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  • Fire on the Amazon (Blu-Ray)

    Posted in: Disc Reviews by Michael Durr on January 15th, 2011

    Overall
    Film
    Video
    Audio
    Extras
    (out of 5)

    Well, I’ve been about a month off since my last review and the rest was sorely needed. I visited my folks, thought about my future and spent the holidays enjoying life and trying to do somethings I wouldn’t normally do with my paying job and my writing gig. So, the first movie I crack open is Fire on the Amazon with Sandra Bullock, Craig Sheffer and produced by Roger Corman. Wait, Roger Corman, king of schlock and “B” movies? Hrmmm, I feel another vacation coming on.

    Fade in, we see the Amazon jungle. Turtles, macaws and monkeys, oh my. Somewhere, a tree falls. (too easy of a joke and too early). Suddenly, we flash to a runway and a plane coming in from the air. RJ (played by Craig Sheffer) gets off the plane and gets right to work. For you see, he is a photographer and he’s been sent here to get the scoop on the destruction of the rainforest. But in order to better understand the situation, we must get a little history about the opposition.

    There is a passive resistance against the destruction of the rainforest. It is lead by Rafael Santos (played by Eduardo Cesti). The group actually has quite a few followers but alas the bad guys have guns and other assorted weapons. It has brought the place a lot of media attention, but destruction is still happening. One night while Rafael is taking a shower (outside), he is taken down violently by a spear (through the neck nevertheless).

    Nobody knows who killed Rafael, but there are suspicions abound. Later at the funeral, RJ appears and starts taking pictures like a madman (it is as uncomfortable as it sounds). At the head of the funeral procession, he sees a beautiful American woman, Alyssa Rothman (played by Sandra Bullock) who he eventually strikes up a conversation with. They talk about the recent events and basically RJ can’t make any headway with Alyssa who keeps telling him that this is “Not an enchilada”. Perhaps a Chimichanga?

    The two later meet again when RJ is found lurking around when Alyssa is involved in a meeting about the future of the rainforest. Anyway, after RJ gets thrown out he decides to start partying with the locales and of course he starts taking pictures. One of the locales takes offense and almost beats the crap out of him. After going to his room, RJ cheers on some sex in the other room (which we never see) and slips into a drunken haze.

    The next morning, RJ is at it again taking pictures as he spots a local thug who is causing mayhem in the middle of town. He takes RJ as a hostage (who is still taking pictures while being held at knife point) and then eventually the police find a way to subdue the man and beat him. More pictures taken. The police have had enough of this foolishness and take both the criminal and RJ to prison. Eventually, Alyssa shows up and bails him out. Personally, I would have kept him in there.

    The next morning, the local police proclaim that they have found Rafael’s killer. As it turns out, it is the local thug, Djamori (played by Reynaldo Arenas that was arrested. They even have a written statement(riiiiiiiiiight). Later, we also find out that the thug committed suicide by hanging himself. RJ calls BS on this one, and tells Alyssa that they must find out what happened. The two of them decide to follow the body as it gets transported back to the Indian tribe led by Ataninde (played by Juan Fernandez). Will they find out the truth about the death of Santos or will they find just death?

    This movie actually has a little bit of fame attached to it. It is the only movie where you will be able to catch Sandra Bullock in the buff (starts about 51 minutes in). Yes, her only real nude scene. And this just in, she’s a very dirty girl. It amounts to something you might watch late night on Cinemax. It’s not bad honestly, but when the rest of the movie is really awful, you’re probably better off using your $15 bucks to buy a true soft-core film where they have 4 or 5 scenes like this one.

    Throw that in with the other lead, Craig Sheffer who looks like he belongs in Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure and you got a recipe for disaster. But wait, it does have magic tricks. Magic tricks you ask? Watch as one second, RJ doesn’t have a cigarette. The next, he does. And one second later, he doesn’t! Wow. Or watch perhaps as RJ rescues an awake and alert child from a burning house and then when he brings him to the mother, the child isn’t breathing! What did RJ do? Knock out the kid by carrying him like a ragdoll? Thankfully, Sandra is on the scene to administer CPR.

    There are also other goofs like Ataninde breaking out in deadpan English (he is supposed to be a Spanish Indian) during an important monologue. It’s all over the place. Furthermore, the box clearly states unrated cut and we get the 78 minute R rated cut? The true unrated cut is 85 minutes and Argentina gets a 102 minute cut. Not that I wanted to spend 7-25 minutes more of watching it, but at least give me what the box says.

    Video

    The video is in 1.78:1 widescreen presentation at 1080p resolution. The OAR is 1.85 but apparently people can’t deal with any black bars at all, so we get a crop job. It does look cleaned up a bit and does look a lot better than the vhs and dvd screenshots I’ve seen but that’s not saying much. It is still gritty and in some cases, very poor quality. The nature shots in the beginning are probably the only places where I can say we get some good video.

    Audio

    For the audio portion, we get a 5.1 English True-HD track. One would never know that this is a blu-ray quality audio track. The dialog is very low and while one should be able to get through the movie, it isn’t very clear either. There are some sound effects and surrounds to be heard but nothing will come even close to anything special. Frankly, I’m surprised I didn’t hear some tape hiss or some director in the background yelling “Cut”. Subtitles are provided for English SDH folks.

    Special Features

    • Automatic Trailers: I Spit on Your Grave(remake) and The Bleeding
    • Theatrical Trailer 2:39: Even the trailer screams “Holy crap, this sucker is awful”.

    A special note on the lack of extras, I just keep wishing to myself that there was a Roger Corman and Sandra Bullock commentary. Just think of it, the pivotal sex scene, Roger sitting there talking about the curvaceous Sandra Bullock and then Sandra loses it. She goes into a rampage and yells something about Jesse James and says he wishes he was still with her and not with that human art canvas, Kat Von D (who oddly enough is in a trailer in front of this movie as a vampire, draw your own conclusions). It would have been glorious.

    Final Thoughts

    Anyway, crazy non-existing extras aside, this movie is schlock in every conceivable form. It has bad acting (with the exception of Bullock oddly enough), bad cinematography and more goofs than you can wave a burning bush at. The disc package itself isn’t anything special either with lackluster video, even worse audio and no extras at all. Heck, you don’t even get the 85 minute cut that is readily available on other formats. It’s a money grab and nothing more. So, kids please remember: Only you can prevent forest fires and bad movies. That’s why if you see RJ with a camera, be sure to shoot a spear at him. You’ll be doing the world a favor.

    Posted In: 1.78:1 Widescreen, 1080p, Anchor Bay, Blu-ray, Disc Reviews, Dolby Digital TrueHD 5.1 (English), Drama

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