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'The Experiment' DVD Review

About.com Rating 3.5 Star Rating
User Rating 1 Star Rating (1 Review)

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'The Experiment' DVD © Sony

The Bottom Line

A taut, well-acted remake that arguably outperforms the original.
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Pros

  • Great cast
  • Good pace
  • Acutely observational drama

Cons

  • Removes some of the depth of the original

Description

  • Starring Adrien Brody, Forest Whitaker, Cam Gigandet, Clifton Collins Jr., Fisher Stevens, Maggie Grace
  • Directed by Paul T. Scheuring
  • Rated R
  • DVD Release Date: September 21, 2010

Guide Review - 'The Experiment' DVD Review

Desperate for money after being laid off from his job at a nursing home, free spirit Travis (Adrien Brody) finds hope in a newspaper ad for a "safe" two-week "behavioral experiment" that pays $1,000 a day. The exorbitant amount should make him suspicious, but he proceeds, and after a series of probing questions and a disturbing, mind-programming film, he's chosen for the study.

The director of the experiment (Fisher Stevens) informs the subjects -- all men -- that they will simulate a prison environment, with a select few playing guards and the bulk of the group playing convicts. Mild-mannered mama's boy Michael (Forest Whitaker), with whom Travis initially bonded, is chosen as a guard, while Travis joins the prison population.

The prisoners are given a few basic rules -- basically amounting to obeying the guards at all times -- while the guards are told to exact punishment for infractions in any matter short of physical abuse. Initially, things are lighthearted, but both the crimes and the punishments become increasingly serious by the day. All rules go out the window as the guards, under Michael's command, turn to brutality and the prisoners, led by Travis, teeter on the breaking point.

The Experiment is one of those rare remakes that does the original -- the 2001 German film Das Experiment -- justice, and in some respects, actually outperforms the original. It's certainly hard to match the star power of two Academy Award-winning lead actors in Brody and Whitaker, and even if they don't give Oscar-worthy performances here, they're still captivating. The supporting cast is strong as well, including Cam Gigandet, Clifton Collins Jr., Fisher Stevens and Maggie Grace.

The remake's plot is basically the same but with a few notable alterations that simplify (and shorten) the story and improve the narrative flow. In the American version, the experiment has more of an anonymous Big Brother nature that makes it clear that the subjects are on their own, ratcheting up the stakes, while the Travis/Prisoner 77 character is caught unawares by the experiment, unlike the original, where he's a reporter hoping to expose the study. The ending of the new film too feels more impactful and profound, tying into the surreal nature of the experiment itself.

In the end, though, both versions are thrilling, acute observations on human nature and group dynamics. You can't go wrong with either.

The DVD

No special features.

Movie: B
DVD: F

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Disclosure: A review copy was provided by the distributor. For more information, please see our Ethics Policy.
User Reviews

Reviews for this section have been closed.

 1 out of 5
The experiment, Member lordarmagoth

This movie had a decent story line, nothing great but the ending flat out sucked, big time. I would never recomend it to anyone. It makes you think it is gonna be awesome and then wham! it sucks, surley the worst movie I have seen this year. I was more happy with how to train your dragon, witch I watched earlier with a kid. Dont ever watch this movie.

7 out of 33 people found this helpful.

Mark H. Harris

Mark H. Harris
About.com Horror & Suspense Movies

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