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At a high school in small-town Ohio, a few students, including an introverted photographer and a charismatic drug dealer, begin to suspect their teachers are under the control of mind-controlling alien parasites. Outnumbered and endangered, they must fight to save their school, their town, and the world.
For more about The Faculty and the The Faculty Blu-ray release, see the The Faculty Blu-ray Review published by Martin Liebman on June 24, 2012 where this Blu-ray release scored 3.0 out of 5.
Starring: Jordana Brewster, Clea DuVall, Laura Harris, Josh Hartnett, Shawn Hatosy, Elijah Wood
Director: Robert Rodríguez (I)
» See full cast & crew
The Faculty Blu-ray Review
Rodriguez schools the late 90s Teen Horror genre.
Reviewed by Martin Liebman, June 24, 2012
Aliens are taking over our school.
Everyone's just a little weird in high school. Some more than others -- depending upon one's definition of "weird," of course -- but high school just seems like a breeding ground for all kinds, including but not limited to the "sportos, the motorheads, geeks, sluts, bloods, wasteoids, dweebies, dickheads," and even a few "righteous dudes." Why not add in "aliens" to that mix? No, that's not including Trekkies, illegal immigrants, Astronomy Club members, and that group that comes dressed as Stromtroopers every Halloween. How about real aliens, the kind with tentacles and a queen leader, the sort that disguise in human form and prey on all sorts of high school weirdoes regardless of gender, race, age, religion, sexual preference, grades, popularity, or any other criteria. No wonder they don't fit in! Director Robert Rodriguez's (Desperado) The Faculty takes a brooding but amusing look into one high school's bout with an alien takeover. Things look grim, but can the shy new girl, the super-smart dope dealer, the nerdy photographer, the closed-off lesbian, the jock who's tired of being the jock, and the prom queen newspaper editor band together, sort out the truth, weed the E.T.'s from the school, and get things back to the status quo that nobody really likes but that at least doesn't implant alien parasites into the cranium?
Herrington High (Home of the Hornets) runs a loose academic ship. New computers are out of the question (get the tech guys working on the old ones) and the fate of the school play is in question (can the drama department re-use last year's sets?), but the football team has all the equipment it needs, and it receives new gear on demand. In other words, it's pretty much par for the course for any normal school, but there's one difference: Herrington High is being overrun by aliens. They're not taking over in plain sight but rather covertly, inhabiting, first, faculty bodies and, then, the students, from the top of the 9-12 food chain on down. As luck would have it, however, the plan just might not work out thanks to the collaboration of six unlikely heroes. Delilah Profitt (Jordana Brewster, Fast Five) is the pretty girl with a nose for news and an inkling for finding trouble. Stan Rosado (Shawn Hatosy, Alpha Dog) is the big man on campus, the star quarterback who's about to quit the team right before the big game; he's tired of being the center of attention. Marybeth Louise Hutchinson (Laura Harris, "Dead Like Me") is the quiet new girl just in from Atlanta. Stokely Mitchell (Clea DuVall, Identity) is the outcast lesbian Science Fiction nerd. Casey Connor (Elijah Wood, Deep Impact) is the school photographer with a thing for Delilah. And Zeke Tyler (Josh Hartnett, Pearl Harbor) is repeating 12th grade even though he's probably the smartest person in the school, faculty included; he steals from the science lab and sells drugs from the trunk of his car. Can this band of unlikely heroes unravel the plot, discover the alien queen, and save the world -- beginning with the Home of the Hornets -- from alien takeover, one bastion of academia at a time?
Certainly, there's nothing new with The Faculty, not of the earth-shattering, mind-boggling, out of this world sort of "new," anyway. But the movie does freshen and liven things up. It's sort of like a tired, drained, dirty, "things can't get any better" out-on-his-luck somebody soaking away the day's troubles in the jacuzzi, coming out no different -- not fundamentally, anyway -- but feeling rejuvenated and ready for the next challenge. That's what Robert Rodriguez does for the Space Invaders and Teenagers-in-Trouble genres. There's all the usual suspects -- stories nobody believes, aliens hiding in plain sight, secrets revealed, dangers in every shadow, everyone a suspect, and nobody to trust -- but in The Faculty all are balanced and it's clear the movie just has fun cooking up and mixing together all the tired elements. The movie keeps the mystery mysterious even as much of the truth stands out almost from the beginning. The action is routine but the energy is palpable. The picture blends dark humor, horror, and Science Fiction to near perfection, and even if the special effects come up lacking, the story supersedes them and masks every such shot of a severed head or chopped-off fingers sprouting tentacles and crawling about school property. The Faculty is largely differentiated from its peers by effort, good characters, a richly lifelike feel, and strong pacing. Rodriguez keeps the movie zipping along and even if it ends up pretty much as most might predict, the movie still manages to entertain even despite its shortsighted and recycled elements.
Indeed, it's almost uncanny how well the movie works in spite of what amounts to Rodriguez against the cliché world. The movie is packed with wild energy but an almost startling balance and nuanced performances. The six primary student characters are all built deeper and are better designed than is the norm for the typical "assemblage of high school students" movie, and even the secondary faculty characters -- alien or otherwise or transformed throughout the movie -- play their parts with unmissable fun, a twinkle in the eye, all of them really hamming it up and falling completely into the alien characters who might physically resemble a human being, but who know little of how to behave like one, at least down on the nuanced level where the real is identifiable from the synthetic or, in this case, the extraterrestrial. Rodriguez's recreation of the high school setting impresses, too, as Herrington High jumps alive as if a real, bustling place, decayed and decrepit and underfunded perhaps but where everyone, right down to the background characters, seem to fit right in and create a real place, not a Hollywood set. But it's that cast of 1990s regulars, Rodriguez favorites, and young up-and-comers who make the movie really work, even beyond Rodriguez's energized and precise direction. The combination of complex characters and actors who really gel and not simply work together aids the realism, immediacy, danger, and daring that are all a part of The Faculty experience, and the end result is a movie that's way better than it deserves, even needs, to be, making it arguably the finest of the late 90s teen ensemble Horror movies.
The Faculty Blu-ray, Video Quality
The Faculty has been absorbed onto Blu-ray with a proficient, but not exactly eye-popping, 1080p Blu-ray transfer framed at 1.85:1. Largely, the image retains a bit of grain, though there are some scenes that look a bit pasty and smoothed out. The norm, however, finds solid details all over the frame, whether facial nuances, clothing textures, or all sorts of worn-down elements around the school building interiors, including chipped paint around door frames, graffiti on bathroom walls, and the well-used wear-and-tear look of a school in an early state of disrepair. Brighter scenes reveal good, balanced colors as seen on natural greenery, clothing, and interior school paint. On the flip side, darker scenes appear murky and devoid of precision shadow detail. However, skin tones do remain largely neutral. The image suffers from little-to-no banding and blocking. A few light and sporadic pops are the only signs of print wear. This isn't a splendid, perfect transfer by any means, but fans should enjoy this rather good-looking release from Echo Bridge.
The Faculty Blu-ray, Audio Quality
The Faculty gathers three soundtracks for its Blu-ray debut, chief amongst them an active, loud, and energized DTS-HD MA 5.1 lossless affair. Music blares from the speakers, enjoying an evident potency but not at the expense of clarity. The track isn't the most finely-tuned in existence, but Rock notes blaze from the fronts and, to a lesser extent, the supporting rears with the sort of definition listeners expect of a quality lossless offering. The track makes excellent use of the surrounds in creating the school atmosphere, too. Busy hallways with chatty students, ringing bells, and intercom announcements transport listeners to the locale. Ambient thunder rumbles and rolls on a few occasions, and football crashes and pyrotechnics explode into the listening area near the end. Dialogue is steady and accurate, never struggling to overcome overly loud and aggressive supporting elements. This is a fun, full, animated sonic affair that's a fine match for the movie's combination dark and playful tone.
The Faculty Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Oddly (even for an Echo Bridge title; this is one of their biggest Miramax acquisitions) and regrettably, this Blu-ray release of The Faculty contains no extra content. The menu screen features that awful Echo Bridge vomit-tinted overlay.
The Faculty Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
The Faculty might very well have been a far lesser picture considering all the cliché, a lack of dramatic twists, and a fairly typical finale, but consider a strong group of well-writen core characters, quality acting from a diverse and well-known cast, and Director Robert Rodriguez's uncanny ability to craft a movie of more verve and rhythm than the garden-variety filmmaker, and suddenly The Faculty ascends from passable time-killer sort of fare to a defining movie in its sub-genre. It won't go down as classic Science Fiction or Horror, but it's amongst the best of its kind of its era and a consistently entertaining little venture that stands up to multiple viewings and the test of time. Unfortunately, Echo Bridge's Blu-ray release lacks bonus features, but it does offer solid video and audio. Considering the relatively low asking price, the Blu-ray technical quality, and the strength of the picture, this one comes with a firm recommendation to buy.
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