HALF PAST DEAD
Reviewed April 28th, 2003 by David Nusair
Aside from the obvious (Steven Seagalís career is half past dead), thereís really not much to say about this one. Seagal lumbers his way through another action movie thatís been geared to appeal to a new generation of fans (how else can you explain the presence of rapper Ja Rule?), and has been filmed as though it were a product of MTV.
Sasha (Seagal) and Nick (Rule; or is it just Ja?) are a pair of buddies that wind up in jail right around the time a criminal mastermind (played by Morris Chestnut) breaks in. His intent is to coerce a soon-to-be-executed prisoner into giving up the location of $200 million worth of gold.
Half Past Deadís been directed by Don Michael Paul, and calling him a student of Michael Bay is an insult to Michael Bay. Paul shows absolutely no restraint whatsoever, and turns the film into an admittedly kinetic but ultimately obnoxious heist flick. Seagal is given a couple of decent fight scenes, but since the filmís been saddled with a PG-13 rating, his trademark limb-breaking is absent. Chestnut is appropriately menacing, while Ruleís performance makes one long for the subtle and nuance of Vanilla Ice in Cool as Ice.
Some mention must be given, though, to former Party Machine host Nia Peeples Ė who shows up here as an ass-kicking minion. Could Arsenio Hall's comeback be far behind?
Audio: This DD 5.1 soundtrack is just as loud and in-your-face as the movie, which isnít terribly surprising. There are a lot of gun battles in Half Past Dead, and itís there youíll get a real sense of how effective this soundtrack is.
Video: This 1.85:1 anamorphic transfer isnít quite as effective, though. While it is free of film-related problems, itís quite grainy. Some grain is to be expected, of course, due to the use of certain type of film stocks Ė but here, it just seems excessive.
Extras: First up is a commentary by writer/director Don Michael Paul. Heís got some interesting tidbits (example: The film was actually written ten years ago and was originally called The Rock Ė but for obvious reasons, it had to be retitled and shelved), but that doesnít change the fact that heís talking about a really horrible movie. In all fairness, he is an interesting guy and for those who like the flick, this commentary will probably be quite enjoyable. Next up is a 13-minute doc on the making of the film. This is one of those typical DVD featurettes where a lot of people talk about how great the movie is, but we donít actually learn anything. Next are three deleted scenes, which are (surprisingly enough) not completely disposable. One even features the death of Sashaís wife, which is talked about but never actually seen in the film. Presumably, it was dropped because Sasha actually uses his wife for a human shield. Finally, we get some trailers (I Spy, National Security, xXx, and Half Past Dead).
Conclusion: Half Past Dead is the latest blow to the head for Steven Seagal fans. Will he ever go back to the enjoyably violent flicks he made in the Ď80s? Probably not.
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