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Fate and determination push idealistic father John Crowley (two of whose children suffer from a rare disease) into joining forces with reclusive medical researcher, Dr. Robert Stonehill. Together, this unlikely pair face impossible odds as they battle the entire medical establishment and time itself to find a cure before it’s too late.
For more about Extraordinary Measures and the Extraordinary Measures Blu-ray release, see Extraordinary Measures Blu-ray Review published by Martin Liebman on May 18, 2010 where this Blu-ray release scored 3.0 out of 5.
Director: Tom Vaughan
Writer: Robert Nelson Jacobs
Starring: Brendan Fraser, Harrison Ford, Keri Russell, Courtney B. Vance, Patrick Bauchau, Jared Harris
» See full cast & crew
Extraordinary Measures Blu-ray Review
Though not an extraordinary film, Sony's latest takes several measures to ensure an uplifting and tearjerking motion picture experience.
Reviewed by Martin Liebman, May 18, 2010
It's about kids, kids with names, dreams, families that love them.
Those pesky heartstrings make such a tempting target. Hollywood always seems to be yanking on them here, gently puling on them there, like a giant marionette playing millions of moviegoers every year. Audiences, it seems, are always ready and willing to shell out the cash, paint those heartstrings a tempting neon color, and attach a "pull me" sign on their ends, all in the name of getting mushy over the latest feel good story to make its way onto the big screen. Usually based on some true story about overcoming long odds and the sacrifices made along the way, the feel-good picture represents a genre with limitless value because there's limitless hurt in a world that needs to be reminded every now and again that love and determination can sometimes beat the odds and defeat nature, money, and time. Rare occurrences yes but also the bearers of real hope and inspiration, movies like Extraordinary Measures are built not only to tell a story or break the bank at the box office but to show that there's still some good in a world that all too often seems overrun by doom and gloom. Extraordinary Measures tells a story about the fight to find a cure for a debilitating and, ultimately, deadly disease and the struggle to overcome the odds both in the hospital room and in the board room in an effort to get a promising drug to needy children. It's not a new story, but it's told with enough technical skill and emotional power to make Extraordinary Measures a quality feel-good motion picture experience.
Everyman John Crowley (Brendan Fraser, Journey to the Center of the Earth) and his wife Aileen (Keri Russell, August Rush) are parents to three children, two of whom -- eight-year-old Megan (Meredith Droeger) and six-year-old Patrick (Diego Velazquez) -- have been diagnosed with the fatal Pompe's Disease. Megan and Patrick both have already beaten the life expectancy for a Pompe's victim, but when Megan is hospitalized and nearly passes away, it becomes clear that the Crowley's cannot beat the inevitable for much longer without the help of a genuine miracle. With that, John quits his job with Bristol-Myers Squibb in pursuit of a dream to find a drug that will allow his children to live. He tracks down the country's preeminent Pompe's researcher, Nebraskan Dr. Robert Stonehill (Harrison Ford, Air Force One), in hopes that the doctor can or has developed the cure that Megan and Patrick need. Unfortunately, Stonehill proves a difficult nut to crack; he's overworked and underfunded and in need of half a million dollars just to get his potentially life-saving research off the ground. John's persistence and willingness to raise the funds Stonehill needs results in an unlikely alliance in the name of cutting through red tape and saving lives.
Extraordinary Measures certainly isn't the type of rousing cinema that will have audiences cheering by the end, nor is it all that suspenseful. The movie is more of a"known quantity" type of outing where anyone with even an inkling as to what it's all about will be able to figure out how it's going to end, but the problem here is that the journey really isn't all that interesting along the way. Sure, it's very easy to root for the sick children and become lost in the emotion; Extraordinary Measures does very well in that area, placing the audience in the midst of the ups and downs of the children's struggles with Pompe's, but it loses steam in its middle act when the movie necessarily trudges through the deluge of scientific banter and the behind-the-scenes bureaucracy and politics that unfortunately but understandably get in the way of the ultimate goal of getting the right drugs into the hands of needy patients. Then again, it's through those trials that the film finds its true meaning as it demonstrates the power of perseverance in accomplishing even the most impossible of tasks. Had Extraordinary Measures cheated real life and foregone the mundane struggles behind the story and simply traversed from point-A to point-B with a minimal number of easily-defeated roadblocks, the emotional payoff would be significantly lessened and the message on determination lost in Hollywood fantasy. The middle act may slow the film down, but it's a necessary ingredient in bringing the story, its themes, and its meaning to fruition.
It's almost a given that these sorts of film will in some way affect the audience; it's impossible to see sick children and not have an emotional response, but a movie such as this simply can't succeed without the help of several additional elements. Extraordinary Measures does a good job of building a story around the disease and populating the film with quality actors, both factors contributing to make this a serviceable, sometimes potent, always timely, and subtly purposeful tearjerker. Indeed, the film's true purpose seems to be its ability to call attention to Pompe's disease without playing like a telethon; audiences will likely leave the movie wanting to contribute in some way to disease research, whether for Pompe's or another, and that may prove to be the film's greatest asset and area of success. Additionally, Extraordinary Measures is populated with a likable cast that's rock-solid all around. Brendan Fraser delivers a heartfelt and honest performance as a loving father doing all he can to help his children, while Harrison Ford's effort is his best since K-19: The Widowmaker, this being the first film in almost a decade where he doesn't look too old for the part. He's excellent as a scientist with an attitude, a man who wants to make his mark on the world for the better but who has developed something of a nasty complex over the years as a researcher who hasn't been able to fund his work or maneuver through the politics and policies of a world where money trumps the possibility of improving people's lives. For as good as Fraser and Ford are, however, Meredith Droeger is the real star of the show. Hers is a remarkably genuine and lovable effort as an eight-year-old girl with Pompe's; she shines in her role, delivering a sparkling, memorable performance that in and of itself should inspire young children suffering through potentially terminal diseases that there's hope and the chance for a good life through a positive outlook and the warmth of a loving family.
Extraordinary Measures Blu-ray, Video Quality
No longer extraordinary but instead routine is the fact that Sony continues to churn out top-notch video transfers for their Blu-ray releases, and Extraordinary Measures's 1080p, 1.85:1-framed image is another that delivers a nearly faultless Blu-ray experience. The transfer features a thin and pleasing veneer of grain that lends to the film that sought-after cinematic texture, and the print is free of any distracting visual elements, such as scratches, pops, and speckles. Colors are strongly realized, with no shade appearing over- or under-saturated. Fine detail is often exemplary as well; clothes, faces, landscaping, or knickknacks that appear around the Crowley house or various scientific and corporate offices all enjoy a rich texturing that's only accentuated by the absence of noise reduction. Blacks are impeccable and flesh tones are often natural in tint, only sometimes taking on a slight red push. Extraordinary Measures impresses as a Blu-ray transfer that seems straight out of the movie theater; it's not going to wow viewers in the same way a Pixar Blu-ray might, but it's very impressive, nearly flawless, in fact, save for a couple of instances of light banding and a few randomly soft shots. Blu-ray enthusiasts wishing to witness a film-like presentation in the home will be thrilled with this latest effort from Sony.
Extraordinary Measures Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Extraordinary Measures features a decidedly yet expectedly reserved but nevertheless wonderfully clear, clean, distortion-free, and natural DTS-HD MA 5.1 lossless soundtrack. Music -- whether the score's light and fairly generic instrumental genre elements or any of Stonehill's Rock tracks -- features a nice sense of space but remains limited primarily to the front half of the soundstage. The track delivers a few light atmospherics, particularly in several outdoor Nebraska scenes, but like the music, there's simply little back-channel activity to be found. The track's most sonically notable element comes from helicopter rotors tearing through the soundstage in one scene, accompanied by a palpable but certainly not all that aggressive low end. Extraordinary Measures is little more than a dialogue-centric Drama, and Sony's track stays true to the film's nature, delivering the spoken word with nary an audible hiccup.
Extraordinary Measures Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Extraordinary Measures features a small collection of extras, beginning with Meet John Crowley (1080i, 4:35), a short piece that introduces viewers to both Pompe's disease and the real-life people whose story influenced the film. 'Extraordinary Measures:' The Power to Overcome (1080p, 10:43) is an average but effective studio-produced behind-the-scenes piece that features cast and crew speaking on the film and the real-life story behind it, intercut with plenty of scenes from the movie. Also included is a collection of nine deleted scenes (1080p, 9:22); BD-Live functionality; MovieIQ connectivity; and 1080p trailers for Not the Messiah, The Young Victoria (strangely presented in 480p), The Back-Up Plan, Dear John, Not Easily Broken, Fireproof, Michael Jackson's This is It, and Facing the Giants.
Extraordinary Measures Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Extraordinary Measures isn't the end-all, be-all of feel-good cinema. It's pretty average in the grand scheme of things and even within its own genre, but it tells a good story and contains solid performances, with Fraser and Meredith Droeger in particular impressing in their respective roles and bringing a genuine sincerity to the story. There's a heartfelt honesty to the entire movie as well, even if it lacks much suspense. Still, Director Tom Vaughan (What Happens in Vegas) captures the dynamics of the story both on the familial level and on the political level very well, creating a dramatic juxtaposition between them but ultimately balancing them out and never allowing the necessarily slower middle act to drown out the positives of the rest of the story. Fans of inspirational cinema probably won't walk out of Extraordinary Measures believing to have found the next great masterpiece of the genre, but it's a serviceable and sufficiently moving and well-made picture that accomplishes all it sets out to do, notably calling attention to Pompe's Disease. Sony once again delivers a technically proficient disc with Extraordinary Measures. It's becoming almost routine -- but pleasantly so -- to see the studio time and again release high quality Blu-ray products. A stunning high definition transfer, a capable lossless soundtrack, and a few extras make Extraordinary Measures a strong candidate for an enjoyable weekend rental.
Extraordinary Measures: Other Editions
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Extraordinary Measures Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Extraordinary Measures Blu-ray Announced - March 15, 2010
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment has announced Extraordinary Measures for release on Blu-ray on May 18. This medical drama, the first production for CBS Films, stars Brendan Fraser as the father of two children afflicted with a rare disease who joins forces with ...
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