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20th Century Fox presents
Turistas: Unrated (2006)

Alex: We have no money. We have no way out of here.
Bea: We'll be fine.
Alex: You think so?
Bea: Yeah.
Alex: Well, I'm not so sure.

- Josh Duhamel, Olivia Wilde

Review By: Rich Rosell   
Published: March 26, 2007

Stars: Josh Duhamel, Melissa George, Olivia Wilde
Other Stars: Beau Garrett, Desmond Askew, Max Brown, Agles Steib, Miguel Lunardi, Cristiani Aparecida, Lucy Ramos, Andréa Leal, Diego Santiago, Marcao, Miguelito Acosta, Gustav Roth, Olga Diegues
Director: John Stockwell

Manufacturer: Deluxe Digital Studios
MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (nudity, language, violence, gore)
Run Time: 01h:35m:49s
Release Date: March 27, 2007
UPC: 024543428787
Genre: suspense thriller


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

DVD Review

With Into the Blue, director John Stockwell (Blue Crush) immersed viewers in a Caribbean action adventure full of vivid colors, dazzling underwater sequences and plenty of closeups of Jessica Alba swimming in a very small, very tight bikini. The film eventually collapsed on itself, but it was never not pretty to look at, even as if shifted into the wacky violence of the final act.

With Turistas, Stockwell shifts gears and heads in the other direction, with a palette full of cold, desaturated colors and a menacing Brazilian jungle locale as he adapts a first-time script from Michael Ross about a group of stranded attractive twenty-something tourists who fall in with the wrong crowd after a night of drinking (and then being drugged and robbed) on what seems at first a very idyllic beachfront bar. With no money and a gang of merciless killers tracking them, our pretty leads soon discover that Brazilian surgery leaves something to be desired.

During its theatrical run, Turistas drew comparisons to Eli Roth's squirmy endangered-tourists gorefest Hostel, and on the surface there are base similarities, with even the marketing pitch for Stockwell's film not doing much to squelch the side-by-side matchup. Yet aside from one or two scenes, this one operates more as a thriller than a gore flick, and even the villain (Miguel Lunardi) has a kind of misguided sense of right in what he is doing. Sure, his methods are whacked, but unlike the pay-to-kill-a-human coldness of Roth's Hostel, Stockwell's baddie almost seems righteous and noble. That is if you forget his percolating bad temper and a propensity to jab wooden skewers into the eyeballs of those who just don't try hard enough.

The characters-in-peril (led by Josh Duhamel, Melissa George, and Olivia Wilde) spend the final two-thirds of thepicture trying to stay alive, as Lunardi's scalpel-swinging Zamora and an unforgiving jungle present all sorts of dangers. Poor beauty Beau Garrett suffers the film's greatest indignity as the I'm-not-too-shy-to-swim-topless Amy, serving as the living, wide-awake canvas to a surgical procedure that is a wonderfully gross exercise that this film really could have use more of. It's an uncomfortable, bloody sequence, and just based on the marketing of this one I was expecting many more scenes like this; but there's just that one. While a machete-severed hand, a hook-through-a-foot and a terrific cliff tumble do liven up the action periodically, I was anticipating more surgical gore (the opening credits also seem to hint at the possibility), and I'll admit I felt a little bamboozled when I realized that wasn't to be.

As in Into the Blue, Stockwell and underwater director of photography Pete Zuccarini offer up a set of swimming sequences, only here they're in deep dark caverns, the polar opposite of the shimmering beauty of the Caribbean and Jessica Alba in a small bikini. There are bikinis, but here it's a heavy dose of shadows and rocks instead of sun and coral, where it's very clear bad stuff is happening. Kind of takes the thrill out of those bikinis. The sense of menace and general unpleasantness is kicked up a notch in Turistas, making Brazil look like a dirty, wet hell-hole that doesn't like foreigners. Take that, Brazilian tourism board!

But my cascading disillusionment of what I thought this was going to be aside, Turistas isn't necessarily all that bad. For its intentional ugliness, it's a very nice-looking film, if that makes any sense. The sweaty dangers all look sweaty and dangerous, and even the theoretical "happy" moments (such as the characters partying up a storm) have an air of impending peril. It's certainly rather pointless when all is said and done, but the journey is made up of some nicely structured thrills and suspense, just much less of a visceral sucker punch than something like Hostel delivered. This is more of a bloody popcorn movie.

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

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio2.35:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes
Anamorphicyes


Image Transfer Review: The 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer sports some intentionally desaturated colors—save for a few of the early beach scenes (pre-nasty stuff)—so that much of the film looks purposely bleak and unpleasant. Black levels are strong throughout, and hold up well during the second half where much of the action takes place in shadow or at night. Some moderate shimmer in spots, as well as some very fine grain issues in spots, yet those complaints should be considered extremely minor.

Nice and gloomy.

Image Transfer Grade: B+

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0French, Spanishyes
Dolby Digital
5.1
Englishyes


Audio Transfer Review: Principle audio track is a Dolby Digital 5.1 surround mix that comes up a little short in the dialogue department, but one that delivers strong score stingers, deep bass and generally effective rear channel cues. The jungle sequences have a nice spatial quality to them, as to do some of the creepier interior shots of Zamora's lair. The clarity of the voices seem to get buried a few times in the mix when the action onscreen gets hectic.

French and Spanish 2.0 dubs are also included.

Audio Transfer Grade: B

 

Disc Extras

Full Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 20 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, Spanish with remote access
1 Other Trailer(s) featuring The Hills Have Eyes 2
1 Featurette(s)
Packaging: Amaray
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual

Extras Review: I had a screener copy of the unrated version to review, and it did not contain a supposed set of deleted scenes and/or a John Stockwell commentary that may or may not show up on the final street version. As a result, your mileage may vary.

What is available to me is The Bloody Truth: The Special Makeup Effects of Turistas (10m:02s), a surprisingly enjoyable look at the creation of some of the gory visuals. While some of the comments could easily apply to any movie (Stockwell talking about seeking out a sense of "vérité"), the centerpiece here was a look at the remarkable work done during the film's big surgical scene featuring Beau Garrett. Also included is a teaser trailer for The Hills Have Eyes 2.

The unrated version is cut into 20 chapters, with optional English subtitles.

Extras Grade: C+

 

Final Comments

More of a thriller-with-gore than an outright horror flick, John Stockwell's Turistas had the misfortune of all of those Hostel comparisons going against it. While that film reveled in uncomfortable visuals, Stockwell pulls it back a bit, and this unrated cut offers a little more skin and a couple more prolonged shots of surgical gore, but the story of a stranded group of attractive twenty-somethings trying to stay alive in a foreign country is an enjoyably suspenseful romp with no real redeeming values.

Perhaps not a certifiable genre classic, but certainly worth a rental.

 


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