CHICAGO – The issue of gender identity, especially for those who are born with a vagueness as to what to call themselves between/beyond boy and girl, has come front and center in the U.S., both with the legalization of gay marriage and the callous repudiation of identity by trying to pass laws dismissing it (the North Carolina “bathroom” laws). The performance companies of The Living Canvas and Nothing Without a Company is currently staging “[Trans]formation,” which presents gender identity art by six performers, who perform most of the play in the nude.
Blu-Ray Review: ‘Prison Break: The Final Break’ a Lackluster Epilogue
CHICAGO – Very few shows have plummeted as far from their peak to their ignominious end as did Fox’s once-great “Prison Break”. For proof, look no further than the misguided “Prison Break: The Final Break,” what is essentially a straight-to-DVD epilogue at least here in the United States.
Blu-Ray Rating: 2.0/5.0
“The Final Break” is a film of roughly two-episode length that actually aired overseas but was basically encapsulated in a coda here on the final episode of the show in May. The broadcast finale skipped from the downfall of The Company to reveal that Michael Scofield had died. How did that happen? Find out in “The Final Break,” which, believe it or not, involves one more character going to jail and trying to escape. They sure knew how to beat a dead horse the last few years.
The first season and most of the second were clever thrill rides, a mini-action film every week with enough twists and turns to allow for the necessary quotient of suspension of disbelief. Sure, it was mostly nonsense, but Dominic Purcell and Wentworth Miller worked as square-jawed heroes and the supporting cast was interesting in their own right.
When they started killing off the supporting cast (and then bringing them back from the dead), “Prison Break” jumped the shark. Specifically, when the gang all went back to jail, this time south of the border, for the dirty, dark, uninvolving third season. By the fourth season, when the gang was acting like “Mission: Impossible” spies, the show was spinning out of control.
To that end, it’s somewhat refreshing to see “Prison Break” back to its first-season core - the American prison system.
Prison Break: The Final Break was released on Blu-Ray on July 21st, 2009.
Photo credit: Fox
At the beginning of “The Final Break,” Sara (Sarah Wayne Callies) is arrested for the murder of Christina Scofield during her own wedding reception to Michael (Wentworth Miller). Of course, Sara isn’t even tried before she’s thrown into gen. pop. and before people are trying to kill her. What people? Gretchen (Jodi Lyn O’Keefe), of course, a former villain who happens to be in the same cell block.
When General Krantz (Leon Russom) and T-Bag (Robert Knepper) find out that Sara is being held at - wait for it - the neighboring female prison, they launch their own offensive to try and take down the new wife of their enemy.
With all of these forces working against Sara from the inside and out, Michael and Lincoln (Dominic Purcell) come to the conclusion that there’s only one way to save her life and they’re going to need the help of the over-loyal Sucre (Amaury Nolasco) and a questionable Alexander Mahone (William Fichtner) to get her to safety.
It sounds like enough for a season of material, right? It might have even made a better season than three or four. Crammed into one movie that runs about the length of two episodes? It’s a narrative mess with each twist being pushed on to the next one and the coincidences and cliches coming too quickly to be ignored.
“The Final Break” misses the strength of seasons one and two - the build-up. Watching Michael and Lincoln work their way to safety and trying to escape the law in season two worked when twists came at the end of each episode, allowing viewers to forgive ridiculous plotlines because they just had to see what happened next. “The Final Break” is ALL “what happened next.” Even Purcell and Miller seem tired of playing these characters.
As for bright spots, it is nice to get more closure on characters that we spent four years chasing or running with. The final fates of Michael, T-Bag, and Gretchen should have been more explosive on Fox in the series finale, not on a Blu-Ray released two months later, but I suppose it’s better than nothing.
As for the Blu-Ray release, “The Final Break” feels like as much of an afterthought as the coda that ended the show in the States. These episodes aired overseas, so they might as well put them on Blu-Ray. The transfer is unremarkable at best, looking about as good as an upconverted DVD. It doesn’t even look as crisp as the show did in its Fox HD original broadcast. And special features about the end of the series? Keep looking. All you’ll find are some deleted scenes. After watching the movie itself, you’ll probably agree that there should have been a few more deleted scenes, maybe even a few deleted seasons.