everyone is connected with one another but unlike others that have come before (see: Crash, Even Money or The Air I Breathe), this one had so many laughably awful scenes mixed in with a surprisingly subpar performance from, especially, Mr. Ensemble Drama himself, Forest Whitaker. This isnít to say Biel, Liotta or that other guy gave grand performances or anything but Whitaker stood out as being the worst mainly because he was the odd man out of the entire story anyway.

Written and Directed by Timothy Linh Bui, Powder Blue has moments of great drama but I could not ignore those cheesy and laughable scenes that took me out of the story as a whole. It also didnít help that after only 15-20 minutes, I could accurately predict the transition from one character to another. In fact, that became my main focus for the rest of the movie. In any case, this is only Buiís second feature film, the last being Green Dragon in 2001 starring none other than Patrick Swayze and Forest Whitaker.

As far as the secondary characters go, theyíre pretty much only good to provide character development for the primary cast. Outside of probably Lisa Kudrow, they donít make much of an impact with throwaway or just plainly odd characters that add little to the story.

Perhaps for the ensemble junkie, Powder Blue might do it for you, even with the numerous lame Ė though hilarious Ė scenes. Now, for those interested, Biel does get naked but itís still doesnít make this a worthwhile movie. Maybe for a rental it is, otherwise just pass this by.



.::SPECIAL FEATURES::.

The movie comes with a standard feature commentary with writer/director Timothy Linh Bui and Producer Tracee Stanley; the basic Shooting Blue: The Making of Powder Blue (17:03) that goes over how the project came about and getting the cast together; a photo gallery and the trailer (1:55). Please note, the gallery does not contain any of Biel as a stripper...



.::AUDIO & VIDEO::.

Powder Blue is presented with a 2.40 aspect ratio and in 1080p high-definition. Overall, while itís a fairly detailed picture, itís also vastly oversaturated and fairly noisy in many scenes (this isnít a product of a bad transfer, just this type of film probably wasnít meant for high-definition). Also, black levels arenít the greatest either.

The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track sounds OK but this is a strictly dialogue and musically driven movie so thereís not much to judge. Dialogue levels were good and the music was also fine, but itís all just ho-hum and forgettable. I canít complain too much about it, but donít go in expecting very much.



.::OVERALL::.

Although Powder Blue had some potential, even without the tacky/laughable scenes and better performances, the movie still wouldíve been middle of the road fare compared with other ensemble dramas. This is obviously a product of the Crash phenom and writers (and studios) just hope they can strike gold as well.

Even so, the audio and video are fairly subpar and with the picture in particular, it was not meant to be seen in high-def. The video is oversaturated and contains too much noise to be ignored.