Reviewed July 1st, 2001 by Brian White
Unbreakable is a weird movie to review, because I don't want to give away any of the twists and turns that are becoming one of the most interesting things about M. Night Shyamalan's movies. While avoiding spoilers, the following review will deal with certain aspects of the film that may ruin the experience for those who have yet to see it. Like Sixth Sense, the experience of Unbreakable is one of discovery. So in a nutshell, the DVD looks good, it sounds good, there are some extras and the film is certainly worth a rental. If you are a big fan of Shyamalan, or comic books, then this is a purchase. Now read on at your own risk.
Unbreakable, in Shyamalan's own words from the included documentary, is really the first act of the typical superhero tale. Usually such a story goes like this: the first act is the exposition, the second is the introduction of the hero to society, and the third is the battle against the ultimate evil. Here, the protagonist (Bruce Willis), and the audience, spend the movie discovering that he is a superhero. Now if super heroes aren't your cup of tea, fear not; this is a very down to earth and human tale. Unbreakable's characters are three dimensional, and they have real lives. These are interesting people.
Willis' character is the sole survivor of a train disaster. This gains the attention of an interesting character, played by Samuel L. Jackson. Jackson's character is convinced that the reluctant protagonist is a superhero.
If that premise sounds a little thin, well it is. However, Shyamalan fills the screen with so much atmosphere, so many narrative layers, and so much audience manipulation, that Unbreakable is satisfying to say the least. Also, there is a twist in the end that both validates the premise, and elevates the film beyond its premise. Personal note: the film should get extra points for using one of the greatest Pixies tunes in the comic book store.
Ultimately Unbreakable is not as great as Sixth Sense, but it is a more than adequate effort after such a success. People might say that it is unfair to compare the two films, but such a comparison is inevitable when so much of the production talent from the earlier film is back.
The DVD, in anamorphic, 2.35:1 widescreen looks very good. This is a dark movie that plays with warm and cool colors. Unbreakable is moody and lit in a very interesting way. This is a handsome transfer.
The DTS 5.1 surround track is rich and full of atmosphere. The score is very dynamic, and it fills the room. Also included are English, French and Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtracks (!), AND a commentary track from the film's composer (and Lucas says he couldn't fit DTS and an isolated score on Ep 1!).
There are quite a few extras, but not exactly what you'd expect from a 2-disc set. Perhaps the second disc was necessitated by the inclusion of so many 5.1 tracks on the film. The most interesting feature is the number of deleted scenes, introduced by Shyamalan. You'd think he'd enjoy telling us more about the movie in a director's commentary, but none is included (do I smell an Unbreakable “ultimate edition” down the pipe?). A pleasant surprise is the fact that the deleted scenes are in anamorphic widescreen, and of the same quality as the rest of the film. We also get a making-of featurette, a comic book documentary, an interview with Bruce Willis, a multi-angle feature from the train sequence and a home movie by the director. The booklet is fancy as well.
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