HTS Moderator , Reviewer
HTS Overall Score:64
One of the things I love about reviewing titles, especially titles that I’ve never seen, is the joy in finding those hidden gems. Those movies that I never would have gone and seen on my own, but this job forces me to look underneath the veneer and experience something new. Then, there are times where you just want to put your face in battery acid after viewing in an effort to somehow scrub the awfulness from your mind. “88” happens to be the latter, instead of the more pleasant former scenario. Director Aprill Mullen TRIES to give it a grindhouse meets “Kill Bill” type of flair, mixed with some emotional drama, but all it ends up being is a failure of epic proportions, with gunfights that lack any style, characters that make true grindhouse films look like Christian Bale performances and an ending everyone saw coming a mile away.
The film starts out with a text scrawl stating that 1 in 2000 people will experience a cognitive lapse. A sort of amnesia that affects them for different periods of time and then we go straight to Gwen (Katharine Isabelle) sitting at a diner. Snapping out of it she is confused and disoriented. She doesn’t know who she is or why she’s there, just that she’s scared. Finding a gun in her backpack she accidentally shoots a waitress which starts off a cascading chain of events and released memories. Piecing back some of her memories she remembers that her boss at the Flamingo night club killed her boyfriend, Aster (Kyle Schmid) and in a blood fueled rage she sets out on a mission to rid herself of her boss, Cyrus (Christopher Lloyd) once and for all.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=36361[/img]The story shifts between the past and the present as it tries to use time lapse to fill in the gaps of Gwen’s memory. Every event that happens triggers another memory retrieval and Gwen comes closer and closer to figuring out just what happened that night of Aster’s death. Teaming up with a smart mouthed sidekick who wants Cyrus dead as much as Gwen does, the pair mows through body after body trying to gain a coherent picture of what’s going on. Unfortunately the audience feels much like Gwen does, confused and annoyed. The plotline itself is unnecessarily convoluted and fractured, but even with that added annoyance the writers felt that the audience would be too stupid to keep up, so they spell out and narrate every scene trying to make sure everyone is caught up. The action was beyond abysmal and choreographed so badly that I honestly wondered if a 14 year old did it.
Acting wise Katharine Isabelle was the best thing going for the film. She really wasn’t cast well as she doesn’t pull off the action lead very well. She’s gorgeous to look at, but not much goes on that makes her believable. However, I DID say she was the best acting in the movie, and that’s the truth. Christopher Lloyd sleepwalks the entire time and even Michael Ironsides as the Sherriff makes you want to cry. We even have a small cameo by Jesse McCartney, and his acting is about great as his career is doing right now as well. “88” can be summed up in 4 words. Save yourself and run.
Not Rated by the MPAA
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=36369[/img]“88” comes to Blu-ray with a solid looking transfer. The film is stylized to look like those older revenge flicks from the 70’s, so there is a heavy green and yellow color grading that kind of gives everything a sallow look, especially in the facial tones. It’s dingy, dark and grimy looking, but the detail is still quite evident, even under the grime. There is some softness to the picture as it’s not a big budget movie, but the clarity is still quite impressive at times. The black levels are quite nice and only suffer from black crush in small bites, giving the film a much needed boost thanks to those impressive blacks. During the outside sequences the digital filming really shines and gives us some very bright looking colors and gives the film a cheery feeling for a few moments before it dives back into that grimy world of blood and pain.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=36377[/img]Millennium media always encodes their discs with a Dolby TrueHD lossless track and accompanies it with a corresponding Dolby Digital 2.0 track for night listening. The 5.1 lossless track is actually quite impressive for a low budget movie. These movies usually suffer a bit with a very front heavy mix and little to no LFE, but this time they’ve eked every ounce of gold from the mine that they possible could. The surrounds come alive during the copious action sequences and even show some mild ambient usage as well. LFE is tight and chest thumping for the most brutal of scenes and even add a nice weight to the rest of the film. There’s nothing to complain about in the dialogue department as it never sounds out of whack with the rest of the film. It’s not a stellar sound track by any means, but given its budget I’m thoroughly impressed with what they got out of the limited sound design.
• Making of Featurette
• Behind the Scenes
I really wanted to like “88” as it seemed like it would be a grindhouse infused version of “Kill Bill”, and while that was what they seemed to be aiming for, the target was pretty much missed completely. The acting was bad, the writing was bad, the action was bad, the cinematography was uninspired and pretty much everything about the movie made me want to turn the movie off. The audio and visual specifications are quiet solid for a low budget film and is a testament to Millennium media for squeaking the most out of what they were given, but the film itself is so poorly done that no technical specifications can elevate the movie about what it really is. Poor cinema. Skip it.
Starring: Katharine Isabelle, Christopher Lloyd, Kyle Schmid
Directed By: April Mullen
Written By: Tim Doiron
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 AVC
Audio: ENGLISH: Dolby TrueHD 5.1, English DD 2.0
Studio: Millennium Media
Rated: Not Rated
Runtime: 88 Minutes
Blu-ray Release Date: January 6th 2015
Buy 88 On Blu-ray at Amazon
Recommendation: Skip It
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