Jungle
The Gift (BLU-RAY)

The Gift

Movie
Studio(s): 
Director(s): 
Grade:
C
Running Time: 
108 minutes

     Simon (Jason Bateman; Arrested Development) and Robyn (Rebecca Hall; Iron Man 3) have just moved into a new house and a new city. All seems to be going as planned until Simon has a run in with an old school mate, Gordo (Joel Edgerton; Black Mass).
     It's not long before the couple start receiving small gifts on their doorstep from Gordo as he slowly infiltrates their lives with drop in's, gifts, and invites to social functions. It all seems relatively innocent behavior from an eccentric loner, but there are dark secrets from the past that are fluttering to the surface.

     The Gift is reminiscent of films like Gossip or Oldboy. There is a slow build up, sneaking suspicions, and a whole lot of awkwardness along the way. Unfortunately the film lacks the charm of likeable characters, save from Rebecca Hall's Robyn, who for the most part plays it pretty neutral.
     My biggest problem with the film is that Edgerton (who directs the picture as well as stars) plays it pretty one dimensional. It's pretty much a set up for the plot, in hopes that the viewer will be left wondering, but Edgerton is only slightly likable in the role and comes off neutral in his own right in contrast with Bateman, who is the most unlikable character of the film, and for good reason.
     I found The Gift to be a movie that's hard to handle, but eventually good enough for a cheap thrill, but lacks any kind of rewatchable value. It's definitely not a film I'd care to sit through again, and not in A Usual Suspects or Fight Club kind of way.

PICTURE AND AUDIO:
     The Blu-Ray transfer for The Gift is pretty horrid. There is a lot of washout in the film that leaves the picture looking a little sapped for color and contrast. There is even a dinner scene with the couple and their friends in which Jason Bateman's head looks superimposed on his own body. It was a very off discrepancy that I'd like to say adds a bit of metaphor and foresight into the character (you'll see), but chances are likely it was just bad editing. Overall picture is pretty lacking.

     Audio, presented in DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 isn't really set up in the film for much more then atmospheric noise and jump scenes. I did find it rather useful when, on more then one occasion, Bateman and Hall have some serious discussions in whispery monotone dialog that hardly registered through my TV speakers but were fleshed out over the surround sound. Basically the track does it's job of offering the very little support it can to a mostly dialog heavy film.

BONUS FEATURES:
~Alternate Ending: This feature comes with an optional introduction by Joel Edgerton. Really, I think it's worth checking out, if not to just flesh out Gordo a bit more. It's the cutting room floor pieces of Gordo that probably should have stayed in the picture, but Edgerton explains it away with timing and character development.
~Deleted Scenes:  Like the Alternate Ending, this feature is presented with an optional intro by Edgerton. It features some extended and all together missing scenes cut from the film. Again, it adds a bit more depth that is otherwise absent from the film.
~Karma For Bullies
~The Darkerside of Jason Bateman: With Bateman's rise from 80's kid actor to surfacing again renewed in films like Smokin' Aces, The Kingdom, and the hit TV series (now Netflix Original) Arrested Development. This is kind of a surprise direction for Bateman. I hated it, but to each their own.
~Commentary and Trailers
~Digital Copy

AJ Garcia
Review by AJ Garcia
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