The Player Release Date: Available now Studio: Warner Brothers Packaging/Materials: Single-disc Blu-ray "ECO-BOX" Year: 1992 Rating: R Running Time: 2:04:00 MSRP: $24.98 THE FEATURE SPECIAL FEATURES Video 1080p high definition 16x9 1.85:1 Standard definition Audio DTS-HD Master Audio: English 5.1 / Dolby Digital: French 2.0 Stereo Subtitles English SDH, French, Spanish Variable The Feature: 4/5 Hollywood studio executive Griffin Mill (Tim Robbins) listens to and solicits new film ideas everyday, some of which he pursues and others he ignores. It's par for the course, but when he starts receiving threatening post cards from a disgruntled writer, his cushy job starts to get a little uncomfortable. When he eventually confronts the man, the altercation leads to Mill killing him in a fit of anger. Not surprisingly, Mill tries to cover up the incident, but not well enough to avoid being named the Pasadena Police Department's number one suspect. Already in danger of being fired from the studio, a murder charge is the last thing Mill needs, though as things develop, it's looking like his story could also make for one interesting movie. Robert Altman's satire about the Hollywood movie system could easily be taken as a specific, scathing indictment, where studio executives are nothing short of murderous manipulators. But as with most satire, the extremes are not meant to be taken quite so literally. Do people get away with stuff they shouldn't? Sure, but that happens in every industry, and Hollywood is merely used as a metaphor to present this fact. There's no question Altman is giving Hollywood in particular a hard time, but the silliness and myopia (which fuels most of the movie's humor) could also be true of any group or organization that loses touch with humanity. Hollywood just makes for a convenient - albeit effective - effigy. Video Quality: 4/5 Presented in 1080p with the VC-1 codec, the transfer approximates the film's original 1.85:1 aspect ratio by filling the entire 16:9 frame. Black levels are deep and stable and contrast generally displays the full range of values, though there is some noticeable compression in the bottom ranges, resulting in the loss of detail in the shadow areas. My guess it's a byproduct of the film stock, which also produces a more muted color palette and some occasionally pinkish flesh tones. Grain structure appears intact with few signs of digital enhancement measures, though there are momentary grain pattern fluctuations and a wide shot or two can look a touch hazy. Overall though the transfer looks faithful to the source with minimal manipulation of the image. Audio Quality: 3/5 The 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio mix is dominated by the front sound stage, with rear surround channels providing support for the score. Though LFE is non-existent, the track has sufficient depth and dynamic range and vocals are consistently clear and intelligible. Special Features: 3/5 The majority of extras from the 2000 DVD release have been carried over, the exceptions being the cast biographies. With the existence of IMDB and Wikepedia, however, I'm not sure if they will be missed. Commentary by Director Robert Altman and Writer Michael Tolkin: Highlights of the track include Altman's explanation of what actually motivated him to make the film, which he didn't feel was as much the diatribe against Hollywood as some people perceived it to be. Tolkin provides some solid background of the development and adaptation of his novel and working with Altman. One on One with Robert Altman (16:55, SD): In the loosely structured featurette, Altman provides character analysis and stories and the casting process for the lead role and the numerous celebrity cameos. The piece also includes some of the deleted celebrity cameos, with some brief comments, however much of the material is already found in both the commentary and the deleted scenes. Theatrical Trailer (2:10, SD) Deleted Scenes (13:32, SD): Includes five scenes, most of which revolve around excised celebrity cameos. Arrival at Dick Mellon's (:44): Robert Wagner and Jill St. John cameo. Lunch with Levy (6:02): A multitude of cameos in a restaurant. Scenes from "Lonely Room" (1:59): Longer excerpts from the film within a film starring Scott Glenn and Lily Tomlin. Killer Instinct (:49): Patrick Swayze cameo. Two Bunch Palms (3:58): Mill explains the Al Capone connection to the Two Bunch Palms resort. Recap The Feature: 4/5 Video Quality: 4/5 Audio Quality: 3/5 Special Features: 3/5 Overall Score (not an average): 3.5/5 Warner Brothers turns in a satisfying audio and video presentation for Robert Altman's incisive satire. Special features carry over the majority of extras from the DVD release, making the overall Blu-ray package an obvious choice for first time purchasers and a tempting upgrade for those who already have the film in their collections.