MOVIE: *1/2 (out of 5)
BLU-RAY EXPERIENCE: *** (out of 5)
BY KEVIN CARR
WHAT IT’S ABOUT
Three stories collide in Clint Eastwood’s latest film. A French television journalist finds herself at the heart of a story when she survives the 2004 tsunami only to be haunted by visions of her near-death experience. A young twin in England suffers tragedy when his brother is killed in an accident, and he longs to reconnect after death. And a John Edward-style psychic tries to overcome the burden of his gift while he also searches for a human connection.
WHAT I LIKED
This movie put me in a quandary. I respect the hell out of Clint Eastwood, with all of the many hats he has worn over the years. He’s a very careful director, and he has made some really solid films. However, he’s also made some not-so-great movies as well. “Hereafter” is not is best piece of work, but at the very least, I respect what he’s trying to accomplish with it.
The opening sequence of the film is the most powerful, of course. This recreates the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami with gritty realism. With the DVD and Blu-ray street date only four days after the 2011 Japanese tsunami, it’s a chilling reminder of the power of nature. After seeing the 2011 video images to compare to the recreation scene in “Hereafter,” I found that aspect of the film even more powerful.
And the performances were good, even in the midst of the struggling film.
WHAT I DIDN’T LIKE
I understand what Eastwood was trying to do with “Hereafter.” Like he always does, Eastwood is going for the deeper human emotion over the grand scale of spectacle. He does this, but once the tsunami sequence is over, he delves so deeply into the human emotion there’s nothing more in the story. It’s a slow build to nothing, and in the end, it leaves me cold.
There’s also character elements to this movie that just fall flat or miss the mark completely. In particular, there’s a scene where the psychic character of George (Matt Damon) gets roped into giving a reading to a date. He warns her that she might find things out that would be better left covered up. But he gives her such a soft warning that when ugly memories show up, it’s a surprise.
There’s a lot of moping around in this film, which is something I can’t stand in a movie. I understand that the film deals with death and tragedy, but it hinges on so many people feeling sorry for themselves that they become weak characters in my mind.
There was a time when Eastwood would release two movies a year, one good and one bad. For example, “Flags of Our Fathers” was terrible but “Letters from Iwo Jima” was really good. Similarly, “Changeling” was awful while “Gran Torino” was excellent. With “Hereafter” this year and “Invictus” last year, it seems like ol’ Clint has given a pass on the good films and stuck with the lesser ones.
The two-disc set includes a DVD with digital copy. There’s also 40 minutes of Focus Points on the Blu-ray, which can be embedded in the film or watched as a whole chunk. These give a look into various elements of the films production, from the acting to the paranormal subject matter to the recreation of the tsunami sequence.
Finally, for fans of Clint Eastwood, the Blu-ray includes the extended version of “The Eastwood Factor,” which was last year’s documentary of Eastwood’s 35 years at Warner Bros. This is the first time this documentary has been released on high definition.
WHO’S GOING TO LIKE THIS MOVIE
Die-hard Clint Eastwood fans.