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My wife is a big Adrien Brody fan and eventually we get round to watching all the films he's in. He's a pretty good actor, so I generally don't mind but he's been in some naff titles in recent years, so it was refreshing to watch The Experiment, a film that I'd been told about and found the subject matter rather interesting.
The Experiment is a remake on a German film called "Das Experiment" which is loosely based on the Stanford prison experiment in 1971. Basically, 23 men are chosen from newspaper advertisements after passing psychological tests, they are then split into two groups - prisoners and prison guards and forced to live for 2 weeks in a prison. They are given basic rules, the prison guards need to keep order and after 14 days, when the experiment is complete all participants receive $14,000. The prisoners soon develop a hatred for the prison guards and vice-versa with the guards humiliating them more and more and the prisoners becoming harder to manage.
Some pretty good acting here, Brody as a rebellious prisoner and Forest Whittaker as a sadistic prison guard are easily the best, both are very convincing in their roles. Ethan Cohn is also rather entertaining as a geeky comic inventor with diabetes.
Quite gritty filming that portrays the raw and rough nature of a prison. This isn't an action film with crazy effects, in fact I imagine the budget was rather small other than the actor's wages!
It certainly held my attention, the early scenes act as a good introduction to the film, it doesn't take too long to build up and I find that there's just the right amount of psychological thriller combined with action. The film's demeaning nature could be a bit off-putting for some, it's certainly not a film to watch a meal to. If there's one criticism then it has to be the somewhat unrealistic ending, there's a scene where all the prisoners and prison guards are just sitting in a field waiting for a bus. It all seems a little silly, very Hollywood. Having watched the film, I did feel a bit moved by it - I found it quite concerning that the environment and rules could so rapidly change people's mentalities. I've not seen the original but my wife assures me that the American version is a lot more polished than the original and she preferred the original.
Film Only Review:
Take 26 men to a run down prison and pay them $1400 for two weeks work. All they have to do is take the rolls of prisoners and guards and stick to only a few simple rules, if they don't a big red light will go off and no one gets any money and the experiment is cancelled. The prisoners must eat everytthing on their plate, do as they told and not touch the guards. At first this looks like it could be a breeze,all the guys have been pychologically scrutinised in depth and been chosen for their roles accordingly and everything is recorded under the watchful eye of the cameras which there are many of all over the place.
On the way to the prison two guys make aquaintance. Travis (Adrien Brody) who laters assumes the role of one of the prisoners and Barris (Forest Whitaker) and really the story centres around them in the main and the changes and traumas they go through.
However as well as our main characters, Benjy (Ethan Cohen) a prisoner has a problem he never divulged before taking part in the experiment which changes and causes some unrest in camp and Chase (Cam Gidandet) who is also a prisoner officer is a sexaholic who needs his needs met although there are no women about.
Problems arise about power. There is disharmony led my quiet and peaceful living Travis who has a nice life and new blossoming relationship at home though he sees unjustice and power going to certain peoples heads and it soone becomes clear that the prison officers whether they're real ones or not will keep order however they can and sadly he soon starts to put up a fight which could make him a target.
The subject matter of this film, at times was quite hard to watch. The whole film has a huge moral to the story.....can people change in prison for the good and bad? In no uncertain terms this movie shows us that answer. The acting was superb though I wasn't in all honesty aware of any of the actor prior to watching this!
Yes there is a bit of blood and violence within this but for me not too much and it was entirely relevent to the story. I was kept entertained throughout and for a change the story never dragged and I felt that the 96 run time was enough. The film left no stone uncovered, no personal story unturned for me and because of its thought provoking nature this 15 rated film gets a real thumbs up from me and I'm glad I bought it to add to my collection as I love it and will certainly watch this again in the future!
Available from all good dvd stores to buy or rent and I bought my copy used but in great condition for only £1.26 from Amazon!
This review is also posted on Ciao under this same username.
*Movie only review*
Looking at my last 3 reviews, it's starting to look like I am not happy with anything I watch. So I thought I had better review something I rate higher than 3 stars!
The Experiment -
The Experiment stars Adrien Brody, Forest Whitaker and Maggie Grace. It was released in 2010, straight to DVD and is based upon the real-life Stanford Prison Experiment.
In the movie, a group of 26 men are chosen to take part in a psychological study. Some are given the role of 'prisoner', the rest 'guard'. They must spend 14 days in a prison following a list of rules. If anyone is hurt, the experiment will end and they will not be paid. If anyone leaves before the end of the 14 days, no one will be paid.
Everyone has a breaking point -
And I didn't reach mine watching this! Nothing annoyed me!
I first watched this on TV at work and we had missed all of the build up to the actual experiment. Despite this, I still really enjoyed it and found that it actually interested me. I remembered reading about the Stanford experiment in college but the movie made me see the experiment in a whole new light.
After watching it, I convinced my boyfriend to rent it with me and watch it from the start. In a way, I wished after that I hadn't and that I had just been happy watching it from where I did. Not that there was anything bad about the beginning, it just makes you think about it even more and actually made it quite upsetting to me.
When I explained myself after, my boyfriend completely understood how seeing everyone's life before the experiment made such a difference to me. But I don't want to give anything away so will leave it there!
Aswell as having a great storyline, the acting is great and you really do empathise with both the prisoners and the guards. Forest Whitaker gives an amazing performance, especially in the before and after scenes!
None of the movie feels as though it has been rushed or dragged out and I found myself hanging onto every word and every movement!
I would definitely recommend The Experiment, it is one of the first films that I have watched in a while where I actually don't have any criticism!
RELEASED: 2010, Cert.15
RUNNING TIME: Approx. 94 mins
DIRECTOR/SCREENPLAY: Paul Scheuring
PRODUCER: Marty Adelstein
MUSIC: Graeme Revell
Adrien Brody as Travis
Forest Whitaker as Barris
Cam Gigandet as Chae
Ethan Cohn as Benjy
David Banner as Bosch
FILM ONLY REVIEW
Adapted from Mario Giordano's novel called Black Box, The Experiment tells the story of a group of men who, because they each want to earn $14,000, agree to take part in a paid experiment whereby they are transported to an isolated outpost building inside of which they will participate in a programme that exactly emulates a high security prison. The men are split into two groups; the first being the guards, and the second the prisoners. There are rules - whatever the provocation, no violence must be used and the prisoners must obey the in-house regulations, such as having to eat every single thing on their plates at meal times. If anybody breaks even a single rule, none of the men, guards or prisoners, will receive their $14,000 payment.
All around the walls of this makeshift prison are security cameras where what happens can be viewed from a central control point.
Once the experimental programme gets underway, things begin to go awry, as aspects of some of the men's personalities begin to emerge....aspects which they previously had little or no awareness of, and what starts out as a harmless and seemingly good way of making a few thousand dollars, becomes a tense, taut power game and ego trip of guards versus prisoners.
The Experiment is a very interesting study in how being thrust into certain situations can cause a shift in certain people's behaviour. In the outside, everyday world, each of the pretend guards and prisoners are ordinary, normal members of society. Travis is a gentle-natured, kind, almost hippie-type who once inside the fake prison situation and being seriously challenged by Barris (one of the guards), finds himself on a mission to keep mind, body and spirit together, plus attempting to stand up for one of the other prisoners who is being badly treated.
The acting standard of the whole cast in The Experiment really is very good, especially that of Adrien Brody as the easy-going Travis and Forest Whitaker as the slightly unhinged, brutal-minded Barris. The sub-main cast also played their parts superbly and for me, it overall was the acting quality which was kingpin and carried the film from beginning to end, with never a dull moment.
Acting aside, The Experiment isn't a particularly original story, as I've seen a few things on similar-ish topic lines before, but there's no doubt that it is an extremely well directed and produced film which gives some food for thought.....I found myself wondering how I'd react on both sides of the fence - if I had been a guard, would I have been tempted to maltreat the prisoners? Alternatively, if I'd have been in Travis' situation, would I have simply stayed quiet or battled against my adversaries once they ceased to follow the rules?
I can't say I particularly noticed the musical score until towards the end of the film, at a point where it became rather nerve-jangling and percussive....accurately befitting what was happening on screen at the time.
There are some good camera angles in The Experiment which, for the duration of the film, add a sense of realism along with the excellent acting and production/direction that all go to create a film which is completely absorbing....one of those gems whereby you can forget the world for the duration and almost imagine that you are a fly on the wall, watching the storyline happen for real.
Despite really enjoying The Experiment, I'm not sure that it's a film which could stand too many viewings - unless they are spaced very far apart in time - simply because once you've seen it you then know what happens and nothing comes as a surprise, but it could one day be well worth another watch simply because of the sleek way it is put together and the very skilful, convincing acting....especially that of Forest Whitaker and Adrien Body.
I was a little let down by the actual end of the film as it seemed to be a bit of a washout compared to everything that had preceded it, although I'm not sure what I would have liked an alternative ending to be.
This film I feel sure would appeal to those who simply like a good drama, and to those who find the idea of role-playing sometimes being a trigger that can bring out previously hidden aspects of people's personalities.
There is a fair bit of violence in The Experiment, but it's not what I'd call gratuitous or sensationalist, and the nature of it is dissimilar to that shown in most psychological thriller/horror movies.
My overall recommendation is....a thoroughly interesting and absorbing film that I'd imagine most people would enjoy....it's intense and moderately shocking in parts, but doesn't contain anything which would keep most people awake at night or warily looking over their shoulders.
At the time of writing, The Experiment can be purchased on Amazon as follows:-
New: from £1.43 to £15.84
Used: from 32p to £6.40
A delivery charge of £1.26 must be added to the above figures.
Thanks for reading!
~~ Also published on Ciao under my CelticSoulSister user name ~~
With little or no advertising that I know of, this little gem of a social experiment film almost slipped through the net. I spotted it on late one night and thought it looked worth a watch. Essentially, it's a psychological thriller that focuses on a group of individuals who agree to take part in an experiment in exchange for money.
You occasionally see adverts offering good amounts of money in the name of research, often things such as product testing, sleep deprivation and the like. This though promises to be a little different, as 26 people are given the chance to earn $14,000 for spending two weeks in a fake prison. Split into guards and prisoners, they initially go along to get along, knowing that as long as they all stay within the rules for the fourteen days then they'll each walk out with the 14k.
However, the personalities who have been put in their together mean that this is never going to happen, and pride and ego soon take over as the experiment starts to go horribly wrong. I thought that the plot was very basic but very effective. Indeed, the simple nature of it is probably the reason it works. There's nothing complicated about it, merely a feeling that 26 men put into a control and be controlled situation behind closed doors with no instruction is always going to lead to disaster.
The acting certainly helps. Forest Whitaker and Adrien Brody lead an impressive cast that know how to stretch something out and give the right sort of pace to a film like this. The direction is solid, with the camerawork doing exactly what it needs to do in order to get across the message about society - that we will always conform to what we perceive to be what should be done, and how human behaviour depends entirely on the individual and their interaction within the group.
I imagine psychologists would study this film out of habit and make judgments about most of the characters, and to be honest as someone who has never read a psychology book in his life I could probably notice various different character types etc within the groups. The guards seem to have been chosen for their ability to be vindictive and not care about others, while the prisoners seem to be chosen from the weaker members in the study. It's deliberate, and I suppose we shouldn't be surprised at the outcome. Naturally, I won't tell you exactly what happens, but some people just aren't nice and take pride and joy out of belittling others, with other people just toeing the line, going along to get along and all that jazz.
It's a highly entertaining psychological film, and I suppose had they just gone through the motions it wouldn't really have made much of an impact in terms of entertainment. As it stands, it's well worth watching and will certainly peak your interest. I found it maturely and cleverly, and if I had a criticism it's that the ending is rather abrupt and a little weak. The majority of the film is riveting, but it sadly doesn't get the finale it deserves. Other than this, though, it's a very good film, and one I highly recommend.
== The Experiment ==
26 men are chosen from about 50 to participate in the roles of guards and prisoners in a psychological study, for which each participant is to receive $14,000 after two weeks as long as a red switch that is in the prison stays off. In The Experiment is Travis (Adrien Brody), and Barris (Forest Whitaker), who met at the interview they all had of the study. The group is driven on a coach to an isolated prison and left there by the doctor in charge. Everyone has to abide by the rules set by the doctor. Some of these basic are they have to clean there plate when eating and cant leave anything on it, prisoners cannot touch the guards, and the guards are in fully charge and the prisoners must do as they say. The building is under constant surveillance with lots of camera's around the place, and if excessive force is used by anyone involved the experiment will end and they wont get paid.
At first the prisoners have fun and mess around with the guards by having a food fight but then, when playing basketball one of the prisoners accidentally throws the basket ball to a guard and he doesn't pay attention and it smacks him in his face and makes his nose bleed. After this Barris takes control of the situation and starts to run the prison as an actual prison and he makes the prisoners do push ups and other tasks when they do things wrong. This spirals out of control and Barris and the other guards end up falling out with the prisoners, its like they all forget the reason why they are there. How far will this get out of control? Let me just say it gets shockingly out of control and erupts big time.
=== Did You Enjoy It? ===
Very much so. The Experiment is a great and enjoyable movie and has almost everything I wanted in a movie. To be honest I was supposed to watch this a few months back but kept putting it off every time I got round to it and I have no idea why I did that because it was great. Forrest Whittaker was awesome and so was the main star Adrien Brody. The movie had its odd funny moments which at first made the movie seem to me like a mess around but it soon got serious and was really good like this. I thing I enjoyed most about this movie was the fact it kept me in suspense and I was always wandering what was going to happen next and what was going to happen with Barris as he seemed to lose his marbles. All in all I really enjoyed this movie, there aren't many like this.
=== Characters/Performances ===
Adrien Brody who plays Travis, is magnificent and stands out from the rest. He is a well known actor and if I am honest I haven't really watched many of his movies as before this I had labelled him as a mediocre actor. He isn't in this movie because he carries Forrest Whittaker and anyone that carries that guy must be good, and he is. Forrest Whittaker has always been a very well renown actor and has been in many top movies. Forrest has been in that many movies, there are too many to name but he really does shine and he is at his best in The Experiment. Also I was quite impressed with Cam Gigandet role and his performance. He plays as Chase in the movie and all he cares about is the money, hot girls and getting laid. However he plays a guard in the prison and he misses sex as he was getting it every night and he knew there wasn't any females so he tries making a prisoner do stuff for him to satisfy his sexual needs. He acts great in this movie and I am a bit of an admirer of his, especially in never Back Down and Pandorum. Plus he was quite funny in Easy A. All the other actors, whether they have a big part or small part seem to do fairly well and seem to suit there role. Also Maggie Grace is in this movie and she is phenomenally beautiful and quite talented.
=== The Director ===
The director of The Experiment is a guy named Paul Scheuring and he hasn't really directed much stuff. Now this movie is a prison type movie and his only other movie that he has directed was a movie called 36k back in the year 2000. However he has worked on the TV series Prison Break which I am guessing was part the reason he wanted to do this movie. I don't have any idea if Paul has a thing for prisons but it actually did remind me of Prison Break quite a bit actually, and I am a big fan of that, well i was. he has done a lot of work as a producer on movies but like I said this is only his second movie he has directed.
=== Other Bits ===
The soundtrack in my opinion didn't really impress me until almost the end of the movie. It was lackluster and plain at first and near the end it actually got high tempo and seemed more like each song was fitting into the scenes better than the first half hour or so. Also the special effects weren't entirely great but some of them did actually look good. One for example is when Travis is getting peed on by most of the fake guard, now this looked real to me and I am pretty sure it wouldn't of been and also the fighting and brawl that starts looks amazingly designed, apart from that it didn't have to many special effects. If I was to compare The Experiment to any movie it would have to be Green Mile but I would say its more like Prison Break Season 1 than any movie.
I would have to say this movie is value for money. It has a lot of stuff that people will find offensive and also has quite a lot of blood. Now I for one am a big fan of blood and if your a little bit squeamish then I would probably avoid this. The movie has plenty of action scenes a great story and some terrific acting, so i would say its totally value for money. Also the runtime of the movie is roughly 96 minutes, which is quite reasonable and also the movie is rated Certificate 15. I would give this movie a very good 8/10!
Review also on Ciao under username: MrBrightside1987
Thanks for reading my review :)