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David Cronenberg
Julianne Moore, Mia Wasakowska, Robert Pattinson
Writing Credits:
Bruce Wagner

A tour into the heart of a Hollywood family chasing celebrity, one another and the relentless ghosts of their pasts.

Rated R.

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 112 min.
Price: $34.98
Release Date: 5/8/2015

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Maps to the Stars [Blu-Ray] (2014)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (July 4, 2023)

Apparently eager to shed the “brooding hunk” image he gained from the Twilight franchise, Robert Pattinson collaborated with oddball director David Cronenberg for 2012’s Cosmopolis. Apparently both sides felt satisfied with this, as the pair reunited for 2014’s Maps to the Stars.

13-year-old Benjie Weiss (Evan Bird) starred in the hit comedy film Bad Babysitter but needed to go to rehab due to drug issues. Now back home, the arrogant and entitled youngster plans a comeback via a Bad Babysitter sequel.

This potentially hits a snarl when his schizophrenic older sister Agatha (Mia Wasakowska) gets out of a mental hospital and returns to see her relatives. Along with limo driver Jerome Fontana (Pattinson), she seeks to reunite with her family and attempt her own Hollywood career.

That synopsis simplifies matters, as it comes with many adult characters, all of whom betray their own issues. We also meet Benjie’s famous self-help guru dad Stafford (John Cusack), his manager mother Cristina (Olivia Williams) and Stafford’s actor client Havana Segrand (Julianne Moore).

Maps melds these stories into a form of “Hollywood exposé”, though not one that persistently sticks with reality. Given Cronenberg behind the camera, one must expect some warped elements.

That said, Maps tends to feel outside of the Cronenberg oeuvre. At one point, a character refers to Paul Thomas Anderson, and that feels like a wink, as Map< comes across as a conscious echo of that director’s style.

Some of that relates to the multi-character focus, of course. Maps interweaves roles in the neo-Altman style Anderson favors.

In addition, some of that connects to the cynicism on display. Cronenberg often leans dark and weird, and that tendency becomes more prominent as the film proceeds. Without the use of spoilers, I’ll just say that a major – and shocking – revelation shows up at the start of the third act, and the film goes more “out there” the rest of the way.

All of this shows some promise, but Maps feels too muddled to really succeed. Cronenberg creates an awkward combination of themes and topics that doesn’t connect in the end.

As noted, we see a lot of Anderson here, and the movie really does start out like it wants to offer a black comedy about Those Awful Hollywood People. For instance, our intro to Benjie shows him as he meets a dying fan in a “Make a Wish”-style situation.

Benjie mistakenly thinks she suffers from AIDS, and when he finds it the child will die from Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma instead, he berates his manager. From Minute One, the movie makes it clear – via some dark comedy – that Benjie will offer an uncaring prick.

Maps comes with more of that domain the rest of the way, but it indulges in the aforementioned family dynamics/melodrama as well as more psychological domains. In particular, many of the characters feel haunted by literal ghosts, and those elements add some depth to the proceedings.

In theory, at least. In reality, Maps feels too much like a hodgepodge of genres and topics to explore any of them well.

While I respect that Maps doesn’t just offer yet another catty swipe at Hollywood bad behavior, the film would probably work better if it did. The end product aspires to thematic success it can’t achieve, and it never develops any domains in a particularly successful manner.

When the movie goes Full Cronenberg Weird in the third act, it tends to seem a bit gratuitous. It feels like the director knew viewers would expect that kind of tone and figured he’d better deliver it eventually.

At its worst, Maps remains pretty watchable, and it comes with interesting moments. It just doesn’t work on a consistent basis.

The Disc Grades: Picture B+/ Audio B-/ Bonus D-

Maps to the Stars appears in an aspect ratio of 1.85:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. The movie offered a pretty solid presentation.

Sharpness worked fine. A few interiors leaned a little soft, but the majority of the film seemed accurate and well-defined.

No issues with jagged edges or moiré effects materialized, and I saw no edge haloes. Source flaws remained absent.

Colors felt subdued, with a light green and amber vibe. The hues felt appropriately depicted.

Blacks appeared deep and dense, while shadows seemed smooth and clear. Thus turned into a more than satisfactory presentation.

Don’t expect sonic fireworks from the film’s DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack, as it largely stayed low-key. Parties showed some involvement but even those remained laid-back, so the mix never featured much to make the soundscape come to life.

Audio quality was good, with speech that came across as natural and concise. Music showed appealing range and clarity.

As noted, effects played a minor role, but they seemed accurate and tight. The audio suited the story, even if the mix lacked much ambition.

The disc opens with ads for Fifty Shades of Grey and Black Sea. No trailer for Maps - or other extras – appear here.

David Cronenberg takes on Hollywood excess in the inconsistent Maps to the Stars. While intermittently interesting, the movie as a whole fails to gel. The Blu-ray comes with very good picture, adequate audio and no bonus materials. Maps offers an unusual entry in the Cronenberg canon but it’s not a great one.

Viewer Film Ratings: 2 Stars Number of Votes: 1
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