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Blu-ray Reviews

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#1 of 1 OFFLINE   Ben_Williams


    Second Unit

  • 454 posts
  • Join Date: Feb 15 2005

Posted February 26 2007 - 10:23 AM


Studio: Sony
Year: 2006
Rated: PG-13
Film Length: 113 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 High Definition 1080p
Disc Type: BD-50 Dual Layer
Codec: Mpeg-2
Audio: Uncompressed 5.1 PCM (48kHz, 16-Bit), English & French 5.1
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish, Portuguese, Korean, Chinese, Thai & French

Release Date: February 27, 2007

The Movie:
(****/*****) 4/5

Will Ferrell has never struck me as much of a chameleon. His performances tend to always fall into the over-the-top category with his hyped up and larger than life screen persona. So, it’s a true surprise to find him in Stranger than Fiction, a movie that features Mr. Ferrell in a role unlike anything he’s yet done. Maybe he’s more of a chameleon that I originally thought?

Harold Crick (Will Ferrell) is your average, every day obsessive-compulsive IRS agent. He obsesses about stats and figures and the most banal parts of his utterly boring life. It seems that Harold doesn’t really have anything in his life other than his job. One strange day, everything in Harold’s life will change when he discovers a voice in his head that seemingly narrates his daily activities. Is Harold crazy, overworked or is the narration really happening?

Stranger than Fiction was billed as being an original and thought-provoking film along the lines of something we might see from Charlie Kaufman. While I do see plenty of reasons to make that comparison, I think that Stranger than Fiction creates its own special brand of surrealistic weirdness. Mr. Ferrell is really very likable and seems to be perfectly cast. I really enjoyed how subtle his performance is. Maggie Gyllenhaal and Dustin Hoffman also provide extremely strong supporting performances. What makes the film work so well, is how we are shown Harold’s daily routine and how, as he discovers that there really is a life out there for him to live, he loses his obsessions and focuses on enjoying life. It really is a very warm and sweet film. Highly Recommended!

The Video:
(*****/*****) 5/5

Stranger than Fiction is presented in a stunning Mpeg-2 transfer that again shows that there is plenty of life left in this particular compression format. What strikes me about this particular transfer is how perfectly clean and sharp it is. There are many shots throughout the film where graphs and charts are flashed on screen to illustrate the inner thoughts of Harold. These graphics just about leap off the screen and even the finest print is always completely legible. Colors are also nicely handled with a lot of rich, smoothly rendered pastel shades. Pay particular attention to Harold’s apartment - - there is a ton of color and fine detail in this particular set. Ultimately, this is a fantastic transfer without any noticeable flaws. When I compare this transfer to the print I saw theatrically, there is a definite improvement in clarity and warmth to the picture. PERFECTION!

The Audio:
(****/*****) 4/5

Stranger than Fiction is pretty run of the mill when it comes to sound design. Not that it needs heavy surround effects or explosive subwoofer action. This PCM soundtrack performs exactly as it should with absolutely clear dialogue, music placed perfectly within the mix and a light touch of directional sound when appropriate. While the picture will probably wow your friends with its clarity and detail, the sound is much more subtle. In the end, this is a nice soundtrack, but not something you’ll probably use as demo material.

The Supplements:
(****/****) 4/5

Here’s what’s included:
-Actors in Search of Story
-Building the Team
-Words on a Page
-On Location in Chicago
-On the Set
-Picture a Number: The Evolution of a G.U.I.
-Deleted and Extended Scenes
-Theatrical Trailers

I was really quite impressed with the collection of extras offered up on this Blu-Ray release of Stranger than Fiction. The six featurettes included dive into various aspects of the production - - from screenwriting to casting to a special tribute to Chicago. If you have any curiosities regarding the production of this film, you are likely to find your answers here. The two deleted scenes are more scene extensions and do add a nice bit of extra depth to the film. Thankfully, the film’s theatrical trailer is also included along with trailers for four more upcoming Sony Blu-Ray releases (Marie Antoinette looks exceptional in HD!) Stranger than Fiction really has a thoughtfully put together supplemental section - - one of the best I’ve yet seen on Blu-Ray!

The Final Analysis:
(****/*****) 4/5

Stranger than Fiction is a very strange yet surprisingly endearing film. This Blu-Ray presentation is expertly put together and offers up outstanding picture quality and a fantastic set of extras.


Equipment used for this review:
Panasonic DMP-BD10 Blu-Ray Player
Panasonic PT-AE1000 Front Projector
Carada 93” diagonal 16x9 Criterion Series/Brilliant White Screen – www.carada.com
Rotel RSX-1056 Surround Receiver
Rotel RB-1080 Amplifier
B&W Speakers
M&K MX-125 Subwoofer
Interconnects: www.catcables.com

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