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Blu-ray Disc Released: 3/3/2015
All Ratings out of
Review by Mike Long, Posted on 2/25/2015
While it has slowed down from its peak of a few years ago, the drive to convert popular young adult novels into movies still exists, as evidenced by the recent releases of Divergent, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay: Part 1, and The Fault in Our Stars. All of this proves an old trope from Hollywood -- A profitable trend dies hard. And like most trends in Hollywood, there are going to be imitators and pretenders. For decades, those who wanted to cash in on a hot subject would release their movies directly to video. That hasn't happened as much with the YA explosion, but the newly released Innocence shows that it can happen. Does this movie deserve to run with the big players?
Following the death of her mother, Beckett Warner (Sophie Curtis), and her father, Miles (Linus Roache), move to Manhattan, where Beckett is enrolled in the elite Hamilton Academy. She makes friends with a girl named Jen (Sarah Sutherland), and catches the eye of a boy named Tobey (Graham Phillips). And yet, Beckett doesn't feel comfortable at the school. She meets the ladies who make up the "Book Club" which runs the school, but she gets an odd vibe from them. Things get even stranger when the school nurse, Pamela Hamilton (Kelly Reilly), all but moves in with her father. Following the suicide of a fellow student, Beckett begins to have strange visions of dead girls. She starts to look into the school's history and discovers that Hamilton is harboring a dark secret. Is it too late to save herself and her father?
To put it mildly, Innocence is a weird movie. The film opens with Beckett's mom apparently drowning in a foot of water. We learn much later on that she had an aneurysm. It would have done the film a heap of good to have told us that sooner. (But, it would have robbed me of several jokes at the film's expense.) When Beckett arrives at the new school, we expect the usual mean girls shenanigans. But, for once, that doesn't happen, which seems refreshing at first. She becomes friends with Jen and catches a boy's eye. However, this also means that there is little tension with her peers. Instead, Beckett is suspicious of the women at the school, but no one is sure why. Pamela all but moves in with Beckett's Dad, but this is never explained. The finale reveals the truth about the school, but we are asked to do a lot of reading between the lines.
These issues stem from two places. First of all, the movie is oddly edited. Things happen seemingly at random and don't always feel as if they are happening in the right order. Beckett has what appears to be a psychic episode, but then nothing similar happens for a long time. Again, we never learn how, when, or why Pamela moves in. The third act jumps around like crazy and the ending comes out of nowhere. Director Hilary Brougher can't seem to decide what kind of movie she wants to make. The bulk of the movie plays like a drama, something akin to Gossip Girl. But, every 15 minutes or so, something supernatural happens. The ending feels like a totally different movie, and not necessarily a good one either.
When I write reviews, I have no problem critiquing writers and directors, however I usually have little to say about actors. That's changing with this review, as I must point out that Sophie Curtis is the real weak link here. She's asked to carry the movie, but her facial expression never changes. There are many moments where the camera cuts to her and we know that she is supposed to look surprised or shocked, but her face doesn't change at all. Given the other issues here, I can't say that she ruins the movie, but it's hard for someone who has no emotions to be a movie's link to the audience. Obviously, Innocence has a lot of problems. I was really hoping to find a diamond in the rough here which would serve as an example for other obscure novels, but the result is simply confusing and unengaging.
Innocence may or may not be about an evil boarding school or divorce or something on Blu-ray Disc courtesy of Cindedigm. The film has been letterboxed at 1.78:1 and the Disc contains an AVC 1080p HD transfer which runs at an average of 25 Mbps. The image is sharp and clear, showing no extraordinary grain and no defects from the source materials. The image is never overly dark or bright and the colors look fine. The image is somewhat flat though, but it does show a nice amount of detail. The Disc carries a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track which runs at an average of 48 kHz and an average of 4.0 Mbps. The track provides clear dialogue and sound effects. The audio delivers some nice stereo effects during the supernatural scenes and most notably the finale. These scenes also bring us notable stereo effects which show good separation.
The lone extra on the Innocence Blu-ray Disc is a trailer for the film.
Review Copyright 2015 by Mike Long