Another Earth [Blu-ray]
Blu-ray A - America - Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment
Review written by and copyright: Andy James & Noor Razzak (30th January 2012).
The Film

If this were to be a one-word review that word would be disappointing. This low budget sci-fi film about the discovery of a twin Earth had me rather excited. You would not be wrong in saying it was one of my most anticipated films of last year. With the advent of cheaper software packages for digital effects, there have been a number of similarly smaller budgeted sci-fi films with a higher intelligence quota than your usual Hollywood science-fiction. In addition, I had been hearing some good things about "Another Earth" and parallel/twin worlds are one of the great unexplored aspects of science-fiction in films, in my opinion. Instead, "Another Earth" misses the mark entirely.

Up-and-coming new indie darling Brit Marling (who co-wrote and also starred and co-wrote another low budget sci-fi "Sound of My Voice" (2011)) stars as Rhoda, a bright young woman about to start her college life. She has an interest in astronomy and before she begins her great new life of study she and her friends have a final blowout party. It is while she is driving home from that party, more than a little inebriated, that “Earth-2” appears in the sky distracting Rhoda and causing her to plough into the Burroughs family car killing the son and pregnant wife and injuring the husband. Her entire life changes direction as she goes to prison for her reckless driving and is responsible for the deaths of a family. Four years later Earth-2 is still getting closer (with no adverse affects on our Earth) and Rhoda is getting out of prison and working a janitorial job at the local high school. She contacts the only other survivor of the car wreck, John Burroughs (William Mapother), at first to apologize but panics and lies to him. She ends up cleaning his house and, of course, starts a relationship with him.

However, the entire film is handled so obviously – Mapother’s family is hurtfully picture perfect; mom and dad joking with their obviously sweet and intelligent son and Oh! Mom’s pregnant with kid number two as well! It is an obvious and ineffective attempt to amplify the tragedy and the exploration of grief and redemption rarely moves beyond a high-school understanding of it. Of course Rhoda is not only going to look John Burroughs up, but she is also going to have a passionate affair with him while carrying this dark secret! Earth-2 is an obvious metaphor for second chances, especially when it is discovered to be a mirror image of ours. There is little further exploration of this other Earth or its larger impact on society, as it tends to just hang in the background – visually and thematically. To me, the more interesting approach is to delve into the wider ramifications of the discovery of an identical Earth; one that mirrors our own even.

In an attempt to, I don't know, give the film a sense of movement the cinematography is that godawful ADHD handheld camerawork. Is it really that hard to compose a scene? I understand the need for this sort of camerawork if it suits but to use throughout an entire film, with barely any purpose behind it just becomes distracting and annoying.

I can see what all involved were going for. They weren't aiming for a hard science film, obviously, but wanted to take a science-fiction concept and use that as a lens to examine (and I hate saying this) the human condition. And that's fine, that's admirable; even though there are a number of practical realities that are difficult to ignore. And, if you're not going to delve a little deeper into these effects why bring small bits and pieces of them up throughout the film? Mix that in with fairly unlikeable characters, obvious metaphors and a tossed off race to the climax and you get what I found to be a frustrating disappointment.

Video

Presented in the film's original theatrical ratio of 1.85:1 mastered in HD 1080p 24/fps using AVC MPEG-4 compression. The film was shot in 720p and this image was created up-converting that to 1080p. The film was also shot with a very low budget so there are plenty of flaws. Sharpness for example looks great in some shots while terrible in others, especially dimly lit scenes or scenes that take place at night. Furthermore blacks appear crushed and there's a lot of noise in some scenes. Some scenes feature intense amounts of aliasing. On the plus side, colors look decent, muted and monochrome in some scenes and nicely saturated in others, this may have been an aesthetic choice but it makes the film's cinematography seem inconsistent. Depth is decent, however sometimes limited. It's an ok picture, nothing special to write home about here.

Audio

A single English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround track is featured in 48kHz/24-bit, the dialogue is clean and clear, overall the mix is simple and non-complicated. It's a straight-forward audio track that works well enough for the film, with some limited surrounds, mostly the film is front heavy if not for the music, which actually was quite impressive.
Optional subtitles are featured in English for the hearing impaired, French and Spanish.

Extras

Fox has picked up this Independent film for distribution and also created some extras for the Fox Movie Channel and these have been included on this release. Included is a music video, a collection of deleted scenes, a series of five featurettes, the theatrical trailer, plus a collection of bonus trailers. Below is a closer at these supplements.

DISC ONE: BLU-RAY

"The First Time I Saw Jupiter" (1080p) is a music video by Fall on Your Sword that runs for 3 minutes 19 seconds, it's a cool video for an otherwise uninteresting song.

The disc features a collection of seven deleted scenes (1080p) that can be viewed individually or with a 'play all' option, they include:

- "We'd have a very clean house" runs for 1 minute 33 seconds, her parents ask where Rhoda has been and what she plans on doing with her future.
- "College?" runs for 1 minute 38 seconds, Rhoda checks out a college campus.
- "Floating blossoms" runs for 30 seconds, a scene that shows the effects of the second Earth on our planet.
- "Four Rhodas?" runs for 1 minute 42 seconds, and alternate version of a similar scene already in the film, only shot in a different season.
- "Jail time" runs for 1 minute 54 seconds, a scene that features Rhoda in jail, in the film it was cut and we are taken 4 years later.
- "Superior conjunction" runs for 51 seconds, Rhoda watches news footage of new images of earth 2 from space and then checks to mail.
- "Movie magic" runs for 1 minute 24 seconds, additional coverage of the two Rhoda's meeting with some behind-the-scenes footage of how they shot it.

"Fox Movie Channel Presents: Direct Effect with Mike Cahill" (420p) featurette runs for 4 minutes 17 seconds, the director comments on making the film for cheap, collaborating with Brit and on the challenges they faced.

"Fox Movie Channel Presents: In Character with Brit Marling" (420p) featurette runs for 4 minutes 22 seconds, Marling comments on the story of the film which she also co-wrote and co-produced. She comments on challenging yourself as an actor, writing moments and finding the ways in which to present them, among other things as well how helpful being an actor is when writing a script.

"Fox Movie Channel Presents: In Character with William Mapother" (420p) featurette runs for 4 minutes 22 seconds, Mapother talks about his character, the character's motivations and also on the intersecting story lines and on what interested him in the role among other things as well as having little money to make the film.

"The Science Behind Another Earth" (1080p) featurette runs for 2 minutes 39 seconds, is a round table type discussion with an astrophysicist on the possibility of another Earth existing and on alternate universes as well as story elements from the film.

"Creating Another Earth" (1080p) featurette runs for 2 minutes 29 seconds, Cahill and Marling talk about the low-budget nature of shooting this film, on using the director's home town and shooting each day not knowing if they'll be able to continue shooting having maxed out credit cards.

The disc includes the film's original theatrical trailer (1080p) which runs for 2 minutes 11 seconds.

There's also a collection of bonus trailers (1080p) for:

- "The Descendants" runs for 2 minutes 11 seconds.
- "Fox World Cinema" promo runs for 1 minute 12 seconds.
- "The Art of Getting By" runs for 2 minutes 16 seconds.

DISC TWO: DVD

This is a DVD version of the film.

DISC THREE:

This is a digital copy version of the film.

Packaging

Packaged in a 3-disc Blu-ray case housed in a cardboard slip-case.

Overall

The film review was originally published on the blog Rockets and Robots are Go! by Andy James. The A/V and supplements were reviewed by Noor Razzak.

The Film: D Video: C Audio: B+ Extras: C Overall: C-

 


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