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A Cure for Wellness (2016)
20th Century Fox Home Entertainment
Blu-ray Disc Released: 6/6/2017
All Ratings out of
Review by Mike Long, Posted on 6/9/2017
Gore Verbinski may not be a household name, but you've no doubt seen his movies. Having directed the first three Pirates of the Caribbean films, which grossed hundreds of millions, Verbinski certainly has an amount of clout in Hollywood. He used that cache to make the odd-ball animated filmRango (which won the Oscar for best animated film) and the box-office dud The Lone Ranger. Despite this success and having made a range of movies, it seems that Verbinski would still like to prove that he has skill as a true filmmaker, and not just as a director of blockbusters. Therefore, he now brings us A Cure for Wellness, a movie which cries out for respect.
Up and coming business executive Lockhart (Dane DeHaan) is sent to Switzerland to retrieve company founder Roland Pembroke (Harry Groener) from a health spa. Lockhart’s mission is to return Pembroke to New York as soon as possible in order to facilitate the sale of the firm. Arriving at the facility, which sits high atop a mountain overlooking a remote village, Lockhart is surprised to be rebuffed and told to come back later. On his trip back down the mountain, he is involved in an auto accident and awakens in the health retreat with a broken leg. Assured that his office has been notified of his situation, Lockhart finds Pembroke, only to learn that the man doesn't want to leave. He also meets a young woman named Hannah (Mia Goth), who isn't like the other patients. As Lockhart explores more of the facility and learns of its history, he begins to suspect that Dr. Volmer (Jason Isaacs) is hiding something.
In order to truly analyze A Cure for Wellness, we have to break it down into the sum of its parts, especially those which have to do with Gore Verbinski. While he got attention with his first two films Mouse Hunt and The Mexican, it was 2002'sThe Ring which was Verbinski's first big hit. From that point, his work has been tinged with dark tones, even in the big, brash Pirates movies. However, it seems very clear that Verbinski wanted to make a true movie for adults with A Cure for Wellness. Teamed with writer Justin Haythe, Verbinski has crafted a film that contains violence, sex, and some creepy imagery, and the R-rating is certainly justified. While the nudity exhibited in the spa setting is acceptable, the two sex scenes feel very out of place and forced here.
And then we have the story. The basic framework of A Cure for Wellness will feel very familiar to most and harkens back to stories from centuries ago. A messenger of sorts is sent to a strange place with a seemingly simple purpose and finds themselves embroiled in a mystery. This movie then throws in the cliched idea of a character growing more and more paranoid. The film hopes to distract you with these hackneyed ideas with odd subplots involving the water in the spa and how eels are used in the therapy. The whole eels thing is certainly unique, but it doesn't go anywhere. In fact, this is one of those movies in which the story completely falls apart when one thinks about it afterwards.
The big problems here are the length and the pace. The movie hits the ground running and the first 10 minutes or so provide us with a lot of information and move things along. However, after that, the movie settles down and becomes very episodic, as we see Lockhart explore one part of the facility after another. The story wants to build the mystery and intrigue as it goes along, but at 2 1/2 hours, the movie wears out its welcome. If about 45 minutes had been cut out of A Cure for Wellness, it still probably wouldn't have been a great movie, but it would have been much more digestible. The movie certainly has some good things going for it, most notably the visuals, but Verbinski and Haythe bite off way more than anyone can chew and throw too much into the movie. So, set aside several hours and rent this one to experience something which combines the familiar with the strange, but still falls short.
A Cure for Wellness could have lost the dental horror on Blu-ray Disc courtesy of 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment. The film has been letterboxed at 1.85:1 and the Disc contains an AVC 1080p HD transfer which runs at an average of 25 Mbps. The image is very sharp and clear, showing no overt grain and no defects from the source materials. The film is a not-so-subtle mixture of blues and white, and the colors look fantastic here. The image is never overly dark or bright. The picture is extremely crisp and the level of detail is impressive. The Disc carries a DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 track which runs at 48 kHz and an average of 5.5 Mbps. The track provides clear dialogue and sound effects. The stereo and surround effects are very detailed and really show off some of the minute sounds which come from within the facility. The shock moments infiltrate the subwoofer and give the movie ambience.
The A Cure for Wellness Blu-ray Disc contains a handful of extras. We get one DELETED SEQUENCE which runs about 5 minutes and contains more dream-like footage of Lockhart exploring the center and having flashbacks. So, there are some shots here which aren't in the finished film, but nothing truly new. "Meditations" contains three sections -- "Water is the Cure" (3 minutes), "Air is the Cure" (3 minutes), "Earth is the Cure" (3 minutes) -- all of which simply contain a semi-static visual and a soothing voice-over. "The Score" (4 minutes) takes us into Abbey Road Studios to see Composer Benjamin Wallfisch at work. The extras are rounded out by three TRAILERS for the film.
Review Copyright 2017 by Mike Long