Pathology Review

Pathology-ReviewThanks for checking out our Pathology review. For anyone who has been reading The Movie Blog for the last year or so, you know one film that I’ve gotten myself quite invested in is “Pathology”. I visited the set last year and was completely blown away by what I saw there. I’ve done a lot of set visits this past year… but none of them impressed me like this one. Ever since I’ve been anxiously awaiting the opportunity to see the full version.

In the name of full discloser I should mention that since that time I’ve become friends with Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor (the writers and producers of the film, who also wrote and directed the Jason Statham film Crank). I admire both these guys for their talent and unique style of filmmaking. I’ve also hung out with Milo Ventimiglia (the star of the film) on several occasions and have had him on our Uncut Live show. I’m going to give you my 100% honest opinion on this film, but I tell you all that so that you can decide how big of a grain of salt you take with my praise and criticisms of the film. With that out of the way, let’s move on.

THE GENERAL IDEA

The synopsis of Pathology looks something like this: “Milo Ventimiglia (of the blockbuster TV series Heroes), headlines this dark crime thriller, which marks the sophomore directorial outing of Marc Schoelermann, following the 2006 telemovie Hexxx. Ventimiglia portrays a young intern, newly arrived at the University Hospital in Philadelphia, who stumbles onto a psychopathic group of colleagues playing a vile game. They regularly select one of their members (on a rotational basis) to commit the “perfect murder,” while the rest use forensic methods to try to determine exactly how the homicide was executed. Alyssa Milano (of TV’s Who’s the Boss? and Charmed) co-stars as Ventimiglia’s fiancée, while thesps Johnny Whitworth and Lauren Lee Smith are among the perpetrators.”

THE GOOD

The very first thing I have to mention about Pathology is the performance of Michael Weston. I knew very little about Weston before this movie other than his role in “The Last Kiss” and recurring roles on “Scrubs”. To be honest, I thought he was just a warm body to fill screen space with. In hindsight, that was probably more to do with the fact that there wasn’t much for his character to do. But as the main antagonist in Pathology, Weston is given the opportunity to take the gloves off and really shine…. and shine he does! He absolutely steals every second of every scene that he’s on screen for. Intensity mixed with some genius, a dash of madness and a whole bucketful of perversion. Regardless of how well or poorly Pathology does, I believe we’re going to see a lot more of Michael Weston in the future. At least I hope we do.

The overall premise of the film is great and plays out quite well. The idea of a bunch of doctors whose job it is to figure out how people died… who themselves go out and kill people to try to stump their partners on how they did it. Great movies start with great ideas… great ideas can cover up certain other flaws in a film much like great laughs in a comedy can for otherwise bad movies.

Milo Ventimiglia proves he can indeed carry a feature film. Playing a morally ambiguous character like he does isn’t easy to pull off. He’s not the good guy… he’s not the bad guy… but he is good… and he is indeed bad… it’s a bit confusing. Yet somehow Ventimiglia finds a way to portray this character and never seem out of sync with what he’s supposed to be. The performance never contradicts itself, it’s never misleading… Ventimiglia makes you as torn about if he’s an angel or a devil as much as the character himself is.

The film promises to be sick, intense and sexy. And it does indeed deliver on all three promises. One of the earmarks of a Neveldine/Taylor written film is a “fun” factor that will sometimes supersede the “real world” or common sense mentalities that most films (as they should) strive to maintain. The movie, in all it’s seriousness, still wants to make it’s main goal to entertain the audience, and I think it succeeds on that level. I mean, I’ve never seen hotter sex scenes beside a corpse in my life. Damn Lauren Lee Smith and Mei Melançon are hot. God bless America!

I fricking loved Keir O’Donnell in this flick (you might remember him as the gay painter and younger brother in “Wedding Crashers”). I can’t say why I loved him so much in this film…. but you’ll see.

THE BAD

Director Marc Schoelermann has some growing to do as a feature film director. While Marc does a solid job of maintaining that feeling of intensity through the film, he failed to give the film any sense of flow. The awkward and sometimes jarring and unnatural transitions between certain scenes didn’t seem to work together and sometimes pulled you out of the movie for a few moments.

My dear lord, without a doubt the single worst scene I’ve seen in a movie this year is in Pathology. I can’t give too much of it away, but approaching the end of the film, Milo has a scene with John de Lancie (“Q” from the various Star Trek shows) who plays Milo’s boss at the county morgue. The two are having a conversation and the scene is so badly shot, so badly acted that I had to restrain a loud groan from coming out of my lips. No really… the scene really is that bad. How on earth the director filmed this scene and then said “Yeah, that’s good. That’s a wrap!” is completely beyond me.

Pathology has a very interesting group of supporting characters and actors filling those roles… but sadly they’re horribly underused almost to the point that you’re left wondering why they’re even there in the first place. The funniest guy in the film is the character played by Johnny Whitworth (Empire Records, CSI Miami), but he’s not utilized in the least. I think he maybe had 5 lines in the film. Mei Melançon had about 3 lines. Dan Callahan maybe 2. These are the doctors killing people whom the story arcs around and yet they’re given no attention whatsoever. Yes Weston and Ventimiglia are your two main characters, but you have to budget your time to take advantage of other elements of your story as well. I think these supporting characters were a real missed opportunity to add more flavor and depth to the film.

OVERALL

Pathology ends up being a smart, sexy, sick and somewhat twisted thriller that is quite enjoyable and a lot of fun to watch. The movie is hindered by lack of flow to the story telling, one of the worst scenes I’ve seen in years and a regrettably misused set of supporting characters, but overall still a great time at the theater. What can I say? I think it’s a great movie! Overall I give Pathology a 7.5 out of 10. Catch it this weekend if you have the chance.

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40 thoughts on “Pathology Review

  1. (Type your comment here. Make sure you’ve read the commenting rules before doing so)i am seeing it this weekend im sooo excited

  2. I read a Pathology review on the BBC and one from another magazine and they gave it a terrible review. However, I was glad to find your review and another one on bloody disgusting. I thought it was really entertaining visually, it had a great story, and it was pretty shocking at times. Although I agree about what you said about the flow, and not using enough of the characters. I also think Milo was pretty “wooden” as I’ve heard people say!! But maybe that’s what the film needed. I also think the pretty disguting review had a good point about it having a little message along the lines of humans being animals that kill. As for the biast argument, that’s what I thought straight away when I read your first paragraph. However, I definitely think you tried your best not be and it didn’t come across like it either! Anyway enjoyed reading ! :D xxx

  3. There were reviews in San Francisco, in the advertiser I believe.

    Just watched Pathology on Saturday and while I thought it was good, I gotta agree that the supporting cast was not used at all. My sister watched it with me (she works at a local theater so we watch stuff for free) and she was unaware of one of the characters in the back so when he died she didn’t know who he was.
    Perhaps, because of Crank, I was expecting a bit more energy, but this movie just didn’t deliver all that it could. That being said, I did enjoy.

  4. So they’ve relied entirely on web banner ads and appearances on your show? Don’t you think this is a weak marketing plan? I’m serious when I say I have not seen even one trailer showing in theaters for it. I think by almost any measure this is an incredibly weak marketing campaign. I’m surprised you haven’t discussed this more.

    I’m just really fascinated that this site is the only place it’s discussed. The enthusiasm with which you’ve engaged with the filmmakers has been fun to listen to and if that kind of engagement was spread more around the film community, and reflected in the overall marketing of the film I’m sure it could have had a stronger opening. The numbers are abysmal and surprising.

    I thought you guys had really effectively created some buzz for it. I was excited for the film, but realized I wasn’t hearing anything about it anywhere else.

    I plan to see it this weekend hopefully, but it has been reduced to one daily showing – yes, just one screening time on one screen in San Francisco. It’s a matinee screening at 12:20. That can not be good.

  5. I just checked my local reviews in San Francisco (I was out of town on business over the weekend so didn’t see that it had opened here). The SF Chronicle, the big daily in SF didn’t even write a review. Yikes.

    Didn’t crack the top 50 in box office either. How did it do? Any per screen numbers? When is wide release scheduled?

  6. Hey SFSILVER

    Actually, Pathology ads have been up all over the web. There was no TV campaign.

    And yes, I really can say I’m not a critic… because I’m not. I never identify myself as a critic during interviews… so I’m not sure where you got that from.

  7. I’m concerned that the only marketing I’ve seen or heard for this film is on this site. I go to at least two films every weekend. I watch a variety of TV programs and channels from Network to Cable from NBC to MTV to Bravo and I have not seen a single preview or poster in any theaters, or seen any commercials on TV. What’s going on. I’m excited about the film from all I’ve heard on this site, but I don’t think the general public even knows it exists.

    I have no issues with John’s objectivity in the review. Undeniably his relationship with the filmmakers colors the way I read it, but I know that going in. But John, you can’t write reviews, ask Jennifer from Rotten Tomatoes why she hasn’t interviewed you for her critics series, identify yourself as a critic on profiles or interviews, and now claim to not be a film critic. Own it baby!

  8. I saw it over the weekend and I enjoyed it. It reminded me of devils advocate for some reason. I thought it was a nice twisted little thriller.
    Not too bad.

  9. @ Michael

    it’s called an opinion. And i base my statement on the fact that i haven’t seen any other film promoted as much on this site as Pathology.

  10. @Dean,

    I think you’re making a lot of assumptions and have nothing to base your statements on. So far, other reviews, like the one over at BloodyDisgusting are all pretty much in line with John’s review.

    This was a fair and balanced review. For you to say: “John rated this film so highly due to a relationship with the filmmakers” is nothing but baseless speculation on your part and pretty much disproved by this review and other reviews.

  11. Dean, I agree with you. You can’t review a movie fairly if you spend so much time with the people who made it. Nice to hear I am not alone. So many people are feeling just like you. Already brought this up with John on this wall.

    Dan

  12. I have just recently finished watching Adam Curtis’ “Century of the Self”, a documentary about how Freudian techniques were adopted by advertising agencies and how advertisers ultimately give us things we don’t need. I thought i was impervious to this until today.

    I went to the cinema, my choices were Street Kings, Untraceable, Taken and Pathology. Due to the bombardment of Pathology related articles and that bloody trailer stuck to every post, we went with that. I realise now that advertising does give us things we don’t need, as i did not need to see Pathology, ever.

    I definitely think John rated this film so highly due to a relationship with the filmmakers, and the money they must be paying for their trailer everywhere and i think that is a shame.

    this is a nothing post, but i feel i had to say something as the reason i saw this flm was due to this site.

  13. John,

    This was a great review. Unlike Harry Knowles who praises all his friends’ films to the high heavens (he gave an extremely positive review for Spider-Man 3, if I remember), you see your friends’ work as a film that NEEDS to be criticized if there are negatives and not just praised upon with every word.

    And this is why I dislike Harry Knowles’ reviews. Instead of writing a great review explaining the positives and negatives of the film, he tends to go off on tangents of how he remembers when he was little, what he was doing before he watched said film, etc. This is why the only reviewer I actually trust on AICN is Moriarty (Drew McWeeny). His reviews are not just real reviews but they also are critical. Moriarty’s film knowledge is also informative and quite commendable compared to Knowles.

  14. I’m usually one of the naysayers when it comes to some of the opinions on this site but I think John called it perfectly, he highlighted the shortcomings of film and also made of us aware of the good points (which I agree on). I ve been watching a lot of scrubs lately so it was weird seeing weston but hes got one of those faces thats made for drama.

  15. Hey Jay C

    You said:

    “However, I think there’s no denying that it will alienate some people when it comes to review time”

    I think you’re totally right, but I’m comfortable with that. “SOME PEOPLE” will be put off by it, however I’ve come to learn that “some people” will be put off regardless of what you do at anything. Therefore, I find what works for me, and go with it.

    Regarding the “film critic” thing…. do people still use MSN? :P

    We’ve actually had (not you and I) this conversation on here before… sometime when I need to tell someone what I do without the opportunity to explain it (like a 7 word blurb on MSN) and I actually want people to have SOME idea of what I’m talking about, then I just say “film critic” because that will at least give them some sort of idea of what I do…. instead of saying “blogger” which will leave most people clueless and confused.

    It’s sort of the same reason when I’m in the US and someone asks me where I’m from, I’ll tell them “Toronto”, because then at least they’ll have some concept of the geography of where I’m from…. if I told them “Hamilton”, they’d have zero idea if that was closer to Vancouver or Toronto.

  16. By pick one, I mean blogger or film critic. And that was in response to the quote: “So yeah man, if you’re looking for a professional film critic, I totally see what you’re saying, but that’s not me, nor is it something I ever pretend to be.”

  17. Sorry, couldn’t resist this.

    I think becoming buddies with film maker’s is totally fine and definitely a perk to running a successful movie website. However, I think there’s no denying that it will alienate some people when it comes to review time.

    No matter how you approach it, honest or dishonest, you’ll be called on it. If the score is too high, you’re biased. If the score is low or mid-range, you’re simply reacting to accusations of being biased. It’s a lose lose situation in which I think the only option is to pass the review on to someone else simply to avoid any concern.

    And in regards to the blogger vs. film critic defense…again, I can’t help but chuckle at you’re (John’s) msn profile, which lists your occupation as ‘film critic and film maker’. Again, for the sake of any sort of alienation, I think I would just pick one.

    But hey, who am I to talk about alienating listeners and readers? :P

  18. CRAIG
    TO JOHN,

    Understand what you are saying and will go along with that..you like to review as a movie fan and that’s why i come onto the site because my tastes normally match with yours, but not with Pathology………Nice to see you read the comments though..Still use this as my no.1 site for finding out future movie news.

    Dan (not craig (brother) – use his login info on here)

  19. Hey NBAKid

    While they were filming Pathology, Neveldine/Taylor had 3 other movies in development at the same time… they just didn’t have the time to direct Pathology themselves.

  20. I think your credibility goes way up by this review. You’ve become friendly with these guys and still offer some criticisms.

    Doubt I’ll ever watch this one but still thought I’d chime in on this.

  21. Yeah, I wasn’t worried that John would be totally biased towards this movie. I knew he WAS biased but I wasn’t worried he’d give it a 9 or 10. If he had that would’ve raised red flags in my mind.

    John, where’s the theater list?

  22. Hey Craig,

    You said:

    “I have lost a lot of respect for this movie site as the reviews are not neutral.”

    Hey man, I respect where you’re coming from, but I don’t think you understand what this site is. This isn’t some traditional news site, nor am I a “film critic”. I’m not. I’m a blogger and a film fan. I’m not a football referee.

    I just share my thoughts, opinions, experiences and stuff with regards to anything that has to do with the movies. I’m not meant to “stay above it all” or stay “neutral”.

    So yeah man, if you’re looking for a professional film critic, I totally see what you’re saying, but that’s not me, nor is it something I ever pretend to be. Cheers!

  23. I actually think, John, that you vindicated yourself with this review contrary to some posters. You gave good points and bad points and gave it a solid but not ecstatic 7.5. Had it been a 9 or something I would be suspicious. I also remember on one of the podcasts that you were praying it didn’t suck so you would not have to give it a bad review and you said this right to their faces which was nice to hear. I have been interested in seeing this only because I liked Crank but I never watched Heroes so I can’t say anything about Milo. I might give this a shot but I did want to add that i am finding the comments about your objectivity to be overblown.

  24. It’s a tough call. I want to see “Forbidden Kingdom” this wkd. But here’s the thing. I’m not going to jump on a bandwagon and say Campea has a bias. Here’s why:

    1) I haven’t seen the film yet. If I see the film and think it’s a piece of stinking shit then maybe I’ll question Campea’s sanity. I still think Crank is a chunk of stinking dog shit, by the way. With flies. However…

    2) Even if I wound up hating this film…what if I hate the scenes Gio *also* didn’t care for? This alone doesn’t make him “bias”. He did have some *major* criticisms of the film. I’d call the “Wasting acting talent” on the director’s part a major critique. And, then, if I do see this film, there is that, slim, off-chance of a possibility:

    3) I wind up liking the film as much (or more) than he did.

    4) Where’s my bias? Like I said… I hated Crank. Does that mean I’m going to skip Pathology? Not really. But if filmmakers/writers like Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor want to give interviews and such to places like The Movie Blog, then do *all* internet film sites have an equal bias? No. They give interviews and reports just like anyone else.

  25. You have become so biased towards this film – just because you are rubbing shoulders with the cast etc. Just like Midnight train…I have lost a lot of respect for this movie site as the reviews are not neutral. you wouldnt see a football referee going for drinks with the players after a game!

  26. I thought it was a solid good movie. Weston is bloody awesome in it giving off a Patrick Bateman feel. I liked the gore and the women were hot!!!!

    I didn’t dig Milo in this movie. On paper I loved the character, he is not the person you think he is, but the preformance was so wooden. Weston for me made up for that. Also like you said John some character were so under used. Some parts I saw coming which should have been shocking.

    I’d give it a go.

  27. It’ll be interesting to see how this flick does this weekend. I have to say, I’m not predicting a stellar performance, regardless of the quality of the flick.

    I base this mainly on the fact that we just had a horror/thriller movie last weekend (Prom Night, which as horrible as it apparently was, made $20 million or so) and that it’s opening against Forgetting Sarah Marshall, which has been marketed far more effectively and is made by the Apatow Power Team, who can do no wrong these days. In my opinion, this doesn’t bode well for Pathology.

  28. I saw it last week, and as much as I wanted to like it after all of the buzz the movie blog has been generating about it – I thought it was just terrible…

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