When I received Safety Not Guaranteed in the mail for review from ReelDVD I didn't have a clue what it was - it certainly wasn't a title I requested to review, but during the recent storms that smashed South East Queensland I had a few hours (well, days) to waste and decided to fire it up. What I discovered was one of the most surprisingly enjoyable films I've seen in quite some time...
Safety Not Guaranteed centers around three Seattle magazine stories who see a classified advertisement in the seaside community of Ocean View, looking for someone to time travel, and with the rather ominous warning "Safety Not Guaranteed". They discover a mysterious eccentric named Kenneth, a likable but paranoid supermarket clerk, who believes he s solved the riddle of time travel and intends to depart again soon. Together, they embark on a hilarious, smart, and unexpectedly heartfelt journey that reveals how far believing can take you.
It is, however, Aubrey Plaza as Darius that really hooked me into this film. Most well-known previously for her role as Julie Powers in Scott Pilgrim vs. the World her often deadpan delivery of dialogue provides a unique, an immensely watchable, character. I can only hope that her career blossoms, and this film is a great example of her abilities to not only perform, but also carry a film.
Where this film absolutely shines though is the script from Derek Connolly which sees some brilliant dialogue between characters, and a film that flows from start to finish despite the lack of "edge of the seat" moments. As the director, Colin Trevorrow also does a fine job in keeping this film grounded, accessible, moving and entertaining.
As many of you would know I generally lean towards more action-oriented films then those with a slower pace, but the unique storyline, great characters, occasional humour and great script made Safety Not Guaranteed a film that I thoroughly enjoyed from start to finish. Highly recommended.
Safety Not Guaranteed is a recent film, but it occasionally fails to meet the high video standards we expect from such recent films. Encoded using the AVC MPEG-4 codec in the film’s original 2.40:1 aspect ratio the transfer is given plenty of room to breathe with a bit rate (according to our PS3) that often stretches well above 30Mbps. It seems clear then that the issues exhibited in this transfer are more to do with the source material. Filmed using digital cameras, the image seems to struggle with some scenes appearing particularly soft at times - and this is particularly apparent in low light or scenes at night time.
These issues are particularly apparent in a scene at 58:33 when Darius and Kenneth are sitting around the fireplace and between 59:54 and 1:00:02 you will see compression artifacting in the tent on the top-right of the image. That's only a momentary example, you will see issues like that all through the scene, and indeed many others in the film. Still, while there are issues, the 1080p resolution of the Blu-Ray format is far advanced on DVD, and there are still many scenes that benefit from the higher resolution and bitrate the format provides.
While the video quality is a little patchy the DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track is certainly up to the task with crystal clear dialogue and some gorgeous music. The sub-woofer is rarely needed, but when it is, it kicks in nicely while the surround sound channels don't get too much to do given the front-centric dialogue focus of the film, but the do add in some ambient effects on occasion.
This Blu-Ray only includes one other audio track - a Dolby Digital 5.1 track encoded at 640kbps. It offers slightly less clarity to the lossless track, but is still quite acceptable if you can't decode the lossless track. The disc includes a single subtitle track - English Captions for the Hearing Impaired and it's accurate to the dialogue in the film.
Sadly this disc is totally devoid of extras, no commentary, no EPK styled featurettes, not even trailers for other films. The American disc from Sony Pictures only includes a 15 minute featurette, 2 minute feature on the films advertising, and some trailers so we're not missing much at all.
Review By: Dave Warner