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Lions Gate presents
Maze (2001)

"There are things in life that are out of our control. Believe me, it's the one thing I know with any certainty."
- Lyle Maze (Rob Morrow)

Review By: Brian Calhoun   
Published: March 13, 2002

Stars: Rob Morrow, Laura Linney, Craig Sheffer
Other Stars: Gia Carides, Robert Hogan, Rose Gregorio
Director: Rob Morrow

Manufacturer: Technicolor
MPAA Rating: R for language and nudity
Run Time: 01h:37m:25s
Release Date: February 05, 2002
UPC: 031398793229
Genre: drama


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
B- B-C-C- D

DVD Review

The title of Rob Morrow's feature directorial debut might be a bit misleading. Rather than a labyrinthine film of complex twists and turns, it is in fact a very simple love story. The title not only refers to main character Lyle Maze (Morrow), but also how this gifted artist feels locked in an endless maze of emotions. Suffering from Tourette's syndrome, he is a tortured soul who has always avoided relationships due to his humiliating affliction. This potentially fascinating concept helps elevate the film above the status of typical romantic drama.

Because his involuntary body movements and strange vocal outbursts are enough to turn more than a few heads in public, Lyle tends to keep to himself. He does have one friend, Mike (Craig Sheffer), a well-established doctor who persistently urges Lyle to try the latest experimental drugs to help control his neurological disorder. Lyle declines, afraid that medication will destroy his artistic integrity. This is an interesting spin on the artist who is afraid to quit using drugs for the same reason.

The character of Mike is one rooted in irony. He is dedicated to working for an organization that provides medical aid for third world countries but shows no commitment to his girlfriend, Callie (Laura Linney). When Mike informs Callie that he has accepted a seven-month assignment in Burundi, he tells her with a matter-of-fact selfishness that reveals just how little he values her opinion. His cold-hearted nature is reason enough for Callie to withhold the fact that she is pregnant with his child. Lyle is inevitably caught in the middle of their relationship. He is aware of Callie's pregnancy, but does not discourage Mike from flying off to Africa. In Mike's absence, Lyle ends up assuming Mike's responsibility and accompanies Callie through her pregnancy. As a result of their tender time together, Lyle falls in love for the first time.

I am certainly no expert on Tourette's syndrome, but Morrow seems to handle the disorder with accuracy. As an actor, his reckless body snaps and vocal tics are consistently unsettling, even if they conveniently halt during moments of quiet drama. As director, he uses a body-mounted video camera to show jittery glances of Lyle's perspective during spasms. Although this creative technique is a little overdone, it proves to be appropriately agitating.

Significant mention should be made of Laura Linney's performance as Callie. She is one of the sweetest individuals I have seen recently on film. Her character is able to gracefully see beyond Lyle's affliction (she does not so much as flinch during moments of his extreme spasms) and gaze directly into his beautiful soul. Maze is an interesting career choice for the follow-up to her Oscar®-nominated performance in You Can Count on Me, one that proves she is more concerned with artistry than projecting an image of success.

The story, conceived predominately by Morrow with help from Bradley White, is charming yet unsophisticated. Despite the unique facet of a man who believes his Tourette's renders him unable to experience love, all of the events are handled strictly by the numbers. The result is a film that is modestly enjoyable yet maddeningly conventional. Morrow has a definite knack for telling a story through pictorial images, but he does not present the material with enough flair and confidence. It is as if he does not trust his audience to understand his message, and it feels as if he is holding something back. His picture is tender and sweet, though ultimately generic.

Rob Morrow has proven that he is capable of working in the director's seat, and I am looking forward to his next effort. While Maze generally feels like nothing more than a made-for-television film, it does succeed in effectively telling a basic love story without falling too deeply into the dangerous clichés of the genre. A refreshing twist on romance, Maze gently shows that love survives adverse situations and is able to pass beyond physical limitations.

Rating for Style: B-
Rating for Substance: B-

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Rationo
Anamorphicno


Image Transfer Review: I was not expecting much from this low budget feature, but nothing could prepare me for the horror within. The image is downright awful at times. Colors often appear abnormal and cartoon-like, with fleshtones that border on crimson red. Excessive grain is apparent throughout, as is an abundance of film artifacts. Perhaps worst of all, the transfer is presented in 1.33:1 instead of the theatrical aspect ratio of 1.85:1. Overall, this transfer is a major disappointment.

Image Transfer Grade: C-

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Englishyes


Audio Transfer Review: The audio transfer for Maze made me think I was going deaf. It is an extremely quiescent soundtrack that requires the listener to significantly increase the volume level. Although it is a Dolby Surround 2.0 mix, it sounds primarily monaural. Stereo separation is sparsely used, save for a few instances of music, and the surround channel only engaged once. Fidelity is muddy and dialogue is often unintelligible. Bass is severely lacking, even during strong musical passages. I use a fairly high crossover for my subwoofer (100Hz), yet even at a volume setting near reference level, my subwoofer lay dormant for almost the entire film. A disappointing audio transfer in almost all regards.

Audio Transfer Grade: C-

 

Disc Extras

Static menu
Scene Access with 24 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in Spanish with remote access
1 Original Trailer(s)
Packaging: Alpha
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extras Review: There is no winding maze of special features to negotiate through, only the film's theatrical trailer. Presented in 1.33:1 full-frame, it appears even more visually dull than the main feature.

Extras Grade: D

 

Final Comments

Fans of independent films may find Maze too commonplace, while admirers of mainstream romance may find it too eccentric. This contradiction combined with a less-than-stellar DVD presentation proves Maze to be quite a difficult sell.

 


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