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Pathology (2008)

20th Century Fox Home Entertainment
DVD Released: 9/23/2008

All Ratings out of
Extras: 1/2

Review by Mike Long, Posted on 9/25/2008

OK, raise you hand if you think that medical school would be easy. Theoretically, no one should have their hand up at the moment. Med school involves several years of study in school and then a thankless residency. The end result may be rewarding, but the process is grueling. And yet, the movies want us to believe that medical school is a breeze. Not only is it easy, there's plenty of free time to do zany things. Does anyone really believe this? You may have to suspend your disbelief to watch the medical thriller Pathology.

Milo Ventimiglia stars in Pathology as Dr. Ted Grey, who has begrudgingly left his fiancee, Gwen (Alyssa Milano), to study forensic medicine in the city. Ted has a distinguished record, including Harvard and a stint as a volunteer in Africa. He will be studying under Dr. Quentin Morris (John de Lancie) and in the program he will learn to pinpoint the cause of death in corpses. Ted's excitement about the program is dampened when he meets his fellow residents, who are led by Dr. Jake Gallo (Michael Weston). Gallo is cocky and competitive and there is immediately friction between the two. Ted soon learns that the other young doctors take the competition to a dangerous level -- they commit murder and then dare the other doctors to figure out how the person died. Will Ted, who is on the verge of having everything that he ever wanted, become involved in this insanity?

Well, let me go ahead and spoil that question for you and say that the answer is yes. And that's where Pathology lost me. Unfortunately, this take place in the first 30 minutes. We are introduced to Ted -- brilliant young doctor with a sexy fiancee -- and in no time, he's throwing it all away. Yes, there is some blackmailing involved, but geez, how susceptible to peer pressure is this guy? It's a wonder that he made it this far. The movie could at least tease us a bit by having him resist and fight the urge, but nope, Ted's in the group in no time flat. And he makes some other mistakes after this that I won't divulge. Then, Pathology has the audacity to ask us to accept Ted as the hero of the film. He goes beyond a tragic hero and become a full-fledged moron before we really get to know him.

Pathology certainly isn't the first movie to show doctors as being conceited and fearless, but things simply get ridiculous here. We are supposed to believe that these people would not only have the energy to do this after taking classes and working, but that they would do it so brazenly. They just kill people willy-nilly and no one is the wiser. Apparently, in there world, forensic medicine exists, but not forensic police work. Not only is their no remorse, and no fear of getting caught, apparently there's no fear of throwing away their careers either. There are prison movies which don't have a cast of characters this morally bankrupt.

The sad thing about Pathology is that the premise of the doctors competing to see who can solve the cause of death is an intriguing one. However, screenwriters Mark Neveldine & Brian Taylor, despite exhaustive research into morgue work, have chosen to not set this story in the real world. When Ted arrives at his residency, the "game" is already well under way and all of the other characters are hooked. This kind of story needs a journey into obsession, not a jump onto a passing bandwagon. Everyone's flippant attitude towards death pushes the viewer away and makes the film a chore to watch.

Pathology joins other movies such as Flatliners and the underrated Anatomie as movies which show medical students attempting to lose their licenses before they even get them. But, Pathology pales in comparison to those two films because it goes off the rails way too quickly. Speaking of being out of control, does Milo Ventimiglia know that he's the star of a popular show. I don't know what fans of Heroes are going to make of all of the sex and violence in this movie. Perhaps like his character, Milo jumped in without thinking.

Pathology is pronounced dead on DVD courtesy of 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment. The film has been letterboxed at 2.40:1 and the transfer is enhanced for 16 x 9 TVs. Please keep in mind that I was watching a preview disc for this review. The image is sharp and clear here, showing only a mild amount of grain and no defects from the source material. However, the image is notably dark. Every scene is annoyingly devoid of light, to the point that one has to wonder why the characters don't turn on a lamp. The image also shows some pixellation, but that could be due to the copy protection on this disc. The DVD has a Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track which provides clear dialogue and sound effects. The surround effects are particularly good here, from musical cues to street noise. There are also some nice stereo effects in the morgue scenes, as we hear instruments clanging on all sides.

The Pathology DVD contains a selection of extra features. We start with an AUDIO COMMENTARY from Director Mach Scholermann and Writers/Producers Mark Neveldine & Brian Taylor. This is a terrible commentary, as Neveldine and Taylor think that they are funny. They aren't. They constantly crack jokes and try to make fun of the film and it's simply pointless. Poor Scholermann tries to be serious and give us information about the movie, but it's hard to talk over the belching. "Creating the Perfect Murder" (15 minutes) gives an overview of the making of the movie. The Director and Writers talk about their trips to a real morgue to research the movie. The cast also discuss how seeing a real autopsy influnenced their performances. We get a lot of footage of the group at the morgue, and then there's a look at the special effects make-up which went into creating the corpses. Finally, there's a look at the sets and lighting. In "The Cause of Death: A Conversation with Pathologist Craig Harvey" (8 minutes) gives us an expert look at the world of investigating the cause of death. "Unintended Consequences" is a MUSIC VIDEO from Legion of Doom F/Triune. The final extra is an "Extended Autopsy Scene" (3 minutes) which simply shows a longer cut of a montage from the final reel.

Review Copyright 2008 by Mike Long