On Track

Life Tracker holds exciting sci-fi possibilities, basing itself in the realm of genetic discovery and advancement. The issues and arguments present around a business which can siphon DNA to predict injuries, addiction, even death – including the date.

It’s hard not to be somewhat unkind to Life Tracker. The presentation bears the veneer of a student project and stuffing the material with low-grade actors who spill gallons of exposition (along with a torturous love triangle) railroad any potential. Credit then for framing Life Tracker as an on-the-go documentary with minimal financial support. That helps.

Ignoring the rather putrid VLOG-like face the feature wears, underneath is a movie of constant ideas, bridging science, clashing political ideologies, and psychology. Presentation of each is stiff. New segments puncture the main thread which concerns the three friends involved with filming.

Conversations are clever, using Republican and Democrat front runners who use the invention of Life Tracker as a campaign tool. Twenty-four hour cable news obsesses over the concept. A debate erupts over government control of the free market as Life Tracker causes a (unseen) societal uproar. To be clear, even these segments are awkward, filled with expository analogies. They’re edited in place to sharply intersect the story, something which is given narrow reason by Life Tracker’s close.

At a studio level, it would have been thrown away on a Shia LeBouf blockbuster in the vein of Eagle Eye, so there’s no winning.

Politics seem awkwardly considered too. A pro-choice activist is against people’s choice to reveal their death date; no one jumps at the hypocrisy. The Democratic senator shrugs off the progressive technology; a Republican embraces it. Life Tracker becomes an idea movie, even if the ideas are inanely structured.

Without the scale or budget to extend the concept, Life Tracker does feel wasted. At a studio level, it would have been thrown away on a Shia LeBouf blockbuster in the vein of Eagle Eye, so there’s no winning. Regardless of the situation, examples are thought-provoking. Scenes which drag attempting to capture relationship drama can be considered a pause; those are moments which provide an outlet to process the debates and arguments.

By the closing chapter, there is a need to reevaluate and because of the thematic remnants. Life Tracker leaves a sublime, “what would do?” debate waiting to sprout and the political implications are wide-reaching. [xrr rating=3/5 label=Movie]

Life Tracker Blu-ray screen shot 11

Shot on a number of different cameras, the Blu-ray release of this 2013 feature stands as a marginal uptick from the included DVD. Early scenes, windowed in the screen’s center, produce meager resolution. Image break-up is severe. Prominent noise becomes a factor, and low-end compression leaves banding remnants. TV broadcasts use a faux-interlacing effect which is distracting as opposed to authentic.

When Life Tracker enters the HD age, images turn toward consumer level equipment. Aspect ratios still swap between windowed, 4:3, and finally 1.78:1. Detail never sprouts, but images at least carry a sense of clarity. Noise and artifacts dissipate. It’s logical to believe this is a documentary shot without financial input.

Olive Films’ Blu-ray encode is incapable of doing favors to the movie, not that their work could do anything. The studio at least holds back on adding processing or tweaks. [xrr rating=3/5 label=Video]

While the DTS-HD mix is stereo, a lone moment actually uses the space. A bit of dialog (with seconds left in the movie) sprouts from the right front. Until then, position goes unnoticed.

Volume is low overall. Dialog steers between muffled and scratchy. Like the video, there is purpose in the design, meant to mirror the low-budget equipment used. A stretch into the LFE does occur late, minor as it is. [xrr rating=3/5 label=Audio]

Five featurettes make up the bonuses, but note there are errors. Earthquake and a behind-the-scenes montage are swapped. Selecting one plays the opposite. Once found, the earthquake bit is raw footage from the set and the other a collection of stills mixed in with a little video. Making Life Tracker becomes the longest offering at seven minutes, but carries out of sync dialog. Shooting in a Disaster Area finally puts everything in place, peering into what it was like shooting in Alabama after a tornado. Life Tracker wraps up by asking cast and crew if they’d like their own Life Tracker reports, were they real. [xrr rating=2/5 label=Extras]

Full disclosure: This Blu-ray was provided to us for review. This has not affected the editorial process. For information on how we handle review material, please visit our about us page to learn more.


Click on the images below for full resolution screen captures taken directly from the Blu-ray. Images have not been altered in any way during the process.

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