Nothing So Strange DVD Review

You have to give credit to some filmmakers. Tackling a topic about the assassination of a real person, specifically about the richest man in the world, takes guts, more so when that man is still alive. Brian Flemming did just that, stirring up some controversy in the process. The film itself is wildly uneven, but the effort to put together this mockumentary makes this worthwhile viewing. During a December ceremony in Los Angeles, a sniper guns down Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates after two shots. Within a short amount of time, a group calling themselves "Citizens for Truth" begin to question whether or not the police have actually given the public the entire story. What follows is a deeper look into the sequence of events that led up to the murder. Numerous theories are presented, but the gaining the trust of the public and keeping themselves together may prove to be the downfall for the group. "Nothing So Strange" comes out of the gate firing on all cylinders. The first half-hour (maybe even a bit longer) is an absolutely flawless look at the murder and the various evidence the group has compiled. In fact, you would be hard pressed to tell the difference between this film and something on Court TV. Complete with computer-generated scenarios, visits to the crime scene, pictures, magazines covers, and video shot after the assignation, the film covers all of its bases quickly in entertaining fashion. Then, without any warning, the film suddenly tumbles into oblivion, completely changing the focus from the assassination to an inside look at the group trying to find the truth. Viewers who were glued to the screen, forming their opinions about the events, are tossed to the wayside. The final hour continues on this path, hardly ever mentioning the evidence again. The films ending is also highly unsatisfying, though the purpose it obvious. Watch this one for the earlier portions and then try and forget the rest. (** out of *****) Shot in standard full frame, as expected, "Nothing So Strange" looks awful on DVD. The look of the film is obviously not very important here, but it's so jarring, you can't help but feel disappointed. The lower resolution and subdued colors are understandable due to the way the film was shot. Not acceptable are the garish compression issues that hinder every single frame of this film. The opening assassination is just a mess of giant blocks and rest of the running time is no better. The too-few scenes of clarity are still soft and lacking in fine detail. Regardless of the way the film was shot, this is just not acceptable. (*) The sound quality, while uneven, is still better than the visual presentation. Surprisingly presented in 5.1, the majority of the film is center loaded. A few of the crowded sequences use the rears effectively, but these are rare moments. Some of the minor dialogue sequences can be a bit difficult to hear (and no subtitles are provided), but anything important is loud and clear. (***) Extras here are definitely innovative, but just about as controversial as the film itself. Included on the disc is an audio commentary from director Brian Flemming. In character the entire time, it's actually a follow up to the film and is required listening after watching the film. You'll be allowed to go deeper into certain moments in the film including extended interrogation segments (quite long) and multi-angle segments of the assassination. The back of the DVD states that there is something called "The Kill Zone," but unless I'm blind, I missed it. Now, visiting the Bitpass website allows you to purchase extra features that supposedly make up a second disc. These features range in price (from as little as a nickel up to a dollar) and length. I did not purchase any of them nor am I in agreeance with the whole process. If I was to pay $15 for a DVD, I should get everything and not have to shell out even more money to get the entire package when the disc gets home. I see the purpose (to allow smaller companies to compete with the massive special editions put out by the big studios), but as a marketing tool, it's awful. (***) The idea to create this film is one of the best in a long time. Wholly innovative and engrossing for a while, "Nothing So Strange" is commendable, but it seriously needed more focus. The delivery of the extras is also absurd, but picking this one up as a rental is still recommended.

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