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Blu-ray Reviews

Unknown Blu-Ray



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13 replies to this topic

#1 of 14 OFFLINE   Ken_McAlinden

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Posted June 21 2011 - 01:25 AM

http://static.hometh...um.com/imgrepo/

Unknown

Directed By: Jaume Collet-Serra

Starring: Liam Neeson, Diane Kruger, January Jones, Aidan Quinn, Bruno Ganz, Frank Langella


Studio: Warner

Year: 2011

Rated: PG-13

Film Length: 113 minutes

Aspect Ratio: 2.4:1


Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish, Portuguese

Release Date: June 21, 2011

The Film ***½

In Unknown, Liam Neeson plays Dr. Martin Harris, who has recently arrived in Paris with his wife, Liz (Jones), to attend a prestigious biotechnology seminar. While traveling back to the airport to retrieve a briefcase he left behind, Martin's taxi is in a serious accident leaving him hospitalized and in a coma. He wakes up four days later and upon leaving the hospital, he is shocked to discover that his wife Liz does not recognize him and another man (Quinn) has assumed his identity. His disorientation quickly evolves into paranoia when he becomes convinced that he is being followed. In his quest to unravel the mystery surrounding his stolen identity, he tracks down Sara (Kruger), the taxi driver who rescued him from her crashed cab, and enlists the aid of Jurgen (Ganz), a former East German foreign intelligence agent.

  Unknown is a modestly effective thriller that's primary strength is its ability to keep viewers guessing. Even the genre of the film seems in doubt at times as the source of the disorienting experiences of Neeson's character seems alternately psychological, supernatural, and/or practical. While almost no element of the film is something a modestly film-literate viewer can claim to have never seen before, Director Jaume Collet-Serra uses the familiar elements to create expectations in viewers that are in turn shattered, inverted, and occasionally met straight on. The ultimate solutions to the film's mysteries, which unravel fast and furiously during the final reel, hold up under scrutiny better than the twist that provided the climax of Collet-Serra's previous film, the Bad Seed-ish horror psycho-drama Orphan, while providing the same sort of visceral kick.


Stylistically, Collet-Serra employs a similar visual approach as he did with Orphan, using lots of filtering, monochromatic lighting, "Kubrickian" pushed exposures, and deep blacks with high contrast to create a heightened reality that is entirely appropriate for the game of "guess the genre" built into the film's plot. The moody lighting suggest a "Sixth Sense" style supernatural element. At the same time, the presence of both a cool blonde (Kruger) and a zero degrees Kelvin blonde (Jones) as well as Neeson's character's inability to convince the authorities of anything he knows to be true is purposely evocative of Alfred Hitchcock. Neeson fares well as the film's central "everyman/no-man", providing a real sense of vulnerability not evidenced in his recent forays as an action hero in Taken and The A-Team. Collet-Serra wisely stages the violent action scenes as messy and awkward without a single participant involved in a life or death struggle ever demonstrating an intimate knowledge of Kung Fu. The sense that Neeson's character is in real danger is essential to maintaining the viewer's interest throughout the film, but it does get almost comically repetitive how frequently he is saved by one other character in particular. A supporting cast featuring the likes of Diane Kruger, Frank Langella, and Bruno Ganz helps tremendously to elevate the material. A scene late in the film between Ganz and Langella will likely make viewers wish they were watching a film about just those two characters.


While the twisty plot, appealing stylization, and strong central performance from Liam Neeson make the film an entertaining experience for first time viewers, there is almost literally nothing to the film except its story. The best films relying on twisty plots and rug pulling revelations, such as David Mamet's House of Games, work on levels above and beyond the mechanics of the plot (in the case of ...Games it presented an intriguing psychological profile of a repressed and compulsive personality). Once Unknown plays out, there is little depth or substance to make it stick in a viewer's mind other than to make sure all of the puzzle pieces actually fit together. While this keeps the film from achieving greatness, there's a lot worse you could say about a film than that it provides an engaging and entertaining two hours. It is certainly worth a rental, and unlike most films in the genre, the more cinematically well-versed you are in other thrillers, the better it works.


The Video ****½

The 1080p high definition presentation is letterboxed to the film's original theatrical aspect ratio of 2.4:1 and is encoded via the AVC codec. The purposely unnatural color palette and cinematic style are rendered darn near perfectly on this Blu-ray disc. It might not work as reference material for the capabilities of the Blu-ray format due to the high contrast, blown-out highlights, and unnatural lighting, but there is little doubt that it looks exactly as the director and cinematographer intended it to look.

The Audio ****½

The DTS-HD MA 5.1 lossless encoding of the film's soundtrack provides a similarly outstanding experience. The mix presents an enveloping surround experience, especially during the film's action set-pieces such as the taxi crash that sets the film's events in motion. Quieter scenes are supported by low level ambience in the surrounds but the level of integration of the front and rear audio fields is at times inconsistent. The lossless encoding provides the outstanding fidelity one would expect from a modern production. Dolby Digital 5.1 alternate language dubs are provided in French, Spanish, and Portuguese.

The Extras *

When the disc is first played, the viewer is greeted with the following skippable promos presented in AVC encoded video:

  • Warner Blu-ray Promo (1:53 - Dolby Digital 5.1)
  • Green Lantern Theatrical Trailer (2:32 - Dolby Digital 2.0)

Proper extras are meager and consist of only two brief featurettes that are more promotional than informative:


Liam Neeson: Known Action Hero (4:33) is filled with praise for Neeson from his various collaborators as well as Neeson's thoughts on the material, his character, and the process of making the film. On camera comments are provided by Neeson ("Dr. Martin Harris"), Frank Langella ("Rodney Cole"), January Jones ("Liz Harris"), Director Jaume Collet-Serra, Producer Joel Silver, Diane Kruger ("Gina"), Production Designer Richard Bridgland, Aidan Quinn ("The Other Dr. Martin Harris"), and Stunt Coordinator Olivier Schneider (who also played "Smith").



Unknown: What is Known? (4:24) Is basically an extended commercial for the movie with cast members, director an producer singing each others praises. On-camera comments are provided by Neeson, Kruger, Jones, Silver, Langella, Collet-Serra, and Sebastian Koch ("Professor Bressler"),


Finally, as with most Blu-rays of Warner theatrical new releases, this two-disc set also includes a SD DVD with Digital Copy.  This includes a bare bones SD DVD presentation of the theatrical cut of the film with Dolby Digital 5.1 English audio and a choice of English SDH, French, or Spanish subtitles.  Also on the disc is a choice of either a Windows Media or iTunes digital copy of the film for portable media devices.


Packaging

The disc is enclosed in a standard Blu-ray case with die-cut holes to reduce plastic use and an extra hub on the inner left side allowing it to accommodate the SD DVD/digital copy disc as well as the BD of the film. The only insert is a sheet with the code to unlock the iTunes or Windows Media digital copy. The hard case is enclosed in a cardboard slipcover which reproduces the same art with additional promotional text highlighting the SD DVD & digital copy.


Summary ***½

Unknown is an entertaining and intriguing mystery-thriller with a "keep you guessing" plot that is more or less an end unto itself. Audiences familiar with the genre films that Director Jaume Collet-Serra uses as touchstones will likely enjoy the guessing game more than others. Heavily stylized visuals, a solid lead performance by Liam Neeson, and strong support from Diane Kruger, Frank Langella, and Bruno Ganz make it an entertaining diversion even for those not interested in playing. The Blu-ray presentation features outstanding audio and video with meager electronic press kit-style extras.


Ken McAlinden
Livonia, MI USA

#2 of 14 OFFLINE   Ronald Epstein

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Posted June 21 2011 - 01:53 AM

Ken,


Happy you chose to review this film.


I watched the Blu-ray a week ago, not expecting to enjoy

the film, but rather surprised by how much I did.


I think you summed up the real draw to this film rather well.

It's a guessing game that's more story than anything else --

but it does manage to keep the viewer intrigued throughout.


I particularly enjoyed the inclusion of Bruno Ganz in this film

who seemed much mellower than in his Downfall performance.  Posted Image


I would definitely recommend this film, at the very least, as

a rental.  That's not degrading the movie in any way.  I think
it's a definite "must watch."

 

 

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#3 of 14 OFFLINE   cineMANIAC

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Posted June 21 2011 - 02:23 AM

I enjoyed this film as well - wasn't expecting much when I went to see it theatrically but I walked out satisfied, something which is becoming rarer these days. The look of the film reminded me of Spielberg's Minority Report with the washed out colors and high contrast. I like that Warner is offering two different Blu-ray versions and pricing them appropriately. I want the movie-only edition which is $17.99 - more than fair for a new release.


 

RIP Roberto Gomez Bolanos. 


#4 of 14 OFFLINE   Adam Gregorich

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Posted June 21 2011 - 03:03 AM

Thanks for the review Ken.  My wife and I really enjoyed this as well.  While not earth-shattering the twist at the end was very satisfying.  I recommend it as well, with the only reservation that it seems a bit light on special features.



#5 of 14 OFFLINE   Carlo Medina

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Posted June 21 2011 - 05:58 AM

I was looking to blind buy this and now having read your review I think I will.


One question: since it seems the BD/DVD combo pack has very little in the way of extras, I'm assuming the BD only won't be missing anything from the BD half of the combo pack? That will save me some $$$.


Thanks!


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#6 of 14 OFFLINE   Ken_McAlinden

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Posted June 21 2011 - 06:43 AM


Originally Posted by Carlo Medina 

I was looking to blind buy this and now having read your review I think I will.


One question: since it seems the BD/DVD combo pack has very little in the way of extras, I'm assuming the BD only won't be missing anything from the BD half of the combo pack? That will save me some $$$.


Thanks!



You are correct, Carlo.  The only differences between the 1-disc and 2-disc versions are the slipcover and the extras-free SD-DVD w/digital copy (and US$5 or so retail price).  The extras are so slight that you would not miss them anyway, but for what its worth, they are there. Posted Image



Ken McAlinden
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#7 of 14 OFFLINE   Robert Crawford

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Posted June 21 2011 - 04:18 PM



Originally Posted by Ken_McAlinden 




You are correct, Carlo.  The only differences between the 1-disc and 2-disc versions are the slipcover and the extras-free SD-DVD w/digital copy (and US$5 or so retail price).  The extras are so slight that you would not miss them anyway, but for what its worth, they are there. Posted Image




Thanks Ken, I ordered the 1-disc release.








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#8 of 14 OFFLINE   20105730210

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Posted June 22 2011 - 11:11 PM


Blu-ray to iPhone Converter

do you know it ,if you want to know ,you can enter it http://www.softmapwi...ex.php/Software



#9 of 14 OFFLINE   Harry-N

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Posted July 28 2011 - 01:49 AM

We finally watched the film this week.  I wanted to see it in the theater but we never got around to it, so I waited for it to come out on home video.


The basic plot sounded to me a little like the old UPN television series, NOWHERE MAN, where a man's identity is stolen and his wife doesn't recognize him.  And yet as my wife and I watched, we were constantly reminded of two different movies - with UNKNOWN being a sort of amalgam of the two of them: as if this were really FRANTIC meets THE BOURNE IDENTITY.


And I don't mean that in a bad way - UNKNOWN early on had some very similar scenes to FRANTIC: a doctor and his wife arrive in a European city for a conference, but a baggage mishap separates the couple, with the doctor befriending a young local female to help him out.  Now add in the assassination of a foreign dignitary and we get into the BOURNE connection.  Since I love both FRANTIC and THE BOURNE IDENTITY, this seemed a natural fit.


I liked this one.


Harry


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#10 of 14 OFFLINE   Anthony Neilson

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Posted July 28 2011 - 02:48 AM

A lot of films are described as "Hitchcockian" but this film really did remind me of late period Hitch, from TORN CURTAIN onwards. Not his most illustrious period, admittedly; but it felt like the kind of story he'd have gone for and the actors and locations only reinforced that. It certainly wasn't the horrid euro-pudding it could have been. Comfort food for old-school thriller fans.
I've been going to bed early . . .

#11 of 14 Guest__*

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Posted July 29 2011 - 07:13 AM

If you ever had any doubts that January Jones couldn't act, this is the movie for you.

#12 of 14 OFFLINE   ManW_TheUncool

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Posted July 29 2011 - 11:48 PM

Haven't seen it yet -- was thinking a rental, especially given the mixed reviews amongst critics -- but are you saying she really cannot act? Posted Image



And thanks for the fine review, Ken.


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#13 of 14 OFFLINE   Harry-N

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Posted August 23 2011 - 06:02 AM

Best Buy has the UNKNOWN Blu-Ray+DVD+Digital Download Combo pack reduced to $14.99, and the DVD-only to $9.99.  I picked up the Blu-Ray Pack today.  Looks great.  We had only seen the DVD version prior.


Harry


My DVD Collection

A fugitive moves on, through anguished tunnels of time, down dim streets, into dark corners. And each new day offers fear and frustration, tastes of honey and hemlock. But if there is a hazard, there is also hope. - Closing narration to THE FUGITIVE, "Death Is The Door Prize".

#14 of 14 OFFLINE   JParker

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Posted July 03 2012 - 10:55 AM

If you ever had any doubts that January Jones couldn't act, this is the movie for you.

LOL! :D I you're out there Paul, you're exactly right, and a source of some unintentional -- or not, humor but I won't post spoilers! Well, there's an explosion and it was like an old Warner Brothers cartoon, rather nicely done, actually! ;)