Ray Bradbury’s Chrysalis – DVD Review

There’s no such thing as a cushy job during political turmoil. While the world is falling apart, a small group of scientists are deep inside a bunker working with plants. Sounds like a safe enough place as the cities explode in rage. Little do they know that their peaceful subjects are about to attack. Ray Bradbury’s Chrysalis gives a full accounting of the short story without snazzing things up with Hollywood Sci-Fi elements.

Smith (Glen Vaughan) ends up getting a little too close to his plant project. It starts to grow on him. Hartley (John Klemantaski), Rockwell (Darren Kendrick) and McGuire (Corey Landis) are helpless as their fellow scientist becomes a human Chia Pet. They debate if the guy is being killed as the plant coating hardens into a green candy shell. Turns out the chrysalis creates a fluid that a little drop can be nourishment for days. This is a scientific break through, but only if Smith lives. One of the scientists ponders if Smith will become the butterfly that saves a doomed world. Or will he crack open and eat everyone in the bunker?

Ray Bradbury’s Chrysalis is a claustrophobic tale. The action inside the laboratory features sound design to make you sense the air is being sucked out of the room. The pacing of the film is reminiscent of Robert Wise’s Andromeda Strain. Nothing is too rushed or frantic. There’s no giant shoot out, space vixens or mutant monsters running amuck. There is a little bit of the mutant monster, but it’s not just for a big scare effect. This is a cerebral science fiction where the ideas proposed by the characters are part of the major special effects. The goal is to dazzle with Bradbury’s sentiments. The transformation of Smith into the chrysalis does look great. It’s got enough ooze elements to make you queasy. Ray Bradbury’s Chrysalis does a stellar job of adapting literary science fiction.

The video is 1.78:1 anamorphic. The image looks good even when things get extremely dark and murky. Plenty of detail comes out when Smith goes through his transformation. The audio is Dolby Digital stereo. The sound levels make you feel trapped inside with the scientists. The movie is subtitled.

Audio Commentary with Ray Bradbury and producer Roger Lay Jr. It’s rare when the writer of the original story seems delighted with the outcome. This isn’t 90 minutes of Ray screaming, “What have you done to my vision.” The mix is off on this since they don’t lower the volume of the film. Lay has to compete with his actors to be heard.

The Making Chrysalis Featurette (36:02) gives an extensive look at how the project came together.

Trailer (0:49) gives the movie a fast cut adrenaline rush.

Ray Bradbury’s Chrysalis keeps a literary science fiction film focused on the words instead of dazzling you with nonsense chases, effects and blasts. Watching Smith getting taken over by the plants is creepy. The movie keeps a certain realism to it’s vision of a self-destructing tomorrow.

E1 Entertainment presents Ray Bradbury’s Chrysalis. Directed by: Tony Baez Milan. Starring: John Klemantaski, Darren Kendrick, Glen Vaughan and Corey Landis. Running Time: 84 minutes. Rated: PG-13. Released on DVD: July 27, 2010.

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