Friday, 22 October 2010

THE EXPERIMENT DVD review

This new Adrien Brody/Forest Whitaker starring thriller is now out on DVD.

Read my review and find out more, after the jump...


A group of 26 men volunteer for a social experiment that will pit them against one another in a mock prison environment. Once the volunteers are placed in the facility, they're split into two teams; the prisoners and the guards. No acts of violence will be tolerated, and they'll be watched over by security cameras and studied by Dr Archaleta (Fisher 'number Johnny Five' Stevens). All the men have different reasons for entering the experiment, with the primary motive being the healthy paycheck they'll receive if they complete the 14 days of incarceration.

This film is a remake of the German original Das Experiment, itself based on the story of the real tests that happened in Stanford. In the interest of full disclosure, I haven't seen the original film, so will be basing my review solely on this film's own merits. The new version was written and made by the team behind the Prison Break TV series, which for all its ridiculousness, I was a fan of. It's somewhat familiar territory for them, although that series' tale of searching for brotherhood has been supplanted by two friends who've found themselves on opposing sides.



During the appraisal stage we see Adrien Brody's liberal layabout Travis befriend Forest Whitaker's mysterious loner Barris, but their relationship quickly turns frosty once their respective uniforms are issued. It's fairly obvious from the start that Forest Whitaker's shy, polite normal guy isn't going to stay that way for long, with the small amount of power given to him going straight to his head.

The guards demand order whilst the prisoners want to revolt, and before you know it, we're heavily into Lord of the Flies territory. Therein lies this films biggest problem; I've seen it all before. Whilst there are bits to enjoy, I could have written down the ending as soon as the film started. The characters lack any nuances, painted with large and obvious brushstrokes. One of the guards is a boorish womaniser...I wonder what his big secret desire is? Another of the guards actually has a conscience...hmm, let me think about where he's headed.

Don't forget that this is a film with two Best Actor Oscar winners in the main roles. Forest Whitaker may play 'gone a bit loopy' well, and Adrien Brody may be good at the charming slacker, but they need better material if they're ever going to go Oscar hunting again. It's not terrible, but for supposedly true events is just very unbelievable, come the ending giving us one plot point that sends it over the edge into its own reality. Altogether, an enjoyable but formulaic thriller where none of its talented cast particularly shine.


Verdict

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