The Illusionist (Blu-ray) Official AVSForum Review - AVS Forum
Forum Jump: 
 
Thread Tools
post #1 of 19 Old 06-10-2010, 08:10 AM - Thread Starter
Blu-ray Reviewer
 
Ralph Potts's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2002
Location: Middletown NY
Posts: 9,478
Mentioned: 1 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 197 Post(s)
Liked: 666
attachment.php?attachmentid=175792&d=1274100320
The Review at a Glance: (max score: 5 )

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

Extras: attachment.php?attachmentid=109940&d=1210373637

Audio/Video total rating:

( Max score: 100 )

78






Studio and Year: 20th Century Fox - 2006
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Feature running time: 109 minutes
Genre: Drama/Thriller

Disc Format: BD-25
Encoding: AVC (MPEG-4)
Video Aspect: 1.85:1
Resolution: 1080p/24


Audio Format(s): English DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio, English/French Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles: None
Starring: Edward Norton, Jessica Biel, Paul Giamatti, Rufus Sewell, Eddie Marsan
Written & Directed by: Neil Burger
Music by: Philip Glass
Based on the short story Eisenheim The Illusionist by: Steven Millhauser
Region Code: A

Blu-ray Disc release Date: June 8, 2010







"Nothing is what it seems"



Film Synopsis:

The acclaimed illusionist Eisenheim (Norton) has not only captured the imaginations of all of Vienna, but also the interest of the ambitious Crown Prince Leopold (Sewell). But when Leopold's soon to be fiance (Biel) rekindles a childhood fascination with Eisenheim, the Prince's interest evolves into obsession... and suddenly the city's Chief Inspector (Giamatti) finds himself investigating a shocking crime.



My Take:

The illusionist is a dramatic fantasy film about the son of a cabinetmaker who one day when he was a teenager meets a traveling magician along a road. The magician performs several tricks for him and then supposedly vanishes along with the tree he was sitting beneath. The boy becomes obsessed with magic after this. Soon after he meets a girl named Sophie, who is of nobility and well above his social class. The two form a bond and vow to stay together despite their social differences and the objections of Sophie's family. They secretly continue to see each other, and meet in a secret hideout in the woods. He tells Sophie of his plans to go to China to learn more magic and she promises to go with him. On the day that they are going to leave the police come looking for Sophie and discovers them in their secret place. Sophie begs him to make them both disappear which he can't do and the two are separated. He leaves Vienna and returns fifteen years later under the name of Eisemheim. He has become a renowned master of magic and illusion and is playing at the local theater to packed audiences. Sophie, now the Duchess von Teschen, is betrothed to the Crown Prince Leopold, a ruthless heir apparent with a conniving, insecure and violent nature. When Sophie and Eisenheim inadvertently reconnect during one of his performances their old flame is rekindled. Once this is reported to Prince Leopold by his many spies he assigns his trusted emissary local police Chief Inspector Uhl to drive Eisenheim out of Vienna. Soon afterward tragedy strikes and Eisenheim must resort to his masterful craft and the greatest illusion of his career in order to expose the truth.

I remember when The Illusionist came out which was around the same time as The Prestige a film with similar subject matter. In reality they are thematically different but I found both to be equally good. This is more of a dramatic film with elements of romance, mystery and suspense. I like how the plot revolves around the character of Chief Inspector Uhl played by Paul Giamatti, an actor that I always enjoy watching. Uhl narrates the story and finds himself an unwilling participant in a serious game of cat and mouse between Eisenhiem and Prince Leopold. At its roots this is a romantic story with a magically intriguing spin that you may or may not see coming. Edward Norton is a fine actor. His reserved and charismatic lead is well integrated opposite Jessica Biel who isn't in his class but gives a credible performance. I found Rufus Sewell's Prince Leopold to be a scene stealing adversary who held sway almost every time he was onscreen. I have owned this film on DVD since its release and have watched it several times. Regardless of knowing the outcome I still enjoy its multi-genre and fantastical story, simply drawn yet engaging characters, and strong performances by Norton, Giamatti, and Sewell.





Parental Guide:

The rating is for some sexuality and violence.






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: 78


(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=109945&d=1210373692

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

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

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

The Illusionist comes to Blu-ray disc from Fox featuring 1080p AVC encoded video that has an average bitrate of 20 Mbps and lossless DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio sound that has an average bitrate of 3.5 Mbps.

This film is dark with boldly applied contrast, deep blacks, muted colors and filtered lighting that gives it the distinctive visual aesthetic intended by the filmmakers. The effect tends to crush blacks and limit shadow delineation during segments containing low lighting (of which there are many). Bright scenes tend to fare better but are awash in golden highlights that give them a monochromatic essence. Colors are cleanly rendered but primarily consist of sepia tones that aren't especially vivid and fleshtones have a balmy tonal quality that leaves them looking drab. Images exhibit good definition, definable sharpness and varying levels of refinement that are scene dependent. Due to the lighting and filtering applied many scenes aren't quite as definitively resolved and can appear less dimensionally convincing. This presentation looks just fine overall and appears faithful to the film's original elements.

This is essentially a dialogue driven film however there are aspects of the presentation that make use of the rear channels to broaden the depth of 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 blend of dialogue, music and recorded sounds are clearly articulated. 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 works well with the source material.



Bonus Features:


  • This two disc set contains a Blu-ray version and standard definition version of The Illusionist. There are no bonus supplements contained on the Blu-ray Disc. The DVD version contains the following bonus features:


  • Audio commentary by writer/director Neil Burger

  • The making of The Illusionist featurette

  • Jessica Biel on The Illusionist


Final Thoughts:

The Illusionist is an entertaining film that features a rewarding multi-genre story with a magically intriguing spin that is supported by solid performances from its talented cast. The nature of the film's photography doesn't lend it to eye popping high definition however its video presentation on Blu-ray appears faithful and looks just fine. There are no bonus supplements offered on the Blu-ray Disc however Fox has included the DVD version of the film which contains two brief production featurettes and an audio commentary from writer/director Neil Burger. I am pleased to own The Illusionist on Blu-ray Disc however there may not be enough in this package to warrant an upgrade. If you're a fan but don't currently own it this set is a great option.









attachment.php?attachmentid=109949&d=1210373731






Ralph Potts
AVS Forum Blu-ray Reviews





Reference Review System:


JVC DLA-RS20 1080p High Definition Front Projector (Calibrated by Jeff Meier)
Stewart Filmscreen - Studiotek 130 G3 100 16x9 Screen
Anthem AVM50v THX Ultra 2 Preamp/Video Processor
Sherbourn Technologies - 7/200 Seven Channel Amplifier
Oppo BDP-83 Universal disc/Blu-ray Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
Toshiba HD-XA2 HD DVD Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
Sony Playstation 3 Blu-ray disc Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
Oppo 970HD universal disc DVD Player (480i HDMI)
Philips TSU9400 Pro Series Touch Panel Remote Control
Canton "Ergo" Series speakers
Axiom Audio QS8 Quadpolar speakers
SV Sound PB-13 Ultra (Rosenut finish)
APC AV S15BLK Power Conditioner/Surge Protector
Furman SPR-20i Stable Power Regulator
Wireworld, VizionWare, Audioquest, Best Deal Cables - Audio/Video/Speaker Cabling
Cool Components - CP-CP102 cooling package

Ralph C. Potts
Blu-ray Reviews
AVS Forum
My Home Theater
My DVD/HD DVD/Blu-ray Collection
Ralph Potts is offline  
Sponsored Links
Advertisement
 
post #2 of 19 Old 06-10-2010, 08:42 AM
Senior Member
 
Stormshadow4life's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2008
Posts: 331
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 7 Post(s)
Liked: 33
I didn't really care for this movie....it's been a while since i saw it, but i remember being really turned off by the cheap looking CGI magic tricks, it really took me out of the movie
Stormshadow4life is offline  
post #3 of 19 Old 06-10-2010, 09:44 AM
AVS Special Member
 
pronghorn/az's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2008
Location: Prescott, AZ
Posts: 1,343
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 2 Post(s)
Liked: 17
My family and I loved this movie. Can't wait to buy it. We found it very entertaining. I love the Counts performance.

Jeff
pronghorn/az is offline  
post #4 of 19 Old 06-10-2010, 12:06 PM
Senior Member
 
simple man's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2010
Location: Dallas, TX
Posts: 336
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Liked: 10
it was ok. I liked the prestige better.

simple man is offline  
post #5 of 19 Old 06-10-2010, 01:13 PM
Mod & Bluray Reviewer
 
Lee Weber's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2004
Location: Boston
Posts: 2,355
Mentioned: 1 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 13 Post(s)
Liked: 122
Thanks Ralph!

This is a collect for me
One of my favorite films in the last 5 years and I really dug it as well as the Prestige.
Lee Weber is offline  
post #6 of 19 Old 06-10-2010, 02:24 PM - Thread Starter
Blu-ray Reviewer
 
Ralph Potts's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2002
Location: Middletown NY
Posts: 9,478
Mentioned: 1 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 197 Post(s)
Liked: 666
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lee Weber View Post

Thanks Ralph!

This is a collect for me
One of my favorite films in the last 5 years and I really dug it as well as the Prestige.

Greetings,





Regards,

Ralph C. Potts
Blu-ray Reviews
AVS Forum
My Home Theater
My DVD/HD DVD/Blu-ray Collection
Ralph Potts is offline  
post #7 of 19 Old 06-10-2010, 10:27 PM
AVS Special Member
 
Partyslammer's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2003
Posts: 1,280
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 14 Post(s)
Liked: 42
Count me as someone who is pretty disappointed about this blu-ray release. Obviously, the fact that it appears the dvd which looks to be the exact same disc down to the disc artwork that was originally released on it's own is included as a chintzy, almost backhanded effort to include *any* supplements for this release as well as make use of thousands of unsold dvds looks more like some corporate bean counter's idea of making the most with existing product.

There's not even a menu on the Blu-ray, it simply launches into the beginning of the film which on the surface, is a welcome option, but the viewer cannot do the usual things you'd normally do with a standard menu such as search for a specific chapter, etc. You do get a very basic audio menu which can be accessed while the movie is playing, but if you want to go to a specific point in the movie, your option is to skip around chapters until you find the general point you think you may want to view. Very much like some bare bones "rental only" Blu-ray releases.

All that wouldn't be so bad if the movie as presented on the Blu-ray itself was a significant improvement over the dvd. But the transfer despite the noted limitations of the look of the film is not even a marginal improvement over the dvd release except for the fact it's at HD resolution. On a 50" plasma, it was very tough to see a difference between the two. Also, the black crush which is so prevalent on both the dvd and Blu-ray transfers wasn't nearly so severe in the theatrical print.

T.B.
Partyslammer is offline  
post #8 of 19 Old 06-10-2010, 10:43 PM
AVS Special Member
 
sergiohm's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2002
Posts: 1,242
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 10 Post(s)
Liked: 13
I liked this movie but saw it on DVD, the image is too dark though and to me the cinematography went overboard with the candle lights. How would you compare the BR to DVD?
sergiohm is offline  
post #9 of 19 Old 06-11-2010, 07:43 AM
AVS Special Member
 
Chad Varnadore's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2000
Location: Salisbury, NC
Posts: 1,450
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1 Post(s)
Liked: 49
I've been looking forward to seeing this film on BD for... four years it would appear. I didn't catch it in the cinema and passed on the DVD, not wanting to spoil the experience with such a compromised presentation. Sounds like I shouldn't have waited. It's even more disappointing to see Fox pull a Universal with the extras. It's conceivably understandable for and MGM release, but I can't imagine any legitimate excuses here. It's just plain lazy and unappreciative of the films fans. Sounds like the effort doesn't qualify more than a $14.99 srp or 9.99 retail. Thanks for the warning Ralph. I certainly won't be paying the current premium for it. Maybe I'll reactivate my Netflix account.

Chad Varnadore <><
ex-armchair quarterback
***************
Our HT
Chad Varnadore is offline  
post #10 of 19 Old 06-11-2010, 07:47 AM
AVS Special Member
 
JamE55's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2008
Posts: 1,192
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Liked: 10
Interesting this is now only coming out on BR when i bought my copy 8-10 months ago or so.

In any case i've always enjoyed this film. I like how the story really comes together at the end. Thought the three main characters Edward, Jessica and Paul really pulled it off.

Definitely a collect!!

Cheers
JamE55 is offline  
post #11 of 19 Old 06-11-2010, 03:46 PM
Senior Member
 
Stormshadow4life's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2008
Posts: 331
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 7 Post(s)
Liked: 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by simple man View Post

it was ok. I liked the prestige better.

w00t!
Stormshadow4life is offline  
post #12 of 19 Old 06-11-2010, 09:27 PM
AVS Special Member
 
mvp2005fan's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2007
Posts: 1,284
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Liked: 12
I actually preferred this movie over The Prestige. I just found every character in the Prestige so unlikable.

At least in this movie, there is someone to root for.
mvp2005fan is offline  
post #13 of 19 Old 06-13-2010, 02:38 PM
Member
 
Wayne Klein's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2008
Location: Northern California
Posts: 27
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Liked: 10
Thanks for the review Ralph--this is one I was thinking about but I think I'll stick with my DVD until, perhaps, we get a better edition.
Wayne Klein is offline  
post #14 of 19 Old 06-13-2010, 04:52 PM
AVS Special Member
 
PRO-630HD's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2006
Posts: 3,131
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Liked: 12
While the above comments are notable and it seems Fox is going the MGM route with a bare bones bluray and the dvd. I highly prefer the extras on the bluray and really could give a $h!+ about the included dvd! Now that said and comparing other MGM titles with the included bluray here for a change there is a significant improvement in PQ, especially fine detail on the screen. If you can't see it then that is due to the limitations of your display. There is a large jump in detail from the dvd that is instantly noticeable. Many titles such as Out of Time which are 18mbps MPEG-2 travesties the same cannot be said. There is barely a difference from the dvd to bluray which is not even close to the case with The Illusionist. Granted it is a dark picture so there is little difference in contrast and levels, but the color is improved and detail is exceptional. To me that is the main point in buying bluray in the first place. Seeing details I can't see on the dvd.
PRO-630HD is offline  
post #15 of 19 Old 06-14-2010, 08:32 AM
AVS Special Member
 
Chad Varnadore's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2000
Location: Salisbury, NC
Posts: 1,450
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1 Post(s)
Liked: 49
Quote:
Originally Posted by PRO-630HD View Post

While the above comments are notable and it seems Fox is going the MGM route with a bare bones bluray and the dvd. I highly prefer the extras on the bluray and really could give a $h!+ about the included dvd! Now that said and comparing other MGM titles with the included bluray here for a change there is a significant improvement in PQ, especially fine detail on the screen. If you can't see it then that is due to the limitations of your display. There is a large jump in detail from the dvd that is instantly noticeable. Many titles such as Out of Time which are 18mbps MPEG-2 travesties the same cannot be said. There is barely a difference from the dvd to bluray which is not even close to the case with The Illusionist. Granted it is a dark picture so there is little difference in contrast and levels, but the color is improved and detail is exceptional. To me that is the main point in buying bluray in the first place. Seeing details I can't see on the dvd.

While MPEG-2 does not automatically equate a poor BD, Out of Time could clearly benefit from remastering. Still, I even found it a significant improvement over the former DVD, so it sounds like I might be more satisfied with The Illusionist as well. I still can't justify spending more than $10 on the title, considering the studio's effort, though. I imagine we'll see it at that price before Christmas.

Chad Varnadore <><
ex-armchair quarterback
***************
Our HT
Chad Varnadore is offline  
post #16 of 19 Old 06-14-2010, 09:17 AM
Member
 
Wayne Klein's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2008
Location: Northern California
Posts: 27
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Liked: 10
Quote:
Originally Posted by Chad Varnadore View Post

While MPEG-2 does not automatically equate a poor BD, Out of Time could clearly benefit from remastering. Still, I even found it a significant improvement over the former DVD, so it sounds like I might be more satisfied with The Illusionist as well. I still can't justify spending more than $10 on the title, considering the studio's effort, though. I imagine we'll see it at that price before Christmas.

I'd agree. I enjoy the movie and like it but NOT that much to buy it again. I hate the trend (but understand it) towards including BD/DVD with no extras. It doesn't really cost the studio all that much extra, builds a bridge to BD for those without one. These bundled packages make much more sense for movies that appeal to both adults and kids.
Wayne Klein is offline  
post #17 of 19 Old 06-14-2010, 09:55 AM
AVS Special Member
 
Chad Varnadore's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2000
Location: Salisbury, NC
Posts: 1,450
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1 Post(s)
Liked: 49
Quote:
Originally Posted by Wayne Klein View Post

I'd agree. I enjoy the movie and like it but NOT that much to buy it again. I hate the trend (but understand it) towards including BD/DVD with no extras. It doesn't really cost the studio all that much extra, builds a bridge to BD for those without one. These bundled packages make much more sense for movies that appeal to both adults and kids.

While I can appreciate providing a DVD with family films, for all others it's just giving away a free copy with the Blu-ray to be sold on ebay or passed along to a family member or friend, and an excuse to keep the price premium. Warner reported awhile back that only 20% of their digital copies from both DVD and BD were even being used and I suspect that most of those that were, were not used by the original purchasers. Every person I know who uses digital copies, don't have much interest in collecting movies on DVD or BD. If the studios really want to target the digital copy market they should package the discs by themselves and sell them for $5 to $8 in airports.

With players selling for under $100 new, hardware pricing is nolonger a road-block to the BD format. Every person I know who hasn't bought into BD yet and those who have who continue buying the DVD of lesser profile movies which aren't discounted as much as Transformers 2, all point to software prices as being the reason they don't pull the trigger or don't pull it more often. Who would opt for a low quality DVD with fewer extras when they see the BD right next to it for the same price?

Studios need to get rid of the superfluous extra discs that aren't even of interest to the majority of the BD market and concentrate on getting retail discounting more even. Paying a premium is more acceptable for The Dark Knight, when it's only $5 more but not so much for My Sister's Keeper when it's at least $10, if not $20 more than the DVD in some stores.

But including a DVD is especially unnecessary with catalog titles of this sort, where most people who actually want to own a copy of the film, probably already added the DVD to their collection years ago. And considering all of the extras are on the DVD copy, I think The Illusionist is as much a case of the studio being cheap and lazy than anything.

Chad Varnadore <><
ex-armchair quarterback
***************
Our HT
Chad Varnadore is offline  
post #18 of 19 Old 06-14-2010, 10:16 AM
AVS Special Member
 
cuzed2's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2006
Location: Chicago Area
Posts: 4,440
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 15 Post(s)
Liked: 74
Ralph,

Another good review. I remember really liking this one when I rented it on Standard DVD. Too bad the BluRay version comes up short. I guess I will wait and buy it much later when it can be found on sale.

Cuzed2
Check out a video of my theater here
CuznEddy Cinema
Officially Hanesamatized on 8/1/09

cuzed2 is online now  
post #19 of 19 Old 06-15-2010, 11:23 PM
AVS Special Member
 
pronghorn/az's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2008
Location: Prescott, AZ
Posts: 1,343
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 2 Post(s)
Liked: 17
I thought the pic quality was good, even though the only other source I had was TV HD and more often than not 4X3. After watching this last night I realized that most of the beginning was a dream or flashback type picture, all the parts when he was growing up and secretly seeing the girl, etc.

Jeff
pronghorn/az is offline  
Reply Official AVS Blu-ray Disc Reviews

Tags
The Illusionist Blu Ray
Gear in this thread

Thread Tools
Show Printable Version Show Printable Version
Email this Page Email this Page


Forum Jump: 

Posting Rules  
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off