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Blu-ray Reviews

HTF Blu-ray Review: Revolutionary Road



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#1 of 2 PatWahlquist

PatWahlquist

    Supporting Actor

  • 735 posts
  • Join Date: Jun 13 2002

Posted May 29 2009 - 03:31 AM


Revolutionary Road (Blu-ray)

Studio: DreamWorks
Rated: R (for language and some sexual content/nudity)
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
HD Encoding: 1080p
HD Video Codec: MPEG-4 AVC
Audio: English Dolby TrueHD 5.1; Spanish, French Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles: English, French, Spanish, Portuguese; English SDH+
Time: 118 minutes
Disc Format: 1 SS/DL BD
Case Style: Keep case
Theatrical Release Date: 2008
Blu-Ray Release Date: June 2, 2009

Frank and April Wheeler (Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet) are living the American dream in 1950’s suburbia. Frank’s got a swell job in the city at an up and coming firm, and April stays at home, tending to the two children. Their move to the suburbs came with a bit of a cost, with Frank finding himself unchallenged and uninspired in his job. When they met, April was charmed by him and his passion for life and what it could be. April hears Frank’s plea for change and she buys them tickets to Paris, and the family decides to move there so Frank can pursue his writing while April brings home the bacon.

Suburban angst runs deep in the couple, so when a sudden potential promotion for Frank coincides with an even more sudden pregnancy for April, their true feelings about what each has given up begin to surface. The Wheelers invite their real estate agent, (Kathy Bates), and her husband and son, John (Michael Shannon) over. John is mentally challenged and this affliction necessitated shock therapy thus destroying his stunning mathematical mind. John is quickly able to see past the façade the Wheelers portray, quickly cutting to the emotional quick. He brings such strong feelings to the top that Frank and April are forced to confront and deal with the reality, the suburban fiction that is a backdrop to broken relationships.

Directed by Sam Mendes (who is also Winslet’s husband) from Richard Yates book of the same name, Revolutionary Road delivers a stunning character piece for DiCaprio and Winslet to tear into. The beloved pairing of these two actors in 1997’s small indie film, Titanic, left audiences wanting more from them, but it took over a decade for the two to find the right project. In Revolutionary Road, they cast out all that was good and hopeful about love and relationships and show the nasty, dark side of those dreams going horribly wrong. Michael Shannon turns in a vicious performance as John, the only one willing to speak the truth of what he sees. As we move farther and farther away from this decade, we are treated to all the scenes of what goes on behind the well manicured hedges and 5 o’clock highballs, either in this movie or the equally probing Mad Men on AMC. We see that while the emotions are similar between now and then, the means by which they were dealt with are quite different, creating a whole new set of problems for parents to leave to their children. It certainly doesn’t leave you on a hopeful note, but it will make you think how important the truth in relationships truly is.

Movie: ***.5/*****


Video:
Note: I am watching this title using a Marantz VP 11-S1 DLP projector, which has a native resolution of 1080p. I am using a Sony Playstation 3 Blu-Ray player while a Denon 3808CI does the switching and pass through of the video signal. I am utilizing the HDMI capabilities of each piece of equipment.

The Blu-Ray disc is encoded in the MPEG-4 AVC codec at 1080p with an aspect ratio of 2.35:1. Given the recent vintage of this release, we are given a nice video transfer that is crisp and clean, lacking any noticeable dirt, noise, or other negative artifacts. Detail is good, but sharpness is inconsistent, looking excellent at times, but other times looking soft. The color palate is bathed in warm lighting almost adding a nostalgic feeling to the image, and it’s indicative of noted cinematographer Roger Deakins style. Deakins blows out the whites at times allowing it to eclipse some of the color. Flesh tones are smooth and accurate and you can see some nice detail in each of the actors faces. Black levels are deep showing a nice amount of detail.

Video: ****/*****


Audio:
The 5.1 Dolby TrueHD soundtrack was attained by the HDMI connection of the PS3 to the Denon 3808CI.

I watched the feature with the Dolby Digital TrueHD 5.1 track engaged. The soundtrack is front heavy since we are dealing with talking heads throughout. The surrounds are used to provide environmental ambience and some nice echo of the thoughtful piano line. There is also a very nice soundstage presentation in the scene with the Wheelers and their neighbors at the bar, with good ambience and broad frequency range. Panning effects were minimal but effective when used. LFE’s were very subtle and supported the music mostly, and again, more prevalent in the bar scene. The soundtrack was free from any distortion, and the actor’s voices sounded smooth and natural.

Audio: **.5/*****


Bonus Material: all items are in HD.

Commentary with director Sam Mendes and screenwriter Justin Haythe: Mendes primarily runs the track and he goes into depth about the plot and the characters more so than just the usual movie making process.

Lives of Quiet Desperation: The Making of Revolutionary Road (29:00): Mendes, Haythe, Producers John Hart and Bobby Cohen, DiCaprio and Winslet, turn in a fine EPK feature. Everyone discusses the book and there love for it, then the process of getting it made, including costuming and props. There’s also a good discussion on the choice of houses and neighborhoods that figure in so prominently to the story.

Deleted Scenes with optional commentary from Mendes and Haythe (25:15): a whopping fifteen deleted scenes adds some more texture and color to the story, with more time spent on character building through a bunch of flashbacks. The commentary is interesting since we hear how Mendes approached the translation from book to film and his thoughts on why the scenes were removed.

Richard Yates: The Wages of Truth (26:04): Yates daughters along with his friends discuss his life, his work and the man himself. They also talk about Yates wife and her life with him. Everyone is very forthcoming about his demons and his mental issues (including alcoholism) and it makes for a good introduction to Yates.

Theatrical Trailer.

Bonus Material: ***/*****


Conclusions:
While we’ve journeyed down similar roads in the past, DiCaprio, Winslet and Shannon give great performances on the great looking disc.
ISO "Lost" ARG prints from Kevin Tong, Olly Moss, Eric Tan and Methane Studios.  PM me if you want to sell!

All reviews done on a Marantz VP11S1 1080p DLP projector.

Displays professionally calibrated by Gregg Loewen of Lion AV.

#2 of 2 Yumbo

Yumbo

    Screenwriter

  • 2,243 posts
  • Join Date: Sep 13 1999

Posted May 29 2009 - 04:36 PM

I really liked this; much better than The Reader.
Leonardo should have been nominated.

Presentation was very good.
Score was memorable, and VERY effective as well.