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Escape From Tomorrow (Blu-ray Review)

Escape From Tomorrow - www.whysoblu.comThe most provocative film from the 2013 Sundance Film Festival, ESCAPE FROM TOMORROW should not exist, and yet it does. Like nothing you’ve ever seen, Randy Moore’s directorial debut is a bold and ingenious trip into the happiest place on earth. An epic battle begins when a middle-aged American husband and father of two learns that he has lost his job. Keeping the news from his nagging wife and wound-up children, he packs up the family and embarks on a full day of park hopping amid enchanted castles and fairytale princesses. Soon, the manufactured mirth of the fantasy land around him begins to haunt his subconscious. An idyllic family vacation quickly unravels into a surrealist nightmare of paranoid visions, bizarre encounters, and an obsessive pursuit of a pair of sexy teenage Parisians. Chillingly shot in black and white, Escape From Tomorrow dissects the mythology of artificial perfection while subversively attacking our culture’s obsession with mass entertainment.  

 

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Film 

Before I get to the fluff of this review I will preface it by saying that Escape From Tomorrow is one of the best examples of guerrilla filmmaking that I have ever seen. Honestly, I don’t remember the other instances of great guerrilla filmmaking when comparing it to Escape From Tomorrow. The film was written and directed by Randy Moore and it focuses on a traditional “nuclear family” on vacation at Disney World in Florida. Jim and Emily is a married couple with a son and daughter in tow. They’re spending some time together at the amusement park and hotel but the usual happenings of “domestic bliss” seem to creep in at the most convenient of times. The opening of the film has Jim taking to someone over the phone on the balcony when his son comes by and locks him out while everyone else sleeps. Clearly the boy has daddy issues. Emily, Jim’s wife, seems to constantly nitpick and undermine on him for every little thing that happens. What’s funny is that they haven’t even left the room yet.

Once the family leaves their habitat they enter the park and take in the sights and sounds of the “Happiest Place on Earth.” Jim takes his son around the park, before switching off and taking his daughter around and so forth. His wife continually nags and picks on him in front of everyone, so Jim hit the Epcot Center bar and proceeds to drown his sorrows. Once he emerges from drowning his emasculated sorrows the proverbial dookie hits the fan. People walking by take on demonic appearances as do some of the characters in the ride decorations and even his family begins to look like demons. Picture the scenes from Exorcism of Emily Rose or the scenes from Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas during the hotel and restaurant scenes.

While walking around in his inebriated state and babysitting his son he happens to see two young Parisian girls make googlie eyes at him.  He doesn’t reciprocate, because the girls are obviously underage but he also can’t help be drawn to them somehow. These scenes are where Jim gets that “dirty old man” aura around him as his family totally sees him fawning over these two young girls. Later on into the story the surrealism hits the stratosphere as some devious forces that fill him in on the greatest goof of all time capture Jim. The happiest place on Earth is completely fabricated. You are the puppets and the Siemens corporation pulls your strings. Now if Jim could only take that information and let the world know that you know where is a big lie. It won’t be that easy.

After watching Escape From Tomorrow the first comment I made was, ” This is the best film Terry Gilliam NEVER directed!” Seriously, the film is surrealistic as hell even hallucinatory. All in a good way, because I am attracted to the strange and the fact that the film tackles Disney is even more intriguing. Escape From Tomorrow is downright subversive and it parodies the amusement park, which if you watch the supplemental materials, is the only reason why the producers and filmmakers are not in jail. Parodying a property is not a punishable offense. Filmmaker Randy Moore and crew filmed the flick, without permission, using portable cameras, and by feeding the script to the actors via their smart phones. The actors were also mic’d and the skeleton crew were all disguised as regular patrons.

Considering the landscape of the film is vast, giving Escape From Tomorrow a sort of epic feel, one can say that its ambition and aesthetic is what make it such a cool and strange project. I’ll go so far as to say that Escape From Tomorrow is one of the best films I have seen this year not because it’s “great” or has a great “message” but because it’s a film that has style over substance. I will take that and its honesty over some mumbo-jumbo-piece of inflated self worth anyway of the week.

 Please keep in mind that Best Buy has the EXCLUSIVE rights to Escape From Tomorrow until July 28th. You can still purchase the DVD from Amazon but NOT the Blu-ray. If you really want something unique to watch then Escape From Tomorrow is that film. Whether you’ll like it or not will be irrelevant but you WILL be talking about it afterwards.

Escape From Tomorrow - www.whysoblu.com

Video 

Encoding: AVC MPEG-4

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1

Clarity/Detail: Escape From Tomorrow was obviously shot in digital but it retains a healthy amount of grain inherent to the source. Contrast and sharpness levels are kept in checked. I did not detect any instances of severe edge enhancement, blooming, or pulsing.

Depth: Does watching Escape From Tomorrow make me actually want to visit the amusement park in question? Not really and not even through my television screen. There’s enough depth to the digital picture that makes a low budget affair like this one pop out. I reckon it could to do with the film being presented on the Blu-ray format.

Black Levels: Crush was detected sporadically throughout the film but nothing that would drag down the video score drastically.

Color Reproduction:

Flesh Tones: Considering it’s a black and white film – flesh tones did appear as natural as they could and no one looked they had just popped out from a silent film or anything like that.

Noise/Artifacts: Noise, debris, and artifacts were negligible.

 

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Audio 

Audio Format(s): English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1

Subtitles: English SDH

Dynamics: For a film that was mic’d on the down low it’s pretty obvious that they added some “flair” to the overall mix in postproduction. It’s a very robust soundtrack amplified by some stellar music and a beryl enveloping 360 sound fields. The soundtrack isn’t bombarded with scenes of action, martial arts, or explosions, so don’t expect that kind of a soundtrack, however, it is a very dynamic one.

Low Frequency Extension: The LFE was very subdued but kicked in a bit during the more fantastical sequences and during certain musical cues.

Surround Sound Presentation: The surround sound levels were great and really added to the hallucinatory experience during the scenes of wackiness. No complaints here!

Dialogue Reproduction: Dialogue levels are up to snuff. I never got lost during the many exchanges, surreal or not. It did its job.

Escape from Tomorrow - www.whysoblu.com

Extras 

Escape From Tomorrow has a couple of audio commentaries from the cast and crew, a featurette that focuses on the conceptualization and execution of the film, a poster gallery, and a trailer.

  • Audio Commentary with Writer/Director Randy Moore and Cinematographer Lucas Lee Graham – Here’s a very cool fly-on-the-wall type of commentary with the writer-director and cinematographer of the film. They casually chat about what went into making Escape From Tomorrow in terms of writing, directing, casting, editing, and shooting the film. It’s fun and informative.
  • Audio Commentary with Actors Roy Abramsohn and Elena Schuber – This audio commentary through me for a loop, because Roy and Elena are in character for the entire film nitpicking everything they are seeing onscreen and with each other. I’m sure it was a blast recording the commentary in character but if you thought they were a bit grating on film then this audio commentary won’t do you any favors. It’s a neat concept, though.
  • The Making of Escape From Tomorrow (HD, 15:06) – Here’s a very informative featurette with writer-director Randy Moore, members of the cast, crew, and they speak about their involvement in making Escape From Tomorrow. Their legal counselor (lawyer) even makes an appearance and clearly explains why Escape From Tomorrow does not infringe Disney’s copyright.
  • Theatrical Poster Gallery (HD stills) – Use your remote control to scroll through the artwork used to market the film. There are some very cool posters to be found on this feature.
  • Theatrical Trailer (HD, 1:06) – Here is the theatrical trailer for Escape From Tomorrow presented in high definition.

Escape From Tomorrow - www.whysoblu.com

 

Summary 

Escape From Tomorrow was like being on an acid trip. I’ve never done acid but I assume it closely resembles what Escape From Tomorrow is. The Blu-ray has decent video and above average sound, with some above average special features. The Blu-ray is a Best Buy exclusive until July 28th and it should be available from other retailers after that. The DVD is available everywhere. The film is highly recommended if you’re at all curious about the subject matter at hand. It’s a very strange parody and I say that in a good way.

 

Order Escape From Tomorrow on Blu-ray!

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Gerard Iribe is a writer/reviewer for Why So Blu?. He has also reviewed for other sites like DVD Talk, Project-Blu, and CHUD, but Why So Blu? is where the heart is. You can follow his incoherency on Twitter: @giribe

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