"Disturbia" is a film directed by DJ Caruso ("The Salton Sea", "Taking Lives", "Two For The Money") and was a huge financial success during its initial theatrical run. Sometimes timing and marketing come together perfectly for some films, and this one is no exception. I have witnessed Shia LaBeouf rise from obscurity to superstar status virtually overnight and it is fascinating to witness the creation of a multiplex box office powerhouse. He should feel like the luckiest kid on the planet since Hollywood has given him a Golden Ticket.
Out of nowhere he shows up hosting Saturday Night Live, (yes I said hosting!). He was promoting his hit film "Disturbia" along with the then upcoming "Transformers" and to reveal to the world that he is cast in the upcoming Indiana Jones installment. Truly, the future seems bright for this young actor. I'm sure the studios consider him a safe bet, perhaps because of his everyman-type appeal. I'm sure other reasons are also calculated in the creation of a superstar, it's just something I personally find interesting to observe. I mean, I remember this kid from his very humble beginnings and "Project Greenlight", and let's just say he has come a long way, seemingly overnight.
"Disturbia" opens with Kale Brecht (Shia LaBeouf) and his father Daniel (Matt Craven) out fishing, and let me just add these opening scenes really sparkle in high definition. After some bonding moments with his father we witness a shocking car crash that truly makes you want to jump out of your seat as he loses his father.
A year later we find Kale in a classroom setting and he appears not to be adjusting well to his new reality and attacks his Spanish teacher after being chastised for sleeping in class. This gets our troubled teen court-ordered house arrest, which must be great because his house is just beautiful, especially in 1080, if not a bit over decorated. I mean can we have at least one inch of his room that isn't plastered with a punk rock poster? And I swear you can't even sit down anywhere in the house without bumping into a widescreen monitor of some sort. Why is it that every family in movies seems to be super-rich, have huge houses - which virtually don't exist in Southern California for regular earning families - with lavish interior design, drive expensive cars and surround the,selves with the latest high tech gadgets? A little more realism wouldn't hurt these movies, honestly, and as his mother (Carrie-Anne Moss) disconnects his X-Box Live account and disables his iTunes, you get a sense, this is going to be some harsh punishment.
Just kidding, this kid is obviously the most spoiled brat you have ever seen, and he has full run of the house. But perhaps he is a symbol of a generation of disillusioned suburban punk rockers with 'issues'.
A sexy new neighbor moves in next door, Ashley (Sarah Roemer), and he starts checking her out with his binoculars. We also meet one of the most annoying stereotypical sidekicks in modern movie history, Ronnie (Aaron Yoo), who goes through the whole movie like some kind of bumbling personal assistant that Kale seems to enjoy tormenting. Why, exactly are they friends?
When Kale becomes convinced one of his neighbors, Mr. Turner (menacingly played by David Morse), is a serial killer, he enlists the help of Ronnie and Ashley, and from here things get quite suspenseful as we learn more about the creepy guy next door. They begin an all-out high tech surveillance on him. Despite some of the cliché's I mentioned, this film actually works for me on a couple of levels. It does have some very exciting sequences that can keep you guessing. Yes, it can be a bit derivative, but in the end I had fun watching it. I definitely enjoy some of the underlying themes of paranoia and how it is almost impossible to put someone under house arrest in this high tech global village we now live in. I pretty much agree with Felix's DVD Review of this release. It's a real nail biter.
And if you are looking for a great looking high definition disc to show off to your friends, you have one with "Disturbia". The 1080p transfer fills the whole screen at 1.85:1 and is astoundingly well rendered. The details and product placements that surround this home are crystal clear and razor sharp. And for a film that can be fairly shadowy and dark at times, these scenes are handled brilliantly and all of the dark shades retain sufficient blends, to create a three dimensional look that pops off the screen. This is about as good as it gets with home video, you won't be disappointed, that much is certain.
In the sound department we don't get anything special like uncompressed audio, but what we do get sounds fully immersive in every way, we get two choices. A Dolby Digital Plus:5.1 EX and a DTS-ES 6.1 track, both are excellent sounding, and when the scenes get intense all of the speakers kick into full force and the subwoofer gets a full workout. Some of the music in the film sounds great also, and it is perfectly rendered, this is as good as you would want this film to sound, you won't be let down by this very aggressive mix.
The special features offered start with an extremely annoying commentary by DJ Caruso, Shia LaBeouf and Sarah Roemer. I guess this is what it would be like if Ari from "Entourage" did a commentary, because Caruso keeps answering his cell phone and making sexist comments about Roemer, who barely gets a word in edgewise. Shia's comments are less than enlightening and you get the impression you are listening to a couple of frat boys, at times.
As for the other features I want to let you know that close to all of them are in full high definition, and this is a wonderful trend that Paramount and DreamWorks are keeping alive, every single one of them is outstanding, video wise.
We have four deleted scenes that don't contribute to the overall plot, so you understand why they were deleted. They look just as great as the movie itself. 'The Making Of Disturbia' (HD, 15 Min.) has interviews with the cast and is pretty typical, but provides some more insight into the intentions of the filmmaker.
Even the 'Outtakes And Bloopers' are in full high definition, but there are only a few. The music video, 'Don't Make Me Wait' by This World Fair is even in HD, and it makes me excited for the day when high def music videos really catch on, I know that an HD version of MTV is on the way, and it is time. Perfect format for music videos, although this one is a little lame, with scenes from the movie and all that, I dislike such videos. But it's a great presentation. We also have the theatrical trailer (HD), a photo gallery and one of those pop up trivia tracks.
"Disturbia" on HD-DVD is simply a wonderful presentation of a fairly decent, if not flawed, thriller. My favorite thing about it is the beautiful house it takes place in; its details are rendered very sharply in high definition. A popcorn flick that is in fact quite fun, if you let it be. Definitely worth a rental.