Wanted DVD


Theatrical Release Date: 06/27/2008
DVD Release Date: 12/2/2008
Director: Timur Bekmambetov
Cast: James McAvoy, Angelina Jolie, Morgan Freeman, Thomas Kretschmann, Terence Stamp, Common

The Film:


In “Wanted”, a young man going unnoticed through life and without the stones to do anything about any of the people taking advantage of him is recruited into a secret society called The Fraternity, composed of highly skilled assassins. He learns to become one of them, in the purported hopes of tracking down his father’s killer.

The film comes from the mind of visually-gifted director, Timur Bekmambetov, who is behind the Russian occult fantasy series that began with Night Watch and will hopefully soon reach its third act in a U.S. release soon (it’s in pre-production now and perhaps wishfully slated for a 2009 stateside release).

From a visual and stunt/effects standpoint, “Wanted” delivers hyper-realistic action pretty well and I enjoyed a two hour break from the laws of physics. However, the problems I had were with the story as it continued to devolve over the course of the film. You see every turn coming and that’s only made worse because the middle section of the film slows down to a crawl in comparison to the opening and closing scenes which are full of the action audiences wanted to see when they plunked down their cash in theaters.

I’ve never read the graphic novel from which the screenplay was derived and while Mark Millar seemed to be fine with the changes made, I can’t say I feel the same. The overall tone of the piece seems fairly intact but changing characters around to fit more box-office friendly casting (Angelina Jolie) seemed unnecessary. There are other scenes that seem twisted around as well, which is even more fully apparent after watching some of the extras to be found on the DVD.

If you just want a few interesting action scenes spattered upon your TV one afternoon, I could see checking this out. Just don’t expect this to be the new standard of action as one might be led to believe. The story elements definitely let the overall picture down. For more on the film itself, you can check out my full review here.

The DVD:



Sadly, my mediocre view on the film itself actually worsens after seeing the 2-Disc Special Edition DVD extras which are sub-par. There’s no commentary track which is basically blasphemy when it comes to DVD and it’s equally annoying that the “Alternate Opening” sequence is only available on Blu-ray (and as is the norm these days, a “free” digital copy for transfer to another device is included). Considering how little actual content can be derived from the chopped up extras (that mostly could have been combined with others), leaving out things for the Blu-Ray version that aren’t specific to the hardware specs seems petty.

Audio/Video:

Dolby Digital 5.1 sound. Anamorphic Widescreen 2:35:1.

Subtitles:

English (for the hard of hearing); Spanish; French.

Languages:

English; Spanish; French.

Extra Features:



Extended Scene

—– No, I didn’t make a grammatical mistake, there is only one extended scene. It’s practically inconsequential, taking place as McAvoy is taught to shoot at corpses, and a wonder they bother to include it at all.

Cast and Characters

—– If you’ve seen the film, this feature is rendered practically useless. The actors and filmmakers talk about each character. You should know the information they tell you by sitting through the feature film.

Special Effects: The Art of the Impossible / Stunts on the L Train / Groundbreaking Special Effect: From Imagination to Execution

—– I grouped these three features together because they should have been to begin with. The first one talks more about the practical stunts, the next talks about one stunt in particular and the last focuses more on visual effects but neither are that intensive or long so splitting them seems like a ploy to add to the number of features on the disc.

Through the Eyes of Visionary Director Timur Bekmambetov

—– One of the few features that at least offers something in the way of behind-the-scenes information. Cast and crew talk about working with Bekmambetov and being inspired by his directing style, which is different than most Hollywood directors largely because of his Russian sensibility.

The Origins of Wanted: Bringing the Graphic Novel to Life

—– An interesting feature that includes Mark Millar’s take on the adaptation and how he came to write the graphic novel in the first place. It’s nice to see that the writer apparently was fine with how Bekmambetov and his team translated his work.

Wanted: Motion Comics

—– Here, the comic panels are blow apart and statically animated (using simple motions of comic panels and characters) and narrated to give the audience a crash course on how the story played out in the graphic novel. While Millar seemed okay with the film adaptation, this feature only highlights how far astray the film went from his source material. Hardcore fans must have been more than a littler perturbed at all the changes made, many of which didn’t seem to be necessary for telling a good story or putting it on-screen.

“The Little Things” Music Video

—– Danny Elfman wrote and performed this song (and the music for the film) and this is basically an extended trailer for the film. Unless you’re the biggest Oingo Boingo fan, this is a useless feature.

The Making of Wanted: The Game

—– This is perhaps the worst feature on the disc. Why are they talking about the video game here? This is a feature that should be on the game disc. When people buy a DVD, they shouldn’t be shown an advertisement for something else (don’t get me started on the trailer montages often included that play when a disc starts up). For those of you out there who have the game, watching some of the features will net you a code or two (supposedly more are available through the Blu-ray version). But that’s not much good to people since those codes are available online for anyone savvy enough to find them. I’ll say it again: Useless.

The Sobering Conclusion:


I think “Wanted” is worth checking out if you’re an action film aficionado. There are plenty of negatives but it’s a numb, mindless thrill-ride at times so it’s got that going for it, I guess. The DVD extras are an afterthought and should not be a factor into why you might purchase the DVD instead of rent it, or watch the film on a cable channel.