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6 Degrees Entertainment

'Hereafter' (Blu-ray/DVD Combo + Digital Copy)
(Matt Damon, Bryce Dallas Howard, et al / 3-Disc Blu ray+DVD / PG-13 / 2011 / Warner Bros.)

Overview: George (Matt Damon) is a blue-collar American with a special connection to the afterlife dating from his childhood. French journalist Marie (Cécile de France) has a near-death experience that shakes her reality. And when London schoolboy Marcus (Frankie and George McLaren) loses the person closest to him, he desperately needs answers. Each seeking the truth, their lives will intersect, forever changed by what they believe might – or must – exist in the hereafter.

Blu ray Verdict: Sorry, but's frustrating how bad 'Hereafter' is! The topic, life after death, is fascinating. Almost all the actors are top notch in every scene. Cecile de France and Thierry Neuvic are both especially good, both gorgeous and moving in their roles. Clint Eastwood's direction exemplifies seamless, slick, pro, Hollywood style. The problem is the script. It's idiotic, manipulative, and shallow.

Worst of all, its emptiness and ineptitude often produces sheer boredom. You will learn more about death watching a cable TV afternoon show on professional psychics, or having a long talk with a friend about paranormal phenomena, or reading online accounts of near death encounters. When a movie can't get any deeper than these readily available alternatives, it truly is wasting your money and your time.

There are a couple of really great scenes in 'Hereafter.' The best scene is the very first one; maybe you can check into a theater showing the film just to catch it. The opening scene depicts a couple of gorgeous French tourists, Marie and Didier (Cecile de France and Thierry Neuvic) lounging in their hotel bedroom in Southeast Asia. Marie remembers that they must purchase presents for his kids. She ventures to a market; he stays in bed.

And the 2004 Tsunami hits. The special effects here are one hundred percent convincing - it's as if you are viewing actual film footage of the tsunami rising from the ocean and flooding the beach, hotels, the streetside markets where Marie shops. Utility poles snap and fall, one after the other, like so many twigs. Cars are taken up and become waterborne projectiles, mercilessly hitting and drowning humans. Marie is shown, bruised and battered, falling through water, detritus, past other bodies. What's so remarkable about this scene is that it emphasizes the human tragedy of the tsunami, rather than the ooo-aaa of watching a virtuoso special effects scene.

But there are too many other scenes that are completely shallow, silly, and manipulative. A character is introduced, built-up, and killed off in record time. Even as this character makes his appearance, and is shown, with brisk efficiency, to be someone you could love, you realize that this character has no place in the plot, no place in the movie, except as someone the movie is teaching you to like so he can be killed off and used to serve the film's theme of life after death. You get it that the film is doing nothing in this character's scenes but milking your tears. The movie really lost me with these scenes, and those who have seen the movie know exactly which character I'm talking about.

Another character is introduced only to make the situation of retired psychic George Lonegan (Matt Damon) more pathetic. As soon as this character appears onscreen, you know exactly why she's there, how and why she will let George down, and so you can't become emotionally involved in any scene she's in.

Damon is never believable as George the psychic. George is written as a completely passive, socially retarded loser who doesn't know how to say "No" or how to make a living. Damon is most convincing as a cocky character. Again and again George attempts, and fails, to say "No" to people, and Damon can't make these scenes believable or poignant or make them make any sense at all. In their repetitiveness, they become frustrating, and ultimately laughable. In addition to being a passive pushover, George isn't very nice. He's shown behaving very badly toward a child and any sympathy the audience might have had for him is lost.

Even the lighting is handled manipulatively. When George is in apartments with several available lamps, he lights only the lamps in adjacent rooms, and conducts his psychic readings half in darkness. No reason is giving for this, except that we all know that darkness is more spooky.

There's a completely unbelievable scene where a small child visits several psychics in London in one day. I know adults who couldn't handle the logistics of such a field trip: tracking psychics down, locating and traveling to one venue after another, paying admission fees, reserving seats ... and a small child does this? Not. Took me right out of the movie.

The ending of this movie is awkward and completely unbelievable and utterly absent any emotional truth. It seemed an attempt by the screenwriter to put a big, fat bow on the empty mess that preceded it. [DG] This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.77:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Features of:

Clint Eastwood and Matt Damon lead a journey into Hereafter to explore the world of skeptics, psychics and mediums, and the possibility of life after death.
Featuring 9 Focus Points:
- Tsunami! Recreating a Disaster
- Is There Life After Death?
- Clint on Casting
- Delving into the Hereafter
- Twin Bonding
- French Speaking French
- Why The White Light?
- Hereafter's Locations - "Casting" the Silent Characters
- The Eastwood Experience
The Eastwood Factor: 90 minute documentary in HD

Trailer

On March 15th, “Hereafter” will also be available for rent ON DEMAND through Digital Cable, Satellite TV, and IPTV. It can also be purchased for permanent download or rented on iTunes, Amazon Video On Demand, and Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 game consoles.

It will also be available to rent via kiosks and subscription on April 12th.





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