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Hours (DVD Review)

HoursHours ultimately will be known more for being one of the final films of Paul Walker, the first of which to get a release in wake of his passing.  It was released back in December, just weeks after his accident.  However, the film had been screened at the South By Southwest Film Festival much earlier in 2013, giving itself a fair run of critical praise and reaction.  The film’s material and nature lends itself to giving Walker a kind of one man show.  Lionsgate will be releasing Hours this Tuesday on DVD and not Blu-ray.  So if you’re wanting to physically own the film and are looking for the it on Blu-ray and passed up that DVD, turn yourself around and go back and grab the DVD because that’s seems to be what we’re getting.  Lame and baffling, I know, you’d think this would easily get the Blu treatment.

Hours 3

Film 

Set in 2005 during the events of Hurricane Katrina, Nolan Hayes and his wife rush to the hospital as she seems to be going through an early labored child birth.  Nolan’s wife dies during childbirth, but they are able to successfully deliver the baby.  The baby just has to stay in an incubator for up to 48 hours in order to teach her how to breath.  When the levees break, the hospital begins to evacuate and eventually loses power.  Nolan is given a small generator but it only keeps the incubator running for 3 minutes and then needs cranked to charge again.  Suddenly alone in the hospital with nothing but uncertainty and an ever so losing its juice generator, Nolan must figure a way to keep his daughter alive, get help and stave off outside menaces going back and forth to keep the battery going.

Everybody’s first question will be “How was Paul Walker in it?”  And I gotta say, this is his best performance since 2006’s Running Scared, if not better.  Walker is given a one man show and absolutely commands it.  He’s given a wide range of emotion to play with and good golly a lot happens to this guy.  Walker knows how to ramp up the intensity and also show the exhaust that comes with it.  Best of all, and possibly what Walker did best in his career, is he brings a strong sense of “normal” and humanity to the role.  You get on board and behind the character of Nolan Hayes because Walker doesn’t make him super human, no-holds barred or super macho, he’s just a guy and lets his actions and deeds do the talking rather than his demeanor or chest pumping.

The film itself is a pretty intense little thriller that happens to be incredibly touching and emotional too.  Maybe, it’s the fact that I’m a parent that had me latched on, but I challenge you not be saying “oh shit, hurry up” to yourself at some point in the film.  Hours sets up its own rules, clearly lays out its territory and then full embraces them.  It’s a constant race against the clock and against hopelessness.  Like Nolan Hayes, the viewer is constantly playing in their brain, waiting for his watch to go off and once again crank the incubator.  Most of this film is just Paul Walker and a stable baby in an incubator, but it’s pretty damn edgy and nail-biting.  There’s also outside forces that pop up here and there and bring a whole other level of uncertainty, unpredictability and possible menace to the scenario.

With a movie like this and being very low budget, you’d kind of expect it to use the ever so popular “shaky cam” aesthetic to ramp up the tale.  I’m happy to say I was completely surprised when Eric Heisserer’s film chose not to use it at all.  While being a thriller, the film shows patience in its filmmaking and helps to make it a rewarding experience.  Shots are allowed to be seen and scoped out.  When Nolan is looking materials in the hospital, you’re allowed to look with him for things as the film doesn’t keep on cutting every couple frames.  In the scene where the doctor informs Nolan of his wife’s death, I was almost applauding at the choice to make the scene one long shot that allowed it to breath, feel real and actually have some time and beats between lines.  Shaking the camera and cutting every 10 frames doesn’t instantly give you suspense and intensity, good filmmaking does.

I don’t want to go into a crazy amount of details as it’s a terrific little thriller with an incredibly unique situation that the movie plays off of.  I was definitely quite glued to the film from start to finish and was really pulling for this thing to somehow work itself through, even if every avenue seemed hopeless.  Paul Walker may have delivered his career best performance here and it’s a damn shame we’re never going to see any more like this, but at least he has some great work to leave us with in his final years of gracing our screens.  If you’re curious about Hours, definitely check it out, because aside from just being one of Paul Walker’s final roles, it’s actual a pretty damn good little movie on its own merits.

Hours 1

Video 

Encoding: MPEG-2

Resolution: 480i

Aspect Ratio: 1:78.1

Clarity/Detail:  This is a solid looking DVD.  Detail is low as expected, but its clear enough image with just minor ghosting a couple of times.

Depth: Given its nature, its pretty good for being a more flattened picture.  I’m just baffled at the decision to put this only on DVD as the hospital search sequences would have been dynamite some higher definition.

Black Levels:  This movie gets pretty dark and does feature some crushing.  But, the blacks are pretty black and decently shaded when applicable.

Color Reproduction:  The colors look solid, but ultimately flat.  Blame it on being a DVD.  There are some flashback scenes with some good reds, but that’s about it.

Flesh Tones:  Flesh tones are consistent with low detail.  Obvious facial hair and stubble is noticeable but everything is pretty mute.

Noise/Artifacts: There is noise present throughout, but I remind you I’m reviewing a DVD.

Hours 4

Audio 

Audio Format(s): English 5.1 Dolby Digital

Subtitles: English, Spanish

Dynamics:  It’s a compressed track that does the trick and not much else.  Its clean and has some good sound effects, but nothing here is really rich or anything to brag about.

Low Frequency Extension:  The subwoofer got some solid work here.  Whenever Nolan would crank the generator there was a good, deep sound produced that gave you the feeling you were cranking it on your own.

Surround Sound Presentation:  There’s some solid ambient noise in the rear speakers, but ultimately being a compressed audio track you can’t really feel as much as you’d like.

Dialogue Reproduction:  Dialogue is clear, clean and pretty much centered.

Hours 2

Extras 

Here’s where the best thing comes into play.  You indeed CAN watch this movie in high definition as it comes with an UltraViolet copy!  Relief!  Which begs the question, why didn’t they put out a Blu-ray?  Aside from that, there’s no real extras here worth much.

“All I Feel Is You” Music Video (SD, 4:01) – A music video from Natalia Safran, who also cameos in the film.

“Reach Out Worldwide” (SD, 2:59) – It’s the commercial for Paul Walker’s disaster response organization we all watched around the time of his death.  You can watch it on YouTube if you really want to see it.

Also From Lionsgate – Trailers for The Divergent, Ender’s Game, The Last Stand, Reasonable Doubt and EPiX.

Hours 5

Summary 

If you’re wondering why I gave a film I liked quite a bit such a low rating in the summary, it’s quite simple.  As you’ve noticed, I’m pretty disappointed this was just a DVD release.  That’s always very lame, ESPECIALLY since this is a modern movie.  I have an understanding when some lesser and much older cult titles can’t get more than a DVD treatment and that’s fine.  Luckily, Hours comes with an UltraViolet copy where I can watch the film in high definition.  And then, the extras are SUPER lame.  Both the commercial and the music video are just a click away on YouTube.  My suggestion?  Skip this DVD and just go and purchase it through your UltraViolet provider and have it in 1080 there.  It just seems quite a bit backward to me. The film is terrific and I’ll definitely be watching it again in the future, but I’ll be watching my high def stream of it and not this DVD copy.


Hours-DVD

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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).

1 Response to “Hours (DVD Review)”


  1. Brian White

    Yeah you know what, B…as I was looking through the sales circular today I wondered the same exact thing. I have heard good things too about this one, but WHY only DVD?!! It’s Descent 2 all over again!!! Oh, the tragedy 🙁 R.I.P. Paul