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Blu-ray Reviews

The Insider Blu-ray Review

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#1 of 3 OFFLINE   Matt Hough

Matt Hough

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Posted February 28 2013 - 12:57 PM

[color= black;][font=" times new roman;"]Michael Mann’s The Insider actually takes us into the inner workings of two different corporate entities: big tobacco and CBS, and the resultant views are not pretty. Incisive and riveting at its best if somewhat overlong, The Insider pits the little guy against big money interests and comes out a winner at least dramatically even if the people involved in the true story didn’t emerge unscathed by the bitter business of corporate politics.[/color][/font]

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[color= black;][font=" times new roman;"]The Insider (Blu-ray)[/color][/font]
[color= black;][font=" times new roman;"]Directed by Michael Mann

Studio: Touchstone
Year: 1999
Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1 1080p AVC codec
Running Time: 157 minutes
Rating: R
Audio: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 English; Dolby Digital 5.1 French, 2.0 Spanish
Subtitles: SDH, French, Spanish, Portuguese[/color][/font]

[color= black;][font=" times new roman;"]Region:[/color][/font][color= black;][font=" times new roman;"] A
MSRP: $ 20.00[/color][/font]

[color= black;][font=" times new roman;"]Release Date: February 19, 2013[/color][/font]

[font=" times new roman;"]Review Date: February 28, 2013[/font]

[font=" times new roman;"]The Film[/font]

[font=" times new roman;"]4.5/5[/font]

[font=" times new roman;"]When chief chemist Dr. Jeffrey Wigand (Russell Crowe) for Brown & Williamson Tobacco Company can no longer keep silent about the toxic effects of nicotine on the consumer, he’s summarily fired from the company and bound by a confidentiality agreement not to divulge his knowledge to the public. When 60 Minutes news producer Lowell Bergman (Al Pacino) becomes convinced Dr. Wigand has a story worth telling, he uses all of his considerable charms and convincing arguments into making Wigand make a statement on the record. Once Brown & Williamson find out that their gag order is about to be breeched, there begins a systematic array of physical, mental, emotional, and legal intimidations used against Wigand to silence him. CBS is also intimidated into backing down from their upcoming story when threatened with potential multi-billion dollar lawsuits right at a time when the company might be purchased by Westinghouse. Things go from bad to worse as Wigand and Bergman both find themselves solitary in their own worlds without the expected support of loved ones and/or corporate big shots.[/font]

[font=" times new roman;"]The screenplay by Eric Roth and director Michael Mann scrupulously divides its attention between the effects on the personal and professional lives of both Dr. Wigand and Lowell Bergman (hence the running time of over two-and-a-half hours). The Wigand portions of the film seem to be the ones with more connection to the audience as these segments involve the disruption of his family life, the threat of incarceration, the trashing of his personal integrity, and the dissolution of his marriage, all for following a moral imperative in the hopes of saving lives. The brouhaha in the CBS offices over whether to air the originally cut together broadcast, an edited version of the interview which cuts much of the soul of it away, or discarding it completely is interesting but a bit pretentiously ponderous in its arguments about journalistic integrity. Michael Mann certainly keeps the camera moving to keep any windy philosophical arguments visually snappy realizing that his movie is running long. Rarely do sequences with a few people involved not find themselves filmed from a dozen different angles with quick cutting very reminiscent of Mann’s directorial style. While the dramatic scenes don’t furnish especially satisfactory closure, there are climactic text screens which bring us up to date (at least to 1999) about the consequences of the events portrayed in the film.[/font]

[font=" times new roman;"]As a follow-up to his sensational performance in L.A. Confidential, Russell Crowe is superb as Dr. Jeffrey Wigand. He is fully convincing as a dedicated family man, a brilliant scientist (who also speaks Japanese), and a man who simply would not be pushed around. His multi-dimensional role is more widely emotional than Al Pacino’s Lowell Bergman who often uses bombast to make his points and who rarely gets scenes simply to sit and ponder. Still, Pacino is dynamic when the scene calls for it, and he’s always “on” even when his lack of subtlety can sometimes become tiresome. Christopher Plummer doesn’t paint the rosiest picture of famous newsman Mike Wallace, portrayed here as a sometimes arrogant, entitled prima donna in addition to being a first class interviewer. Diane Venora gets some prime moments as Wigand’s wife Liane who crumbles under the pressure of the media and her husband’s growing sense of helplessness. Also making important appearances are Philip Baker Hall as 60 Minutes’ head honcho Don Hewitt, Gina Gershon as a CBS corporate attorney who cautions about potential litigation, and Bruce McGill as a Mississippi attorney who deposes Wigand in his state in order to circumvent the gag order from Kentucky. [/font]

[font=" times new roman;"]Video Quality[/font]

[font=" times new roman;"]4.5/5[/font]

[font=" times new roman;"]The film’s Panavision aspect ratio of 2.39:1 is faithfully reproduced in this 1080p transfer using the AVC codec. Through sharpness is generally excellent with lots of details to be seen in faces, hair, and clothes, there are certain shots (often close-ups of Al Pacino) where the image goes unnecessarily soft. Color saturation levels are very good even if occasionally skin tones can get a little warm and rosy. Black levels are quite excellent. The film has been divided into 30 chapters.[/font]

[font=" times new roman;"]Audio Quality[/font]

[font=" times new roman;"]4/5[/font]

[font=" times new roman;"]The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 sound mix tends to stay more with the front channels rather than delivering a fully surround audio experience. Occasionally Lisa Gerrard and Pieter Bourke’s music gets the full spread of the fronts and rears, and there are some sporadic uses of ambient sounds in the rears. Much of the film’s sound mix, however, is frontcentric. Dialogue is rooted to the center channel.[/font]

[font=" times new roman;"]Special Features[/font]

[font=" times new roman;"]2/5[/font]

[font=" times new roman;"]Both bonus features are presented in 480i.[/font]

[font=" times new roman;"]An electronic press kit production featurette features brief sound bites from director Michael Mann, stars Al Pacino, Russell Crowe, and Christopher Plummer, and real-life counterparts Dr. Jeffrey Wigand and Lowell Bergman telling the story of the film. It runs 7 minutes.[/font]

[font=" times new roman;"]The theatrical trailer runs 2 ½ minutes.[/font]

[font=" times new roman;"]There are 1080p promo trailers for Who Framed Roger Rabbit and ABC’s Red Widow.[/font]

[font=" times new roman;"]In Conclusion[/font]

[font=" times new roman;"]4/5 (not an average)[/font]

[font=" times new roman;"]An absorbing if overextended dramatized look into the true story of tobacco industry whistle-blower Jeffrey Wigand gives Michael Mann’s The Insider the look and sound of the real McCoy. Very good video and audio transfers distinguish this recommended Blu-ray release.[/font]

[font=" times new roman;"]Matt Hough[/font]

[font=" times new roman;"]Charlotte, NC[/font]

#2 of 3 OFFLINE   Charles_Y


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Posted March 04 2013 - 01:39 AM

Thanks for the review. I really enjoyed this film and easily see it as an award winner. I personally don't like the cinematography much. Some sequences look too bizarre. A night time driving range looks like he was shooting under UV light - ridiculous. Well... that is a subject for another thread. My primary compliant is the blatant false advertising on the back cover. I hope it was a last minute issue but the supplements listed on the are in error. A "Production Featurette" is listed with a hyphen (-) and then an "Audio commentary" with Crowe and Mann. Does that mean a featurette AND a commentary are included or that the commentary IS the featurette? The "Inside a Scene" is no where to be found. The featurette added is a pathetic 7 minute fluff piece. Very poor treatment of this title. I still have th older DVD, which has all that is listed on the BD. Touchstone/Disney, whatever should fix this. The story behind this scandal is deserving of some real extras. How about the 60 minutes segment to start?

#3 of 3 OFFLINE   Matt Hough

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Posted March 04 2013 - 04:26 AM

It certainly would have been great to see the entire 60 Minutes piece.

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