DVD - 1999
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A young woman doctor is determined to discover why healthy patients are slipping into irreversible comas during routine operations and uncovers a medical research horror.
Publisher: Burbank, CA : Warner Home Video, c1999.
Edition: Widescreen and standard.
ISBN: 9780790743677
Characteristics: 1 videodisc (113 min.) :,sd., col. ;,12 cm.


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Oct 24, 2019

What a great oldie movie. Parts were just creepy with frozen things and hanging things.

Sep 14, 2015

This movie represents late 70's awesomeness: dark wood paneling and a young Michael Douglas and Tom Selleck. Does a great job of following the book.

May 19, 2015

Nobody wants to be in a hospital, but even still, there's a trustworthy bond between patient and doctor. People put their confidence in doctors and nurses solely based on their occupation. Though largely flat and unambitious, Michael Crichton's Coma preys off society's blind approval of hospital staff. As the formulaic and methodically-paced plot unravels, it's revealed to be a conspiracy-thriller about a corrupt hospital and their nefarious ways. It's originality is through transferring the iconic horror locale of a dark castle or mysterious laboratory into a modern state of the art hospital to update and even disguise a familiar cliché.

The antiseptic aura of the Boston Memorial Hospital establishes a feeling all viewers can connect to; the boredom of spending time in a medical centre. Because of this truth the audience can recognize, we're filled with a sense of familiarity that Crichton intends to shatter. As the film goes on and the mystery deepens, the hospital seems to shape-shift into a dark and shadowy backdrop for something sinister. It's then we can no longer recognize such an institute from our own lives, but because Crichton initiates the story on comfortable ground, he's able to pull us along with a perfect grip.

When the protagonist (Geneviève Bujold) investigates "The Jefferson Institute", an ultramodern hospital for comatose victims, we're engrossed by the splendid photography and set design. Captured in neon purple light, the patients are suspended by cords, and floating in the middle of the room. This type of visual playfulness and creativity is hardly ever found in the film, making this sequence highly memorable.

Bujold's performance as a heroine, frantically paranoid and obsessed with uncovering answers, is nothing short of remarkable. The film would likely crumble into a state of unbelievable mediocrity if it weren't for her constant seriousness and energy to hold it all together. Despite a half-baked script to base her character on, Bujold acts with impeccable resilience; demonstrating the confusion and curiosity a person in her shoes would experience. Even during the weakest of moments (a horrendously scripted and directed chase scene) her intensity makes the scene almost feel engaging and tense.

Coma 's flaw is in its lack of style. It has little exuberance, no genuine terror or intentional humour, making it a dull viewing. Arthur Hiller's The Hospital deals with the same themes of medical corruption, but does so in a far more astute manner, using dark satire to make its mark. Coma has the occasional suspenseful scene, but overall is as plain as the walls in the Boston Memorial Hospital.

A very curious choice (and an indescribably misguided one) Crichton makes is found during the climax. During the height of the action, the film cuts to a nurse describing Bujold's "innie" bellybutton to Richard Widmark's character. Why would the filmmaker choose to disrupt the tension for such an inane comment? Should this be an attempt at comedy, it's awfully jarring considering how straightforward and humorless the rest of the film chooses to be.

As is the case in most thrillers, Hitchcock's influence is highly evident. As the master and innovator of suspenseful filmmaking, he's the ideal figure to take notes from. Here, we can see a tribute to Hitchcock in the way Crichton uses sound. For the first approximate forty-five minutes the movie is without music. Much like the heart-pounding scenes of Rear Window , Coma uses the element of silence to be gripping through the tool of realism. But at other times, the Jerry Goldsmith score can be heard loud and clear, wailing in sharp and intimidating tones. An instance of a kettle screeching also helps create an auditory soundscape to immerse the viewer.

It's a cheap film, often in appearance, but mostly in content. The script is pedestrian, but offers some entertainment and room for individuals involved in the filmmaking process to shine.

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