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Dustin Putman

Dustin's Blu-ray Review
Stranded  (2013)

The Film
1.5 Stars
(Release Date: August 27, 2013) - A D-grade "Alien" clone directed by Roger Christian (he of 2000's "Battlefield Earth" infamy), "Stranded" is a sci-fi monster movie wherein a mineral exploration station based on the moon is damaged by a violent meteor shower. In the four-person crew's attempt to mend their failing life support, alien spores contaminate the ship, accelerate second-in-command Ava's (Amy Matysio) pregnancy with something not quite human, and begin to replicate the people onboard. Christian Slater has seen much better days; as commander-in-chief Gerard Brauchman, the actor tries to retain an air of intensity as increasingly goofy things happen around him and he is forced by the script to make excuses for a painfully long time even as danger obviously mounts. Do not expect any sort of character development, because there is none. "Stranded" is mediocre but competent enough as the stakes are raised, and there are some affectingly gooey make-up effects. Every time the film moves outside the space station for exterior establishing shots is when it approaches an Ed Wood level of badness; the chintzy miniatures and models used look as if someone has photographed a child's plastic toys and tried to pass them off as real. Just, no. "Stranded" is far from the worst of its kind—and it's certainly better, overall, than "Battlefield Earth"—but this is still pretty uninspired moviemaking with nothing original or different to separate it from the pack.

Blu-ray Picture/Sound

Photographed with the digital Red Epic camera, the 1080p, 2.35:1 transfer of "Stranded" is on the darker side and not very attractive, but it is probably accurate to what was intended—with one sizable exception. Whenever there is smoke or steam onscreen, as well as whenever there is a fade to black or a scene transition, the image falls victim to some egregious banding. With the darkness breeding a noticeable blocky chunkiness, the rest of the picture quality is a suitable high-def presentation of a film that, as much as it would like to be, isn't exactly a big-budget studio blockbuster. The DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio does its job proficiently as the score rises and the action scenes take over, but it is neither as robust nor as immersive as one will wish it was. On the positive, dialogue is always intelligible and the back speakers are used frequently—and well—by the sound effects.

Blu-ray Features
The Making of "Stranded" (14:53, HD) and Life on the Moon: The FX of "Stranded" (8:16, HD), both functional EPK material with interviews and behind-the-scenes footage

Bottom Line
Die-hard fans of the sci-fi genre who gobble up whatever comes their way might want to check out "Stranded" just for the heck of it, but most viewers will likely not be too impressed by what this movie serves up to them. It follows the "Alien" story model note for note—there is a birthing scene that badly wants to emulate that 1979 classic's famous chest-bursting moment—but cannot come close to its sophistication, style, effects, or scares. The Blu-ray of "Stranded" is fairly standard-issue itself, but also expected of a film of this budget and stature (it bypassed theaters altogether). On the positive, even with its visual flaws, it is sure to look superior here to any other viewing format. If you are interested, the Blu-ray of "Stranded" (rather than the SD-DVD) is undoubtedly the way to go.

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© 2013 by Dustin Putman
Dustin Putman