• Cargo (Umbrella Entertainment) Blu-ray Review

    Released by: Umbrella Entertainment
    Released on: September 5th, 2018.
    Director: Ben Howling, Yolanda Ramke
    Cast:Martin Freeman, Anthony Hayes, Susie Porter, Natasha Wanganeen

    Year: 2017n
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    Cargo – Movie Review:

    Writer Yolanda Ramke co-directed 2017’s Cargo with Ben Howling. When the story begins, Andy (Martin Freeman) and his wife Kay (Susie Porter) have taken refuge with their infant daughter Rosie in a houseboat hoping to stay safe, away from a contagion that has broken out across the country. Things are fine at first, they have the solitude they want, but eventually they are attacked by the infected. With Kay seriously injured, Andy brings them to shore hoping to find help for her. Things don’t work out quite as well as he had hoped and shortly after, Andy is infected himself.

    With little time left, he takes Rosie and heads out into the country in hopes of finding someone to care for her before he transforms into the very same kind of creature that just killed his wife. The further inland he goes, the more Andy starts to believe that Rosie’s best shot at surviving lies with the Aboriginal people in the Outback. This won’t be easy, however, as they’re not particularly enamored with the idea given Andy’s current state. He becomes more hopeful when he befriends an Aboriginal girl named Thoomi (Simone Landers), hoping she’ll be able to convince her people to help him out, but she’s more interested in trying to get help for her father, recently infected himself.

    Slow moving but beautifully shot, Cargo isn’t quite your typical zombie apocalypse movie. It’s languid pacing (which likely stems from turning the short movie that inspired this feature into 105-minute production) and lack of scares might leave some disappointed, but if you’re okay with the story moving as slowly as it does the film has a good bit of merit. It’s a really, really nice-looking movie that features some impressive location photography and it benefits from strong sound design. It has as strong score and, despite a modest budget, good production values.

    The focus of the film is much more centered on Andy’s plight and his relationship with Rosie and Thoomi than it is on flesh-eating hordes or gory action set pieces. We get very little of that here. Thought the film does occasionally deal in zombie movie clichés, the filmmakers score points for trying, and mostly succeeding, to breath some new air into a genre that’s been done to death (no punt intended) at this point in time. And while zombie films have been politically charged ever since Romero made Night Of The Living Dead, the politics explored in Cargo are uniquely Australian, more often than not making a pointed statement about the treatment of that country’s Aboriginal peoples.

    The acting is strong. Freeman, who recently appeared in Ghost Stories, is a good lead and a fine choice to do most of the heavy lifting in the picture. He’s likeable, sympathetic and yet, when the movie calls for it, we believe he’ll be able to defend himself. He does nice work in this picture. Susie Porter as his wife is also pretty decent while Simone Landers is also in fine form. At only thirteen years of age when she made this movie, this younr actress shows a lot of potential. She too is very good here.

    If you go into this one expecting a relationship drama more than a standard horror picture you’ll likely walk away satisfied. Flawed or not, if you approach Cargo on that level if works rather well.

    Cargo – Blu-ray Review:

    Umbrella Entertainment brings Cargo to region-free Blu-ray in an AVC encoded 1080p high definition transfer that is framed at 2.35.1 widescreen. Shot digitally, the image is squeaky clean and obviously devoid of grain or damage. Color reproduction looks excellent, the sunbaked Outback settings where the film plays out looking quite beautiful in their own way. Black levels are fine and the image is free of any obvious compression artifacts. This is quite a nice-looking picture.

    The only audio option for the feature is an English language DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio track. The dialogue is almost always up front in the mix, coming out of the center channel, while the surrounds are used quite effectively to spread out the score and the effects. Balance is fine throughout and the track is free of any audible issues. Sound quality is quite good here, everything sounds just fine. Optional subtitles are provided in English only.

    There is no commentary here but there are plenty of featurettes to make up for that starting with Cargo: Shaping A Fragile Future. Here, over the span of seventeen-minutes, Ben Howling and Yolanda Ramke, discuss the film’s origins as a short film project, how it evolved into a feature length picture, casting the film, the locations and quite a bit more.

    The six-minute Cargo: Maternal Combat featurette gets actress Natasha Wanganeen in front of the camera to discuss her Aboriginal character, and what she was able to bring to the project personally based on her own real-life background and experiences.

    Umbrella additionally supplies forty-two-minutes of interviews with the cast and crew. In this lengthy section we get talks with leading man Martin Freeman, producer Samatha Jennings, directors Ramke and Howling, actress Simone Landers, costume designer Heather Wallace, hair and makeup designer Beverly Freeman, prosthetic designer Larry Van Duynhoven and production designer Jo Ford. These interviews cover quite a bit of ground, and we learn about what went into making the picture from those who worked both in front of and behind the camera.

    If that weren’t enough, there’s also a twenty-nine-minute Q&A session that was recorded on May 9th, 2018 and the Melbourne GPO where Wanganeen, Ramke and Howling were all in attendance. Some of the information here is repeated in the other featurettes but we also learn about budgetary limitations, the difficulties of having to carry around a fairly heavy fake baby for a prolonged period of time and more.

    Finally, rounding out the extras is the original seven-minute Tropfest 2013 short film that actually works just as well, if not better than the feature-length version (the story plays out better without dialogue here!) and the movie’s original theatrical trailer. Menus and chapter selection are also included on the disc.

    Cargo – The Final Word:

    Cargo is a very slow-moving film and not much of a horror picture but if you don’t mind the languid pace it is worth seeing. Freeman is as good as he always is in the lead and his presence is a big part of the appeal here, but the visuals are very strong, the supporting cast does nice work and if the movie is never scary, it is occasionally tense and thought provoking. Umbrella’s Blu-ray release looks and sounds very nice and it contains a good selection of extras features, including the short film that this feature was based on.

    Click on the images below for full sized Cargo Blu-ray screen caps!

    Comments 1 Comment
    1. Darcy Parker's Avatar
      Darcy Parker -
      The movie is indeed beautifully shot, but it really is a joyless slog to sit through.