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When a gifted medical student is accepted into a prestigious anatomy program, it seems like a dream come true. But her school days soon turn into a nightmare when she uncovers the horrifying activities of an ancient secret society whose members perform grisly experiments on human subjects while they are still alive!
For more about Anatomy and the Anatomy Blu-ray release, see Anatomy Blu-ray Review published by Martin Liebman on June 23, 2013 where this Blu-ray release scored 2.5 out of 5.
Starring: Franka Potente, Anna Loos, Benno Fürmann, Sebastian Blomberg, Andreas Günther
Director: Stefan Ruzowitzky
» See full cast & crew
Anatomy Blu-ray Review
Anatomy: gross, flatline, or Franka?
Reviewed by Martin Liebman, June 23, 2013
There's always a scientific explanation.
Kids may say and do the darndest things, but those whacky medical students do the damnedest things. As in the kind of things that will probably damn them to eternal suffering in hell. Anatomy tells the story of a bright-eyed and bushy-tailed ace medical student who finds herself in a living nightmare in which some of her colleagues decide it would be fun to slice up the living for a closer peek into whatever's on the inside. The real drama, however, is figuring out what's wrong with the organ nestled between these psychos' ears and underneath their thick skulls. Obviously, someone dropped these bozos on their heads one too many times, but at least the result is a movie that's chilling, thrilling, and gruesome, at least at times. It's also one, however, that devolves into a rather stale Slasher when it's all said and done.
Paula Henning (Franka Potente, Run Lola Run) is a gifted medical student who has just bee awarded a spot at the prestigious Heidelberg Medical School where failure at the bottom of the class means a one-way ticket back home. On the train, she meets Gretchen (Anna Loos), a fellow student who is way more interested boys than she is books. They also meet a young man named David (Arndt Schwering-Sohnrey) who is traveling to see a specialist for an unfortunate and life-threatening heart condition. But when David's body turns up for dissection in anatomy class, Paula believes foul play, not natural death, to be at work. Her private investigation leads her to uncover a terrible secret and a group of rogue medical professionals who have bastardized the Hippocratic Oath for their own sick leanings.
One of the real weaknesses in the film is its character roster. There's the lead girl, who is fine. She's spunky and spirited, a bit closed off, but very smart and someone who's capable of confronting her fears. Yet she is still scared to death at the same time. In other words, she's straight off of the Horror/Thriller lead female factory assembly line mold. Franka Potente plays the part well enough but can't add much to a character as stock as hers. She's balanced by her sex fiend friend, the sort who is more interested in the anatomy outside the body rather than the anatomy inside. Her character enjoys a brief surprise that doesn't add much to the story but that at least pulls her out of the depths of true cliché, forced as it may seem. Then there's everyone else, all of the interchangeable pieces with no real qualities, be they friend or foe. The character motivations are terribly uninspired, there's not much tension or fear, and the movie, then, never seems to escape its straight-on appointment with predictable movie destiny.
With a fairly weak character roster, Anatomy's greater plot is forced to fend for itself. That's good news and bad news. Good, because it starts off very well, bad, because it doesn't end with the same flair. The picture does a nice job of pulling the audience into the competitive and necessarily gruesome world of medical science and the study of human anatomy. The world isn't really all that rich, and it's not even as well realized as it is in better, similarly set films like Gross Anatomy and Flatliners, but the basic setup -- the bodies, the gore, and the cold, metallic workspace -- helps to define the movie well enough for what's to come. And what's to come is a bit too much fluff and way more standard Slasher elements than necessary. Even as Anatomy builds suspense in the "whodunit" arena, it spends so much aimless time with its rather boring characters that the payoff as to whether they live or die never finds much dramatic value. And all those death scenes really don't showcase much in the way of visual or dramatic diversity. By the end, the picture loses any intrigue it may have had left in the tank and plays as little more than a basic Slasher picture with the leading lady on the run from and ultimately battling the scary bad guys, bad guys not with razor fingers or a machete but rather a scalpel and a tool to paralyze the body. It's different on the surface, but the substance is pretty much straight out of the Slasher handbook.
Anatomy Blu-ray, Video Quality
Anatomy's Blu-ray transfer probably won't please all that many fans. While it looks good enough in general terms -- detail and color are fine -- it'll push away grain haters while anti-edge enhancement folks will want to steer clear. Indeed, grain is fairly heavy, but at the same time there's no signs of unwarranted scrubbing. Details, then, remain quite sharp, showing all sorts of facial textures, clothing lines, and various human body internals with strong clarity. Likewise, the general sharpness, stability, and resolution aid in defining crisp background details. Colors are well balanced. The palette is fairly vibrant with only a few lower light indoor scenes that look a little more dim than they might should. Bright outdoor shots fare best, but even the cooler anatomy lab interiors show off some nice, natural shades. Skin tones and black levels never stray too far from where they should be. There are a few random spots of wear-and-tear, but the transfer's biggest technical flaw comes in the form of excess edge enhancement that leaves many a character and object with a thick halo around the edges. It's fairly constant and quite the eyesore, a shame considering the movie otherwise looks rather good.
Anatomy Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Anatomy's only lossless option is the English language DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track. The original German track is relegated to lossy 5.1 status. Fans are sure to be disappointed. However, the film was released theatrically in the United States with that dub track as its primary, so the decision is understandable, particularly considering the film's release as a budget title (the inclusion of the German track, then, almost feels like a bonus). The dub is rather typical, a serviceable listen but nothing more. Dialogue sounds rather detached, unnatural, certainly not up there with something like Das Boot which might be the finest dub work on home video (and another German to English one at that). Music, to begin, plays smoothly and clearly, with a positive surround presence. Later musical elements -- such as a pop song that also plays early in the film -- lack energy, though not to the extreme. Some heavier effects enjoy adequate stage presence, such as the rumbly train carrying the students to Heidelberg. There are some basic crashes and other Horror/Thriller sonic signatures at play, all of which enjoy good, basic elements such as firm presence, vigor, and clarity. The dubbed dialogue comes through well enough, though certainly it can be a bit jarring. The German track feels a bit more balanced, though not always quite as clear. Dialogue comes through very evenly and naturally. There's a greater sense of real space in places -- compare and contrast with the English track the first anatomy class scene at the beginning of the film -- and many of the effects play with a bit more of a natural presence. It's not quite as aggressive and loud all the time, and it's not lossless, but this track, with the included English subtitles, is definitely the way to go.
Anatomy Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
This Blu-ray release of Anatomy contains no supplemental content.
Anatomy Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Anatomy is a serviceable Thriller/Slasher/Horror/Whatever that starts off strongly enough but continually fades until its uninspired, by-the-book finale. It features a forgettable character roster and precious little in the way of novelty or reason to care other than to watch it play out to the inevitable conclusion. It does, however, dabble in some pretty terrible visuals, but not in the chopped meat sort of way. Instead, there's some fascinating and highly exacting examples of the human body in various states of dissection that, for those who can handle such things, is maybe enough of a reason to watch. Otherwise, there's just not much here other than a technically competent, generally entertaining, but hugely standard Slasher/Thriller picture. Mill Creek's Blu-ray release of Anatomy features decent video and audio. No extras are included. Recommended for on-the-cheap purchase.
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