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  Directed by
    None Listed
  Starring
  Specs
  • Widescreen 1.78:1
  • 16:9 Enhanced
  Languages
  • English: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
  • German: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
  Subtitles
    English, Dutch, English - Hearing Impaired, Danish, Swedish, Norwegian, Finnish
  Extras
  • Deleted scenes
  • Theatrical trailer
  • Behind the scenes footage
  • Booklet

Forces of Nature

Dreamworks/Universal . R4 . COLOR . 102 mins . M15+ . PAL

  Feature
Contract

The eternal battle between choice and destiny. Are our lives controlled by some higher power that steers us where she/he/they/it deems we are supposed to go? Or do we have the final say, leaving us to live with and accept our choices for better or worse? I'm certainly no philosopher, so I wouldnít have a clue in the world, but it's always fun to see or hear what others have to think about it...

New York based sweetie-pie blurbologist (he writes copy for book jackets) Ben (Affleck, not to be typecast or anything) and Bridget are to be wed in a couple of days. After a buck's party (shudder) mishap that sees Ben's grandfather end up in intensive care after a close encounter with a rather limber, balloon-clad stripper named Juanita the Bull Tamer (uh huh), Bridget jets off to Savannah leaving her 'fraidy-pants-when-it-comes-to-flying beau to catch a later flight. When his plane sucks a CGI seagull into its engine and careens off the runway, he decides to seek a potentially safer means of transport to get him to his wedding.

As fate would have it he teams up with the rather scatty Sarah (Bullock, playing what appears to be herself as she usually does - and quite well at that), who he "saved" from the crash and also happens to be on the way to Savannah. Due to a dearth of rent-a-cars (all flights are cancelled due to an approaching hurricane) they hop a ride with Vic - who turns out to be a previously convicted stoner who gets them all lobbed into a jail cell. Once it's sorted and they're freed, Ben and Sarah hop the train - and you might think that would be it. As that would make for a rather short film, everything that can go wrong does, seeing them embarking upon a Planes, Trains and Automobiles-style romp across America desperately trying to get to the church in time, including hitching a ride with a bus load of retirees off to Florida to check out the condo situation (led by The West Wing's Richard Schiff, seen here in an altogether different light than his Toby character in that (magnificent) series).

Throughout Ben encounters tales of divorces and other unhappy wedded experiences, giving him cold feet and causing him to question his feelings both for his wife-to-be and also the free-spirited Sarah. Little does he know that back in Savannah Bridget is also being led into temptation by an ex-boyfriend, although any guy who thinks a woeful croon in the key of 'H' of a song by a bloke who divorced his wife by fax (Phil Collins' bleahy Against All Odds) is going to do the trick has a hell of a lot to learn about women.

So, will Ben and Bridget overcome the numerous natural and very unnatural obstacles strewn in their path to apparent happiness? Aaahhhh...

  Video
Contract

Straight up I must say that this transfer wonít be winning any awards in a hurry. It isnít shocking by any means, but often appeared rather fuzzy, and, well, quite dim and muted - on other occasions characters would appear quite ruddy-faced, like somebody slipped and ramped the red knob a touch too far (or perhaps the makeup artiste was off sick for the day?) Indeed it appears that quite a bit of fiddling was done after the fact to convey different hues for different weather conditions and scenes, it doesnít always work that well. Artefacts are at a minimum, but still there, which in a film of such recent vintage isnít particularly forgivable. As should be the norm it is anamorphically enhanced, although it isn't in its original theatrical aspect ratio (big smacks!)

Whoever plopped the layer change where it is (around the 57 minute mark in the midst of a scene) should have their hands severed so as they are never able to commit such a sin again, as it is most noticeable and very disruptive. Many another disc has proven that with a little care they can go virtually or completely unnoticeable, so as far as I am concerned there is absolutely no excuse for travesties such as this one (I shall now alight my soapbox...)

  Audio
Contract

The sound fares decently, although with only a few exceptions (some of the lovely weather workouts) we're dealing with a dialogue-driven beastie here, so it is perfectly acceptable that the surround channels don't spend the entirety of the film blasting us into submission. When they're needed they're there, adding enough ambience to flesh out the sound scape pleasantly, which is really how it should be.

The soundtrack is a curiously eclectic affair, ranging from indie darlings Gomez and Swervedriver, to DOOFmeisters such as Faithless and Propellerheads (whose atmospheric theme also haunts the main menu to great effect), to the angelic strains of Sarah McLachlan and U2's fabulous Rattle and Hum-era romp through the classic Everlasting Love. The orchestral score by John Powell is at times quite perky, yet never intrusive.

  Extras
Contract

Firstly, for want of a better place to stick it I must have a gripe about a nasty habit that this disc has, which too many others do too. If you stick in the disc and leave it at the menu screen, the disc takes the liberty of starting the film automatically after a short while. DVD AUTHORS, PLEASE STOP DOING THIS! When I want to start the film I'll press the blessed button for it. Thankyouverymuch.

Anyway, extras-wise you're only in for some pretty standard stuff here - the usual theatrical trailer (at least presented in its proper ratio and 16x9 enhanced for the 23 or so people that this matters to currently), a brief, full frame 'behind the scenes' featurette (just under four minutes) which has a few interview snippets interspersed amongst large chunks of the film, and around five and a half minutes of deleted scenes. The latter consists of a slightly different intro, some rather sweet conversation chopped from the bus ride, an outside-the-fairground scene and a marginally alternate, and rather more explosive, ending. Almost all of this is plastered with 'Property of Dreamworks' in giant, fiendly (sic) letters, although at times it disappears and reappears for no apparent reason.

Apparently there should also be a four-page booklet included with the disc featuring production notes, however unfortunately it was absent from my review copy (heehee, how will I sleep?!)

So in all there's not a lot in the way of extras to get excited about, however at least there's something to waylay you for an extra few minutes.

  Overall  
Contract

I must admit I'm a sucker for this kind of film. Give me a couple of hours, my wonderfully comfy couch, a block of chocky and a cushion to hug and I'll lap up just about any 'chick flick' you lob at me with joyous glee. That doesnít necessarily mean I'll love every one of them though, however in this instance I was in for a pleasant and fun treat.

Only the second feature from director Bronwen Hughes (whose debut was the sweet kiddie flick Harriet the Spy), Forces of Nature is a step up from the generally visually bland entries to the genre. Just because a film is a romantic, dialogue-driven tale that doesnít mean to say it has to look boring (City of Angels is another gorgeous example of how to do it right) - and there are plenty of treats in store here. Much care (and CGI budget) has been used to display the beauteous side of weather, be it rain, wind, hail or snow, to utterly glorious effect.

The disc is by no means a poster-child for superb DVD buying value, with extras thin on the ground and only reasonable video quality, but as a film it is a fabulous way to spend an hour and three quarters escaping into other peoples' lives.

If you're a fan of this type of film you'll know it, and I would strongly suggest at least giving it a rent as it is a cut above many films of its ilk. If you're looking for an expletive-laden, musclebound, sweat-dribbling he-man things-that-go-BOOM! fest though - well, I donít even know why you read this far...


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      And I quote...
    "...a fabulous way to spend an hour and three quarters escaping into other peoples' lives. "
    - Amy Flower
      Review Equipment
    • DVD Player:
          Pioneer DV-535
    • TV:
          Sony 68cm
    • Speakers:
          Home Built
    • Surrounds:
          No Name
    • Audio Cables:
          Standard RCA
    • Video Cables:
          Standard Component RCA
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