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Released theatrically in the Fall of 2004 The Forgotten enjoyed moderate success at the box office, earning just enough for the studio to earn a profit on the film. The film directed by Joseph Ruben (his most famous film probably being The Good Son) and starring Julianne Moore made it’s way onto Columbia Tri-Star’s early slate of DVD releases in 2005, debuting on January 18th. When I first saw the trailer for the film, I thought that it might be a psychological thriller. After talking to some friends and colleagues, I had heard that it was more along the lines of an X-Files episode. After actually watching the film, I had an altogether different interpretation of what genre (or genres) The Forgotten fell into.

Forgotten, The
Film
Telly Paretta (Julianne Moore) is a woman who, at the beginning of The Forgotten, is coping with the loss of her child who recently died in a plane crash. Within a matter of minutes into the film (literally, if you went to get a glass of water from the opening credits to now, you missed it) Telly’s reality changes, as somehow everyone around her is now telling her that she never had a son. Her husband (played by former ER veteran Anthony Edwards) and her psychiatrist Dr. Munce (played by Gary Sinise, who most of you will remember from Apollo 13 and Forrest Gump) repeatedly try and tell her that she had a miscarriage, but never actually had a child. Feeling completely alone in her state of grief, Telly flees her home in search of the truth.

Thinking that she can’t trust anyone she’s close to anymore, Telly goes to see a man, Ash (played by Dominic West, who you may recognize from Chicago) whose daughter Laura was friends with her son Sam (and also died in the plane crash). Much to her surprise Ash also has no recollection of Telly, Sam, or his daughter. After some convincing, Ash eventually beings to remember that he was once a single father. While the plot had a chance to settle here, we go on another ludicrous turn in which the National Security Agency begins to hunt Telly. The remainder of the film centres around the N.S.A. chasing Telly and Ash, in addition to a strange man stalking their every move. Even more twists occur as the story moves forward, some outrageous and some laughable.

The supporting cast do pretty well in their roles. Gary Sinise and Anthony Edwards are very comfortable in their characters, and always are an improvement when they are on screen. Unfortunately, The Forgotten doesn’t revolve around them. To be blunt, Julianne Moore is simply not good enough here to be the lead. She seems more like a raving mad woman than a mother on a quest to find the truth. This can partially be attributed to the lack of good material she had to base her performance on.

Forgotten, The
The main reason why The Forgotten comes up so short is because the foundation for the plot payoffs are never laid out. Nobody really cares whether or not Telly finds out the truth about her son, because we never got to experience any scenes with the two of them together; hell, we never even heard this kid say one ‘I love you’ to his mother. Also trying to figure out whether Telly is nuts or there is a conspiracy is comes off more confusing than intriguing. Again, this is because none of the characters are ever given a chance to establish some form of credibility for themselves. Are the doctor and the husband lying? Who knows, we never got to know them. Is Telly mentally disturbed? We never have seen her with her son in real time; your guess is as good as mine. Is the government involved? That all depends: is Telly crazy? The story is a complete mess from about the fifth minute on. This is flat out poor storytelling on the part of the director and the writer. It’s a real shame that the plot got so tangled up, as there was a lot of potential in the early elements of the story.

Video
Presented in an anamorphic 1:85:1 aspect ratio, the video quality is generally above average, with images being consistently crisp. What’s most impressive is how stable the blacks are throughout the duration of the film, especially considering how often that colour pattern is found in the print. Mastered in high definition the film looks as though it has been through some heavy digital grading, dulling down the colours for most of the scenes. One problem that is persistent in the transfer is that there is noise frequently present. Fortunately this isn’t an issue to the point of distraction. Grain is at a minimum with no artefacts present from where I sit. Thankfully you will also not have to worry about haloing from edge enhancement, as none has been found to be present. The choice to not use a lush colour palette was a creative decision that ultimately does not show off the high quality of the video transfer, with the exception of the last three minutes or so.

Forgotten, The
Audio
With 5.1 Dolby Digital being the only sound option of choice here, the audio mix is very good in The Forgotten. The sound doesn’t pop or hiss, and no artefacts are audible. There are only three major scares in the film, and they are all sound oriented. Whether you’re watching on a stereo television or in the middle of a full surround system, you’ll certainly have your pulse racing in those moments with perhaps a reason to check your pants on at least one occasion. Dialogue, sound effects, and score are all very well balanced from start to finish of the film; they never are intrusive on one-another. The only disappointing aspect here is that the mix doesn’t really create an encompassing environment with the surrounds as effectively as it could have.

Extras
Fans of The Forgotten might be a little bit disappointed with the offering of extras for this release. The packaging touts an extended version of the film, which runs about five minutes longer than the theatrical release. While this is true all it does is seamlessly branch the three deleted scenes which are included on this disc to the theatrical version, with the inclusion of an alternate ending. While the alternate ending I find more satisfying than that of the theatrical release, the other two deleted scenes don’t do anything to raise the quality of the film. One scene that has a consequence on the overall plot briefly explores a romance between Ash and Telly, which is only alluded to in the theatrical version.

An audio commentary featuring director Joseph Ruben and writer Gerald Di Pego spends the vast majority of its run examining plot and character elements. Very little is conveyed in terms of anecdotes and the making of the film. This extra is most definitely one to be skipped over without remorse. Two featurettes are also included on the disc, which give a slight insight into the making of the film. ‘Remembering The Forgotten’ gives the most in depth look at the making of the film in the five minutes it spends on the special effects shots on the film. The other featurette doesn’t share much other than interviews with the actors and members of the production. The first segment is worth a look, while the second can be skipped over.

Finally rounding out the extras are the trailers; the two trailers for The Forgotten are included, along with about a half dozen promotional trailers for Columbia Tri-Star films. The promotional ones will annoy most of you as they are forced upon you right from when the disc is inserted into your player. Thankfully, they are easy to skip over. While this release has a fair amount of extras in terms on quantity, the quality is clearly lacking.

Forgotten, The
Overall
Utter disappointment surrounds the DVD release of The Forgotten; a deplorable plot, a sub par lead actress, and so-so extras will leave a bad taste in the mouths of most viewers. The film doesn’t know if it’s a mystery, a thriller, a drama, or if it’s science fiction. Genre identity crisis personifies the problems the movie itself faces. The best recommendation I can give is that those who have not seen the film should not blind buy it; do yourself a favour and rent it first if you must, to see if it’s your bag of chips. Those of you who were in love with even the most ridiculous episodes of The X-Files and The Twilight Zone may have a place in your heart for this film. For the rest of you, it’s best it’s forgotten.


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