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Blu-ray Disc Released: 4/16/2019
All Ratings out of
Review by Mike Long, Posted on 4/23/2019
Why are people so easily prone to make fun of successful movie stars? It’s odd to think about now that he’s a multi-Oscar-winning director, but in the 80s, Clint Eastwood was often the butt of jokes due to his action-movie persona. Similarly, Arnold Schwarzenegger was cannon-fodder for many comedians due to his accent…and then he became governor of California. Does this mean that there’s a serious future in store for Keanu Reeves? Despite being an international movie star and having dozens of credits to his name, he’s still thought of for playing less-than-smart characters and saying “Whoa” in conjunction with his name is beyond cliched. Can he change his persona with the sci-fi/drama Replicas?
Dr. Will Foster (Keanu Reeves) and his assistant Ed Whittle (Thomas Middleditch) are engaged in an experiment where they are trying to transplant a person’s memories and personality into an artificial body. But, things are going well – the latest robot tried to rip its own face off – and their boss, Jones (John Ortiz) is not happy. So, Will decides to go on a mini-vacation with his wife, Dr. Mona Foster (Alice Eve) and their three kids. However, their fun is cut short when an auto-accident ends in tragedy. This leaves Will with a monstrous idea – can he capture the essences of his family and place them in new bodies? Is the technology ready and what will the repercussions be?
Say what you will about Keanu Reeves (and I’m sure that most of it will be negative), but for an actor who is often accused of having a limited range, he isn’t afraid to take on different roles. While many still see him as a Bill & Ted-like oaf or the bewildered Neo from The Matrix, a quick glance of his filmography reveals a wide range of parts. But, Replicas begs the question, will you buy Keanu as a modern-day Frankenstein who has a game-changing take on biology and genetics? Will you believe him as Dr. Will Foster?
That becomes somewhat of a moot point, as the movie throws a lot of other elements as the viewer. Put in the simplest terms, Dr. Foster is a brilliant man, but he does a lot of unethical and downright stupid things. You may injure yourself while watching the film, as you are going to be smacking yourself in the forehead…a lot. It’s almost as if Screenwriters Chad St. John and Stephen Hamel made a list of the bad decisions which a person could make in this sort of situation and then created a story around this. Besides the fact that this can be very frustrating for the viewer, it takes a movie which is ostensibly science-fiction (although it also has elements of a thriller and a family drama) and pushes it into the realm of ludicrous. The idea that Dr. Foster can retain a living brain becomes one of the more believable facets of the movie, as the odd occurrences pile up.
This makes Replicas sound like a trainwreck, but it actually gives the film an odd amount of charm. The relentlessly grim, yet bonkers story, combined with Reeves earnest performance makes the film imminently watchable. As noted above, there is a family drama element here, and if you are open to it, it is genuinely touching. Replicas isn’t the most enlightened movie ever made, but it does ask some tough “what would you do?” questions.
Replicas came and went in theaters, and only gained notoriety mostly for the fact that it was yet another Keanu Reeves flop. The film also got negative attention from those who pointed out that it was shot in 2016 and has been sitting on the shelf awaiting release. Again, the movie isn’t that bad and its sheer audaciousness gives it a quirky edge. If nothing else, you’ll find yourself entertained by the madcap hijinks of Dr. Foster and his assistant, Ed. Wait a minute, is this “Will and Ed’s Excellent Adventure”?
Replicas never explains why the work is being done in Puerto Rico on Blu-ray Disc courtesy of Lionsgate. The film has been letterboxed at 2.35:1 and the Disc contains an AVC 1080p HD transfer which runs at an average of 36 Mbps. The image is sharp and clear, showing no overt grain and no defects from the source materials. The colors look very good and the image is never overly dark or bright. The movie does have an overall dark look, but the action is always visible. The level of detail is quite good and the depth works well. The Disc carries a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track which runs at 48 kHz and an average of 4.2 Mbps. The track provides clear dialogue and sound effects. The surround sound effects are very good at times and there are a few moments where there is excellent placement of sounds from the rear channels. The subwoofer provides presences and there are some nicely placed stereo effects.
The Replicas Blu-ray Disc contains just a few extra features. We begin with an AUDIO COMMENTARY from Director Jeffrey Nachmanoff and Producer James Dodson. “Imprint Complete: The Making of Replicas” (26 minutes) offers interviews with the cast and the creative team, as well as some on-set footage and production stills. The discussion focuses on the film’s story and themes, as well as the approach to the various types of material presented here. The Disc contains six DELETED SCENES which run about 8 minutes. There are no new characters or subplots introduced here.
Review Copyright 2019 by Mike Long