DVD & Blu-ray Reviews

Coma (Miniseries) (2012)

A gripping thriller which probably will resonate more with those who haven’t already been exposed to the better feature film version.

Published on October 30, 2012

Coma (2012)

Cast: Ellen Burstyn, Richard Dreyfuss, James Woods, Geena Davis, Steven Pasquale, Lauren Ambrose
Producers: Ridley & Tony Scott
Studio: Warner TV/Sony Pictures 40213 [10/30/12]
Video: 16:9 color
Audio: English DD 5.1, PCM stereo
Subtitles: English, English SDH, French
Length: 160 minutes (2 parts)
Rating: ***½

I haven’t seen Michael Crichton’s original theatrical motion picture of Coma with Genevieve Bujold, Michael Douglas and Tom Selleck and was impressed to see the list of leading actors involved in this Warners TV miniseries, as well as Ridley Scott’s involvement. Both films are based on a 1977 medical mystery book by Robin Cook. The DVD certainly kept up a high level of suspense and horror—making it appropriate for this time of year—but there are a number of things wrong with it and online opinions seem to run that most people would be better off viewing the original movie. I didn’t even realize at first that this was a miniseries—though I wondered why it was in two parts. Then the unexplained fades to black right after cliff-hanging moments made it clear to me. At least one is kept free of the commercial breaks. And talk about cliff-hangers; they really found one for the ending of Part One!

Ambrose stars as Susan Wheeler, a medical student who discovers that something sinister may be going on in the Peachtree Memorial hospital where she works. Although it is extremely rare for a patient in the operating room to suddenly go into a coma after routine procedures, that has been happening frequently at the hospital. She begins to investigate on her own, and at first is disciplined by the young doctor who is her instructor, but who later aids her in uncovering the truth about the coma situation. Of course a romantic relationship is suggested between the two, but there is little to make it seem believable.

The coma sufferers are transferred immediately to the mysterious Jefferson Institute, which Wheeler visits three times (too many). In the futuristic facility she discovers terrible hi-tech medical experiments and horrors, and on her final visit her life is endangered in the bang-up conclusion. There didn’t seem any need for the sub-plot of the psychopath who was threatening her and chasing her thru the facility trying to kill her. One thing any viewer of this will appreciate is that smellavision was a failure.

The transfer is excellent; I didn’t realize until I looked at the box that this was a Blu-ray. There’s not much use of the 5.1 surround, and some of the dialog is a bit unintelligible. After running one exchange three times with the volume turned higher each time, I finally brought up the English subtitles to learn what they were saying.

—John Sunier




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