Review Date: October 25, 2008
Released by: Concorde
Release date: 9/6/2007
Region Free, HDTV
Codec: MPEG-4 VC-1, 1080p
Widescreen 1.85:1 | 16x9: Yes
HD-DVD has officially been a declared a dead format since Toshiba announced it was ending support. Even many of our own readers have made posts about what to do with their HD-DVD collection. Here's my suggestion: Enjoy them! The discs and players didn't melt when Toshiba made the announcement. I won't spend too much time on my soapbox here, but I do want to share my thoughts. The media will be available for years to come, as will hardware to play it on. I suppose it's easier for me since I've already experienced this with laserdisc, which ended around 1999/2000. And to this day I still enjoy the laserdisc format. I didn't jump in until after the Toshiba announcement when the prices on hardware and software dropped dramatically. HD media for $5-10 a pop? You can't go wrong. While we will primarily focus on Blu-Ray here on the site, we'll certainly be reviewing HD-DVD titles too. Don't give up on HD-DVD. It had a short run but there's lots to enjoy with the format.
Alone in the Dark
, the title, is something near and dear to my heart. I grew up playing the video game, first released for the PC back in 1992, and its subsequent sequels. Even the recently released revamp for Xbox 360 and PC made its way into my home. The movie managed to allude me, until now. During its theatrical release it was panned by audiences and critics alike. While I always choose to form my own opinion, I have to admit the reviews turned me off. When I bought into HD-DVD and the opportunity to pickup the German HD-DVD import of Alone in the Dark
came along, I couldn't resist, especially with a $15.00 price tag. Lets take a look at Alone in the Dark
: Director's Cut and see if it is in fact as bad as everyone claims, or perhaps just another misunderstood classic.
The Abkani, an ancient North American civilization, believed there were two worlds on this planet – a world of light and a world of darkness. The Abkani opened a doorway between the two worlds and let something evil slip through. The Abkanis disappeared soon after. Bureau 713, a paranormal research agency, was established to uncover the mysteries of the Abkani. The bureau was led by Professor Lionel Hudgens (Matthew Walker
) until the government shut down his research. Professor Hudgens continued his research in hiding where he would perform experiments on orphaned children.
Edward Carnby Christian Slater
is a paranormal investigator that previously worked for Bureau 713. He just returned from a six week trip to the Amazon where he tracked poachers transferring and selling artifacts on the black market. He returns and reunites with his girlfriend Aline Cedrac (Tara Reid
), an archaeologist that works for Profesor Hudges. Edward shows Aline the artifact he recovered and she identifies it as Abkani.
Professor Hudges has also recovered an Abkani artifact – a solid gold coffin-sized container. The container was found aboard a sunken ship. Before Professor Hudges is able to transport it back to his museum, the crew attacks him and decides to take a look inside. When they open it, the doorway to the world of darkness is opened and the evil is let loose into our world, the world of light.
Back at Bureau 713, readings of paranormal activity are spiking. Commander Richard Burke (Stephen Dorb
) is in charge of the bureau. When creatures attack Edward and Aline at the museum, Burke and crew arrive shortly after to clean things up. Edward begins investigating the creatures and, with the help of a friend at the bureau, gets a device to help track them and a weapon to fight them. He teams up with Burke and Aline and they head to a local gold mine that was shut down 22 years ago. It is there they will unlock the mystery to the Abkani artifacts and face the creatures in a final confrontation between the world of light and the world of darkness.
Director Uwe Boll is responsible for the convoluted mess that is Alone in the Dark
, a movie that currently sits at #76 on Internet Movie Database's bottom 100 movies of all time. If this is the director's cut, I dread to think of what awaits in the theatrical. From the opening crawl, the viewer is left scratching their head trying to make sense of things. I struggled putting together a story summary, but believe I did an adequate job considering the source. The story I summarize makes some sense, but the way Uwe Boll pieces it together is poor filmmaking at its finest. The link between the Abkani and Professor Hudges experiments on children is never explained, nor are his motives. The story is so fragmented and has so many pieces that don't connect, it's like putting a puzzle together where none of the pieces fit. Director Uwe Boll simply grabbed a hammer and forced it all together. The mess we are left with is Alone in the Dark
What better to compliment a bad story than bad actors? Christian Slater and even Stephen Dorff have both proven themselves capable actors in the past. Clearly they were given nothing to work with here. But Tara Reid an an archaeologist? She couldn't pass as the museum's bimbo secretary. Her performance is dreadful and is a clear showcase to a career that is built off of beauty, not talent. The characters themselves, besides being poorly acted, are poorly written. We don't care who was experimented on as a child because we are given no reason to. And we don't care who lives or dies, with the one exception being that if they are all dead, the movie will be that much closer to ending.
If there's one positive aspect to Alone in the Dark
it is the effects, which aren't half bad. The CG effects are believable and the creatures look pretty damn good. It's just not enough to save this mess of a movie. That's a shame because all of the games are fun to play in one manner or another. With the right script, story, actors, and, most importantly, the right director, Alone in the Dark
could have been up there with Resident Evil
in horror video game adaptations done right. Instead its legacy is to go down in history as one of the worst movies of all time.
Concorde Home Entertainment released Alone in the Dark
onto HD-DVD in Germany. Its presented in its original 1.85:1 aspect ratio and is 16x9 enhanced. The image is nearly flawless and is one of the best looking HD transfers I've seen to date. This is no doubt in part to Alone in the Dark
being a newer movie and having better source material. Even so, the HD-DVD trounces the domestic DVD, boasting strong, vibrant colors, a sharper image, and greater detail. There are many scenes with low lighting and the black are consistently deep. There is some slight instances of grain that creep in during some of the darker scenes, but it's minimal. No artifacts are visible, nor did I find any print blemishes to speak of. Overall a spectacular transfer.
Both German and English DTS 5.1 tracks are present. The track has some punch to it, with ample use of surrounds and LFE during the action sequences in particular. Dialog is clear and no distortion was present.
None. That alone deserves an A!
This HD-DVD proves one thing: You can in fact polish a turd, but the end result is still just a polished turd. While the audio and video of this HD-DVD are top notch, it's still just Alone in the Dark
, one of the worst movies ever created. I'm counting the minutes until my fingers are no longer wasting precious moments writing about it. If you have been spared the pain of witnessing this travesty, count your blessings. Avoid at all costs.
*Because of the quality of the HD format, the clarity, resolution and color depth are inherently a major leap over DVD. Since any HD transfer will naturally have better characteristics than DVDs, the rating is therefore only in comparison with other HD titles, rather than home video in general. So while an HD film may only get a C, it will likely be much better than a DVD with an A.
Movie - F
Image Quality - A-*
Sound - A-
Supplements - N/A
- Running time - 1 hour and 35 minutes
- Rated R
- 1 Disc
- English, German DTS 5.1
- English subtitles