October 30, 2012

Filthy Review - 'Coma'

Coma (2012)

Review by Jude Felton

Coma is a mini-series that originally aired on A&E over the Labor Day weekend in the States. It’s based on the 1977 novel by Robin Cook and the movie adaptation from Michael Crichton in 1978, which starred Michael Douglas, and it has now been released on DVD. This, of course, means that you can now sit through the 2 hour and 40 minute running time without the distraction of endless commercials.

The story follows Susan Wheeler, a medical student at Memorial Hospital, where her Grandfather once worked to great acclaim, who becomes concerned with the alarming amount of patients there that have ended up in comas as a result of surgeries performed on them. Most of the patients are then transferred to the mysterious Jefferson Institute, which on the surface seems like a plush hotel for coma victims, and is portrayed this way in their press.

This being a thriller though, you just know that there is something more sinister at work, and through the fairly complex plot, which throws in multiple sub-plots and characters; we slowly get to find out the truth.

In all honesty Coma is a pretty decent show. It did have many of the trappings of a television production (you can tell when the commercial breaks would have been), but the solid cast, which includes such terrific actors as James Woods, Ellen Burstyn, Richard Dreyfuss, Geena Davis and Joe Morton, help raise it above the predictable, and I was eager to get to the bottom of the story.

As a story, and I don’t know if this was a fault of the source material or this particular adaptation, it did seem a little far-fetched in places and you will have to suspend your disbelief on occasion. For example, Susan has free rein to crawl around in the crawlspace above an operating room, without drawing any attention. Even when her cell phone rings it only attracts the attention of one orderly, who subsequently lets it pass. I also wasn’t too convinced with Geena Davis’ performance either, in her role as Dr. Agnetta Lindquist.

Those issues aside though, Coma is a fairly exciting show once it gets going. There are plenty are gruesome scenes later on as Susan tries to get to the bottom of what is going on, and the plot twists and turns with some unexpected moments. This is however a television production and, even with Ridley Scott and his late brother Tony attached as Executive Producers, it always feels like a TV show. This is not necessarily a bad thing, but it does give you a rough idea of what to expect in terms of pacing and structure.

The DVD itself doesn’t come with any extras, although you do have the option of watching Coma in two parts, as it was screened, or in one complete sitting. The picture quality is also very good, with nice clarity to the unfolding events.

Overall, I thought Coma was a solid, if unspectacular, mini-series that was raised up by its impressive cast and exciting second half. One thing is certain though; after you watch Coma you will think twice before visiting a hospital!

Coma is released on DVD by Sony Home Entertainment on October 30th.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

From the way I heard people in my office at DISH describe Coma I thought I was going to be watching the scariest film of the summer. We just rented it from Blockbuster at Home through DISH and I couldn’t really get into it. When I grabbed it from the mailbox I expected a movie worthy of being produced by Ridley Scott, but the pace was just terribly slow and there was no real horror to speak of during most of the first half. I didn’t even make it to any of the plot twists. After thirty minutes of almost slipping into a coma myself I went to the Blockbuster store down the street for a free exchange. I only watch one movie a week and I am happy I didn’t have to put it off until I got another DVD in the mail.