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Overall Grade
3 stars

(click linked text below to jump to related section of the review)

The Movie Itself
2.5 Stars
HD Video Quality
4 Stars
HD Audio Quality
3.5 Stars
Supplements
2 Stars
High-Def Extras
1 Stars
Bottom Line
Rent it

Extraordinary Measures

Street Date:
May 18th, 2010
Reviewed by:
Review Date: 1
June 17th, 2010
Movie Release Year:
2009
Studio:
Sony
Length:
105 Minutes
Release Country
United States

The Movie Itself: Our Reviewer's Take

'Extraordinary Measures' feels like a Lifetime Channel drama. It's never really engaging, but just floats around on the surface, never really showing us the anguish families with terminally ill children go through.

The Crowleys, John (Brenden Fraiser) and Aileen (Keri Russell) have two children who were born with Pompe Disease – a form of muscular dystrophy. The two kids are in constant need of medical care. The older girl, Megan is a feisty one, and doesn't seem to let her illness hold her back. Her younger brother is in a far worse state, bedridden for much of the movie.

John Crowley works at a pharmaceutical firm. Every night he spends hours researching the disease, hoping one day the cure will seemingly pop out of thing air, make his family better, and give them a happily ever after ending.

Crowley finds a scientist, Dr. Stonehill (Harrison Ford), who has spent his life trying to figure out a way to treat Pompe Disease. His problem is that he's underfunded, and spends most of his time begrudging anyone who wants his help. You see, Dr. Stonehill is a rogue scientist. He doesn't take crap from anyone. If Han Solo was a scientist trying to cure Pompe Disease, he'd be Dr. Stonehill (and he'd likely shoot first).

After a near-death experience with one of his kids, John sets off to Nebraska to find Dr. Stonehill, seeing him as the last chance for saving his children.

How much of this is based on a true story has been the subject of much debate, and is well documented in a series of Wall Street Journal articles that were later expanded into a book by Geeta Anand. While I'm sure, the real-life John Crowley is a nice guy, here he comes across as selfish. He'll stop at nothing to save his children, even if that comes as a detriment to other people's children with the same disease. Instead of realizing the greater good, John continues to undermine everything that is happening just so he can save his children. This wouldn't be a bad premise to the movie, but the film tries endlessly to make us feel bad for him.

The first half of the film is about the wrenching agony that John and his wife feel about their children's plight, the second half is about the bureaucracy of bringing a viable drug to market. As you may have guessed, Stonehill doesn't deal well with bureaucratic nonsense. His hard-nosed attitude, and his penchant for listening to music too loudly in the lab are a recipe for disaster.

'Extraordinary Measures' never quite figures out what movie it wants to be. Does it want to be the true story behind the discovery of a cure for Pompe Disease? Does it want to be an introspective look on John Crowley and how he dealt with the ordeal? Does it want to be an eye-opening pseudo-documentary about how bureaucracy is stifling the drug business? When it tries to be everything, the film spreads itself too thin, and becomes about nothing in particular. In the end the heartstrings are tugged and people cry (a lot). Like I said, that sounds like a Lifetime movie to me.

The Video: Sizing Up the Picture

Sony's 1080p/AVC-encoded transfer is first-rate.

This transfer is just about as clean and clear as they come. Blacks are nice and deep, giving delineation a revealing effect that I wish we'd see on more transfers. Fleshtones are right on, and never waver. The transfer is clear of specks or blips. Lines are precise and colors are richly rendered. Fine detail on faces looks great with all of Harrison Ford's crags deeply visible. Digital anomalies are kept at a distance, even though a few instances of very light banding pop up every now and then.

Overall, the video presentation for 'Extraordinary Measures' is extraordinary. This transfer provides a subtle but noteworthy presentation.

The Audio: Rating the Sound

The DTS-HD MA 5.1 lossless audio presentation accompanying 'Extraordinary Measures' isn't something you'll be using for demo material, but it does provide a wonderful soundfield for this genre.

Heavy on the talking, 'Extraordinary Measures' delivers clearly audible dialogue. Stonehill's rocking oldie music brings in the LFE every once in a while as he blasts it through the lab. The biggest no-show here is the lack of any sort of ambient noise from the rear speakers. Even in crowded laboratories or bars, it always seems oddly silent back there.

The Supplements: Digging Into the Good Stuff

  • Meet John Crowley (HD, 5 min.) - A look into the real life John Crowley and a little bit more information on Pompe Disease.
  • 'Extraordinary Measures:' The Power to Overcome (HD, 11 min.) - More of a promo fluff piece with the main actors talking about the movie, rather than an extensive "making-of" feature.
  • Deleted Scenes (HD, 9 min.) - There are nine deleted scenes in total.

HD Bonus Content: Any Exclusive Goodies in There?

Basic BD-Live and Movie IQ functionality is included

Final Thoughts

'Extraordinary Measures' hopes you'll buy into its premise because it has Harrison Ford. It isn't bad by any means, but the film ends up spreading itself too thin. If you want a movie that will attempt to extract tears from you anyway possible, then 'Extraordinary Measures' is for you. If you're a fan then you'll be pleased to hear that the video and audio are great here. I can only recommend a rental though. It's just not a movie with a lot of replay value.

Technical Specs

  • 50GB Blu-ray Disc

Video Resolution/Codec

  • 1080p/MPEG-4 AVC

Aspect Ratio(s)

  • 1.85:1

Audio Formats

  • English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 Surround Sound

Subtitles/Captions

  • English, English SDH

Supplements

  • Meet John Crowley
  • Extraordinary Measures: The Power to Overcome

Exclusive HD Content

  • movieIQ+sync
  • BD-Live

All disc reviews at High-Def Digest are completed using the best consumer HD home theater products currently on the market. More about our gear.

Puzzled by the technical jargon in our reviews, or wondering how we assess and rate HD DVD and Blu-ray discs? Learn about our review methodology.

List Price
$7.58
Amazon
$7.43 (2%)
3rd Party
$2.49
Usually ships in 1 to 3 weeks Buy Now»