The Sea of Trees Blu-ray Review - AVS Forum | Home Theater Discussions And Reviews
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post #1 of 2 Old 11-01-2016, 11:39 AM - Thread Starter
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The Sea of Trees Blu-ray Review

Ralph Potts reviews this tepid drama that tells the story of two men that find one another in the infamous Sea of Trees Forest in Japan. Having lost their way in both the forest, and in life, together, they search for a way out.

The Review at a Glance:
(max score: 5 )



Audio/Video total rating:
( Max score: 100 )



Studio and Year: Lionsgate - 2016
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Feature running time: 110 minutes
Genre: Drama

Disc Format: BD-50
Encoding: AVC
Video Aspect: 2.40:1
Resolution: 1080p/24

Audio Format(s): English DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish
Starring: Matthew McConaughey, Ken Watanabe, Naomi Watts
Directed by: Gus Van Sant
Music by: Mason Bates
Written by: Chris Sparling
Region Code: A

Blu-ray Disc release Date: November 1, 2016

"Love Will Bring You Home"

My Take:

In this powerful story of love and redemption, Arthur, an American professor, travels to Japan in the midst of a personal crisis. As he wanders through a mysterious forest with a dark past, he meets an enigmatic stranger who is lost and injured. The two embark on a spiritual, life-changing journey of friendship and survival that reconnects Arthur with his love for his wife.

This film hints at a story filled with deeper meaning, and while there are some aspects of it that could be thought provoking, in the end, its attempts to manipulate the audience via a disjointed narrative, that picks up in the middle, and slowly peels back the layers, doesn’t work. The idea of a couple whose relationship gone off of the rails is fine, and could certainly have been a solid foundation from which to begin the story. Instead there’s this jigsaw puzzle that is slowly pieced together through a series of flashbacks that quite frankly allows zero connection to the couple, making the redemptive aspect of the plot harder to swallow later.

I also found some of the things that went on in the forest between Arthur and Takumi to be kind of absurd. As much as I wanted to be affected by the film’s emotional center, it just never struck me in that light. I really enjoyed the performances by the three primary players in Watts, McConaughey, and Wantanabe. I think had the script taken another approach by establishing the integral relationship between Arthur and Joan up front, and then bringing us forward, things might have had more credibility. I wanted to like The Sea of Trees but when all was said and done my reaction to it would be best described as tepid.

Parental Guide:

The rating is for mature thematic material, some disturbing images and brief strong 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.**

Audio: 84
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

  • Dynamics:
  • Low frequency effects:
  • Surround Sound presentation:
  • Clarity/Detail:
  • Dialog Reproduction:
  • DSU/DTS Neural:X Rating * (non-rated element): NA

Video: 86
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

  • Resolution/Clarity:
  • Black Level/Shadow Detail:
  • Color Reproduction:
  • Fleshtones:
  • Compression:

The Sea of Trees comes to Blu-ray Disc from Lionsgate Home Entertainment featuring 1080p AVC encoded video that has an average bitrate of 22 Mbps and lossless DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio sound that has an average bitrate of 3.3 Mbps.

This video presentation offers little in the way of high Gloss, razor sharp imagery but it seems to represent the film’s elements well. Primary colors appear satisfying while the film intentionally maintains a cooler overall palette that works well against the drab settings featured in the story. Complexions are texturally descriptive with lifelike tonality. Resolution is very good although the film’s inherently softer elements leave some wide-angle shots with smoother lines and average delineation. Close ups and mid-level shots are more revealing of the resolvable detail that draws out subtle textures in the people and objects within the frame. Contrast is on the money and blacks are stable but not overly dynamic in appearance. I saw no overt signs of video anomalies or compression related artifacts and thought this appeared to be a pristine quality encoding.

The lossless soundtrack competently delivered the elements present in the recording. Dialog was well intonated with crystal clarity and good room penetration. The presentation offered an open soundstage across the front with definitive channel separation and good dynamic range. Surround use was limited to spatial cues and occasional panning effects that enhanced dimension. This was noticeable during several sequences as the music and effects created a fair sense of envelopment. There weren’t any sub bass frequencies contained in the mix however the subwoofer was used to provide low bass emphasis that extended the low range content associated with the soundtrack’s elements.

Bonus Features:
  • (HD) The Sea of Trees: A Story of Beauty and Tragedy – 8 minute featurette
  • Digital HD Copy

Final Thoughts:

The Sea of Trees is an over processed drama that suffers from a muddled script that fails to take advantage of its excellent cast. It comes to Blu-ray from Lionsgate Home Entertainment featuring solid technical merits mated with a minimal supplemental package that offers insights from the cast/crew. The Sea of Trees may find an audience with genre fans seeking to unravel the subtext of its story, but at the end of the day, I suspect they will come up empty. If you’re curious give it a rent, or better yet, catch it on cable TV.

Ralph Potts
AVS Forum Blu-ray Reviews

Reference Review System:

JVC DLA-RS500 3D/4K Ready High Definition Front Projector
(Calibrated with Calman 5 & C6-HDR Meter from Spectracal)
Stewart Filmscreen - Studiotek 130 G3 100” 16x9 Screen
Carada Masquerade Horizontal Masking System
Marantz AV8802A 13.2 Channel Audio/Video Processor
Sherbourn Technologies - 7/200 Seven Channel Amplifier
B&K Reference 200.7 Series 2 Seven Channel Amplifier
Oppo BDP-103D Universal Disc/3D capable Blu-ray Player
Samsung UBD-K8500 Ultra HD Blu-ray Player
Sony Playstation 3 Blu-ray disc Player
System Controller: Apple iPad/iRule Pro HD Universal Remote Control
Canton "Ergo" and In-Ceiling series speakers
Axiom Audio QS8 Quadpolar speakers
SVS PB-13 Ultra (Rosenut finish)
SVS SB-13 Ultra (Piano Gloss finish)
Panamax M5400-PM Power Conditioner/Surge Protector
Wireworld, Better Cables (Silver Serpent) - Audio/Video/Speaker Cabling
Cool Components - CP-CP102 cooling package
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post #2 of 2 Old 11-03-2016, 05:48 PM
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I seem to remember reading an article saying how this film was laughed out of the Cannes Film Festival it was so terrible.
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