The Machinist (Blu-ray) Official AVSForum Review - AVS Forum
Official AVS Blu-ray Disc Reviews > The Machinist (Blu-ray) Official AVSForum Review
Ralph Potts's Avatar Ralph Potts 01:36 PM 05-13-2009
The Review at a Glance: (max score: 5 )

Film: attachment.php?attachmentid=109946&d=1210373692

Extras: attachment.php?attachmentid=109945&d=1210373692

Audio/Video total rating:

( Max score: 100 )


Studio and Year: Paramount - 2004
MPAA Rating: R
Feature running time: 101 Minutes
Genre: Drama/Thriller

Disc Format: BD-50
Encoding: AVC (MPEG-4)
Video Aspect: 2.35:1
Resolution: 1080p/24

Audio Format(s): English Dolby TrueHD 5.1, French/Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles: English SDH, English, French, Spanish, Portuguese
Starring: Christian Bale, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Michael Ironside, Aitana Sanchez-Gijon, John Sharian
Directed by: Brad Anderson
Music by: Roque Banos
Written by: Scott Kosar
Region Code: A

Blu-ray Disc release Date: May 19, 2009

"A little guilt goes a long way"

Film Synopsis:

Trevor Reznik (Christian Bale) hasn't slept in a year. The shocking deterioration of his physical and mental health has made his every waking moment an unrelenting state of confusion, paranoia, guilt, anxiety and terror. His only solace from this living nightmare comes from an affectionate prostitute (Jennifer Jason Leigh). When cryptic notes turn up mysteriously in his apartment and when hallucinations of a co-worker that no one else sees causes a gruesome machine shop injury, he embarks on a journey to find out whether there is an elaborate plot to drive him mad or his fatigue has simply robbed him of reason. The more he learns, the less he wants to know.

My Take:

Trevor Reznik (Bale) is a loner who works as a machinist in a local shop. He lives in a rundown apartment, drives a beat up Dodge pickup, and has an unusually close relationship with a prostitute. According to Trevor he hasn’t slept in a year and his weight is at 123 pounds and dropping. His relationship with his co-workers has deteriorated and he no longer spends time with them outside of work. His boss is concerned that he may be using drugs and his foreman has it in for him. Trevor’s behavior is growing increasingly more erratic to those around him. He seems to be suffering from paranoid delusions, compulsive behavior, and lack of focus. In celebration of mother’s day he is invited to the amusement park with Marie (the diner waitress) and her son Nicholas. The day goes along pleasantly until Nicholas has a seizure while he and Trevor are on a strange haunted house ride called the Route 666. Trevor meets a guy by the name of Ivan in the parking lot at work. Ivan claims to be a fill in for Reynolds, who has been picked up by the feds, however when Trevor mentions him to others no one has ever seen or heard of Ivan. Trevor has noticed that someone has been leaving post it notes on the refrigerator in his apartment. The notes depict the hangman game with a partial message. Each time a note is left another letter is filled in along with more of the hangman. After Trevor’s involvement in an accident at work that leaves a co-worker maimed he begins to feel as though things that are happening to him may be in retaliation. Trevor’s paranoia begins to border on obsession. He finds comfort and peace when he is with Stevie (Jennifer Jason-Leigh), a local prostitute who genuinely seems to care for Trevor. Things begin to escalate as the line between reality and hallucination begin to blur. Trevor’s unstable mental/physical state has left him unable to discern who he can trust and in a sleep deprived fog that makes him a danger to himself and those around him. Trevor begins to realize that all is not what it appears to be and self reflection may hold the key to open the door to salvation.

Prior to this review I had never seen The machinist. This is a rather bizarre but intelligent film about self examination, symbolism and the power of the human mind. I am not sure how I would categorize it but I think it is more of a psychological thriller than anything else. Christian Bale’s physical appearance in this movie is truly disturbing to see. I can appreciate being dedicated to your craft but certainly not to the extent of abusing your body. I have to believe that losing that much weight had to take a serious toll on him. He gave a terrific performance. I love the film’s use of varying degrees of stimuli to deliver the truth about what was happening to Trevor. This ranged from practically being in your face to subliminal messages. I missed quite a few early on but picked up on several in the second and third acts. Early on the film frustrated me because I had no idea where it was going. Once it begins to reveal its purpose the payoff is very good in that you can now see all of the symbolism and clues that were there throughout. They were cleverly masked and fit together like pieces of a puzzle. I thought it was well done.

Parental Guide:

The rating is for violence, disturbing images, sexuality, brief nudity and language.

AUDIO/VIDEO - By The Numbers:
REFERENCE = 92-100 / EXCELLENT = 83-91 / GOOD = 74-82 / AVERAGE = 65-73 / BELOW AVERAGE = under 65

**My audio/video ratings are based upon a comparative made against other high definition media/blu-ray disc.**

(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

Audio: 78

  • Dynamics: attachment.php?attachmentid=109945&d=1210373692

  • Low frequency extension: attachment.php?attachmentid=109944&d=1210373692

  • Surround Sound presentation: attachment.php?attachmentid=109945&d=1210373692

  • Clarity/Detail: attachment.php?attachmentid=109947&d=1210373692

  • Dialogue Reproduction: attachment.php?attachmentid=109948&d=1210373692

Video: 82

(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

  • Resolution/Clarity: attachment.php?attachmentid=109946&d=1210373692

  • Black level/Shadow detail: attachment.php?attachmentid=109946&d=1210373692

  • Color reproduction: attachment.php?attachmentid=109946&d=1210373692

  • Fleshtones: attachment.php?attachmentid=109946&d=1210373692

  • Compression: attachment.php?attachmentid=109947&d=1210373692

The Machinist comes to Blu-ray Disc from Paramount featuring 1080p AVC encoded video that has an average bitrate of 35 mbps and lossless Dolby TrueHD 5.1 channel audio that has an average bitrate of 2.2 mbps.

This is a stylized video presentation that seems to accurately reflect the director’s intention. The use of lighting and filters leaves colors appearing muted and lifeless. Shades of gray, blue and sepia tones dominate the palette. Fleshtones appear similarly devoid of tonal separation and have a flat near lifeless quality that matches the film’s other elements. The almost monochromatic look actually works well within the dreary tone of the story’s elements. Fluctuations in the film’s look and feel can be scene dependent but any difference is rarely dramatic save for chapter 10 when Trevor visits Miller at his house. As Trevor pulls up at the house Miller is trimming the hedges. Contrast is noticeably boosted as the scene is bathed in bright white with subtle use of color to break it up. It actually looks pretty cool. Blacks are deep albeit slightly crushed and shadow delineation is good but the best that I have seen. Details are sharp and definition is crisp but the film’s visual style doesn’t lend itself to high gloss, definitively resolute imagery. Grain is naturally preserved and remains consistent throughout the course of the presentation.

This is essentially a dialogue driven film however there are aspects of the presentation that make effective use of the rear channels to expand the soundstage. Dialogue is crystal clear with discerning vocal description and refined texture. The mix relies heavily upon the front three channels. Separation, imaging and directional spacing are excellent as the mix of dialogue, music and recorded sounds are clearly articulated. The strings, chimes, timpani and harp in the orchestrated Twilight Zone style music score sounds airy, detailed and appropriately creepy as it is spread out over the entire soundstage. The LFE channel is used primarily for subtle impact and for upper bass frequencies associated with the film’s music. This is not the kind of track that is designed to be boisterous but it worked well with the source material and sounded fine.

Bonus Features:

  • Commentary by Director Brad Anderson

  • (HD) Manifesting The machinist – 23 minute featurette

  • (HD) The machinist: Hiding in plain sight – 14 minute featurette

  • The machinist: Breaking the rules – 25 minute behind the scenes making of feature

  • 8 deleted scenes

  • Theatrical trailer

Final Thoughts:

The machinist is a strange but engaging psychological thriller that will keep you guessing until its true purpose is finally revealed. Scott Kosar’s screenplay is intelligently written and Director Brad Anderson maximizes its deliberate use of symbolism and effigy to lure you into seeing the world from Trevor’s twisted perspective. It comes to Blu-ray Disc from Paramount featuring good audio/video quality and a limited but informative set of bonus supplements. Recommended for fans.


Ralph Potts
AVS Forum Blu-ray Reviews

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KY Colonel's Avatar KY Colonel 01:49 PM 05-13-2009
I saw the movie when it came it and as Ralph says it meanders. I understand the meandering when you get past the first act, though many will be lost and probably eject the disc. Bale is spooky as a 120 lb skeleton of a man. You will never guess the final scene don't cheat yourself.
JamE55's Avatar JamE55 02:51 PM 05-13-2009
Haven't seen the movie and just youtube'd the trailer and looked pretty interesting. Can't believe that is really Christian Bale at 120lbs? He's a skeleton.

After reading Ralphs take on this i might have to check this out.

Stormshadow4life's Avatar Stormshadow4life 02:55 PM 05-13-2009
this is just an INCREDIBLE movie. Gripping from start to finish.
i didn't even know it was out on BluRay
stepyourgameup's Avatar stepyourgameup 03:04 PM 05-13-2009
Great movie. Highly recommend.
logain2000's Avatar logain2000 03:58 PM 05-13-2009
Bale is just plain a good way. I can't believe he lost that much weight. I love him as a actor but this movie (which is good but not great) is a must see just on the fact someone actually put this much into a role. Amazing!
MrHunt's Avatar MrHunt 08:33 PM 05-13-2009
Great movie from a great director... really wish we could get Session 9 on Blu-Ray as well.
butsu's Avatar butsu 09:28 PM 05-13-2009
Christian Bale is the great talented actor for nowaday.In this film,he was so very thinner and became a muscular man in Batman Begins,can't wait for Teminator Salvation.Again ,nice review.
horrorfan2112's Avatar horrorfan2112 11:02 PM 05-13-2009
I loved this movie. Bale was almost painful to look at.
bvbull200's Avatar bvbull200 03:05 AM 05-14-2009
This is a must see movie. I've only seen the DVD but, if memory serves, it doesn't lend itself much to really testing one's HT system, and this review seems to confirm that. However, it is a real thinker and the ending is very satisfying.
fitbrit's Avatar fitbrit 09:32 AM 05-14-2009
Thank you! I'll definitely try to find time to watch this.
VXXJesterXXV's Avatar VXXJesterXXV 01:04 PM 05-14-2009
I'll be popping this into my netflix queue. I have heard good things over the years, but have never seen it myself. No better time than the present though.
DJ Matt's Avatar DJ Matt 01:10 PM 05-14-2009
I have not seen this movie, but it sounds very good from reading Ralph's review. In the queue it goes!
StanDaMan's Avatar StanDaMan 03:07 PM 05-14-2009
Originally Posted by JamE55 View Post

Haven't seen the movie and just youtube'd the trailer and looked pretty interesting. Can't believe that is really Christian Bale at 120lbs? He's a skeleton. [IMG]*************************[/IMG]

No kidding right! Unfortunately, I saw this movie on DVD a while back, and unfortunately, I just didn't think the movie itself was all that good. I love Bale, but this just didn't do it for me.
Djoel's Avatar Djoel 03:34 PM 05-14-2009
Originally Posted by horrorfan2112 View Post

I loved this movie. Bale was almost painful to look at.


Just scary to watch...

rboster's Avatar rboster 09:18 PM 05-14-2009
Ralph is this the aspect ratio correct in your stats? I was thinking this film was 2.35:1 scope image? I recalling this from I could be very wrong.
Ralph Potts's Avatar Ralph Potts 02:49 AM 05-15-2009
Originally Posted by rboster View Post

Ralph is this the aspect ratio correct in your stats? I was thinking this film was 2.35:1 scope image? I recalling this from I could be very wrong.


You recall correctly Ron..

rboster's Avatar rboster 03:45 PM 05-15-2009
Thanks Ralph! I was hesitating on buying it...but the scope puts it over the edge
Ralph Potts's Avatar Ralph Potts 03:52 PM 05-15-2009
Originally Posted by rboster View Post

Thanks Ralph! I was hesitating on buying it...but the scope puts it over the edge

Woo hoo!

Thunderbolt8's Avatar Thunderbolt8 10:45 AM 05-16-2009
hm lets see how the PQ will compare to the HD DVD (the older german BD had worse PQ)
Switchpoint's Avatar Switchpoint 10:33 AM 05-17-2009
Excellent review as always Ralph. Thank you. Now if we could only get Equilibrium on Blu-Ray...that would be awesome!!!
Gov's Avatar Gov 07:55 PM 06-08-2009
Session 9 rocks!! Bring it to Blu-ray please!
juda's Avatar juda 09:03 AM 06-09-2009
Originally Posted by Gov View Post

Session 9 rocks!! Bring it to Blu-ray please![IMG]http://***************/9/P/i.jpg[/IMG][IMG]http://***************/9/R/i.jpg[/IMG]

Agree can't wait to pick this up, review swung it for me
TinMan368's Avatar TinMan368 09:42 AM 06-09-2009
Originally Posted by MrHunt View Post

Great movie from a great director... really wish we could get Session 9 on Blu-Ray as well.

Agreed on all points. The Machinist is a terrific mindf--- film that had me guessing right until the end. Its director, Brad Anderson, is an unsung talent in today's world of genre films, always making the most of his limited resources. (Only Canada's Vincenzo (Cube, Cypher) Natali comes close as a low-budget genre director.) An Anderson film is always a great antidote for f/x heavy blockbusters: his films are substantial and give you something to think about, unlike many summer movies that are just empty calories.

Session 9 is also terrific, and I'm curious to see how the digital video will translate to BD.


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