Monday, March 15, 2010

Broken Embraces Blu-ray Review

Disc Size: 37.2 GB
Film Size: 29.6 GB
Film Rating: R
Region: A
The Video
Broken Embraces debuts on Blu-ray with a 1080p AVC/MPEG-4 video presentation that is nothing short of stunning. Previous Blu-ray release Volver featured an impressive and colorful experience, so I definitely expected the same here.

The Blu-ray release is a massive upgrade from DVD and is the only way the film should be seen. The film also features a very colorful and rich color palette that just leaps off the screen and features a high-def pop like only the best transfers do.

Black levels remain incredibly inky throughout while grain levels remain thin and pleasant throughout. The film often looks like the only thing separating you and the actors on screen is an open window, a window in which you could easily reach out and touch them.

There are a few better live action titles that make for slightly more impressive demo material, but I definitely think this is the best Broken Embraces could have looked. The transfer will leave any viewer satisfied and most definitely impressed. If you are going to see this movie, you must see it on Blu-ray. 9/10.

The Audio
A Spanish 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track is included as is a French 5.1 Dolby Digital Audio track. Optional English and French subtitles are included. The mix presented definitely makes for a much front heavy affair. Dialogue is presented front and center, always clear and easy to understand.

The film’s surround use moments are fairly reserved, although there is use throughout. The little audio effects here and there, such as environments or music do make a light but effective appearance in the surround area nice.

The film is definitely more dialogue based, although features some tense moments throughout which I do think were presented nicely. Overall though the mix is far from amazing, but I didn’t expect it to be whatsoever. Viewers should have no reason to complain though as the mix delivers everything in a very clear manner. 7.5/10.

The Extras

The Cannibalistic Councillor (7:35) (SD)
A short film by Pedro Almodóvar.

Deleted Scenes (12:20) (HD)
Three deleted scenes are included and are presented in high-definition.

Pedro Directs Penélope (5:53) (SD)
Go behind-the-scenes and see Pedro direct Penélope in a scene.

On The Red Carpet (3:13) (HD)
This is footage from the New York Film Festival closing night.

Variety Q&A (6:19) (HD)
With Penélope Cruz.

Theatrical Trailer (1:45) (HD)

Previews (HD)

BD-Live Portal
Download the latest trailers for upcoming Sony Pictures theatrical and Blu-ray releases.

The extras on this release are definitely interesting. I wish we received an audio commentary though; the film definitely calls for one. A more extensive behind-the-scenes look of production would have been great as well.

It would have been great to see more attention paid to the other actors in the film as well, as the bonus features included tend to focus a bit too much on Penélope, we already know she’s an incredible talent. Regardless I am definitely satisfied by what is included. 5.5/10.

The Movie
Broken Embraces is the latest film from the wonderful and popular Director Pedro Almodóvar. The film stars the wonderful Penélope Cruz and is best described as a love story involving four people. The film was snubbed by the Academy Awards this year, an award which I noted Roger Ebert felt the film deserved this year.

The movie was nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Foreign Language Film, but of course that awards show is not as exciting as the Oscars. Penélope Cruz plays a young actress named Lena who sacrifices everything for true love.

The movie also stars Lluís Homar as Mateo Blanco, a man who was once a film director but is now a blind man. The film travels during different times in his life and his performance is simply terrific throughout, although could be slightly confusing to some viewers.

The film is entirely in Spanish, something which I do know turns some viewers off. To be honest though, I never understand the dislike for foreign films, so what if you have to read, that doesn’t make the movie terrible all of the sudden. Personally I hate when live action foreign films are dubbed, it just loses so much and I’m glad we don’t see a dub included for this release either.

The movie is not only very enjoyable, but the film just looks very beautiful as a whole. The way the film was shot makes for a visually stunning time as well. This is not the first time Penélope Cruz has worked with Director Pedro Almodóvar, and I’m sure it won’t be the last.

Some may have seen their last project together, Volver, which is also available on Blu-ray. The man is just so incredibly talented in the way he writes and the way he directs everything, add an Academy Award winning actress and you have a great outcome.

The movie may not appeal to mainstream audiences as much, but I think anyone would enjoy the film if they gave it a chance. I do think Pedro Almodóvar has made better films than this in the past, but this movie still manages to rank quite highly among films released in 2009.

Give the movie a chance if you even have the slightest curiosity, you may find yourself very surprised by the movie and it may even inspire you to check out other films from Pedro Almodóvar. The film has its flaws from time to time, but the movie still manages to stay far above average. 8.5/10.

The Blu-news Summary
Broken Embraces is a film most Pedro Almodóvar fans have likely already seen, but those who haven’t should definitely give the movie a chance. The Blu-ray release is fantastic, featuring a very impressive video presentation and fitting audio mix. Extras are slightly disappointing, but there are some to enjoy. Overall this release is ‘Highly Recommended.

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