The Fury Review

It seems in my haste I overlooked the excellent review of the R1 disc on this site by Mike Sutton, here. Unfortunately the disc is technically no better.

The Film
DVD reviewing is a funny old game. Sometimes I approach a review where I’ve seen the film 600 times and I could tell you what colour underwear the leading lady is wearing at timecode 56mins and 20 secs. However at other times I will review a DVD/film where I have never seen the film before and know relatively little about the director or his work. To my shame I have to admit that this is the case here.

Having checked DePalma’s filmography I can say that I have actually seen quite a few of his films, but I am no expert. I actually like Carrie a lot as it is a decent King adaptation but I think Mission to Mars is one of the worst Sci-Fi films I’ve ever seen (although I haven’t seen Battlefield Earth). As it happens The Fury is closer to Carrie than Mission to Mars.

The whole thing starts off simply enough. Peter Sandza (Kirk Douglas) is an ex-agent of a secret government department and his son Robin (Andrew Stevens) is a man with a strange gift. During a visit to his old friend from the agency, Childress (John Cassavetes), Peter is attacked. In actual fact he has been double crossed by Childress who whisks his son away (Robin thinks his father is dead).

Now we leap forward a year or so and our focus is shared between two apparently different stories. Peter is still on the trail of his son Robin and the traitor Childress. Meanwhile a young girl, Gillian (Amy Irving), has a psychic gift which causes people to bleed if they are in close proximity to her at times of stress. Her worry causes her to seek help at the Paragon Institute who have been set up to help teenagers with “gifts” such as these.

I’m afraid that is all I can tell you plot-wise without ruining what is an intriguing mystery/Sci-fi. The whole thing twists and turns for a while until the plot reveals its true nature in the final act of the film. The constantly shifting plot works reasonably well for the first two acts however the pace is a little too deliberate for my tastes. At times I found myself looking at my watch too often, which is never a good sign. However the final act is well-constructed and played out with all of the earlier pacing problems forgotten.

The other major problem with the plot is that it is a little too close to DePalma’s previous film, Carrie, indeed these films were only one year apart and they share an actress, Amy Irving. The theme of betrayal and the difficulties of adolescence are the common thread here and The Fury suffers in comparison to its predecessor. I feel Carrie is a better film and I wonder why DePalma felt the need to make this considering he normally spreads himself equally around different genre.

The faults end here though as the cast all put in excellent performances. Kirk Douglas usually annoys me but even he seems slightly restrained in this film. Cassavetes and Irving do fantastic jobs and stand out amongst a cast that is hardly mediocre to begin with. Andrew Stevens also does a good job with the difficult part of Robin whereas Carrie Snodgrass shines as Peter’s beau, Hester. It is rare that I watch a film that doesn’t really have a weak link amongst the main cast and this one can be added to that list

I can’t let this film review finish without commenting on the breathtaking direction and cinematography. The scene on the beachfront introducing Gillian is a fantastic piece of work. Most directors would make do with a two shot facing the two girls, DePalma on the other hand shoots them from the rear and tracks them in longer takes, which helps to create an uneasy atmosphere. The crossfade between night and day on the rooftop is also great work and uses light perfectly. DePalma’s use of camera movement is also inventive. He uses a gliding camera when action is subtle but then he switches to a jerky handheld camera to put the audience on edge and that worked perfectly for me. The best piece of work here though is the escape scene from the institute. Shot almost silent and in slowmo with musical accompaniment, this piece makes the film worth watching all on its own.

After all that eulogising it would be very easy to overlook the films flaws, but we shouldn’t as they do seriously detract from what could have been a truly great film. Personally I would choose Carrie above this film any day so if you’ve only got room for one of these two I would go for that. Don’t dismiss it however as it has some wonderful touches in there and it is definitely worth watching at least once.

The Disc
This is a bog standard back catalogue release so the disc and extras are hardly stunning. The menus are static and easy to navigate and reveal 20 chapters.

The film is presented anamorphically at the correct ratio of 1.85:1. The picture is a patchy affair with one major flaw. The print used is in decent condition with little damage. The colours are vibrant and the black level is excellent although shadow detail is lacking in some of the darker scenes. The transfer is sharp and there is rarely a soft spot onscreen which shows up the main flaw only too well. This major flaw I mentioned is grain. I can’t decide whether this is on the source or not but in certain scenes the grain is horrendous. If it was an artistic choice then fair enough, but I can’t see why those specific scenes have to be so grainy for dramatic reasons. They don’t make the film unwatchable but at times you wonder whether part of it was shot on 16mm.

The sound is also a fairly uneven affair. The DD2.0 mix is a reasonable one although channel separation is limited. The sound is mostly clear except for certain points where I feel that the dialogue sounded a little distorted (The school canteen scene springs to mind). Apart from that the track is clean and clear. Again these small patches of distorted sound could be due to artistic reasons but they sounded very odd to me.

Whilst Fox often pull out the stops for their new releases they sometimes neglect their back catalogue and this title is no different. The only extras are a trailer that is full of spoilers and a stills gallery with about 50 pictures in it. The gallery is fairly interesting as it contains mostly promo material, but not interesting enough to raise the rock bottom extras mark for this disc.

The film is certainly an intriguing one, mixing sci-fi with thriller and suspense with ease. If you don’t mind the lack lustre pacing then this is certainly worth a try. The disc is extremely average however. The picture is merely OK as is the sound whilst the extras teeter on the non-existent. The R1 release is no better as far as I can see so fans of the film may want to pick this up. The rest of us will probably want to rent it first.

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out of 10

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