The Review at a Glance: (max score: 5 )
Audio/Video total rating:
( Max score: 100 )
Studio and Year: Sony Pictures - 2006
MPAA Rating: R
Feature running time: 117 Minutes
Disc Format: BD-50
Encoding: AVC (MPEG-4)
Video Aspect: 1.85:1
Audio Format(s): English Dolby TrueHD 5.1, Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
Subtitles: English, English SDH, French
Starring: Lee Pace, Justine Waddell, Catinca Untaru,
Directed by: Tarsem
Music by: Krishna Levy
Written by: Dan Gilroy, Nico Soultanakis, and Tarsem
Region Code: A,B,C
Blu-ray Disc release Date: September 9, 2008
"A little blessing in disguise"
From the director of The Cell comes a visually stunning epic fantasy about a bedridden man who entertains a curious little girl by telling her a fantastical story of exotic heroes and far off places which reflects his state of mind. The central story takes place in a remote 1920's hospital where a small girl named Alexandria (Catinca Untaru) is recovering from a severe looking shoulder injury incurred in a fall while trying to pick oranges. One day she happens to meet Roy (Lee Pace) - a stunt or "gag" man for the "flickers" or moving pictures- who seems to have injured himself out of a future in a particularly reckless stunt, even for those times. He is a clearly unhappy man who- through his own carelessness- unwittingly leads Alexandria to believe that he intends to entertain her with a lavish, epic story of exotic heroes and far off places. As the stuntman's health reaches to the point of peril - so does the story he is telling her...with potentially fatal consequences.
This is a wonderfully told story that uses stunning visuals and intelligent direction to entice the audience into the world of Governor Odious, Alexander the Great, the Blue Bandit, Otta, Charles Darwin, the Indian, the Mystic and the adventure of myth and magic that accompanies their tale. I was intrigued when I found out that this film took four years to complete. It was shot in 18 locations world wide which would certainly have contributed to the time it took to film it. The setting at the hospital was staged perfectly with the bulk of the story confined to just a few rooms there. Alexandria (Untaru) is a curious little girl who is a relative short timer at the hospital (she broke her arm in a fall). She is close to Nurse Evelyn and is very familiar with a few of the older patients and frequent visitors there. She wanders the corridors and frequently ventures between buildings in her travels. Roy is a bedridden new patient who accidentally comes into possession of a note sent by Alexandria that is intended for Nurse Evelyn. In her travels she comes to his room and he tells her that he found her note. He reads her pretty quickly and offers to pass the time by telling her an adventure tale. What is not clear from the outset is that Roy has an agenda. He begins to spin his yarn which is about 5 heroes who all come from differing backgrounds. They all seem to have one thing in common in that they seek revenge on Governor Odious. The story provides short details about each one of them with background info regarding what Odious has done to them. Roy tells Alexandria the story in stages with events occurring in the present intermingled. He stops the story and asks her for a favor in exchange for its continuance. He is clearly depressed over his condition and the loss of the woman in his life as a result. He asks Alexandria to steal morphine from the hospital for him. She says no initially but he coax’s her into it with the promise of the story. She has become fixated on the tale and loves its characters. This is the point where Roy’s agenda becomes clear. It also lays the foundation for his mindset and how it affects both the story he is telling Alexandria and his life because the two are commingled.
I thoroughly enjoyed this film. It reminded me of The Wizard of Oz in that it used characters from the present portion of the story as characters in the fantasy. The characters in appearance were reminiscent of people or objects that were present in Alexandria’s life or imagination. There were often times while Roy is telling the story that events were simultaneously transpiring in the present and elicited a reaction from a character in the fantasy. The vast locations and beautiful costumes used truly enhanced the tale and sense of adventure. The story remained very simple and took on darker elements as Roy found his depression growing deeper. Alexandria became very attached to Roy and was too young to comprehend what was happening. The film builds nicely to its conclusion which leads to traumatic events for both Alexandria and Roy. Both Pace and Untaru were wonderful. Pace along with many of the cast members played dual roles which was very entertaining. There is a serious side to the film. One of the older patients who Alexandria had befriended dies suddenly. She witnesses a grieving mother who has just lost her child which is a powerful (and potentially frightening) scene. Roy’s manipulation of her in order to get her to steal for him is a factor as well. Of course these are pieces of the puzzle that as a whole create a picture that is really very good.
The rating is for some violent images. As I pointed out there some thematic elements in the story that could be disturbing to younger viewers.
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:
The Fall comes to Blu-ray Disc from Sony featuring 1080p AVC encoded video that has an average bitrate of 25 mbps and lossless Dolby TrueHD 5.1 channel audio that has an average bitrate of 3.7 mbps.
This is reference quality video presentation that at times offered visuals that were breathtaking. The film has two distinctively different looks that are separated by the present and fantasy worlds. The present features the hospital location and consists of a mostly flatter color palette and lighting that tends to be darker. The beige, brown, gray, black and dark blues used gave the image a reserved visual impact that definitely provided the right atmosphere and feel of the time period and hospital setting. Flesh tones were more on the pale side and indicative of people who had not been exposed to much sunlight. When things switched to the world of fantasy it took on a look that was quite captivating. Bolder use of contrast and bright vivid colors helped to propel images to an elevated level of vibrancy and three dimensional quality that was unwavering. Images were impeccably detailed with fine articulation and visual acuity that seemed infinite when looking at long panning shots. Sharpness worked hand in hand with the high level of visible detail so that even the slightest nuance present within each frame wasn’t missed. There are a variety of beautiful locations that were used to shoot the film. Regardless of the setting, each was reproduced with stark realism. Black levels were plenty deep with excellent detail in dark areas and shadowy backgrounds. Flesh tones exhibited lifelike textures with natural color and rosy complexions. This is one of the better looking high definition video offerings I have seen on Blu-ray disc.
The soundtrack was impressive as well and delivered audio that was visceral at times and quietly elegant at others. The film’s quieter moments most of which occur in the present had a clear, defining quality that brought forth each scene’s purpose. Dialogue was clean, well intonated and well placed within the mix so that it was always audibly discernible. At times I had trouble understanding Cantinca Utaru but that was related to her accent rather than the mix. Dynamics were excellent which gave sound effects lots of energy and impact. I had no trouble hearing soft whispers or subtle sounds meant to be in the background thanks to the high resolution audio’s crisp detail and resolute clarity. Low frequency effects didn’t reach as far into the room shaking realm as I would have thought but its presence was obvious. The soundstage had a broad sound with excellent integration of the front and rear speakers. The surrounds were active and did well in supplying both ambience and discrete directional cues that were startling at times. An example of this was in chapter 12. There is a significant event and right after there are a series of images that flash across the screen. As this happens the room comes alive with sound that begins on one side of the room and opens up and emanates from what seems like every direction. This was a great sounding and exciting audio mix.
The bonus supplements are good and offer quite a bit of behind the scenes footage that takes an in depth look at the film’s production. The two featurettes total just under an hour and even though they are titled differently they seem to be one documentary. Watching them really provides some perspective into how much work went into this film. The commentary tracks take more of a personal approach but are more of the same. The enhanced photo gallery alone is worth the price of admission as it contains high definition pictures of the beautiful locations used in the film. The deleted scenes don’t really add anything to the story. The seven previews are for currently available and upcoming Blu-ray disc releases. The disc is BD-Live enabled but features won’t be active until release day.
- Audio commentary with Writer/Director Tarsem
- Audio commentary with Lee Pace, Writer/Producer Nico Soultanakis and Writer Dan Gilroy
- Two Behind the scenes featurettes: Wanderlust & Nostalgia
- (HD) 2 Deleted scenes
- (HD) Blu-ray Exclusive: Enhanced Photo Gallery
- (HD) 7 Blu-ray Disc Previews
The Fall was an entertaining film about a little girl with a big imagination who helped someone realize that life is worth living. Sony has presented it in spectacular fashion with superlative high definition video, laudable high resolution Dolby TrueHD sound and a decent bonus features set. This is not a kids film but I think that it can bring out the kid in those that see it. It has been added to my list of recommended Blu-ray discs.
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