Gimme Shelter (Blu-ray Review)

gimme shelter whysoblu thumbMaybe the most disappointing thing about this film is that it has nothing to do with The Rolling Stones.  Gimme Shelter is actually a small scale drama, based on a true story that details a time in the life of a troubled, pregnant teenager, after she ran away from her abusive mother, in an effort to find a better life.  The whole thing has the feel of a Lifetime movie, but because it has a slightly better cast and production values, it managed to make its way into theaters.  Still, watching certain actors put on their drama face didn’t do a lot to make me appreciate this fairly by-the-numbers story.



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Vanessa Hudgens stars as Agnes “Apple” Bailey, the troubled teen who begins the film by cutting her hair short and running away from her mother, June (Rosario Dawson).  Agnes manages to find her estranged father, Tom (Brendan Fraser), and spend time with him.  This ends after he learns that Agnes is in fact pregnant and that she wants to keep the baby, which eventually leads her to staying in a shelter for young mothers.  From there, Agnes works on bonding with others and accepting the idea that good things can happen as long as she stays away from her negative influences.

Obviously the movie is centered on Vanessa Hudgens and her attempts to show that she can be a capable dramatic actress.  While she has a long way to go as far as really blowing anyone away, it is certainly evident that the young woman has talent.  Even as she overplays certain scenes, there is a base for her performance that comes through quite strong now and again.  The other big stars are good enough, with Rosario Dawson doing what she can with a character that is nothing but nasty and Brendan Fraser seemingly struggling with playing a wealthy everyman.  James Earl Jones pops in too, but more to simply show that he can add gravitas, more than really add to the story, as he is just a random priest that tosses down a bible and makes that seem like all that’s needed to make it through a challenging life.  The best performance comes from the wonderful Ann Dowd, as the woman who runs the shelter.  She has a natural quality that really works.

Writer/director Ron Kruass seems to have really invested himself into this film, given all the involvement he had on it overall, so clearly the heart is in the right place, but it unfortunately cannot overcome the nature of these types of film, which tend to fall flat, unless something really interesting is done with them.  We get the edgy lead performance and it is accompanied by scenes everyone has seen plenty of times before, with little nuance to make this particular attempt seem any more memorable.  It also tries to add a lot of redemption angles, given where the characters end up, which rub against the film in a weird way, given how we never really dive into certain aspects that could have shed more light or made the characters more interesting.  It is a glossy way of handling some serious subject matter, which is why I reference Lifetime movies to begin with.

The attempt is there and some of the performances have enough bite to make them hit a little harder, but between the clichéd story and the attempt by Hudgens to act her heart out by glowering a lot make Gimme Shelter a pretty forgettable drama.  I would be curious to know more about the true story behind this film, but at the same time, I fine with stopping here and having the basic beats down.


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Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1

Clarity/Detail: Apparently shot on film, this low budget looks pretty good, allowing the viewer to really check out the level of detail on display in the different settings, from the less appealing households and buildings to the wealthy home of Tom and the clean looking hospitals.

Depth:  The film does not suffer from shallow depth of field, as we get enough contrast to find these troubled characters popping well enough as far as Blu-ray is concerned.

Black Levels:  Black levels are solid throughout.  While the use of film allows for a level of graininess, the darker scenes and use of blacks in the film work quite well.

Color ReproductionGimme Shelter features a pretty bland color pallet, but that does not mean it does not come through quite well, as it does.  Scenes involving white rooms feel particularly crisp, as it is a nice contrast from the rest of the film and it looks good.

Flesh Tones:  While not all the characters are at their best, the facial textures come through quite well.

Noise/Artifacts:  Some grain is apparent, but that comes more from the film format.



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

Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish

Dynamics: This lossless soundtrack delivers nicely, even when the score is a bit too overbearing.  There is enough going on throughout the film to make it feel like a nicely presented audio track.

Low Frequency Extension: The LFE channel is pretty low for the majority of the film.  Nothing to really track advantage of the sound track.

Surround Sound Presentation:  Surround sound presence was used more for ambience than anything, but it fits in nicely for the film.

Dialogue Reproduction:  This is a dialogue driven film and it comes through loud and clear.



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There was a good chance to present more of the true story behind the film here, but alas, that was not in the cards, apparently.

Features Include:

  • Making of Gimme Shelter – A very standard EPK.
  • Deleted Scenes – About five minutes of trim material, featuring optional commentary by writer/director Ronald Krauss
  • UltraViolet Copy of the film


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It is pretty clear that I have very little enthusiasm for Gimme Shelter.  Yes, it is a well-meaning drama about the reality of teenagers that suffer from abuse and deal with pregnancy, but the film is pretty middling from all angles.  The Blu-ray package is a decent one, from a technical presentation standpoint, though the extras leave a lot to be desired.  Maybe Hudgens fans would be keen on this film, but for the most part, there is not much here to recommend.

Order Your Copy Here:

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Aaron is a writer/reviewer for WhySoBlu.com.  Follow him on Twitter @AaronsPS4.
He also co-hosts a podcast,
Out Now with Aaron and Abe, available via iTunes or at HHWLOD.com


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