Maps to the Stars - DVD Review - Home Theater Forum and Systems -

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post #1 of 2 Old 04-21-15, 05:30 AM Thread Starter
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Maps to the Stars - DVD Review

Title: Maps to the Stars

Extras: N/A

HTS Overall Score:67

David Cronenberg. The name alone is pretty much all you need to know about the movie you’re about to watch. The man is known for being the king of cerebral horror. Mixing blood, a little bit of guts, and an enormous amount of sheer horror and disgust at the people you’re watching on screen. Even if those people aren’t in a typical “horror” movie like we think about it today. David has this unique ability to flay people to their bones (metaphorically) and leave nothing but the raw, pulsing, evil of humanity laid bare for all to see. Even his works that aren’t really horror movies tend to be rather horrific in and of themselves, leaving the viewer with a sense of dread and repulsion. He’s branched out and done things like “A History of Violence”, “Eastern Promises” and the like, but his most famous works still are back in the 80s and 90s with things like “The Fly”, “Scanners” and “Videodrome”, all of which send chills up the viewer’s back with an uncanny ease. Now he’s back again with a black comedy that’s so very black that I don’t think anyone but the people IN Hollywood would actual laugh once. John Water’s carries a quote on the back of the film that states “Hilariously Funny..I love this movie more than my own mustache”. Now if you know anything about John Waters, you know that his pencil thing mustache a part of his persona and character so much that they’re inseparable.

The movie revolves around several people in the Hollywood circle. Agatha (Mia), a newbie to Hollywood, who’s just stepped off the proverbial (and literal) bus with an obviously dark agenda in mind. She immediately meets up with actor/writer/producer wannabe Jerome (Robert Pattinson), a limo driver who’s trying to get his way into the big seats. It’s pretty obvious from the get go that Agatha has something in mind for herself and using Jerome is her means to this end. We aren’t exactly let in to the secret of what she wants right off the bat, but it starts to unfold as time goes on. Much like Cronenberg’s “Crash” we start to intertwine with more people that seemed unrelated at first. An actress who’s past her prime named Havana (Julianne Moore), and a psycho self-help guru named Stafford (John Cusack). Each of these characters has their problems and each of them has their own demons to struggle with.

As the movie progresses you watch their struggles, and see them confront demons. Being Hollywood, EVERYONE has problems, from Agatha, to Stafford, to Benjie and back down the line again. Jerome is the only one who seems to be rather normal, but being a David Cronenberg film we know that’s not the case. All it takes is a matter of time before the simmering cesspool of secrets start to rise to the surface. The tale feels rather disconnected at first, but by the midpoint of the movie the bigger picture starts to reveal itself. I felt like I could see it coming just a tad, but that doesn’t make it hit you in the gut any less, as the true reveal doesn’t need to be a surprise to make feel its impact.

First and foremost understand that this movie is a character study in a way that can only be described as “Cronenbergian” (yes I’m patenting that word). The film is really about Hollywood and the life that people lead there. You and I probably won’t find it funny in the least, but rather a horrific tragedy. Not one person in the movie like able and their actions end up being completely self-serving and despicable. Many of them meeting ends that make your cheer in relief, yet feel horrible that you actually WANTED to cheer for their demise. No one ends up happy, and no one gets anything less than what they deserve. This brings me full circle back to that original quote by John Waters and his finding the movie hilarious. My verdict is that “Maps to the Stars” is a comedy only to those who are deep into the Hollywood world, a film that thrives on laughing cynically at the portrayals of all the horrible, twisted people that live in Hollywood and chuckle at the reality of the situation. Those of us NOT engorged on that sort of feast will view it as a pure tragedy, as there is plenty of that to go around.


Rated R for strong disturbing violence and sexual content, nudity, language and some drug material

The 1.85:1 MPEG2 encoded DVD looks impressive enough, with a nice warm coloring that is reminiscent of the balmy Hollywood environment. The brightness is kept within check and the black levels look quite excellent. My only complaint was that the image was more than a bit soft, obscuring some of the fine detail and showed some macroblocking. I’m not sure whether I’ve just become accustomed to Hi Def material, but even for a DVD the image looked more than a touch soft. Detail is solid, and you can see quite a bit, but it’s just not as reference as I would have hoped, especially considering Cronenberg’s attention to visual details in his films.

The 5.1 Dolby Digital track is what you would expect from a drama. It’s a tad front heavy (although not as front heavy as one would expect) and the dialog is the center of attention. Vocals are crisp and clean with excellent clarity of tone. I never had to adjust the volume dial as the blending was excellent with precision on both the score and the dialog. Surrounds are nice and light, but do become active for short bursts of time. LFE is mild and really just accentuates the ambient effects and the score. It's a soft track, and one that isn't wildly vibrant, but if fits the mood and feel of the dramatic film that Cronenberg likes and does a solid job with the limited range that it's allowed.

Extras N/A


I have to say that “Maps to the Stars” is not something I’d recommend to everyone. It’s really a movie made for people who have an enormous love for Hollywood and the cinematic world behind the scenes. Your average movie goer will find it a bit bleak and too steeped in the Hollywood culture to be completely relatable. That’s not to say that it’s a bad film, or even not viewable by the general public, but rather Cronenberg was aiming for a niche audience when he directed this one and that particular slice of people are going to get the most out of it. Thusly I recommend it as a rental first, to see if you’re one of that demographic before deciding whether to blind buy.

Additional Information:

Starring: Julianne Moore, Robert Pattinson, Mia Wasikowska, John Cusack
Director: David Cronenberg
Written By: Bruce Wagner
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 MPEG2
Audio: English: Dolby Digital 5.1
Studio: Universal
Rated: R
Runtime: 112 Minutes
DVD Release Date: April 14th, 2015

Buy Maps to the Stars DVD on Amazon

Recommendation: Rental

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post #2 of 2 Old 04-21-15, 07:44 AM
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Re: Maps to the Stars - DVD Review

I guess I must have missed this out in theaters like everyone else. Thanks for covering it. I'll look for a rental or on-demand run to catch this.

I would have written less but I didn't have the time.
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