Saturday, February 9, 2013

Movie Review—Amber Alert

I've got a fair number of movies languishing in my Netflix queue. At current count, I've got 170 lined up in my DVD/Blu-Ray queue, and a mere 107 in my instant queue. Yesterday, I saw "Dredd," and it was REALLY good. Much better than I'd anticipated it being. And that's more or less what got me thinking about doing movie reviews on my blog.

So here I am. I'm starting with movies I've seen today, so as good as it was, "Dredd" won't be the first review of the year. But do yourself a favor; if you like action-packed violent movies, check it out!

Now, on to THIS review.

"Amber Alert" is about a group of three college students who are out on the road, filming themselves having fun for an audition for a reality TV show. Which show doesn't really matter, because not long after the movie starts, they spot a car that's been tagged by an amber alert, and decide to follow it. And since it's a movie... things pretty quickly get intense and out of control.

"Amber Alert" is a found footage movie, which is perhaps my favorite type of movie these days. I don't care if the movie's great (like "Paranormal Activity") or terrible (like "Paranormal Activity 4')... I'll eventually see the movie. Mockumentaries are a close second here, but the full-on found footage format just, for whatever reason, quite pleases me.

Pardon me... are you making a mediocre found footage movie about me in there?
Even when the movie doesn't.

"Amber Alert" is far from the worst found footage movie I've seen, but it's also not even close to being the best. The majority of the movies in this type I've seen have been horror movies, and while there's some horror in this one, it's more accurately categorized as a thriller. Nothing supernatural going on here, no gore to speak of, but the central conceit of three young people chasing after a car that may or may not belong to a child molester is pretty horrific and spooky.

Unfortunately, the acting was a bit uneven. Found footage movies really need a naturalistic and believable style of acting to work right, and when it's off... even just a little, as in this case... it can undo the movie. A lot of found footage movies also feature a lot of arguing and screaming and the like, it seems, and "Amber Alert" certainly delivers there. The ending was satisfying, but the drive felt a bit long getting there.

Amber Alert...
  • ... features a car that apparently gets hundreds of miles to the gallon. Sure, the characters in the movie could have stopped to get gas at some point between cuts in the filming, but the move's pretty insistent that they're on a tight time schedule.
  • ... has a reason for why the characters are filming everything—they're hoping to be able to turn the tape over to the police as evidence once they find proof that the amber alert was for real.
  • ... has a surprisingly small amount of profanity, considering how much of the movie is footage of stressed out people arguing.
  • ... makes driving 100 miles per hour look like a stately 40 miles per hour.
  • ... like many movies, has a trailer that makes it look far more exciting and action packed than it actually is.
Grade: C


  1. I'm really glad your blog is active again Mr. Jacobs!

    '"Amber Alert" is far from the worst found footage movie I've seen, but it's also not even close to being the best.'

    Out of interest, which do you think are the best?

  2. Hmmm... my top ten purely found-footage movies (as opposed to those that also incorporate mocumentary elements) would be, in no particular order:

    1) Cloverfield
    2) Paranormal Activity
    3) Blair Witch Project
    4) V/H/S
    5) Trollhunter
    6) [Rec]
    7) [Rec]2
    8) Grave Encounters
    9) Chronicle
    10) Quarantine