Jon Voight plays Eddie, known as “Eddie Maintenance,” who keeps things running at an amusement park. When a faulty ride clobbers him, he winds up in Heaven, where he meets, as the title suggests, five people from his past, in five different kinds of Heaven, at each stage learning truths about his life, and how much it mattered, for better or for worse. There are many flashbacks to his early years when he showed promise as a gifted engineer, but was held back by a drunken lout of…a father. The point of the exercise, though, is that Eddie’s life was not a waste,despite what he might think.
With its slick production values, name cast (Voight, Ellen Burstyn, Jeff Daniels, etc.), and frequently very attractive cinematography, this is Angels in America for people who don’t like to think. Mixing the corniest elements of A Christmas Carol and It’s a Wonderful Life, but possessed of an inflated sense of self-importance the other works lack,this bit of overblown pseudo-profundity actually has the nerve to ask you to take such lines as“all endings are also beginnings” seriously. Argh!
The sound comes in 5.1 and 2.0. Both are perfectly clear, and the music has a fine mix in either case. But the 5.1 is very weak as far as the level of surround sound effects is concerned.The 2.0 has a much more powerful mix, and is more immersive. There may not be the same placement of effects as with a good 5.1, but that extra left-right division is pointless in this 5.1,since the sounds are barely audible in the first place.
The visuals are where both this disc and the film itself have their strengths. Different time periods in the story have different colour palettes, and, even if the choices are rather conventional(sepia tones for the 30s and 40s), the transfer renders the colours very well. The image is sharp,and there is no grain. A handsome-looking disc.
Directory Lloyd Kramer, novelist/screenwriter Mitch Albom and Voight are very pleased with their work on the commentary, sometimes sounding as if they’ve just followed up on the Bible, raising the bar in process. There are a raft of short interviews (with Albom, Voight, Steven Grayhm, Michael Imperioli and Tish Monaghan), which, though promotional, aren’t all bad.“Makeup Magic” is a brief, time-lapsed demonstration of Voight’s transformation into an 82-year-old (the result isn’t entirely convincing). There is also a trailer for Earthsea. The menu’s main screen, intro and transitions are animated and scored.
This isn’t any more deep than one of Jack Handey’s Thoughts, but it looks purty, at least.
Special Features List
- Audio Commentary
- Cast and Crew Interviews
- Jon Voight Makeup Session
- Earthsea Trailer