What would prep school be like on December 7th, 1941? For those of you not historically savvy, 7/41 was the day of Pearl Harbor. December is about 5 prep school boys coming to terms with the patriotic and moral issues involved with the Pearl Harbor attack. I suppose the movie is timely in the sense that, ever since 9/11, people are still wrestling with the same questions. Unfortunately, the wrestling in this movie is more like tai chi.
Wil Wheaton (better known as Wesley Crusher Star Trek) is t…e “star” of this ensemble cast. He’s the rebel in a character list full of clichés. There’s also the jock, the geek, the good goody, and the “little brother”. So it’s like The Breakfast Club, but not as cool. The boys’ performances are solid, but they are everything you expect.
December smacks a little of Dead Poet’s Society. However, Peter Weir is miles about Gabe Torres’s work here. Weir, as he so “masterly” demonstrated in Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World, has a sculptor’s attention to detail. In the prep school of Dead Poet’s, you feel like you’re there, and not just in a cursory sort of way. Torres directs the film with an “appropriate” attention to detail. The use of period songs and haircuts help bring us back in time, but it just feels like there are a few notes missing from this concerto.
There is A LOT of talk in this movie… it’s like going to a play. So the Dolby Digital 2.0 mix is very front speaker heavy. I think the fronts, though, give in to the sheer weight of the amount of dialogue. There’s a kind of scratchiness, at times, when characters yell. On the other hand, the high end isn’t as good. And a general muddiness invades the mix at times. When some of the boys speak at once, sometimes it’s hard to decipher what is being said. Rear speakers are mostly used for music and for environment effects, like wind (on the rare occasion someone decides to leave the prep school).
This film is presented in a fullscreen 1.33:1 transfer. The general color scheme is brown… lots of brown. Whether it is shades of brown or sepia brown, it still looks like…brown. The transfer has an inordinate amount of speckling, which is distracting. The picture isn’t very sharp either. All in all, this transfer is nothing to write home about.
Just a few trailers. That’s about it. The menu isn’t scored.
December raises some interesting questions about prudence, providence, and patriotism. If you want to spend an evening watching prep school boys ponder, debate and bandy amongst themselves, then this is the movie for you. There’s not a lot of action. If you’re expecting the boys to pick up guns and take on the Japanese, it’s not gonna happen. It might happen…in the sequel (please, no). Like the movie itself, the video and audio are nothing special. There have been better movies made about prep schools. There are have better movies made about World War II. Rent those before December
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