"Million Dollar Hotel" is an often unwatchable effort from director Wim Wenders, whose career has often provided excellent efforts. It's one of the few Mel Gibson efforts that pretty much went directly to video - reportedly after Gibson was terribly unhappy with the final product. Yet, at the same time, U2 singer Bono (who also came up with the story) was trying to get the film seen by a wider audience.
In the middle of it all, we have a film that simply never gets started and often becomes tedious and slow. The film stars Mel Gibson as Agent Skinner, an FBI agent who comes to a old, run-down hotel that houses a wealth of characters - one stranger and more cliched than the last. Leading the group is Tom Tom (Jeremy Davies), who leads us through the group as he searches for Eloise(Milla Jovovich), the elusive girl that he's fallen for.
Gibson's character comes to the hotel to investigate the death of the son of a rich mogul, and finds himself coming to understand the oddballs that live in the hotel. Not only did I find myself not caring an ounce about these characters, but I often found them irritating and unlikable. Gibson's performance is easily one of his worst, as he carries a look on his face throughout the entire movie that makes it seem as if he's pondering what the hell he's doing there - he absolutely looks as if he knows what he's gotten himself into and later, apparently admited - in no uncertain terms - his thoughts about the film.
I'm curious as to what he's doing there, as well. Although Wenders is a director who obviously has a strong past record, it should have been easily apparent that this is a screenplay that no one could have made filmable. At 122 minutes, the film becomes almost unbearable, with poor performances making nothing out of these weird characters who are involved in a story that goes absolutely, positively nowhere.
There are a few very minor positive aspects of the film, but they are not anywhere to be found on-screen. Although Bono's screenplay is definitely not good, his contribution to the score is quite nice. Phedon Papamichael's cinematography is also good, capturing the completely uninteresting events of the characters with at least a mildly interesting visual style.
VIDEO: Studio has not provided an anamorphic presentation for "Million Dollar Hotel" and the non-anamorphic effort here often makes a hard to watch movie even more difficult to view. Sharpness and detail vary throughout - some scenes look almost too sharp, with an edgy look. Some scenes are passably well-defined, while other sequences and some darker scenes appear soft and occasionally rather hazy.
And that's certainly not all. Shimmering is the most irritating of the presentation's many problems. Although this isn't consistently visible, it occasionally appeared to an annoying level. Pixelation was also apparent on occasion, and print flaws also came into play in the form of slight marks and speckles throughout. Some scenes also appeared lightly grainy.
Colors were not particularly pleasant. As this certainly isn't a happy movie, color remain dark and murky - occasionally here they not only looked murky, but somewhat muddy. It quickly becomes obvious that the studio didn't put a great deal of effort into this release and it's definitely an unenjoyable viewing experience that compliments an already unenjoyable movie.
SOUND: Although "Million Dollar Hotel"'s Dolby Digital 5.1 presentation isn't anything particularly good, it's certainly better than the image quality. The score by Bono and others recieves the most attention in the audio presentation, consistently filling the room and often offered by the surrounds. Audio quality for the score was enjoyable, comes through clearly and crisply.
Surrounds really aren't used for anything besides the score, with a couple of very slight exceptions. Dialogue remained usually clear, although many of the actors mumble their lines, making it occasionally hard to hear.
MENUS:: A slight clip leads us into a main menu with an animated background that also has the score playing.
EXTRAS: Commentary with director Wim Wenders and Bono, trailer, behind-the-scenes footage and interviews. Commentary is accessable from the "audio" menu but not the "extras" menu.
Final Thoughts: Simple recommendation: skip it. Terrible film, awful image quality and certainly not even worth a rental.
The Film 1/2 * (out of 4)
Video 65/D = (260/400 possible points)
Audio: 86/B = (344/400 possible points)
Extras: 80/B- = (240/300 possible points)
Menus: 80/B- = (160/200 possible points)
Value: 70/C- = (210/300 possible points)
FILM GRADE: 1/2 * (Out of 4)
DVD GRADE: C