In 'The Entitled,' just like in reality, there's a very thick line between the haves and the have nots. In a harsh economy where people lose their jobs, their homes, their life savings, or all of the above, it's all too easy to notice those of us still capable of spending money on high definition movies, while random homes in the neighborhood get abandoned. So, imagine yourself losing the home, stuck in a dead end job, with ill familymembers, and little really going for you. Pretend this has been an deteriorating situation, where you just got a foreclosure notice. Now, while still role playing, ask yourself: what am I going to do? If the first thing that came to mind was "kidnap the children of wealthy families and hold them hostage for a big paycheck," then you're likely to fit in with the characters in this film...and you're probably a little bit sociopathic.
It's hard to empathize with a lead character in any film when we're given some pretty darned extreme circumstances very early in the flick, and as such, 'The Entitled' is its own worst enemy. Casting Ray Liotta only proves this. There's an interesting film lying beneath all of the rather rash, sudden devices that drive the entire plot, and it takes some serious suspension of belief to stick with it, as such. It's almost as if it were a film where everyone involved wanted to spend as little time as possible on the development of the characters and the scenario, and just jump right into the down and dirty. Who cares if the supporting cast has so little development that we have to be spoonfed information about their personalities? Well, besides me...
Paul (Kevin Zegers) is our anti-hero, the kid who has spent months and months in a downward spiral (even if we only saw about five minutes of it), who has to act out and take drastic measures to ensure the well-being of his family, including his sick mother. Alongside social outcasts Dean and Jenna (Devon Bostick and Tatiana Maslany), Paul hatches an elaborate plot to kidnap and hold three rich kids (Laura Vandervoort, Dustin Milligan, and John Bregar) hostage. As much pre-planning goes into said scheme is quickly undone by the unpredictable human element, and Paul's perfect plan goes up in smoke. Can he escape the game that he created unscathed? Will he be able to get the money?
Films like 'The Entitled' want you to live in the moment, the now, where all that matters is what we see on screen, rather than long-term circumstances. While Paul admits that given a few months, he could probably be tracked down through the offshore bank account he uses as part of his illicit behavior, he doesn't seem to care. This makes me wonder, really, what good is his plot, even if it's successful? If his identity could be revealed in even ten years, the whole thing is going to blow up in his face, and if it's less than a single year, what's the bloody point? Go out in a blaze of glory? You can already do that by running up a tab at a gentleman's club.
That's the problem I had with this film. It wanted me to turn off my brain, and just enjoy what I see, but at the same time, the film requires one to use their brain to think out consequences, keep track of personalities and what has happened, to pay attention for some of the hidden clues, as there is usually something sneaky happening that might not get caught at first glance if one just takes the film for face value. How can I turn my brain off, and then enjoy a film that tries to be complex and intelligent? This makes no sense. I don't even...
Anyways, I liked 'The Entitled,' even if it skirts the line with being a paradox. It has a nice young cast that still look their age, with some obvious up-and-comers (particularly Bostick, who has had a number of noticeable roles in recent years), and it doesn't spend too much time with the adult element. The film runs three distinct story lines, as the kidnappers, the hostages, and the parents of said hostages all having their own ups and downs, trials and tribulations. Each of the three vantage points have been fleshed out, even if some of the dialogue is a bit too "move the plot along-ish" for my tastes, and there's no element of the film that was skimped or utilized improperly...save for the opening act.
When things go wrong, as they always must for a film of this ilk to be successful and interesting, naturally the film works better, as there's "supposed to be"'s working against actualities for some nice moments. Sure, there are some plot points that are excessively convenient and therefore less successful, particularly anything to do with firearms of any sort (it's a really botched element), but the bits that work noticeably outweigh those that don't. The twist isn't exactly all that twisty, and the end is a tad too predictable for anyone who has seen a number of films of this ilk, but there's nothing so horribly wrong with this film that prevents it from being fun, even if it doesn't make much sense when it's all said and done and will last with you about as long as the sensation you get from putting a q-tip in your ear.
The Disc: Vital Stats
'The Entitled' comes to Blu-ray on a BD25 disc that has Region A markings. The menu has basic navigation and ease of use, with looped video and audio.
The 1080p transfer for 'The Entitled' really didn't do much for me. Perhaps I'm a bit spoiled by some of the masterful catalog titles and new releases we've been seeing hit the format lately, but this is, I don't even know what one would call it beyond medium definition.
There are some random crisp shots, but overly soft moments are much more plentiful. Faces rarely have all that much detail, textures are usually devoid, and establishing shots, with trees and whatnot, usually look like they're straight out of a DVD, save for the lack of compression artifacts. Black crush is a regular problem, from the early goings outside the club scene to later on in the low lit woods. Smoking creates, or at the very least highlights noise issues, while facial hair is often an undefined blur. Picture depth is usually really strong, too, so I really don't get what the heck is going on here.
In terms of scoring, this title is borderline. In a split second, I could easily go with a lower score and wouldn't have a problem doing so. It's a very odd release, that just may be the best way to put it. Some may enjoy it due to its lack of most of the more problematic technical errors, while others will be beyond frustrated by the sheer lack of pop and power.
The lossless Dolby TrueHD 5.1 track on 'The Entitled' is decent, though hardly memorable.
The extras on this release feature some odd distortion, but thankfully the film itself is free from this issue, with dialogue feeling natural and human. The score is very effective, and is presented quite well through all the channels. Rears don't get an abundant amount of information, but there is a little spread out here and there along the way, with the few crowded sequences coming through with plenty of ambience. The shotgun blast has some good bump, but other than that, bass levels are a tad light, as the club sequence has no thump to it whatsoever.
This track is very tame and a little unrealistic.
In addition to the pre-menu trailer, the menu for 'The Entitled' has a slot for two more Anchor Bay trailers. Yet, there's no trailer for 'The Entitled.' Shenanigans!
'The Entitled' isn't a bad film by any means. It has its moments, some good fun, and it may be an interesting popcorn flick. However, it requires one to pay a lot of attention for maximum effect, and it doesn't quite hold up well under the scrutiny that comes from people actually taking note. The Blu-ray release has troubled video, good audio, and a tiny portion of extras. It's a film worth seeing at least once, as it can be entertaining, really, but I don't know how well it would hold up under repeat viewings.