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DVD Review HTF HD DVD REVIEW: August Rush (1 Viewer)

Matt Hough

Senior HTF Member
Apr 24, 2006
Charlotte, NC
Real Name
Matt Hough

August Rush (HD DVD and DVD Combo) Directed by Kirsten Sheridan Studio: Warner Bros. Year: 2007 Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1 1080p VC-1 codec Running Time: 113 minutes Rating: PG Audio: Dolby TrueHD 5.1 English; Dolby Digital Plus 5.1 French, Spanish Subtitles: English, French Spanish MSRP: $ 35.99 Release Date: April 1, 2008 Review Date: May 8, 2008
The Film
You’d have to have a heart of stone not to be moved by the final few minutes of Kirsten Sheridan’s August Rush. Despite massive emotional manipulation and plot twists so diabolical to wring tears from the eyes that it’s downright shameful, the movie does exert an undeniable affecting pull. The machinations are clumsy, but they get the job done. Orphan Evan Taylor (Freddie Highmore) has unhappily waited for eleven years in a children’s home for his unknown parents to come for him. In flashbacks we see the child conceived during a one night stand between concert cellist Lyla Novacek (Keri Russell) and grunge band lead singer Louis Connelly (Jonathan Rhys Meyers). They’re soul mates who are torn apart by her manipulative, class obsessed father (William Sadler), and when they lose touch with each other and Lyla gives birth prematurely to her child, the father tells her the infant died at birth and forges papers to put the boy in a children’s home. Now more than a decade later, Evan runs away from the home to try to find his parents and to pursue notes and beats in his head that he can’t yet understand. He’s a child prodigy, you see, and he quickly becomes the interest of street hustler Wizard (Robin Williams) who recognizes the boy could be his ticket out of condemned buildings housed with a bunch of other street urchins in a Fagin-like existence. Not melodramatic enough for you? There’s also a kindly social worker (Terrence Howard) who tries to help the boy, a minister (Mykelti Williamson) who sees the boy’s gifts and gets him enrolled in Julliard, and a Julliard headmistress (Marian Seldes) who allows the boy to write his own symphonies. All of this happens, of course, while mother Lyla and father Louis, though housed in Chicago and San Francisco respectively, feel compelled to return to New York City, drawn by some invisible parenting string. It’s a wonderful cast of actors doing their best with these cardboard character concoctions, but even the most forgiving audience member would have to be resentful of the series of contrivances that, for example, have Rhys Myers and Highmore playing dueling guitar riffs in the park together, or a vital fax on the boy that just happens to tumble from the paper carriage seconds before Howard could see it and take action. And wouldn’t an eleven year old boy who had written a major symphony and who can master any instrument in mere minutes after picking it up not be given major coverage in the New York papers and thus his picture be seen by his mother weeks before the fateful night of their first meeting? No, one must simply turn off his brain and surrender to the emotional tugs at the heartstrings that the Nick Castle-James V. Hart screenplay provides. Too much thinking about the set-ups would cause this fabricated house of cards to collapse instantly. Freddie Highmore made very favorable impressions in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Finding Neverland, and he’s no less winning here, convincingly portraying this musical wunderkind. Keri Russell makes a lovely, lovelorn cellist even with an underwritten character. Jonathan Rhys Myers’ vocal stylings aren’t to my taste, but he’s convincing in his feeling of everlasting loss of this special girl. Robin Williams gets to overact like fun as the scheming Wizard while Howard, Williamson, and Seldes are all just right for their parts. Alex O’Laughlin as Rhys Myers’ Irish older brother has some good moments as well. I liked the counterpoint construction of Rhys Myers and Russell playing with their respective musicians that happens both at the beginning and the end of the movie. Director Sheridan fashions those sequences well. Some other scenes, though, like Highmore being tormented by bullying older boys at the home or a climactic scene with Robin Williams in the subway are rather forced and somewhat awkwardly handled.
Video Quality
The film’s 2.40:1 original theatrical aspect ratio is beautifully delivered in a 1080p transfer using the VC-1 codec. The image is for the most part thoroughly dimensional and features very accurate flesh tones and nicely rendered color saturation. Blacks are also well handled and shadow detail first rate. Occasionally in low lit scenes, the image flattens out and dimensionality suffers, but for the most part, this is a top notch high definition transfer. The film is divided into 31 chapters.
Audio Quality
The Dolby TrueHD 5.1 audio track is a thing of beauty relying on the surrounds to greatly enhance the music-heavy soundtrack of the film. While the surrounds nor subwoofer is used for optimum effect in portions of the film that don’t rely on music to drive them, the audio quality is still mostly stellar.
Special Features
The HD DVD offers 7 deleted scenes which must be watched separately and can’t be played all at one time. None of the scenes in themselves are vital to the film (though one encounter in San Francisco between Rhys Myers and O’Laughlin is interesting and the subway scene between Highmore and Williams is also extended) so none are really missed in the final film. They’re in standard definition and run a total of 10½ minutes.
In Conclusion
3/5 (not an average)
August Rush is not first class drama. It’s manipulative in the worst sense, but I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that I was curious to see how it ended, and I did end the movie with a lump in my throat. This HD DVD presents the film with optimum visual and sound quality. Matt Hough Charlotte, NC [PG]118399403[/PG]


Senior HTF Member
Sep 13, 1999
Real Name
Chris Caine
Loved the music, and the final piece with the little girl singing.


Feb 6, 2008
Real Name
Victor Bullara


Bought it as "previously viewed" at Blockbuster for $10

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