Summit Entertainment – at least, in the region where I'm locked – typically screens their new original movies much earlier than their release dates. Being a tentpole franchise, the 'Twilight' movies are typically the only ones screened during the week of the release. The rest are all screened much farther in advance. 'Red' was screened more than a month before its opening and the version shown was an unfinished workprint. Some of the CG effects weren't even completed yet, featuring wire-frame cars soaring through the middle of an other-wise finished film. 'Source Code' was also shown about one month before its release – but that was a completely finished final cut. 'Man on a Ledge' was screened at least once a week for the four weeks leading up to its release. If 'Man on a Ledge,' being a terrible terrible movie, was screened so many times prior to its opening, how bad would 'Gone' have to be to not be screened at all? The answer is obvious: pretty bad.
Amanda Seyfried stars in this generic thriller as Jill, a girl with a strange and shrouded past. Slowly unrolling a character's backstory isn't a sin, but it is if every secret from her past is revealed in the trailer – which is only one of the major problems with 'Gone.' In case you haven't seen the trailer, I'll refrain from leaking spoilers without giving you a spoiler warning.
In many ways, 'Gone' is made in the exact same style as AMC's 'The Killing.' It opens with Jill running through a gray and rainy forest set outside Portland (instead of Seattle). She's not out there jogging like Jodie Foster in the beginning of 'Silence of the Lambs' - no, Jill is on a mission. She's looking for something. What exactly? Well, if you've seen the trailer, you already know. If not, you have to wait ten minutes for a reveal. When Jill returns home, her judgmental sister Molly asks her, "You've been out to the park, haven't you?" Set-ups like this are constantly given, the answers to which you know if you've seen a single television spot.
So, what's being hidden from the audience? Jill was kidnapped by a murderer in the past. When she awoke in the bottom of a circular pit – yes, this time it is like 'Silence of the Lambs' – she managed to escape and run through the wooded national forest to safety. Neither her kidnapper nor the bone-riddled hole that she woke up in were ever found by the authorities. Jill is now a tough girl, just like Jennifer Lopez in 'Enough.' She takes self-defense courses and is even packing a revolver in her purse. Jill has been looking for the kidnapper and his death pit of evidence ever since, this time prepared to physically defend herself.
The ball starts rolling when Jill returns from her graveyard waitress shift to find Molly missing. Their house is completely locked, Molly's pajamas are not in the hamper (meaning she never changed into proper public attire) and there's no note saying where she went – which is what Molly supposedly does each time she leaves the house. Paranoid Jill immediately believes that her failed kidnapper returned to their home to resolve his unfinished business and mistakenly took Molly with him, thinking that she was Jill.
Jill immediately heads to the police station, but nobody there believes her. Herein lies a minor spoiler, but what this fact establishes is crucial to describing what makes 'Gone' the major failure that it is. SPOILER ALERT! Jill and Molly's parents were killed in a car accident when they were young. Molly handled it all right, but Jill didn't. In fact, she took it so badly that she ended up in a looney bin, which is why the police don't believe a word she says. END SPOILER. Because of this piece of information about Jill's past, when the police learn that Jill is packing heat, they begin a full-fledged man-hunt for her – not her sister and the kidnapper. 90 percent of the movie that ensues is dedicated to showing Jill run from the police like Harrison Ford in 'The Fugitive.' When she's not running from the cops, she's discovering easily attainable clues as to where Molly and the kidnapper might be. Just to convey the lame way in which this mystery is unraveled, let me tell you some more vague spoilers. ANOTHER SPOILER ALERT! Jill asks a neighbor if she saw anyone at the house that night and learns about a certain commercial vehicle seen there. While rummaging through the suspected vehicle, Jill finds receipts for duct tape purchased at a hardware store. When Jill goes to the hardware store, the clerk conveniently tells her about the guy, what kind of car he was driving and which neighborhood he lives in – because, apparently, these are the things that strangers talk about in hardware stores. When Jill goes to said neighborhood, she stops the first shady skateboarder that she sees and asks him if she knows where the owner of said vehicle lives. Of course, he does. This goes on and on in the most convenient and least-interesting or intense manner. END SPOILER.
When all is said and done, 'Gone' is nothing more than a made-for-the-CW-network movie. It's never tense or interesting and the acting is poor. 'Gone' is an utter waste of time.
The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats
Summit Entertainment has placed 'Gone' on a Region A BD-25 in an eco-friendly elite blue keepcase. The artwork and design of the packaging resemble that of an old catalog title given a poor revamp just to make it look different and re-sellable. The lettering on the back is bulky and odd, not at all appealing to the eyes. When the disc is popped into a Blu-ray player, before getting to the main menu, an unskippable Summit vanity reel plays followed by a skippable trailer for 'Man on a Ledge.'
The last thing I expected from the BD-25 release was great video quality, but thanks to a void of special features, this disc is not clogged with non-movie videos that could potentially cause compression flaws. This 1080p/AVC MPEG-4 transfer is nearly perfect.
Opening with shots that range from sweeping aerials or extreme close-ups of green forests, the first aspect of this Blu-ray's video quality to stand out is the fantastic colorization. Greens are perfectly saturated and prominent throughout. As we begin getting the close-ups on ferns and moss, the high amount of detail within the transfer also begin to call your attention. No matter the setting, these details are always strong. At any given moment you can see individual strands of blonde hair on Jill's frazzled head. Gnats and other flying nuisances are the same. With perfectly delineated shadows and deep black levels, not even shadows can eat up these details. The video is always sharp, clean, and clear.
The only compression flaw to make it onto this disc is a very minor amount of aliasing in the aerial cityscapes of Portland. There's no noise, no bands, no artifacts. Edge enhancement and DNR are never applied.
Unlike the video quality, the audio quality is more along the lines of what I was expecting from this release.
The scoring and music from 'Gone' is the only aspect of this mix that ever consistently comes across as dynamic. Just as the movie itself feels like a rehash of familiar movies, so does the score. The opening scene's score sounds like something from a 'Halloween' movie – ominous tones and individually-tapping piano keys. Because 'Gone' never inspires any audience tension, during the scenes that the filmmakers want you to tense up, the score sounds like a rip of 'The Dark Knight.' But no matter how stolen the scoring may sound, it always dynamically fills the space. Unfortunately, the same can't be said for the vocals and the effects.
The opening forest scene reveals a rich amount of effects. The environmental sounds are uniquely spread throughout the channels and utilize each of the speakers; however, this isn't always the case. There are many more scenes with bland and forward-sounding effects than there are well-mixed ones. The only good thing to come from this mediocre effects mix is how appreciative it makes you of the well-mixed ones – like when Seyfried showers after her jog and it sounds like you're in the shower with her, and again when she speeds away from police in a high-speed chase and strong bass and imaging abound.
The vocals have to be weakest link in this 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio mix. They aren't terribly flawed, but they are flat and plain, always confined to front and center. Only amplifying the vocal issue are the monotone performances given by these bad actors.
There are no special features.
Summit Entertainment's movies can be hit or miss – and 'Gone' is definitely a miss. It lacks focus and tone, spending more time showing our central character fleeing from a manhunt than solving her sister's disappearance. It tries playfully toying with one possibility that is so obvious that you know they're not going to throw that twist at you in the end. The cookie-cutter characters and story are familiar of half a dozen other well-made movies, only making this mash-up seem even more worthless. Thanks to the BD-25 disc not featuring a single special feature, the video quality is nearly perfect. Only one minor compression flaw appears – aliasing. The audio mix is more that what one would expect from a bad studio title. It's not terrible, but lacks dynamics. All in all, it feels like Summit knew they had a failure on their hands, so they put the minimal amount of effort into the 'Gone' Blu-ray. Unless you have a crush on Amanda Seyfried or are a glutton for CW-esque programs, 'Gone' isn't worth your time or money.