Wednesday, January 27, 2010

A Serious Man Blu-ray Review

Disc Size: 37.4 GB
Film Size: 30.4 GB
Film Rating: R
Region: A

The Video
A Serious Man makes its Blu-ray debut with a 1080p AVC/MPEG-4 video presentation. The film starts in a 1:33:1 aspect ratio and opens up to a 1:85:1 aspect ratio once the introduction is over. The movie looks absolutely stunning in high-definition, much more than any screenshot could capture accurately.

The level of details is of the highest quality on Blu-ray. Whether it be a close-up or wide shot, everything stands out and looks great. There are many wide shots in particular that are jaw-dropping. Even a grocery store shot from the air captures every little detail, everything pops and everything has dimension.

The colors are nice as well, they are always rich and vibrant whenever the scene allows. Black levels are also very solid, never lacking whatsoever. The movie just has so much depth that comes with this high-def transfer.

The level of detail is so good it actually brings out a lot of issues with makeup, particularly that of lead actor Michael Stuhlbarg. Not every shot is extremely gorgeous, but there is no doubt that Universal Studios Home Entertainment has provided a very strong and very accurate to the source transfer. This is what Blu-ray is all about! 10/10.

The Audio
A 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track is included, and while it’s not as impressive as the video presentation, it’s certainly a very fitting audio experience. The movie’s tone is actually fairly quiet, very little happens and very little need for sound effects actually.

Dialogue is key here and is always front and center, but always crisp and clear. The film’s sound effects are more casual and they are mostly front heavy as well, coming from the front left and right speakers for the majority of the film. There are some surround sound effects, particularly scenes outdoors, in which we will hear birds chirping lightly at times.

The film’s music is hardly impactful, but I don’t think it was intended to be. Quality wise it’s light but still comes through clearly and beautifully. I’m not particularly impressed by this track, but I’m honestly not disappointed at all. The movie really doesn’t feel like something that could have used much as far as surround use.

The mix works with what it has, and what it has is fairly basic. Everything that is in the mix is always clear and easy to understand, and I really can’t expect much more from this one. I really can’t imagine the mix sounding much better. 7.5/10.

The Extras

Becoming Serious (17:04) (HD)
Joel and Ethan Coen talk about ‘A Serious Man’, covering many aspects of production. They start off by discussing their ideas for the film’s introduction. The cast and crew involved also talk about the story and production as well. This is certainly an entertaining featurette that any fan of the film will enjoy.

Creating 1967 (13:43) (HD)
The film takes place in 1967, so they talk about all the big and little details in recreating 1967.

Hebrew and Yiddish for Goys (2:14) (HD)
A funny feature, definitions pop up for words such as ‘Bar Mitzvah’. This is jokingly intended for ‘Goys’ which are also known as ‘Non-Jews.’

My Scenes (BD-Live enabled)
Bookmark your favorite scenes and return to them later.

Extras on the disc are very basic; I did enjoy the two behind-the-scenes featurettes. I did not expect an audio commentary, as I believe the Coen brothers are known for not providing those for their films. They did provide a lot of insight in the ‘Becoming Serious’ featurette though. 6/10.

The Movie
A Serious Man is something that I have been very anxious to see, having missed it during its theatrical run. The film comes from the Academy Award winning Directors, Joel and Ethan Coen. The brothers are known for directing many acclaimed films such as Fargo and Academy Award winner for Best Picture, No Country for Old Men.

Okay, so I’ll be honest. After seeing A Serious Man, I have to say I was quite disappointed. I’ve always found amusement from any Coen brothers production, but this one is certainly one of the most disappointing I have yet to come across. They are known for their dark humor and fairly simple stories, but I just didn’t find myself caring much at all this time around.

The story is about an ordinary man’s quest to become a serious man. The film stars Michael Stuhlbarg as Physics professor Larry Gopnik. Larry is an average man with lots of issues in his life, a highlight being that his wife is leaving him for his best friend. There are many more issues involving his brother, his children, his neighbors, and his career as a teacher.

In order to make sense of anything Larry ends up going to three different rabbis, each with their own bits of advice which brings the most amount of humor to the film. The ending is not so different from other Coen productions such as No Country for Old Men, only less to think about this time.

I actually think the ending will throw off many viewers, particularly those who do not care for Coen productions or unaware of their Directing style. The more and more that I watched No Country for Old Men, the more I understood its ending. In this case, I just thought it ends very abruptly and was left with no desire to watch the film again anytime soon.

For those looking for a decent viewing, you can’t go wrong with this film, there are certainly MANY worse things you could be doing with your time than watching this. It’s an entertaining film and the humor is quite good at times, but otherwise the replay value for this one is quite low in my opinion.

If you have interest in this film I would certainly recommend you give it a rent first as even Coen fans many not like this one as much as past films. I certainly don’t think the movie is bad whatsoever, but I find myself a bit more critical because the Coen brothers have done much better work in the past. 6.5/10.

Blu-news Summary
The Blu-ray release is absolutely gorgeous as far as video presentation is concerned. The audio presentation is light but fitting, and the extras are satisfying as well. The Blu-ray release is a ‘Must Own’ for fans of the film, and ‘Worth A Look’ to all others.

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