Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Playback and An Early Cut: A Movie Review

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Director: Michael Nickles.

Writers: Michael Nickles

Cast: Johnny Pacar, Ambyr Childers, Christian Slater, Jonathan Keltz, Alessandra Torresani, Toby Hemingway, and Jennifer Missoni.

Did you know that one of the actors who plays a highschooler in Playback is thirty-one years old? Some kids get held back for several years in Michael Nickles' (XII) latest film, Playback. Other random trivia involving this film is the quality: it is poor. Poor transitions between scenes, a floating disjointed soundtrack, and some really dark night shoots put this film in very bad territory. A story of the devil possessing souls through videotape does not even help.

The story begins: several friends begin shooting a film project for a journalism class. Their material is taken from a murder case occurring in the '90s that left four people dead. After doing more and more research, Julian (Johnny Pacar) discovers something about himself and something about the devil. Louis le Prince was an early American fimmaker who was able to capture the souls of his cast and in turn he became stronger. Now, le Prince is possessing characters and turning the townsfolk into his minions, but what is his plan?

This reviewer did not care what his strategy was because the film just seemed too awkward. The film does not flow well and there is this repetition of introducing short scene after short scene. If you have ADHD, this film is a blessing. Otherwise, you will not be dazzled by the surfacy subject matter and approach to filmmaking. As well, few of the characters manage to step out of their one-dimension. The musical score moves from irritating electronica to top 40 with some scenes introducing a musical number only to be cut-off thirty seconds later by the next scene. Even the soundtrack breaks up the unity in the picture. Overall, Playback has this first edit quality and this film should not have been released in this rough state.

Supposedly this film will be moving to theatres in March and Playback is now available on video-on-demand, but you might want to hold off on pushing the play button. This movie does not reach its full potential. Production issues and Nickles' directing style just fall short in this picture and this reviewer is a fan of Nickles' earlier work XII. Playback disappoints when it should be building interesting characters and a unified story. The soundtrack should flow from scene to scene and the finale could have been more visible. Sorry Michael, your production here seemed rushed and uninspiring.

Overall: 5.5 out of 10 (the story seemed okay, delivery was poor, soundtrack is brutal, characters are mostly uninteresting, the film is almost unwatchable).

The film's fan page:

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