It's becoming easier and easier to dismiss the technical merits of a film. Hollywood relies upon effects to replace the shortcomings in the story so often that critics begin to equate the presence of effects in a film to a lack of story. And as digital effects get better and better and critics develop stronger vocabularies for dismissing them, audiences find it easier to write off everything impressive that they see as mere CGI. Let's face it, when the original Gone in 60 Seconds touted that they crashed over 90 cars in a 97-minute movie, that MEANT something. They smashed 93 cars! Computers just smash pixels. It never really happened -- and there's a disconnect that comes along with that. It seems everything is done in the computer these days.
But there are a few guys out there still trying to do as much as they can in the real world before turning it over to the effects guys. And if I told you that Wanted director Timur Bekmambetov was one for them, you might not believe me. Not if you've seen his movie, that is. Wanted is INSANE, a frenetic 300 mph smash-bang bevy of gunfights, explosions and ass-kicking that culminates in one of the craziest climaxes you'll see on the screen all year. The word subtlety doesn't exactly come to mind. And as you watch this stunt- and effect-driven work of comic-adapted fiction, it's almost impossible to believe that any of it is real. But a lot of it is. And this new two-disc DVD aims to show you how they did it.
The bulk of the discs' special features are focused on particular aspects of the filmmaking, with a heavy slant towards the special effects. And while they spend some time discussing how they did the digital work on the film, they really want to show you the various insane rigs that Timur and his merry band of demented geniuses cooked up. From the large metal roller welded to a car for the masterful car flipping sequence to a train with a moving bridge for the big bridge-jump stunt, they walk you through how they thought up the ideas and how they put them into action.
It's rare that special features actually manage to make me more impressed with a film, but that happened here. Stunts I myself had written of as clever CGI turned out to be eloquently handled and brilliantly executed in the real world. I walked away from these features with a new level of respect for Timur (God bless copy and paste or else I'd never spell this right) Bekmambetov, which is something of an achievement considering my love for his previous films Nightwatch and Daywatch.
Also on the disc is a cool sequence which animates several key scenes from the comic book to illustrate the difference between the movie and its source and a short doc on adapting the film including an interview with famed comic writer Mark Millar. And for those eager to play the mind-bogglingly intricate-looking videogame based on the film, at the end of several special features there are a number of cheat codes for game settings. But you apparently have to watch the WHOLE special feature to get the codes. Rounding out the package is the usual "characters of the film" piece, which gives us interviews with the cast (including James McAvoy, Morgan Freeman and Angelina Jolie) on why they took the roles and how they felt about the characters.
All in all, there's a lot of good stuff here. It's loud, fun and quite impressive once you know just what went into its making. Wanted is available now from Universal Studios Home Entertainment.