The Review at a Glance: (max score: 5 )
Audio/Video total rating:
( Max score: 100 )
Studio and Year: 20th Century Fox - 2011
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Feature running time: 122 minutes
Disc Format: BD-50
Encoding: AVC (MPEG-4)
Video Aspect: 2.35:1
Audio Format(s): English DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish
Starring: Wes Bentley, Charlie Cox, Dougray Scott, Rodrigo Santoro, Jordi Molla, Derek Jacobi, Geraldine Chaplin, Ana Torrent, Olga Kurylenko
Written & Directed by:Roland Joffe
Music by: Stephen Warbeck
Region Code: A
Blu-ray Disc release Date: January 10, 2012
"Even saints have a past"
Dougray Scott leads an acclaimed cast in Oscar Nominee writer/director Roland Joffe's epic story of passion, faith and betrayal. When journalist Robert Torres (Scott) is assigned to write a book about Josemaria Escriva (Charlie Cox), the controversial founder of Opus Dei, he hopes it will bring him closer to his father (Wes Bentley), Escriva's childhood friend. As Torres uncovers more about his father's past, he learns dark secrets that will change his world forever.
London-based investigative journalist Robert Torres (Dougray Scott) travels to Spain to research a book about Josemaria Escriva (Charlie Cox), the controversial founder of the Catholic institution Opus Dei. RobertÂ's visit is on track until he hits a wall, both professionally and personally, when his most promising source - his own father, Manolo Torres (Wes Bently) - turns out to be his least cooperative one. Robert begins to unearth his father's toxic secrets when he learns that Manolo was not only born in the same Spanish town as Josemaria, but that they were childhood friends and attended the same seminary. The two men take radically different paths in life, with Josemaria dedicating his life to his faith while Manolo is swept into the brutal and tumultuous Spanish Civil War. As Robert continues to explore the secrets of Josemaria's life and Manolo's mysterious anger, their overlapping journeys are revealed.
One of the pluses to writing reviews is being exposed to films that I probably wouldnÂ't have heard of let alone seen otherwise. I had no prior knowledge of There be dragons before receiving it for review from Fox. Based on actual events/real persons this is a compelling drama that centers around two very different men whose lives are oddly conjoined by an unspoken bond even though their paths never cross beyond childhood. The narrative is split between the mid nineteen seventies and flashbacks to the Spanish Civil War period of the mid nineteen thirties. The story explores themes such as betrayal, forgiveness, friendship, divinity and finding meaning in everyday life and includes the portrayal of the early life of modern-day saint JosemarÃ*a EscrivÃ¡, the founder of Opus Dei, an institution of the Catholic Church which teaches that ordinary human life is a path to sanctity. The multi- framed narrative touches aspects associated with love, war, jealousy, regret and redemption. The title is a metaphor associated with the filmÂ's theme of exploring inner demons and living with regrettable past deeds. The script starts off slowly but evolves into a meaningful journey for the characters which results in a satisfying and evocative film experience that turned out to be better than I expected. The ensemble cast is simply marvelous with Wes Bentley, Charlie Cox, Olga Kurylenko and Rodrigo Santoro giving strong performances. This is clearly a project that is near and dear to filmmaker Roland Joffe. I wouldnÂ't classify it as perfectly executed and historically significant but I found it to be passionate and engaging.
The rating is for violence and combat sequences, some language and thematic elements.
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)
- Low frequency extension:
- Surround Sound presentation:
- Dialogue Reproduction:
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- Black level/Shadow detail:
- Color reproduction:
This isnÂ't an overly bright film both in tone or visual design and this video presentation accurately conveys that. The color palette uses lots of pale secondary colors that give the film a stark visual aesthetic that coincides with the location, climate and subject matter. When brighter colors such as shades of red or yellow are present, they pop with a vivacious and inviting quality. Fleshtones seem to accurately reflect the often lighter and sun starved complexional tones of the cast. Detail in dark areas and low lighting is average which provides discernible but limited visible structure within backgrounds. Blacks are respectable but not definitively deep enough to add dynamic punch to dark scenes. The various levels of gray in backgrounds has excellent gradational highlights which enhances depth perception. High definition resolution is satisfying as close ups are well delineated and long range visuals are reasonably sharp.
The high resolution DTS-HD MA audio presentation did a nice job rendering the filmÂ's soundtrack. Dialogue had excellent intonation and clarity which allowed subtle tonal differences in the voices of the cast to be noticeable. This was a well balanced surround mix that occasionally engaged the entire system. Dynamic range was excellent and the audio had an open expression that allowed it to extend well into the room. Surround activity wasnÂ't extensive however the action based elements provided an enriching level of immersion that generated a seamless soundstage with near field sound effects, energy filled dynamics and palpably rich low frequency content.
- (HD) Facing your dragons: Inspiring personal testimony from Wes Bentley Â- 4 minutes
- Deleted scenes Â- 30 minutes
Based on actual events/real persons There be dragons is a compelling drama that centers around two very different men whose lives are oddly conjoined by an unspoken bond even though their paths never cross beyond childhood. The story speaks to the human condition and explores themes such as betrayal, forgiveness, friendship, divinity and finding meaning in everyday life. It isnÂ't a perfectly executed film but I found it to be passionate, engaging and ultimately satisfying. It comes to Blu-ray Disc from 20th Century Fox featuring solid high definition audio/video quality and a disappointing supplemental offering that consists of a personal testimonial from actor Wes Bentley and 30 minutes of unused footage. If the subject matter interests you There be dragons is worthwhile viewing.
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BTW, it's been a while since I've bugged you about it...have you seen True Romance YET??? lol
Sounds like a plan.
The BD is very good, with only a few minor quibbles.
Although there is a strong Christian allegory running thru it, there is a lot else going on too.
Glad to hear you enjoyed this one oink. Thanks for sharing your thoughts..
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