"All Is Lost" is Robert Redford's latest movie, directed by rising talent J.C. Chandor, and it has been showered with praise by critics. Naturally I was very eager to check out the film when Lionsgate Home Entertainment sent over a Blu-Ray copy for review.
Robert Redford plays an unnamed man in this film who awakens one morning to find his sailing yacht has been struck and pierced by a large, stray shipping container. in the middle of the Indian Ocean. Sailing by himself, he tries to curb the flooding and sets about to fix the damage with what limited supplies he has on board, but his repair work is fragile at best.
With his electronic equipment shortened out and fried, and far away from any major shipping lanes, rescue is many, many miles away, and to make matters worse, an enormous monsoon storm is looming on the horizon. Caught in the torrent he tries to reach the closes shipping lane when the boat capsizes in the tempestuous waves. His life raft is his only hope.
With all the acclaim surrounding the film, touting it as Redford's best, a master piece, a triumph and any other hyperbole you could think of, I was truly looking forward to the movie, but in the end I have to say that I was somewhat disappointed. I am not sure if Kenneth Turan of the LA Times saw the same movie I did when he called the film "adventurous," because the word seems so out of place to describe this film that I cannot fathom where he pulled it from.
"All Is Lost" is not a bad film. It is pretty good, actually, though it is by no means the tour-de-force or dazzling experience the critics would have you believe. The film is very slow in its pace and very deliberate in its delivery. It features a solid cinematic quality in both its visuals and the direction making it not only pleasing to watch but also interesting to follow the events unfold.
Virtually devoid of dialogue, the biggest problem is the main character itself, who is the only person in the film. By that I do not mean Robert Redford the actor, but the unnamed character he plays in the film. Never has there been a person more unsuited and unprepared to face the challenges of the sea. This is clearly a case of a some rich retiree buying a sailing boat without even the slightest understanding of the elements or survival as a whole. You watch him make mistake after mistake and it makes you want to pull your hair out. When this man has two choices he will always pick the wrong one. When it rains he doesn't collect water to drink. Instead he waits until he's completely dehydrated and then thinks about ways to get water. When he fishes, he fails at it once and then never tries again and rather starves. When his chances of being located are the highest, he gives up all hope. not to mention that he moves as if he's in a constant stupor, or somehow tranquilized, taking his lovely time in even the most circumstances. He could have salvaged so many useful things from his boat if only he had moved a tad faster, he could have prepared for the coming storm instead of waiting until it is upon him to batten down the hatches. To put it very simply, the guy is completely out of his depth and he makes you want to scream at the screen throughout the movie. So much so, that in the end I literally lost all my sympathies for him, which translated to the vibe movie, leaving me underwhelmed in the end.
Redford does an admirable job, bringing the character to life, especially considering the he does it without any dialogue-the entire film consists of no more than six spoken words-and in the light that he is the camera focus throughout the film's 106 minute running length.
The Blu-Ray Disc produces an image that is absolutely clean and devoid of blemishes. With a decent amount of detail and solid color reproduction, the film looks good throughout, although there are noticeable compression artifacts evident. Most notably, the film is riddled with banding artifacts that become distractingly evident with every screen fade, as well as at times when the ocean's blue dominate the picture with its normally subtle color gradients, all of which are lost and replaced with visible streaks of solid color. I did find this quite annoying at times because considering the freshness of the source material and Blu-Ray's capabilities to handle even the smoothest color gradients with ease, this is sloppiness on the studio's behalf that should have been caught by their quality control and corrected.
The audio on the release is presented as a DTS 5.1 HD Master Audio track that is rip-roaring at times and makes very good use of the surround channels to create a wide sound field with a good ambiance as the waves lap against the boat from all directions. The film's score is understated, always making sure the images are the key focus.
"All Is Lost" comes with a commentary track by director J.C. Chandor in which he talks about the making of the film. It is also accompanied by a number of featurettes, covering various aspects of the movie's production, such as the storm sequence, Robert Redford, the director and many other things. It is rounded out by a featurette about the film's music.
"All Is Lost" was not all I had hoped it would be. I simply found the main character too irritating to truly enjoy the film. It is an entertaining film to watch as a whole, but it is not the dynamic roller coaster ride you may expect. Give it a try.