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The Big Bang DVD Review

The Big Bang (2011) movie poster The Big Bang

Theatrical Release: May 13, 2011 / Running Time: 101 Minutes / Rating: Not Rated

Director: Tony Krantz / Writer: Erik Jendresen

Cast: Antonio Banderas (Ned Cruz), Thomas Kretschmann (Frizer), William Fichtner (Poley), Sienna Guillory (Julie Kestral/Lexie Persimmon), Autumn Reeser (Fay Newman), Jimmi Simpson (Niels Geck), Bill Duke (Drummer), James Van Der Beek (Adam Nova), Rebecca Mader (Zooey Wigner), Robert Maillet (Anton "The Pro" Protopov), Snoop Dogg (Puss), Delroy Lindo (Skeres), Sam Elliott (Simon Kestral), Robert Ernie Lee (Russell), Sean Cook (Bartender), Rachel Handler (Minkowski's Stripper), Khanh Doan (Mail Carrier), Keith MacGeagh (Sikh), Tracy Culp (Female Porn Star)

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Noir and nuclear physics come together in The Big Bang, an Antonio Banderas vehicle now on DVD and Blu-ray following a limited theatrical run earlier this month.

After a pointless, indulgent 3½-minute credits sequence, the film opens with Banderas' Los Angeles private eye Ned Cruz bloodied, blinded, handcuffed, and subjected to agitated interrogation by law enforcement (William Fichtner, Delroy Lindo, and Thomas Kretschmann). They demand Ned tell them the whole story, which he does as he sees fit and which makes up the bulk of this film. Though it's too integral to be the case, this design has the feel of a last-ditch effort to wring some nonlinear interest out of a plot that just doesn't work.

Most of "The Big Bang" is framed within an interrogation of private eye Ned Cruz (Antonio Banderas) by L.A. police (including William Fichtner and Delroy Lindo).

At the end of a bad day which saw an A-list Hollywood movie star's albino dwarf agent propelled to a fiery death just steps from his feet, Cruz is hired by towering ex-con Anton "The Pro" Protopov (Robert Maillet, 300, Sherlock Holmes).
Protopov, a former boxer whose unconvincing attempt to throw a fight for the mob landed him in trouble, has recently been released from his life sentence and desperately wants to find one Lexie Persimmon, a stripper with whom he exchanged letters while in prison.

Reluctantly, Cruz sets out on a mission to find this elusive stripper (visualized by Sienna Guillory, stopping just short of nudity), who used a vacant lot as her return address. Cruz tracks that location back to San Celeritas, New Mexico, a sleepy desert town that houses the underground laboratory of Simon Kestral (Sam Elliott), a rich, eccentric who is just hours away from simulating the conditions that immediately followed the Big Bang theorized to have created life. By approximating the speed of light in his collider, Kestral is certain he's about to find "the God particle", the answer to, in his mind, life's only question worth asking.

Those three law officers questioning Cruz in the present have another question: "Where are the diamonds?" You see, Protopov's dubious ring flop was paid for in advance, with $30 million worth of stolen blood diamonds. They are the missing piece of the puzzle that the police are fixated on and the one piece of information Cruz saves for the end of his long, rambling tale.

Ned reluctantly accepts the case of Russian ex-con ex-boxer Anton "The Pro" Protopov (Robert Maillet). The case leads Ned on what may be a wild goose chase for Lexie Persimmon (Sienna Guillory), a stripper who may not even exist.

The Big Bang apes the gritty style of Frank Miller's Sin City with its raspy monologues and seedy world of strip clubs and porn sets.
To that, it adds metaphysical chatter, believing it is the proper venue for speculating on the universe and life's origins. It's not just Kestral and his idiot savant physicist assistant (Jimmi Simpson) who are fascinated with the topic. San Celeritas diner waitress Fay (Autumn Reeser) begins talking about such things while not serving Cruz and continues to do so in the random hot sex scene that follows, for which she proudly bares breasts tattooed with particle trail doodlings.

Screenwriter Erik Jendresen -- whose past credits include the Eriq LaSalle mental hospital thriller Crazy as Hell and, collaborating with Big Bang director Tony Krantz for Warner's direct-to-video Raw Feed label, the macabre comedy Otis and the Tom Cavanagh horror movie Sublime -- seems determined to prove that he is a smart and inquisitive soul, for he injects such heady thoughts into what is marketed as an action film. And yet the whole thing is so stupid and juvenile that it feels like he's recently taken some college physics class and enjoyed it enough to share some of the subject matter with anyone who will listen. And so we get a porn studio named after Schrödinger, a stripper named after the Latin phrase for Occam's razor, and a private eye protagonist who peppers his unfocused name-clearing testimony with quantum mechanics references.

I would imagine little crossover between physics buffs and action movie fans, which is why it isn't at all surprising that Anchor Bay Films would forego even one of their usually modest theatrical releases and render this essentially a straight-to-video release. The small studio acquired the film in January, announcing the buy during this January's Sundance Film Festival and getting it identified as a selection there, even though the movie apparently was not.

Movies like this, seemingly the only type outside of the Shrek and Spy Kids series to give Antonio Banderas a leading role these days, affirm the negative view of direct-to-video market. Seriously, missing diamonds driving the plot? You'd be hard-pressed to find other movies with as stupid a premise, even as this one tries its best to divert attention away from its inanity, with distinctive visuals pushing colors like yellow and purple, cameos by James Van Der Beek and Snoop Dogg, meaningless twists, and all that out-of-place speculative science. It's baffling that $17 million and a dozen or so accomplished actors saw some potential in this project.

Though the package dubs it unrated, a version of the film did receive an "R" from the MPAA, as this cut presumably would, if submitted.

The Big Bang DVD cover art -- click to buy DVD from Amazon.com DVD Details

2.40:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Dolby Digital 5.1 (English)
Subtitles: English for Hearing Impaired, Spanish
Not Closed Captioned; Extras Not Subtitled
Release Date: May 24, 2011
Single-sided, dual-layered disc (DVD-9)
Suggested Retail Price: $26.97
Black Eco-Friendly Keepcase in Cardboard/Foil Slipcover
Also available on Blu-ray Disc ($34.98 SRP)


Like most Anchor Bay movies, The Big Bang gets a great-looking DVD transfer. The weird edgy color choices of the 2.40:1 presentation can be admired or questioned without any anomalies or drawbacks. The Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack is also nicely done, although so much of the dialogue is delivered with an accent or hushed tone that you may need to occasionally consult the provided English subtitles.

Director/producer Tony Krantz discusses "The Big Bang" in a setting befitting the film. James Van Der Beek might have used a brief chapter in his past to inform his performance as egotistical movie star Adam Nova, whose scene gets extended here.


The Big Bang is joined by three standard bonus features.

The 20-minute featurette "Lex Parsimoniae: The Making of The Big Bang" consists primarily of director/producer Tony Krantz and writer Erik Jendresen explaining their ideas and methods, inspired by Raymond Chandler, Charlie Rose, and CERN.
They also talk about the film's look and cast, with relevant crew and cast sound bites. It's a pretty good explanation/defense of the movie, although the misplaced enthusiasm may make you cringe.

A reel of extended scenes (4:12) prolongs James Van Der Beek's appearance as arrogant movie star Adam Nova and (just barely) a transitional Robert Maillet boxing bout.

Finally, on the Set Up menu, you'll find an audio commentary by producer/director Tony Krantz and co-producer Reece Pearson. Judging only by this DVD, they're better at audio commentaries than at filmmaking. They offer a candid and reasonably engaging discussion of the film and its cast, crew (plenty of talent is squandered behind the camera as well), and visuals, elaborating on some of the comments from the making-of piece. Among the more notable topics are a Jonas Brothers connection and the MPAA (supposedly, a steamier version of the sex scene would have earned an NC-17, although that is not, as stated, included as a bonus feature).

The Special Features menu's "Also on DVD" page links to trailers for Kill the Irishman, happythankyoumoreplease, Tekken, Hunt to Kill, and Dolph Lundgren is The Killing Machine (that's a real title, I kid you not). The first three of those play automatically at disc insertion.

The DVD's main menu loops a scored montage of the film's more ambitious visuals. The other menus are silent and static.

The DVD tops its Eco-Box keepcase with a cardboard/foil slipcover.

Long, beautiful-haired eccentric Simon Kestral (Sam Elliott) ventures above ground to have Ned (Antonio Banderas) over for dinner. Planck's Constant Cafe (yuk yuk) waitress Fay Newman (Autumn Reeser) is really into atomic particles talk, as you'll come to see in greater detail.


The Big Bang is a lousy, noxious film. No good comes from its blend of edgy detective neo-noir and speculative physics. Anchor Bay's DVD serves up yet another fine feature presentation and with more thoughtful bonus features than this deserves. I theorize you can pass on this with zero regret.

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Reviewed May 27, 2011.

Text copyright 2011 DVDizzy.com. Images copyright 2011 Anchor Bay Films, Hannibal Pictures, Flame Ventures, and Anchor Bay Entertainment.
Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.