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88 (Blu-ray Review)

88Millennium Entertainment brings April Mullen’s action-packed thriller, 88. Mullen also co-stars in the film alongside Tim Doiron who wrote the script.  Featuring Katharine Isabelle (American Mary, Ginger Snaps, NBC’s “Hannibal”), Christopher Lloyd (Back to the Futuretrilogy, The Addams Family, Who Framed Roger Rabbit), Jesse McCartney (“All My Children,” Alvin and the Chipmunks franchise, Chernobyl Diaries) and Michael Ironside (Top Gun, Total Recall, The Machinist), the film came out last week, January 6, 2015.  88 is a unique ride showcasing a strong female lead as well as Christopher Lloyd with a deviating and captivating performance as our villain, we are excited to share it with US audiences” states Mullen.  88 is the fourth feature from Mullen and Doiron, founders of WANGO films.

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Film 

A fast paced thriller, 88 follows Gwen, a young woman who comes to in a road side diner with no idea where she is or how she got there. Split between two timelines, blurring reality and fiction, Gwen gets taken on a revenge-fueled journey as she seeks out the person responsible for her lover’s death.  Her excursions include run ins with mob bosses and bowling alley shootouts.  Its a game of figuring out who to trust and who’s coming after you.  You may believe one thing at one moment, and the complete opposite the next.

What you get with 88 is basically Katharine Isabelle’s rendition of Memento.  We have 2 separate storylines running parallel to one another; one is the past one is the present.  There’a  bunch of foggy memory at play here too, amnesia or the “fugue state” as a bit of wording defines the term to open the film.

Katharine Isabelle carries this film and gives quite an outstanding performance for this little thriller.  The film asks a lot of her.  She is essentially playing two separate people (almost three really) in terms of what she has to bring to the character.  Isabelle has to showcase a lot of emotion and she does it pretty flawlessly.  Her character is charismatic, sexy, alone, dramatic, smart, pissed off, depressed…all sorts of things.  If you’re a fan of her, she alone is going to make this movie worth the watch.  Its one of her best performances to date.

One other performer here that would catch interest is Christopher Lloyd.  Yes, Doc Brown (or Professor Plum for you hipsters).  Lloyd plays a mob boss and he’s brings a rather unique energy to a role that could have been pretty typical.  Whether good or bad its at least different and interesting.  For someone who isn’t much of a Hollywood “tough guy”, he’s able to bring enough menace to be convincing.

88 has an interesting presence, and stories like these are always easy to get hooked in, but it sort of falls flat and just hangs out for a lot of the time.  Most of the plot twists, including the central mystery, are easy to figure out if you’ve seen a film or two before.  The performances, especially Isabelle, are good, but its sort of wasted on a very mediocre film that seemed to have some promise.  What starts out as something cool, or something you’ve seen before just done well, ends up being somewhat of a snoozer and a “let’s just get to it” kinda movie somewhere in act II.  Its not a bad movie, but not really one to sing praises and isn’t too memorable.

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Video 

Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1

Clarity/Detail: The picture aesthetic changes a few times in the feature, between past, present and flashback (sounds weird both past and flashback being used, but it makes sense).  This image is sharp and clean for the most part, feature a decent amount of detail, some color timing proving better than others.  Its a touch smooth, but I think the detail is nice enough.

Black Levels:  Black levels are solid, and there’s no real crushing to report.  Shade is sold and enhances the sharpness and detail of some scenes.

Color Reproduction: Colors are nice and distinct.  While they aren’t really popping off the screen, they look really ripe and vivid in some moments.  Red is one of the stronger suits featured in the film.

Flesh Tones:  Flesh tones are a hint cold, but otherwise natural.  Facial features look good in close-ups and feature detail of various scuffs, stubble or wrinkles.

Noise/Artifacts: Some light noise, and a smidge of banding creeps into the film.

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Audio 

Audio Format(s): English 5.1 Dolby TrueHD, English 2.0 Dolby Digital

Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish

Dynamics:  Solid/Decent.  That’s about what describes this track.  There’s plenty of gunshots, explosions, loud cars and the like, but it underwhelms by just doing a pedestrian job on it all.  The score and vocal tracks are presented with some good and loud detail, but the effects department settles for being merely “Ok” when it could have taken this film to another level.

Low Frequency Extension: There’s some nice kick tot he music, but I was wanting more from the subwoofer in terms of sound effects.  They really don’t get the extra “oompf” it could have provided.

Surround Sound Presentation: Decent.  There’s some ambient noise in the rear speakers that fulfills some of the environments solidly (bowling alley, strip club, diner), but nothing to resonate a “Wow, feels like I’m there” type home viewing atmosphere.  The front speakers do a solid job of sound placement accurate to screen.

Dialogue Reproduction:  Clear and crisp.  Very center-focused.

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Extras 

Behind The Scenes (HD, 37:29) – A thoroughly in depth look at the film, guided by its director and writer (who also have roles in the film), taking us from the ground up.  We get plenty on how this came to be, the actors, the characters, the shoot, its all here.  Interviews with the cast are here too.

Making Of (HD, 3:14) – This makes no sense as to why it was included.  Its a super brief take on that last featurette, but has the same interviews and talking points as the longer one did.  No reason to check this out.

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Summary 

If you’re looking for Katharine Isabelle looking fine and in action hero mode, you’ll do just fine here.  It delivers.  But, this film I wanted so badly to be much better as I was watching it.  Its got a decent enough presence and some semblance of fun execution early on.  However, its pretty mediocre.  Cutely enough, its not that long of a movie, only 88 minutes.  The Blu-ray has a solid presentation and a nice thorough behind the scene piece included.  This movie would be a nice find if you’re perusing through late night and stop on a movie channel like HBO or Showtime and its playing.

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Writer/Reviewer, lifelong obsessive film nerd. As eager to educate in the world of film as I am to learn. An avid lover of horror, schlock and trash, Brandon hosts the Cult Cinema Cavalcade podcast on the Creative Zombie Studios Network (www.cultcinemacavalcade.com) You can also find more essays on his blog Naptown Nerd (naptownnerd.blogspot.com).

2 Responses to “88 (Blu-ray Review)”


  1. Brian White

    While I did not hate it completely I can say with the slight twist at the end it made up for some things. Lots of going back and forth here in the timeline though.

  2. Brandon Peters

    Didn’t hate it either…just rather “eh” after all was said and done. Not a waste of time though if one is sitting down to watch it.

    I don’t know what slight twist you may be talking about, but everything seemed relatively obvious to me the minute some of the mysteries were introduced.