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Blu-ray Review HTF BLU-RAY REVIEW: Nanny McPhee

Discussion in 'Blu-ray and UHD' started by Kevin EK, Aug 14, 2010.

  1. Kevin EK

    Kevin EK Screenwriter
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    Nanny McPhee

     

    Studio: Universal

    Year: 2005

    Length:  1 hr 39 mins

    Genre:  Children’s Fantasy

     

    Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1

     

    BD Resolution: 1080p

    BD Video Codec: VC-1 (@ an average 30 mbps)

    Color/B&W: Color

     

    Audio:

    English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 (@ an average 4.0 mbps)

    English DVS 2.0

    French European DTS 5.1

    French Canadian DTS 5.1

    German DTS 5.1

    Castillan Spanish DTS 5.1

    Latin American Spanish DTS 5.1

    Japanese DTS 5.1

     

     

    Subtitles: English SDH, French European, French Canadian, German, Castillan Spanish, Latin American Spanish, Japanese, Korean, Swedish, Danish, Finnish, Dutch, Norwegian, Portuguese, Greek, Cantonese, Traditional Mandarin

     

    Film Rating: PG (Mild Thematic Elements, Some Rude Humor and Brief Language)

     

    Release Date: August 17, 2010

     

    Starring:  Emma Thompson, Colin Firth, Angela Lansbury

    Based on the “Nurse Matilda” books by Christianna Brand

    Screenplay by:  Emma Thompson

    Directed by: Kirk Jones

     

    Film Rating:    3/5

     

     

    While watching Nanny McPhee, I have been struck by how familiar this story really is, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing.  When I was very young in my K-12 days, I remember reading several “Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle” stories, wherein the title character would help teach children to get over their bad habits, such as not picking up their toys or cleaning their rooms.  As it turns out, the genesis of this film is a similar series of books centered around the character of “Nurse Matilda”, who operates in a somewhat similar vein.  Of course, “Nurse Matilda” does have a kind of “Dorian Gray” aspect to her – she arrives to an unruly house looking truly ugly, complete with warts, a nose “the size of a potato” and a giant snaggletooth hanging over her lower lip.   She essentially resembles all the awfulness that the children are currently acting out.  But as the children learn their lessons from her, she loses the warts and begins to look more and more normal, if not in fact beautiful.  (In a sense, she is almost the reverse of the Dorian Gray scenario...)  Both the Piggle-Wiggle and Matilda books also share a common ancestry – they are both based on stories told from parents to children in order to teach these lessons.

     

    Getting to the movie at hand, Nanny McPhee is a serviceable adaptation of the “Nurse Matilda” books, with a ready adult cast that features Angela Lansbury, Colin Firth and Emma Thompson in the title role.  (This is in addition to Thompson actually writing the screenplay.)   There are plenty of appealing performances from the adults – particularly Kelly MacDonald and Emma Thompson, and a colorful period production design that practically jumps off the screen.  And there are a few silly moments here and there (one bit with a horse was enough for me to rewind and play it again) along with a truly lovely finale that I won’t spoil for you here.  However, and this is a big but, there are some drawbacks here – mostly from the over-the-top antics of the children.  An early kitchen scene that is clearly intended to establish the awfulness of the kids simply drags on for too long with too much volume.  A mid-film date scene with Colin Firth is laced with a combination of fairly unbelievable child antics and bawdy humor as Firth continually grabs his date to shield her from what the children are doing.  Overall, it’s a fun film, and with a parent’s eye supervising, I think this would make for a pretty good family movie night – provided that the kids are old enough.


    Nanny McPhee has previously been on DVD, and the new Blu-ray ports over almost all of the special features from that release, coupling them with a 1080p VC-1 transfer and a fairly active DTS-HD MA sound mix.  For some reason, the Blu-ray leaves off a commentary from Emma Thompson and Lindsay Doran that is reportedly a bit more helpful than the Director/Kids commentary that has been included.  Aside from these features, the Blu-ray includes the usual Blu-ray functionality, including BD-Live and the My Scenes bookmarking function.


     

    VIDEO QUALITY   3 ½/5

    Nanny McPhee is presented in a 1080p VC-1 2.35:1 transfer that certainly conveys the rich colors of this movie in strong fashion.  The amount of detail on display changes from shot to shot, but I believe this is a reflection of the way the movie was filmed.  One example is a mid-film beach scene that shows striking detail in the shots of the kids sitting on a literal pebble beach, but is much softer in its views of the ocean.  Given that this scene was filmed in fairly cold and rainy weather, as opposed to the nice warm day we are meant to see onscreen, I believe the softness here is a deliberate choice by the filmmakers to help mask the weather conditions.  I should note that I am watching the film on a 40” Sony XBR2 HDTV. If anyone is watching the film on a larger monitor and is having issues, please post them on this thread.

     

     

    AUDIO QUALITY   4/5

    Nanny McPhee is presented in an English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix, along with DTS mixes in two variations each of French and Spanish, as well as German and Japanese.  An English DVS track is also included.  The English DTS-HD MA mix is quite active.   In addition to the expected score cues in the surround channels, there are also plenty of moments of directional atmospheric sound and even voices.  The subwoofer is used in several places, usually to punctuate Nanny McPhee’s tapping of her stick on the floor to activate one form of magic or another. 

     

    SPECIAL FEATURES      3/5

    The Blu-Ray presentation of Nanny McPhee comes with the usual BD-Live connectivity and My Scenes functionality, along with all but one of the special features to be found on the original DVD release of this title over 4 years ago.  For some reason, a second scene-specific commentary from that DVD has been left off of this release, which is truly a shame.

     

    Feature Commentary with Kirk Jones and the Children – This scene-specific commentary starts with director Kirk Jones on his own, and slowly surrounds him with several of the child actors who play the naughty children in the movie.   Throughout, Jones tries to maintain something of a throughline, but the track degenerates at several points as it becomes clear that the concept of having very young children do a commentary is better in theory than execution.  At the end of the track, Jones throws an open question to the kids and the whole thing collapses into complete cacophony.  This is why I saw it’s a shame they did not include the second commentary from the DVD, which featured Emma Thompson.  Something tells me THAT commentary would likely have been a bit more helpful.

     

    Casting the Children (480p, Anamorphic, 11:39) – Carried over from the DVD release, this featurette covers exactly what the title suggests.  Included here are snippets from the kids’ auditions and interviews with them, with director Jones and with their on-set coach.

     

    Village Life (480p, Anamorphic, 3:51) – This featurette, again from the DVD, covers the production design aspects of the film.   One major point made here is that the filmmakers literally built the house used for the film, with an exterior façade on location and full sets built onstage.

     

    Nanny McPhee Makeover (480p, Anamorphic, 5:38) – This featurette, again from the DVD, covers the extensive makeup and wardrobe work done on Emma Thompson to transform her into the various levels of unattractiveness required for her character by her script.

     

    Deleted Scenes (480p, Anamorphic, 13:00 Total) –  As on the DVD, several deleted scenes are presented on this disc, including an alternate opening and more material with Derek Jacobi and Patrick Barlow as Colin Firth’s mischievous co-workers at the funeral parlor.  The scenes can be viewed on their own or via a “Play All” function.  Each scene gets a personal introduction from Kirk Jones.  The final deleted scene was a bit of a surprise to me.  I don’t want to spoil it, but I will say that if I hadn’t recovered quickly, it might have given me nightmares…

     

    Gag Reel (480p, Anamorphic, 2:45) – This quick gag reel mostly just shows the usual crack-ups and line flubs, along with plenty of material from the climactic cake war.

     

    How Nanny McPhee Came to Be (480p, Anamorphic, 7:41) – This featurette examines the “Nurse Matilda” books and their author.  As with all the other materials here, this one comes directly from the SD DVD release from a few years back.

     

    BD-Live - The more general BD-Live screen is accessible via the menu, which makes various online materials available, including tickers, trailers and special events. 

     

    My Scenes - The usual bookmarking feature is included here.

     

    The film is subtitled in English and no less than 16 other languages, although 2 of those are actually just variations on French and Spanish.  The usual pop-up menu is present, along with a complete chapter menu. 

     

     

    IN THE END...

    Nanny McPhee is a nice, family –friendly movie, and it gets a solid Blu-ray release here.  The release is unfortunately missing one commentary from the standard definition release, but there’s still plenty of good things here to see.  I have a feeling this title was intended for release on HD-DVD but never made it out before that format stopped.  It’s a good release, and I think families may enjoy watching it together.  Given that the new film in this series is about to come out in theaters, this is a great time to catch up on the story.

     

    Kevin Koster

    August 14, 2010.

     
  2. Cees Alons

    Cees Alons Moderator
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    Thanks, Kevin, for a nice and very accurate review.

     

     

     

    In fact, it's already out on Blu-ray and available from Amazon/UK, among other retailers - I got it and we've watched it.

    Nanny McPhee ("small c big P") and the Big Bang, a.k.a. Nanny McPhee Returns. Starring Maggie Gyllenhaal with a pretty convincing English accent. A fitting sequel, fun, some will like it even more than the first one, but I'm guess some others will not.

     

     

    Cees
     
  3. ManW_TheUncool

    ManW_TheUncool Producer

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    My kids have been bugging me about getting this since I never actually got the DVD version -- I actually ordered it once from Buy.com(?) shortly before making the jump to Blu, but the order somehow got lost, and I never bothered to buy it again.

     

    Will definitely be picking this up and probably the sequel as well. Thanks for this review, Kevin.

     

    Hmmm... Cees, do you know if the BDs for *both* the first movie and the sequel are region-free? I'm guessing the first probably is region-free given it's an old enough catalog title (from Universal), but the sequel's probably region-locked.

     

    _Man_
     
  4. Adam Gregorich

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    While I haven't seen the BD, my wife and I really enjoyed this on DVD.
     
  5. Cees Alons

    Cees Alons Moderator
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  6. ManW_TheUncool

    ManW_TheUncool Producer

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    That's very interesting to hear, Cees, considering the sequel hasn't even gone "wide" in theaters over here in the US just yet -- actually, I'm not sure it's showing anywhere here at all just yet (until 8/20).

     

    Very tempting to just order both from Amazon UK although the kids would probably want to have the included DVD copy actually work on a laptop, etc. for us -- I do still have a Denon SD2910 that should be able to handle region-B/PAL, but that wouldn't help outside the house.

     

    Presumably, the extra features on the BD(s) are not PAL formatted, correct? Hadn't heard of that being a problem w/ Universal releases.

     

    Thanks!

     

    _Man_
     
  7. ManW_TheUncool

    ManW_TheUncool Producer

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    Hmmm... Now that I think about it, I wonder if the UK BDs also have slightly different (original) versions of these films too while the US might've gotten altered versions to cater to American audiences.

     

    For instance, I noticed that the Pride & Prejudice (2005) UK BD (also from Universal) apparently had a moderately different ending than the US version -- and that BD actually also included the US ending as a separate extra feature.

     

    _Man_
     
  8. ManW_TheUncool

    ManW_TheUncool Producer

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  9. Cees Alons

    Cees Alons Moderator
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    Man,

     

    Because I actually played a short part of the feature on my region-A machine today, I'm sure they are wrong!

     

    Also, I played a short sequence of the extras (Deleted Scenes) on the BD, and they were fine too. The package doesn't state otherwise, it's only the DVD that is region locked.

     

    We're talking about the sequel: Nanny McPhee and the Big Bang (a.k.a. The Return of Nanny McPhee).

     

     

    , Kevin may shed some light on that too, if the US version is probably identical.

     

     

    Cees
     
  10. Kevin EK

    Kevin EK Screenwriter
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    I'll have some time next week to investigate this. I wasn't aware that the sequel was already on Blu-ray overseas, or about the different versions.
     
  11. ManW_TheUncool

    ManW_TheUncool Producer

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    Kevin,

     

    The possibility of a slightly different UK version is just purely my own wondering out loud (and because I'd consider importing these from UK).

     

    _Man_
     

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