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Magnolia Home Entertainment
DVD Released: 4/7/2009
All Ratings out of
Review by Mike Long, Posted on 4/16/2009
When it was released in 1988, Die Hard changed the action/thriller genre. The idea of a group of people trapped inside of a high-rise office-building with terrorists stirred the imaginations of writers across Hollywood, and soon we were getting many off-shoots of this idea. Speed was Die Hard on a city bus. Under Siege was Die Hard on a military vessel. There was a common joke that "Die Hard in a hot air balloon" couldn't be far behind. In recent years, this trend has slowed somewhat, but every now and then, another pretender will arise. Now, we have Shuttle, which gives us Die Hard on an airport shuttle van. Seriously?
As Shuttle opens, Mel (Peyton List) and Jules (Cameron Goodman) arrive at LAX after midnight from a vacation in Mexico. At the terminal, they meet Seth (James Snyder) and Matt (Dave Power). Seth is clearly attracted to Jules and starts to hit on her, but this is interrupted when Mel realizes that her luggage has yet to show. She reports the missing bag and then she and Jules step outside to find a ride. A shuttle bus is waiting, but another pulls up and the driver (Tony Curran) offers the two girls a "last run of the night" discount. Despite the fact that they have a ride coming, Seth convinces Matt to join the girls on the bus. They all board, joining Andy (Cullen Douglas), an uptight looking businessman, who is already on the shuttle. The van leaves the airport, but instead of going where they want to go, the driver takes them through dangerous neighborhoods, claiming that it's a shortcut. Suddenly, Mel, Jules and the guys understand that they aren't going home and that the driver has something sinister in mind.
There are some movies by first-time directors which can be considered classics (Evil Dead and Clerks are two which come to mind), but most contain some pretty common flaws. When one is the director and writer, as is the case with Edward Anderson in Shuttle, a very normal mistake is that you don't want to cut any of your material. You wrote all of it and now you want to see all of it on-screen. The problem is that this doesn't always work and Shuttle is a prime example of this.
Shuttle is by no means an awful movie, let's get that out of the way right now. It would have made a perfect short film. The story has two twists which aren't telegraphed, one in the middle and one at the end, and that last one is a true downer which will have an impact on the viewer. The problem is that Anderson has stretched the film out to 107 minutes and what could have been a taut thriller becomes an exercise in tedium and redundancy. For starters, it takes the group too long to get onto the shuttle bus. Once they are on-board, it takes too long for something nefarious to happen. I honestly thought that I had read the plot synopsis incorrectly because the group just rides and rides with nothing happening.
Once it becomes obvious that things aren't right, the movie turns into a hostage film. And not just any hostage film, but the kind where the victims have many chances to escape or kill their captor, but they don't. Handled properly, this kind of movie can elicit suspense and become a nerve-wracking experience. But, in the case of Shuttle, each scene becomes more preposterous and one has to wonder in what universe this story is happening where all of the characters choose loyalty to their friends over their own safety. Apparently, Anderson wanted to create a film which was an emotional roller-coaster where we think that someone is going to get away or do something heroic, only to see those hopes crushed. This isn't a bad approach to take, but the audience can only see this so many times before we decide that this particular set of characters isn't going to do anything spectacular and that we are wasting our energy on getting involved with this movie. I don't want to give too much away here, but I will say that the entire film doesn't take place on the shuttle bus, but when they leave it, Shuttle wanders into Saw territory.
I would be lying if I said that Shuttle didn't show some promise. Anderson has created an interesting premise, and given the fact that most of the movie takes place in a small vehicle, he's tried to keep it visually interesting. However, the lack of editing really kills this movie and most viewers will be overtaken by the urge to simply fast-forward to the end.
Shuttle bypasses the long-term parking lot on DVD courtesy of Magnolia Home Entertainment. The film has been letterboxed at 2.35:1 and the transfer is enhanced for 16 x 9 TVs. The image is sharp and clear, showing no overt grain and no defects from the source material. The colors are good, but the image is slightly dark at times. There was no intrusive video noise or artifacting detected here. The DVD carries a Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track which provides clear dialogue and sound effects. The stereo effects are good, and show nice speaker separation. The surround sound effects are nicely done as well, most notably with the rain in the film's first act. Subwoofer effects are at a minimum, but they do accent some of the action scenes.
The Shuttle DVD contains four extras. "Behind the Scenes" (5 minutes) contains comments from actor Alex Snyder, a look at the shuttle itself, and some on-set footage. "Casting Sessions" (24 minutes) offers audition footage for the six principal actors from the film. The DVD contains three DELETED SCENES which run about 4 minutes. Only one of these offers any interesting new footage. The final extra is the TRAILER for the movie.
Review Copyright 2009 by Mike Long