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Adrift (2018)

Universal Studios Home Entertainment
Blu-ray Disc Released: 9/4/2018

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Review by Mike Long, Posted on 9/5/2018

Films based on true stories have been a staple of cinema since the beginning. However, we seem to see more and more of these movies today, especially during awards season. (Just look at the list of Best Picture nominees from the last decade and you'll see that the majority are biopics.) And, of course, these films vary in quality. If done well, many of them are interesting, but are they intriguing? They may introduce us to a story that we don't know, but how invested do we truly get into the tale? (And, the ultimate test, do we want to learn more about the characters once the film is over?) Adrift brings us a story which is both interesting and intriguing.

Tami Oldham (Shailene Woodley) has been traveling the world in an attempt to escape a troubled past, and she finds herself in Tahiti. There, she meets Richard Sharp (Sam Claflin), who himself is sailing from port-to-port. The two immediately become inseparable and enjoy cruising around the South Pacific on Richard's boat. When an old friend asks Richard to sail his boat to San Diego (for a nice sum), he jumps at the chance. Soon, Richard and Tami are taking this very nice sailboat across the open ocean. However, they soon find themselves being pursued by a storm which they can't outrun. With their ship crippled, they must find a way to survive at sea.

At the outset, I was unsure of Adrift, as the film begins in the middle of the story. As the movie opens, the accident has already happened and the couple is struggling to literally right the ship and survive. As far as I was concerned, this destroyed any possible suspense. Going into the movie, I didn't know that it was based on a true story, and even if I had, I wasn't familiar with Tami Oldham's story. However, Screenwriters Aaron Kandell & Jordan Kandell and David Branson Smith have a trick up their sleeve. They have decided to Tarantino the story and cut back and forth between how Tami and Richard met and began their relationship and the aftermath of the shipwreck. This storytelling approach continues throughout the movie until the flashback reach the present. As this point, we get a plot twist which is pretty devastating and most will not see coming.

The intricate story is just the tip of the iceberg here, as Everest Director Baltasar Kormakur has made a very technically proficient film here. There's no doubt that greenscreen is utilized here, but there are also many scenes where Woodley and Claflin are hanging off of the side of a boat in the ocean. The movie certainly offers a sense of suspense, but watching the abuse that the couple goes through takes more of an emotional toll on the viewer. Woodley and Claflin definitely do a good job in their roles. Woodley has proven in the past that she's not afraid to take on challenging and various parts, and she brings a sense of believability to her performance (and she's clearly OK with not being glamorous here).

Adrift is one of those movies which fell prey to questionable marketing. I don't remember seeing a trailer for the film. What I do recall is seeing a poster-like image which made think that this was some sort of romantic comedy. Trust me, it's not. What we do get is a harrowing drama which tweaks a very formulaic tale just enough to make it interesting. Again, the way in which the story is told eventually pays off and the twist is effective. (Especially when you don't think that this is the kind of movie which is going to have a twist.) As with some other recent biopics, the real emotional gutpunch comes during the end credits when we see footage of the real Tami and Richard. Part love story and part high-seas adventure, Adrift won't leave you feeling better, but it is worth checking out.

Adrift would have benefited from an OSD showing us where the boat was in the ocean on Blu-ray Disc courtesy of Universal Studios Home Entertainment. The film has been letterboxed at 2.35:1 and the Disc contains an AVC 1080p HD transfer which runs at an average of 34 Mbps. The image is very sharp and clear, showing no noticeable grain and no defects from the source materials. The colors look very good and the image is never overly dark or bright. The level of detail is excellent and the depth works quite well, giving us an idea of how small the boat is on the water. The Disc carries a DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 track which runs at 48 kHz and an average of 6.0 Mbps. The track provides clear dialogue and sound effects. One doesn't have to watch much of Adrift to realize that the audio plays a huge role here. During the storm, we feel each crashing wave through the subwoofer, and the front and surround channels work hand-in-hand to make us feel that we are right there on the boat. During the more quiet moments, we can hear the creaking of the boat coming from off-screen.

The Adrift Blu-ray Disc contains a handful of extra features. We start with an AUDIO COMMENTARY from Director Baltasar Kormakur and Shailene Woodley. The Disc offers two DELETED SCENES which run about 3 minutes. Both are brief and both show Tami and Richard experiencing unique sites on their journey. "Survival At Sea" (2 minutes) has Woodley and Claflin discussing their characters and the story. "Braving the Elements" (2 minutes) offers a look at the challenging of shooting the film on the open ocean. "Journey" (2 minutes) plays like a trailer with a few comments thrown in. Finally, we get two actual TRAILERS.

Review Copyright 2018 by Mike Long