Side Effects One Of 2013’s Most Surprising Stories

Courtesy:  Open Road Films

Courtesy: Open Road Films

Side Effects is one of the most surprisingly entertaining movies that has been released in 2013.  This movie is a breath of fresh air in what otherwise feels like an industry that is dead and buried.  Audiences will be surprised at just how easily this almost Hitchcock style story manages to pull viewers into its world and keep them engaged with such little effort.  Script writer Scott Z. Burns is to be commended for having crafted such a solid and original story.  That is the key to the movie’s success.  The acting on the part of Channing Tatum and Rooney Mara also plays a role in the movie’s success.  Together with the writing, the two factors make Side Effects one of the year’s most underrated and underappreciated movies.  As easy as it is to point out everything that makes Side Effects one of the year’s most underrated and underappreciated movies, one would be remiss to ignore its one glaring problem.  That problem is the story’s overall pacing.  Its run time comes in at just under two hours.  But its tendency to drag, that run time tends to feel much longer in the grand scheme of things.  This aside, it still is not enough to make Side Effects unwatchable.  Being the only problematic issue with the story, Side Effects still remains a movie worth at least one watch by those looking for something new and original.

U.S. theaters were top heavy in 2013 with prequels, sequels, and reboots.  In all, the three categories accounted for nearly forty movies this year.  Many of those movies were not worth the price of admission, either.  So when Side Effects was released earlier this year, it didn’t take long for it to get lost in that sea of movies.  Side Effects is a movie deserving of at least one watch, though.  Much like Anchor Bay’s 6 Souls and Dark Skies, the trailers for the movie led viewers and critics alike to think one thing of the movie.  But in watching it, they discover there is something quite different at work.  Far too many critics either missed that something different, or simply refused to acknowledge it.  That is their loss.  To say that the story behind the story is twisted is an understatement.  Burns’ real story won’t be revealed here for the sake of those that have not yet seen this gripping thriller.  But when the story behind the story is revealed, everything will make sense for viewers.  Those that give the movie a chance and discover its surprises will agree that Burns is to be commended for having crafted such a gripping story.

The script developed by Scott Z. Burns is the central point of Side Effects’ success.  Just as worthy of note here, is the acting on the part of both Channing Tatum and Rooney Mara.  Tatum is typically known for roles that are little more than eye candy for female audiences in most of his movies.  So just as this movie was a breath of fresh air overall, it was just as much of a breath of fresh air to see Tatum take a backseat to Mara, who was the real lead in this story.  What’s more, he seemed to actually embrace the role, allowing her to shine as the seemingly emotionally troubled Emily.    It showed that he could potentially have a future as a dramatic actor if he ever decides to stop allowing himself to be pigeonholed into the same eye candy style roles to which he has become so accustomed.  Mara’s acting was just as impressive.  When she sits down with Dr. Banks and tells her story of supposedly having a stillborn child, her sadness is fully believable.  Mara makes Emily a sympathetic character.  She makes her believable, even in her “scarier” moments.  It goes to show both the ability of she herself and of Tatum to interpret their roles.  That ability to interpret their characters ultimately played into the ability to interpret the script, too.  And that combination of factors is what makes this a story that is worth at least one watch.  For all of its successes, Side Effects is not a perfect movie.  There is one glaring issue that holds the movie back.  Luckily for its sake, it doesn’t hold back the story enough to hurt it too badly.  That one glaring issue is the story’s pacing.

Side Effects’ run time comes in at just under two hours.  And its script was written relatively well.  But the story’s pacing is very problematic.  Fingers could easily be pointed at Burns for this.  But they could just as easily be pointed at director Steven Soderbergh.  It could have been a combination of both individuals.  But there are many points throughout the story at which it drags.  There are so many of those moments, in fact, that some viewers might find themselves reaching for their remotes to fast forward.  Luckily, even in fast forwarding, viewers won’t feel that they have missed anything.  There is still enough information in the story for audiences to put two and two together.  And in doing so, they will find themselves having the proverbial “coulda had a V-8 moment.”  That moment in question brings the whole story full circle and makes it clear why this story is worth at least one watch.  It is available now in stores and online.

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Universal Studios Announces Side Effects Home Release Date, Info

Courtesy:  Universal Studios Home Entertainment

Courtesy: Universal Studios Home Entertainment

Universal Studios Home Entertainment has announced the official release date for its new thriller, Side Effects.  Starring Channing Tatum, the movie follows his character, Martin and Martin’s wife, Emily (Rooney Mara).  The couple has a wonderful life.  But when Emily is prescribed a drug by her psychiatrist to treat anxiety, the couple’s life is turned into a nightmare.  The movie will be released on Blu-ray/DVD combo pack May 21st.  It will be available for digital download on May 7th.  The combo pack also includes an Ultraviolet digital copy and digital copy of the movie.

The upcoming home release of Side Effects includes a commercial for the fictitious drug used in the movie as well as a behind-the-scenes documentary and more.   The official Side Effects trailer can be viewed online now at

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Downey, Law Prove Sometimes A Sequel IS Better Than The Original

Courtesy: Warner Home Video

Ah, sequels.  One of Hollywood’s mainstays in today’s movie industry.  This latest sequel is exactly what audiences should and have come to expect of a big time blockbuster.  It’s a surprise it was released to theaters in December rather than the Summer movie season, as it has all the requisite flashes, bangs and booms throughout, with a touch of raunchiness thrown in for good measure.  The irony is that as much as individuals may want to bash the movie–as it deserves–it’s a guilty pleasure.  If not for the action, the globe hopping from the streets of London to Paris to the snowy maountaintops of another country would be enough to leave most viewers’ heads spinning. Luckily all those special effects are there, distracting viewers.

If the fast paced almost Dan Brown-esque storytelling and special effects aren’t enough trouble, there is no denying the close similarities to The League of (not so) Extraordinary Men in terms of the settings and special effects, and even the story itself.  It’s almost like this story was lifted from the prior movie and altered for this sequel.  Thankfully, the special features included in the DVD and blu-ray do make up for all of that.

Courtesy: Warner Home Video

The bonus features included on the dvd and blu-ray show a cast who didn’t merely show up and recite their lines.  Rather, they seemed to be good friends who were coming together to actually make a movie.  Perhaps that friendship actually helped to make the acting believeable.  This adds some level of enjoyment back to the movie.  It isn’t all, either.  In the defense of this movie, there is also a discussion on the slow motion fight scenes included in the bonus features.  It’s interesting to note that the actors actually did peform the fight scenes themselves in slow motion.  The special effects were only added after the fact to enhance the scenes.  And director Guy Ritchie was interviewed concerning the selection of Jared Harris for the role of Dr. Moriarty.  It was nice to see that he paid attention to detail, rather than simply going for the style of Moriarty that has been used so many times before.  He did make the attempt to stay true to the original villain.  So kudos to him for that. 

Speaking of the not so good Doctor, the bonus features even include a feature on the the showdowns between Holmes and Moriarty, including the chess scene near the movie’s end.  It was interesting to learn that people would actually act as Holmes and Moriarty did in this scene.  For that matter, that they would bring in a professional chess player to teach Downey and Harris about the game actually adds some credibility to the movie.

Courtesy: Warner Home Video

Overall, Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows is hardly the most memorable of major blockbusters.  The reality is that while it is a guilty pleasure, it’s still enough to make audiences hopeful that Hollywood’s elite brass will one day soon finally start to take chances on real movies again, rather than rely on forgettable pieces like this.

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