Trespass [Blu-ray]
Blu-ray A - America - Millennium Media
Review written by and copyright: Anthony Arrigo (9th April 2012).
The Film

The last few years have not exactly been kind to Nicolas Cage. His financial woes are legendary, and everyone knows he’s been making films at such a fast pace that his name can be used as a verb when describing actors who seemingly take any script thrown at them. One thing that has remained a relative constant, however, is his ability to still make theatrical pictures. Say what you will about their quality (or lack thereof, as most reviews will point out), but the man still enjoys top marquee billing. I don’t know how much longer he’s going to be enjoying that luxury, though. His latest picture, “Trespass” (2011), grossed a career low of $24,000, and it hit home video 18 days (!) after its debut.

That’s not a typo. It didn’t do $24 million dollars; it did $24 thousand dollars. And it hit DVD so fast that anyone who actually did want to see it could have lagged for two weeks and bought the Blu-ray for less than the cost of 2 movie tickets. Now, to be fair the film only opened in a handful of theaters, but the fact that a film starring Nic Cage and Nicole Kidman opened in so few theaters and made about as much noise as a muffled fart shows how low the stock for both stars has fallen. At least with Cage I know he’s making these films in an effort to repay some debts, get his life back on track, all useful actions that are understandable despite the fact that they diminish his value. But Kidman? She’s really got no excuse. Just because you decided at some point to make bad movies doesn’t mean that they now all have to be bad movies. I’m not saying that “Trespass” is necessarily a “bad” film, but it also brings very little to the table that we haven’t seen a dozen times before in other home invasion thrillers. I was continually reminded of “Hostage” (2005), a film I’d recently reviewed, when viewing this picture. Minor plot points aside, the two films are remarkably similar in tone, style and direction. I only thought “Hostage” was decent, so watching “Trespass” hit similar beats only made my interest wane as the film went on.

Kyle Miller (Nicolas Cage) is a diamond broker who is always on the hustle for business. This has led him to neglect his wife, Sarah (Nicole Kidman), and daughter, Avery (Liana Liberato), who both harbor resentments towards him for being so absent. Avery tries to get her parents to agree to let her go to a party, but they refuse. Dejected and annoyed, she sneaks out of the house and goes anyway. Meanwhile, some local police show up at the Miller’s front gate, explaining they need to talk with them about some recent robberies in the area. Well, wouldn’t you know it but these guys aren’t cops at all. They’re, in fact, robbers, and they hold Kyle and Sarah hostage all while demanding Kyle opens his safe, which they are convinced holds untold riches. Avery sneaks back into the house after abruptly leaving the party (which she clearly only went to in order to provide a plot point for use later in the film), and is promptly caught and held with her family. The situation intensifies when Sarah recognizes one of the robbers as someone she shares a secret with, and soon there’s a bit of a love triangle at play when Kyle is confronted with some ugly truths.

There are usually varying levels of crazy in any Nicolas Cage picture. He’s often either completely batshit insane (2009’s "Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call - New Orleans") or mildly crazy ("Adaptation" (2002)), but it’s always there. I was worried that The Cage would be resigned to portraying a meek jeweler, and we wouldn’t get to see him raise his voice to absurd levels at inappropriate times. Thankfully, once the action kicked in, and we learn how wheelin’-and-dealin’ his character is, the Nic Cage we all know and (mostly) love comes out to play. You know what surprised me the most? He actually delivers a strong performance here. It’s been said that an actor can make good material great. Well, Cage doesn’t exactly have “good” materials here, but he goes for broke on an emotional level. Both he and Kidman must have been spent after some of the more intense scenes because the two of them really lay it all out there in trying to make their roles more than just one-dimensional. It pleased me to see this because I really thought Cage had simply given up on trying to be a good actor anymore, content with resting on his laurels and collecting paychecks (which, while high, are likely nowhere near the $20 million per picture he once commanded). No one is likely to notice this since no one bothered to see this picture, but it’s good to know that there’s still some hope that the Good Ship Cage can be righted again.

Nicole Kidman has been following a career trajectory not unlike Cage’s, although her decisions are far more confusing since, from what I can tell, she doesn’t need the money. Again, despite having made terrible film after terrible film (almost all of which were big losers at the box office as well), Kidman turns in a solid performance here that shows she isn’t incapable of acting when someone inspires her. Maybe Joel Schumacher isn’t the total hack we all want to think he is. Ok, ok… he is, but he must have a gift for wringing the most out of his actors since he got two notoriously bad ones to perform better than they have in years. Don’t expect to see a lot of that emotion on Kidman’s face, since it’s well documented that she’s had enough Botox injected to make an elephant’s hide as smooth as marble. I kept worrying that she was going to crack if she attempted to smile; however, I think all the tears she shed provided enough moisture for her face to soften up enough so some of her acting could show through. Seriously, Nicole, I know you’re desperately chasing the Fountain of Youth but don’t be afraid to gracefully age a little. You aren’t going to be getting roles that 20-year-old starlets are vying for, and you’re married so sleeping with everyone who could employ you in Hollywood is (probably) out of the question.

“Trespass” wasn’t nearly as terrible as I’d been expecting it to be. I try to go into every film with an open mind (though there are some clear exceptions), but knowing all of the history behind this film’s release made it hard for me to not dismiss it immediately. Even though it brings absolutely nothing new to the world of hostage thrillers, there are some solid performances and enough of a visual eye for direction that things proceed well enough to entertain on a base level. I had a hard time with the criminals being so stereotypical, but maybe that’s just how home invasions crooks are? I don’t know, but I wish I saw something in this film’s plot to inspire me as much as it must have for the actors.

Video

I found the image for “Trespass” to be more good than bad, with a solid 2.40:1 1080p 24/fps AVC MPEG-4 encoded image that looked far more polished than I was anticipating. The Miller’s live in a posh, custom home and all of the ornate design work and detailing is immediately recognizable on screen. Even subtle details, like the thinly-veiled disguises the men wear, revealed an impressive amount of details that would have been lost to standard definition. The image is very filmic despite a lack of heavy (or even moderate) grain structure. Skin tones have a lifelike, natural appearance, though some early scenes exhibited a slightly reddish hue. There is occasional softness to the image, but it’s nothing that lasts long enough to become a nuisance. Near the end we do get some very obvious and very terrible green screen effects work, but that’s the price you pay when your film has a limited budget. High definition plays no favorites, and mid-grade work will always show itself.

Audio

I was neither thrilled nor disappointed with the film’s English Dolby TrueHD 5.1 surround sound track mixed at 48kHz/24-bit. The film is mainly confined to the large, open home that the Miller’s share. Though it can range from a whisper to full-blown rage, this is a dialogue heavy film that only experiences a boost of life when Avery, the teenage daughter, goes to a house party. That sequence makes the best use of the surrounds to fill out the party ambiance, as well as letting loose with a decent amount of bass to remind your LFE track that it’s not off duty quite yet. Otherwise, we get a lot of talking, which all sounds perfectly clear. The acoustics of the home play well with the on-set dialogue, giving the track an organic feel. I like how the action was handled. It isn’t so much that the gunfire sounds great (it sounds good, not great), but the scenes where Cage is violently attacked and beaten resonated with me because you could almost feel the impact of the shots. The sound design team did almost too good a job, since some of the hits had me wincing at the thought of it happening to myself. The score was unmemorable, but punched up nicely when required. There is also an English Dolby Digital 2.0 surround track included. Subtitles are available in English for the hearing impaired and Spanish.

Extras

All we get is EPK fluff? Geez, why even bother?

“Trespass: Inside the Thriller” (1080i) is a featurette that runs for 5 minutes and 7 seconds. The cast & crew (yes, surprisingly, all of them) talk about what drew them to the script and why they decided to make the picture. It sounds like the main reason was because they’re friends with director Joel Schumacher. Without him, we’d have probably gotten two low rent B-list actors instead of Cage and Kidman, who are coincidentally quickly slipping into that territory.

Bonus trailers (1080p) open the disc for the following titles:

- “Faces in the Crowd” runs for 2 minutes and 13 seconds.
- “Puncture” runs for 1 minute and 40 seconds.
- “Blitz” runs for 1 minute and 31 seconds.
- “Trust” runs for 2 minutes and 4 seconds.

Packaging

The single disc comes housed in a Blu-ray keep case. The floating heads of our two leads dominate the bland cover art.

Overall

If this film hadn’t been made a thousand times before I might be more kind to it, but it has and I’m not. Cage and Kidman deliver some solid late-career performances, but you can only do so much with a bad script, which this most certainly is. Schumacher isn’t an incompetent director, so the film shows some class and flash, but that’s about it.

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

 


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