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Blu-ray Reviews

The Adjustment Bureau Blu-ray



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#1 of 6 OFFLINE   Kevin EK

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Posted June 24 2011 - 11:05 AM

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THE ADJUSTMENT BUREAU


Studio: Universal

Year: 2011

Length:  1 hr 46 mins

Genre:  Romance/Adventure


Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1


BD Resolution: 1080p

BD Video Codec: VC-1 (@ an average 32 mbps)

Color/B&W: Color


Audio:

English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 (@ an average 3.0 mbps, up to 4.5 mbps in the big scenes)

Spanish DTS 5.1

French DTS 5.1

English DVS (Descriptive Visual Service) 2.0


Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish


Film Rating: PG-13 (Brief Strong Language, Some Sexuality and a Violent Image)


Release Date: June 21, 2011


Starring:  Matt Damon, Emily Blunt, Anthony Mackie, John Slattery, Michael Kelly and Terence Stamp

Based on the short story “Adjustment Team” by Philip K. Dick

Written and Directed by: George Nolfi


Film Rating:    2 ½/5


PLEASE BEWARE OF SPOILERS WITHIN THIS PARAGRAPH - YOU CAN MOVE ON TO THE SECOND PARAGRAPH TO ADDRESS THE TECHNICAL ISSUES:  The Adjustment Bureau, once you actually watch the movie, is not exactly what you might be thinking after seeing the various trailers and promos.  It is not Inception, since it has nothing to do with dream states, and it is not Hereafter, since it isn’t about contact with the departed.  Instead, the movie is a simple romance between Matt Damon’s David  and Emily Blunt’s Elise, with the structure following a traditional “Boy Meets Girl” path.  There’s some high-concept material coming directly from Philip K. Dick’s short story “Adjustment Team”, and some fun imagery with doors in New York City opening into unexpected places, but the movie remains a simple romance.   As such, it works here and there.  Damon and Blunt have some chemistry, and their dialogue is usually relaxed, but the crucial first meeting simply doesn’t establish the strong bond that will be necessary to make the rest of the movie work.   Director George Nolfi (previously the screenwriter of Ocean’s Twelve and The Sentinel, as well as contributing to the script for The Bourne Ultimatum) thankfully keeps the action simple throughout, so it’s fairly easy to follow the story and to see who is where at any time.  But this simplicity also keeps the movie from getting any farther than a rudimentary level of story and character.  We are told a few basic things about Damon’s character, and even less about Blunt’s, and we rarely get to see them develop beyond the simplest dictates of the plot.  So in the end, the movie works okay, but never really soars.  The production values are quite good, with the film literally running all across New York City and the cast remains appealing.  Fans of Matt Damon and Emily Blunt will likely want to have a copy of this film.  Fans of Inception may find themselves a bit less satisfied.


The Adjustment Bureau has been released on standard definition DVD and Blu-ray this week.   The Blu-ray packaging includes the DVD of the film, as well as instructions for downloading a digital copy.  The Blu-ray disc itself contains a high definition picture and sound transfer of the movie, along with all the extras from the DVD and one further item – an interactive map of New York City with options for viewing film clips and set footage, as well as travelling through the doors to the various junction points seen in the movie.  The Blu-ray also comes loaded with D-Box and pocket BLU functionality, as well as BD-Live options, which include the online viewing of a viewer-generated photo montage edited by George Nolfi.

                                                       

VIDEO QUALITY   4 ½/5

The Adjustment Bureau is presented in a 1080p VC-1 1.85:1 transfer that practically shimmers on the screen.  There’s some really nice shots on display here, with a wide range of flesh tones and textures.  Several opening shots at the Waldorf Hotel are incredibly clear.  The CGI additions to various shots are fairly seamless – and some scenes may surprise in that what you think must be CGI is a practical effect while the real CGI work is unnoticeable.  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 ½/5

The Adjustment Bureau is presented in a solid English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix in English, along with standard DTS 5.1 mixes in French and Spanish.  There is also an English Descriptive Visual Service track available.   The dialogue comes through loud and clear in the front channels, while there’s a satisfying level of atmospheric sound coming from the surround channels.  Given the immersive nature of many scenes in the film, the immersive nature of the mix is a very nice compliment.


SPECIAL FEATURES      3/5

The Blu-Ray presentation of The Adjustment Bureau comes with the usual BD-Live connectivity and My Scenes functionality, as well as pocket BLU, D-Box functionality, along with George Nolfi’s commentary,  all the extras from the DVD edition presented in high definition, and an exclusive interactive extra that allows the viewer to navigate the various doors in New York City.  There’s also an online bonus – a short photo montage edited by George Nolfi from submissions by various fans.



Feature Commentary with George Nolfi – This scene-specific commentary from George Nolfi can be a fairly quiet affair at times.  He goes silent and watches the movie for various scenes before piping back up and contributing further notes.  Much of his talk here has to do with his script for the movie, and how the story has been designed to unfold.  But there are some interesting revelations – particularly one moment where he reveals that a dance double was used for Emily Blunt, with CGI face replacement for a key scene.


Deleted and Extended Scenes – (6:54 Total, 1080p)  Six deleted scenes and extensions are provided here, mostly providing additional flavor to the film that really wasn’t needed for the final cut.  Two of these scenes are comic toss-offs featuring Daniel Dae Kim as another Bureau agent, two are bits of additional dialogue that flesh out earlier scenes, and the rest is pretty much odds and ends.  I understand that there was an alternate ending to the film, but it has not been included here.


The Labyrinth of Doors – (BLU-RAY EXCLUSIVE) – BIG SPOILERS IN THIS EXTRA FEATURE; DO NOT WORK WITH THIS UNTIL YOU HAVE SEEN THE MOVIE – This is a fun exercise for the viewer.  You are presented with an overhead map of New York City, with various door locations indicated.  If you click on a location, the map closes in (a la Google Earth) to a view that spotlights that location, and provides options for watching a movie clip, a brief set clip, or to go through the door to another location.  Most of the set clips are very brief and show how the shot or shots at each place were accomplished.  The Yankee Stadium bit is really instructive in this regard.  (Although once you know how the gag was accomplished, it’s really obvious when you watch the scene in the movie again – you can see the light from around the door frame…)  The bit about the Bureau’s building is a longer matter, going over six minutes and including interviews with various producers.   There were multiple locations used for the Bureau, all of which were combined in editing to create one story location.  Among the producers interviewed here is Chris Moore, which for some reason caused me to wonder if I would see him firing one of his underlings from Project Greenlight


Leaping Through New York – (7:36, 1080i) This short featurette includes footage at many of the New York City locations shown in the movie.  Like Die Hard: With A Vengeance, this is a film that really moves all the way around the city, showing scenes in a multitude of neighborhoods.  There’s some footage here showing how places were filmed on weekends (such as the Courthouse and 5th Avenue) since this would really not have worked well on a weekday.


Destined to Be – (4:51, 1080i)  This is a quick series of interview clips with George Nolfi and the cast about the basics of the plot.  It doesn’t spoil too much, but it also doesn’t do much more than scratch the surface.


Becoming Elise – (7:08, 1080i)  This featurette focuses on the dance training undergone by Emily Blunt in order to play the part of her dancer character.  This goes farther into depth than you might think, with some interesting shots of Blunt rehearsing with the real dancers in the movie, and some good quotes about the casting process and how Blunt had to maintain herself during the movie.  She gets in one good line about the food situation being the hardest part – she had to watch Matt Damon eating nice, cheesy snacks on set which she could not have while keeping her physique.  (Of course, this featurette does not discuss the use of CGI face replacement admitted by George Nolfi in his commentary…)

The film and special features are subtitled in English, French and Spanish.  The usual pop-up menu is present, along with a complete chapter menu.  When you first put the Blu-ray in the player, several trailers will load from BD-Live, which you can get past by hitting the “Next Chapter” button. 


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. 


            Your Life, Adjusted  (720p, Accessible online) – This is a series of photos submitted by fans and edited into a montage by George Nolfi.  I was able to watch about the first minute of this before either server demand or a problem farther down the pipeline made it impossible for me to see more.


My Scenes - The usual bookmarking feature is included here.


pocket BLU– The latest Blu-ray features of phone apps and social networking are included here for viewers with the right iPhones, Blackberries and other current hardware.


D-Box – D-Box functionality is included for viewers who have this capability in their home theater.


Online Movie Rentals – Via BD-Live, $2.99 rentals are available for Meet The Parents, Fast & Furious, Mamma Mia!, Coraline, Knocked Up, The 40 Year Old Virgin, Forgetting Sarah Marshall and Role Models.


DVD copy – The standard-definition DVD of this film is included in the Blu-ray packaging.  The film is presented in English, Spanish and French Dolby Digital 5.1 sound (albeit at 448 kbps), and the same English DVS 2.0 mix on the theatrical cut as can be found on the Blu-ray disc.  The DVD also contains standard definition copies of the extras seen on the Blu-ray, with the exception of the interactive NYC map.


Digital Copy – Instructions for downloading a digital copy of the Director’s Cut of the film are included on an insert in the packaging.


IN THE END...

The Adjustment Bureau is a romance that will likely appeal to fans of Matt Damon and Emily Blunt.  It’s a nice movie, albeit a fairly shallow one, that translates well to its Blu-ray presentation.  The Blu-ray comes with some good extras, including a commentary and an interactive NYC map, as well as more BD-Live material than one normally sees.  I recommend a rental for interested parties.


Kevin Koster

June 24, 2011. 



#2 of 6 OFFLINE   Robert George

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Posted June 24 2011 - 01:22 PM

I rarely feel compelled to enter discussions about the merits of the artistry of a film as I have always felt that is the most subjective aspect of the art form.  In this case I do feel compelled to offer another viewpoint of The Adjustment Bureau.


First and foremost, I am very sorry for those that have not seen the film reading this review before seeing the movie.  Not to knock your review Kevin, but had I read this before I saw this for the first time a few days ago, it would have ruined one of the rarest moments one can have in cinema, that of genuine surprise.  Not that my surprise at this story was the intention of the filmmakers, rather the marketing campaign was so inept that I had completely different expectations going in.  My surprise was almost profound, and certainly surprise of the most pleasant sort.  As the end credits began to roll, I actually said aloud, "now that was unexpected'.  But there was so much more before the end credits.


I will say up front that I obviously enjoyed this movie much more than Kevin did hence my disagreement with his review of the film itself.  Technical review is spot on, of course, but I found this to be much more than a "simple romance".  While the basic story of this film is a romance, there is little that I would call "simple".  The chemistry between the leads is almost electric.  Damon delivers a performance that is both restrained and intense.  He pulls off this turn with the same skill I remember in Good Will Hunting even though these two characters could not be more different.  Damon is a much better actor than he is usually given credit for, and this role is an example of that.  I suppose there is something simple about Emily Blunt in this film, simply perfect.  As the carefree dancer, she is the perfect counterpoint to Damon's rather straight laced politico.  Then there is the story these characters inhabit.  For one who might be the hopeless romantic, there is great power and emotion in a story of a love that defies everything, even destiny.


If you haven't seen The Adjustment Bureau, I recommend you watch it with an open mind and an open heart.  One of the greatest gifts of a filmmaker is to not only entertain the mind, but to move the heart, and to do this without resorting to hackneyed gimmicks is rare indeed.  I found The Adjustment Bureau to be a rare and unexpected gem of a movie.





#3 of 6 OFFLINE   Robert Crawford

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Posted June 24 2011 - 01:32 PM

I have to agree that it's more than a simple romance film and that I like it a lot more than this reviewer.  I'd viewed it during its theatrical run and will purchase the BRD once it hits a lower pricepoint.









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#4 of 6 OFFLINE   TonyD

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Posted June 24 2011 - 02:04 PM

Since I have a relatively nice home theater my wife and I rarely go to the movies anymore maybe twice a year. This was one of them and we loved it. It really isn't a simple love story, I feel thatit it is actually a very complex story that is about two people who are destined to be together in spite of the Adjustment Bureau. I dint see why Inception is even in the discussion they aren't alike even a tiny bit.
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#5 of 6 OFFLINE   Kevin EK

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Posted June 24 2011 - 05:55 PM

I'll add in a note to watch out for spoilers in the primary area of the review.  I try to be aware of these things, and really tried to stay away from any specific details about the story.  I honestly thought that I was doing a service to viewers in pointing out that this is a romance not an action thriller.  Otherwise, they would be renting or purchasing a title based on the ad campaign, which was not accurate to the thrust of the movie.  If I've spoiled the film for anyone, I apologize.  (At least so far, this thread hasn't generated a large number of views - so my warning has been placed on before too many people have seen it.)


I mentioned Inception because the marketing campaign was clearly tailored around that film.  Tony is correct that the films are not similar - but the ad campaign was, and therein lies the rub.  Unsuspecting viewers could easily make the mistake of thinking that this is a very different experience, which could lead to a much less positive reaction than the one Robert had.


I'm glad to see that there are fans for this film, and that people are finding more here than I did.


#6 of 6 OFFLINE   Adam Gregorich

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Posted June 27 2011 - 09:05 AM

I actually tried to see this in the theater but missed it.  I really enjoyed the film.  Compared to Inception (which Universal was trying to do) it does have a simplified plot, but I think it is also more elegant.  Kevin and I actually discussed this over the phone, and I think one of the key differences was when David and Elise first met at the hotel.  Kevin didn't find that scene as believable as I did.  I thought that David's past showed he could be impulsive, and combined with the concept of destiny I bought it.