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Freezer Blu-ray + DVD Combo Pack Review

Freezer (2013) Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD UltraViolet combo pack cover art -- click to buy from Amazon.com Freezer

Theatrical Release: January 17, 2014 / Running Time: 82 Minutes / Rating: R

Director: Mikael Solomon / Writers: Tom Doganoglu, Shane Weisfeld

Cast: Dylan McDermott (Robert Saunders), Peter Facinelli (Detective Sam Gurov), Yuliya Snigir (Alisa), Milan Malisic (Stepan), Andrey Ivychenko (Kiril), Pascal Petardi (Vadim), David McNally (Detective Al Dorian), Markus Parillo (Oleg)

2.40:1 Widescreen (DVD Anamorphic)
Blu-ray: Dolby TrueHD 5.1 (English); DVD: Dolby Digital 5.1 (English)
Subtitles: English for Hearing Impaired, Spanish / Extras Not Subtitled / Not Closed Captioned
Blu-ray Release Date: January 21, 2014 / Suggested Retail Price: $30.99
Two single-sided, single-layered discs (BD-25 & DVD-5) / Blue Eco-Friendly Keepcase
Also available as standalone DVD ($24.98 SRP) and on Amazon Instant Video

Buy Freezer from Amazon.com: Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD UltraViolet DVD Instant Video

In the 1990s, Dylan McDermott set aside a burgeoning film career to star in the ABC legal drama "The Practice." When that series, which earned McDermott a Golden Globe and three consecutive nominations, wrapped up in 2004,
big screen offers seemed to dry up for the actor, who had prominently appeared in earlier movies like Home for the Holidays, Miracle on 34th Street (1994), In the Line of Fire, and Three to Tango. McDermott boarded a couple of short-lived TV series. Then in 2011, he landed a lead role in FX's "American Horror Story." That's kept him sporadically employed in the years since and has also coincided with a little bit of a film career revival. In the past eighteen months, McDermott has shown up in The Campaign, The Perks of Being a Wallflower, and Olympus Has Fallen.

Now in his 50s and having endured yet another show that seems destined for an early cancellation (CBS' "Hostages"), McDermott isn't about to scoff at headlining an essentially direct-to-video B-movie like Freezer. It's somewhat new terrain for the actor and not one he's terribly well-suited for, but he gets to appear in every scene of this single-setting thriller.

"Freezer" stars Dylan McDermott as a New York mechanic who is locked in an icy freezer among pig carcasses and such.

McDermott plays Robert James Saunders, a New York mechanic who is abducted in the middle of his birthday dinner at Cafe Volga and relegated to a portable meat locker. The temperature is set at 37 F and two Russian mobsters seem very serious about keeping Saunders locked in here. Saunders is accused of stealing $8 million, accusations he believes to be a bizarre misunderstanding. But it's one that seems destined to end his life soon, whether or not the money can be located and the situation explained.

The Russians' English-speaking moll Alisa (Yuliya Snigir) sheds some light on the scenario and gives Saunders just a few hours to survive the conditions he faces among pig carcasses and barrels of lard. Claiming innocence, he remains defiant and unwilling to stop cracking wise in the face of danger and almost certain death. Saunders' predicament also appears to involve an undercover NYPD narcotics detective (Peter Facinelli) who's also locked in the freezer and may be involved in the missing millions.

The first script attributed to Shane Weisfeld and the second by Tom Doganoglu, Freezer relies on a thin premise, which is that it's cold inside the freezer. Not cold enough for Saunders to raise the hood of his not insubstantial coat, but cold enough to have him make plastic bag shoes after the thugs strip him of his footwear.

Robert Saunders is questioned and doubted by Alisa (Yuliya Snigir), your typical beautiful Russian gangster. It's gonna take more than some cold and a head wound to kill the immortal Peter Facinelli.

Freezer feels like a vehicle for Bruce Willis, whose brand of action comedy McDermott tries to channel with his cringe-worthy banter. (Sample: "I wouldn't give you the ice off my eyebrows.") On the plus side, this is mercifully short and, combatting potential claustrophobia, fast-moving. But as it comes around to delivering the twist you just know this movie will rely on,
the film never really engages or stops feeling so very stupid. I doubt that Willis or a star of his caliber would have elevated the proceedings at all. After all, he was surrounded by Russians (including Snigir) in his last outing, A Good Day to Die Hard, a franchise low and one of last year's worst films.

You obviously expect less from a film by Mikael Salomon, the Swedish cinematographer of such Hollywood films as James Cameron's The Abyss, Steven Spielberg's Always, and Ron Howard's Backdraft, whose subsequent directing career has consisted almost entirely of lesser genre television (like A&E's 2008 "The Andromeda Strain" miniseries and Lifetime's Drew Peterson: Untouchable). And yet the movie doesn't anything to surpass those low expectations or to question why this would be hitting Blu-ray combo pack and DVD just four days after premiering at a single Los Angeles theater. That's one theater more than Freezer deserves to be playing in.

VIDEO and AUDIO

Whether you classify as a bona fide theatrical release or not, Freezer looks the part, with a clean, sharp, and suitably cinematic 2.40:1 presentation. Unsurprisingly, the movie opts for a cool palette. The Dolby TrueHD 5.1 soundtrack makes an even bigger impression than the solid visuals. The mix delivers quite a kick with its potent bass. Russian dialogue is translated by player-generated subtitles, while English SDH and Spanish subtitles can be turned on to translate the rest.

"'Freezer': Behind It All" shows us a bit of the magically chilly production. Milan Malisic is one of several cast and crew members who oddly fill what is called "Director Mikael Salomon Interview."

BONUS FEATURES, MENUS, PACKAGING and DESIGN

Each disc contains a handful of short extras, all of which are presented in HD on the Blu-ray.

"Freezer: Behind It All" (3:36) is a making-of featurette which reveals that the versatile set was really kept cold to maximize authenticity and not much else in its promotional mix of B-roll and finished clips.

The two American leading men -- Dylan McDermott (2:15) and Peter Facinelli (1:47) -- discuss and describe the film in between copious clips.

Finally, "Director Mikael Salomon Interview" (2:31) finds cast and crew members (basically, everyone but Solomon) singing his praises.

Nary a trailer for Freezer or anything else is included on either disc.

The final extra (and perhaps the most exciting for some) is a Digital HD UltraViolet presentation of the film. Joining the silver DVD and full color Blu-ray, directions and a unique code adorn the only insert within the unslipcovered eco-friendly keepcase.

The menu plays an ordinary montage of clips within a frosted border. The Blu-ray doesn't resume playback but does allow you to place bookmarks on the film.

Robert Saunders (Dylan McDermott) proudly displays the dinner receipt that is supposed to absolve him of all wrongdoing in "Freezer."

CLOSING THOUGHTS

As bad as it looks, Freezer will only appeal to undiscerning thriller junkies and those convinced Dylan McDermott should be a movie star. Both demographics may have to delude themselves into enjoying this mindless action vehicle.

Buy Freezer from Amazon.com: Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD UltraViolet / DVD / Instant Video

Buy from Amazon.com

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Reviewed January 19, 2014.



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