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Safety Not Guaranteed(2012)
Three magazine employees head out on an assignment to interview a guy who placed a classified ad seeking a companion for time travel.
For more about Safety Not Guaranteed and the Safety Not Guaranteed Blu-ray release, see Safety Not Guaranteed Blu-ray Review published by Martin Liebman on November 2, 2012 where this Blu-ray release scored 3.0 out of 5.
Starring: Aubrey Plaza, Jake Johnson, Mark Duplass, Mary Lynn Rajskub, Jeff Garlin, Kristen Bell
Director: Colin Trevorrow
» See full cast & crew
Safety Not Guaranteed Blu-ray Review
A cinema delight through and through.
Reviewed by Martin Liebman, November 2, 2012
I just expect the worst and try not to get my hopes up.
It's easy -- and justifiable -- to approach movies with a dismissive attitude these days. Many are predictably similar and to some degree disappointing, big budget behemoths in particular that might dazzle the senses but leave audiences' inner workings craving something with a little more heart and honesty. Film aficionados often turn to smaller, independent sorts of films for a fix of filmmaking with a purpose other than amassing box office returns. Safety Not Guaranteed is one of those little pictures, and it just so happens to be one of the best films of the year, a truly heartwarming movie that's everything the bigger Romantic Comedies and humorous dramas should aspire to duplicate. It's the sort of movie that restores one's hope in the medium as it is across the modern landscape, a small film to be sure but one that's so sincere in purpose and made with an obvious love of craft and story that it rolls over the competition from the size of its heart, not the mass of its budget.
Young Darius (Aubrey Plaza) is trying to sort out her life. She lives with her widower father and carries herself with a slightly quirky but genuine demeanor. She's finding trouble landing a job -- she's overqualified for many -- but catches on as an intern at a Seattle magazine publisher. She volunteers to tag along with staff writer Jeff Schwensen (Jake M. Johnson) and fellow intern Arnau (Karan Soni) for a rather unique assignment. The former is a friendly but somewhat lackadaisical young man who would rather use the story as an excuse to catch up with an old girlfriend and sneak in some R&R, while the latter's an introverted Biology student with a big brain but little courage around the ladies. Their mission: to track down the author of a mysterious newspaper ad that calls for a time travel companion. Weapons are a must, the ad states, trust must be above reproach, and most importantly, the respondent's safety will not be guaranteed. Jeff's initial efforts at contact prove fruitless; he retreats with Arnau and leaves the door open for Darius who quickly earns the mystery man's -- whom they learn is a supermarket clerk named Kenneth (Mark Duplass) -- trust. She and Kenneth form a bond that quickly grows into something more, but with Kenneth sensing danger at every turn and nobody but Darius -- unbeknownst to him an undercover reporter -- to trust, he must move quickly if he and his new companion are actually going to make the journey back in time together.
Safety not Guaranteed overflows with charm, comes packed with sincerity and heart, and impresses with an array of multifaceted performances that seal the deal. The picture delivers on a unique premise; it's not just a gimmick with a movie wrapped around it but rather a genuinely thoughtful story fleshed out with strong characters and an evident zeal for the material and the filmmaking process-at-large. The story is both clever and clear, both complex and approachable. It's the latter combination that really makes it a success from a structural perspective. The movie incorporates all sorts of quirks and geek speak. None of it alienates the audience but instead warmly wraps them up in the movie's slightly off-kilter but lovable characters and understandable world. Safety Not Guaranteed truly captures the imagination not just for the science fiction time travel aspects but also, and far more importantly, for the innocence and sweetness that abounds throughout the movie and for the good characters and strong relationships that are built within. The movie has surprises around every corner, little ones and big ones both. Not everything is wrapped up with a pretty bow and the movie leaves more questions unanswered than it does ironed out, but the end result is a movie that's thought-provoking and easy-breezy lovable both at once. How's that for a nice combination?
For as strongly conceived as all the ideas may be, the execution proves just as critical. Director Colin Trevorrow largely sits back and allows his script and actors to do the work. Aubrey Plaza is excellent as Darius, capturing that perfect and cute little aura of oddity about her that plays wonderfully against Kenneth. The ever-so-slightly forced mannerisms actually improve the character, and as the film goes along and Darius lowers her guard around Kenneth, the little quirks even out and Plaza slips effortlessly into the real Darius, a girl completely comfortable with who she is and, just as important, with who Kenneth is. Plaza and Mark Duplass strike up an instant, recognizable, and approachable chemistry. They work wonderfully together, and the invisible cosmic pull around them is evident in every frame. Duplass handles his complex Kenneth with not only efficiency, but realism. He embraces the oddities, respects the material, and understands the character at an extraordinarily deep level, critical in externally shaping him into a somewhat odd but very much likable yet still mysterious protagonist. He blends lovable, awkward, sincere, mysterious, and maybe even a little dangerous remarkably well, crafting one of the best male Romantic Comedy/Sci-Fi/Drama/Whatever-this-movie-is characters out there. The other leads are quite good, too. Jake Johnson's Jeff and Karan Soni's Arnau are good characters defined by good performances, but they're a little underdeveloped or, perhaps better said, not quite satisfactorily taken to completion. It's the movie's one stumbling block, really, as it doesn't quite seem to know what to do with Jeff and Arnau, whether they're characters meant to fill in some time or characters on whom the picture could have spent a little more time. The smart money is on the latter; Safety Not Guaranteed seems to thrive on its ambiguity in the final act, but it may have benefited from a slightly longer runtime with the goal of completing the Jeff and Arnau stories. As is, however, the movie does work remarkably well as an efficient, funny, sincere, and adorable little picture that's one of 2012's finest.
Safety Not Guaranteed Blu-ray, Video Quality
Safety Not Guaranteed's video presentation often yields good results, but below the surface -- and often on the surface -- is a rather rickety and highly problematic 1080p transfer sourced from a digital shoot. Generally, the digital photography yields impressive results. There's some high quality detail work within, the transfer presenting Kenneth's textured denim jacket, the brick walls within the magazine headquarters, facial lines, and gorgeous northwestern exteriors with ease. Colors are generally pleasing and accurate as well. However, there are some scenes that look as if they're on the verge of absolute collapse. Darius' first interview is home to enormous amounts of blocking and jittering, traits which carry on through the movie in various parts, both front-and-center as well as off in background corners. Heavy noise invades lower-light scenes, jagged edges are fairly commonplace, false colors wrap around a few objects, heavy banding interferes with color transitions, and blacks are often overwhelming, swallowing up details like a monster. The transfer's quite messy in spots yet often pleasing in others. This is a small-budget production and most problems are likely limitations of the lower end photographic equipment, but eye candy this most certainly is not.
Safety Not Guaranteed Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Safety Not Guaranteed ensures listeners will receive a fine audio experience via a quality DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 lossless soundtrack. The track is certainly nothing spectacular, but it serves the movie well enough and remains far more stable than the wishy-washy 1080p video transfer. The track generally offers fair clarity and good front-end spacing, whether musical or ambient. The rear speakers remain not silent but fairly reserved for the bulk of the film, only picking up considerably in the final minutes. The track truly excels in its delivery of ambient effects, however. It does a very good job of placing the listening audience in the middle of the busy magazine office where chatter and ringing phones are regular sonic guests. A high school football game mid-film offers the sounds of the marching band, whistles, and chatty and cheering crowds in a convincing collection of authentic sound effects. The track even incorporates a few good quality rumbles from the subwoofer, again notably near film's end. Dialogue is even and plays with faultless clarity through the center speaker. All around, this is a rather good track, nothing at all memorable but a fine companion to a great film.
Safety Not Guaranteed Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Unfortunately, Safety Not Guaranteed contains only two film-related supplements, previews, and a UV digital copy.
Safety Not Guaranteed Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Safety Not Guaranteed is a splendid little movie that lights up the darkened theater with an abundance of charm, heart, and cinematic sincerity. It's built on a wonderful script and great acting, both of which contribute to a movie that makes quirky cool all over again and puts the big boys on notice that it's not what's on the outside but rather the inside that counts. This is one of the year's finest pictures and it's most certainly not to be overlooked. Sony's Blu-ray release of Safety Not Guaranteed features low-end video intermixed with high yield visuals, a solid lossless soundtrack, and too few supplements. Nevertheless, this release comes strongly recommended on the quality of the film.
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Safety Not Guaranteed Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Safety Not Guaranteed Blu-ray - August 27, 2012
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment has officially announced that it will release on Blu-ray director Colin Trevorrow's Safety Not Guaranteed (2012), starring Aubrey Plaza, Jake M. Johnson and Karan Soni. The release will be available for purchase on October 30th ...
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