The Review at a Glance: (max score: 5 )
Audio/Video total rating:
( Max score: 100 )
Studio and Year: Sony Pictures - 1999
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Feature running time: 158 Minutes
Disc Format: BD-50
Encoding: AVC (MPEG-4)
Video Aspect: 2.40:1
Audio Format(s): English/French/Portuguese Dolby TrueHD 5.1, Spanish/Thai Dolby Digital
Subtitles: English, English SDH, Spanish, Portuguese, Dutch, French, Korean, Thai, Chinese, Indonesian
Starring: Milla Jovovich, John Malkovich, Faye Dunaway, Dustin Hoffmann, Vincent Cassel
Directed by: Luc Besson
Music by: Eric Serra
Written by: Andrew Birkin & Luc Besson
Region Code: A,B,C
Blu-ray Disc release Date: December 2, 2008
"Another take on an epic story"
The year is 1429. France is in political and religious turmoil as members of the royal family battle for rule. But one peasant girl from a remote village gave her country the miracle it was looking for. Milla Jovovich (The Fifth Element, Dazed and Confused) is Joan of Arc, a young woman who would inspire and lead her countrymen until her execution at the age of nineteen. Raised in a religious family, Joan witnessed her sister's rape and death at the hands of an invading army. Years later, as the same war raged on, Joan stood before her king with a message she claimed came from God: give her an army, and in God's name she would reclaim his diminished kingdom. But was the message real, or the delusion of a girl whose life had been shattered? This startling epic drama by Luc Besson (The Fifth Element) explores the life of Joan of Arc, her amazing victories, relationship with God, and tragic death. Co-starring John Malkovich and Academy Award(r) winners Dustin Hoffman and Faye Dunaway, THE MESSENGER is a modern take on a medieval saint who enthralls people even today.
Since childhood I have always been fascinated by the story of St. Joan of Arc. There have been numerous films about her life and I have only seen a couple. Milla Jovovich isn't what you might call a seasoned actress, especially when she made this film, but she has the ability to be captivating onscreen. Her performance in the title role in this movie was a bit overstated but good in my opinion. Besson makes good use of subliminal cinematic stimuli to draw the audience into the film. Her life and exploits are well documented. This film barely scratches the surface and may not be historically accurate but that is nothing new in the world of filmmaking. I wouldn't hold that against it as a creative work. I first saw this on DVD back in 2000 and have owned it since. Its story telling is epic in style with cinematic grandeur that is befitting. It boggles my mind that she was illegally executed in 1431 as a heretic, a charge which was appealed and overturned in 1456. It then took nearly 500 years for her to be beatified by the church and subsequently canonized. Regardless, her story is a remarkable one and certainly raises interesting theological discussion. As for this film it doesn't have a particularly strong script and the pacing can make it feel a little disjointed. Some of the dialogue and body language portrayed here doesn't feel appropriate for the time period which can make it feel less authentic. I do enjoy this telling though and while it isn't perfect it is entertaining nonetheless.
This film contains graphic war violence, language, and a rape scene. Not recommended for 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 Messenger: The story of Joan of Arc comes to Blu-ray Disc from Sony featuring 1080p AVC encoded video that has an average bitrate of 30 mbps and lossless Dolby TrueHD 5.1 channel audio that has an average bitrate of 1.8 mbps.
The video quality was very reminiscent of the DVD release in its rendering of colors and reproduction of the grandiose cinematic visual style employed in the film. Colors were tamped down so that they were clearly focused but never looked lackluster. The period clothing made use of sepia tones and neutral colors that had excellent tonal variation and appreciable detail. When bold and lustrous colors appeared onscreen such as the vestments and robes worn by the wealthy and members of the tribunal, they looked well saturated and beautifully vivid. Flesh tones were consistent and rather bland in texture which seemed appropriate for the time period referenced in the story. Blacks weren't inky but had sufficient depth so that they didn't appear flat or washed out. Detail in the shadowy confines of the stone buildings/castles and later in Joan's cell was excellent. Long range shots had two dimensional qualities that didn't have the clearly definable perception of the best high definition video. Close ups faired much better with crisp resolution, and well articulated fine detail. Grain is present in fine layers and well preserved. The video appears to have been artificially sharpened as edge enhancement is noticeable during several sequences. This also highlights the grain structure making it a bit more prominent. Purists will find the edge enhancement bothersome but it's not excessive in my opinion. This video presentation certainly represents a significant upgrade over the standard definition version in every way.
This was an impressive soundtrack on DVD which is limited to a lossy audio encoding. This high resolution Dolby TrueHD soundtrack takes this audio presentation to the next level. This is a fairly aggressive and aurally engaging sound design that drives the story through use of beautifully orchestrated music and chorals as well as forceful dynamics and high level sonic detail. The mix generates an enriching surround experience which provides excellent spectral balance and 360 degree envelopment. LFE is strong and while it never achieves sub bass frequencies, it reaches into every corner of the room with authoritative depth. Dialogue is reproduced as well as I have heard it as it had superb clarity and excellent room penetration. I thought this mix sounded refined, exquisitely detailed, and had room filling dynamics that were impressive.
- (HD)Preview: Sony Blu-ray Disc
The Messenger: The story of Joan of Arc represents Director Luc Besson's vision of the life of St. Joan of Arc, a young French woman who is an iconic figure to many. Whether it is an accurate depiction of her life is debatable but that doesn't necessarily make it a bad film. The problem is that its script and style of storytelling can sometimes make it feel disjointed and less authentic. I acknowledge its shortcomings but still find it enjoyable to watch. Sony has brought it to high definition Blu-ray Disc featuring video quality that is easily the best that it has looked on home video and an enthralling lossless audio presentation that is sure to please discerning home theater enthusiasts. I was disappointed to see that there were no bonus features included which seems uncalled for in light of the amount of space present on this BD-50 dual layered Blu-ray disc. Fans of this film will have to take that into account when deciding where or not an upgrade is justified. I can say that the improvement in audio/video quality isn't a subtle one and would easily warrant another purchase.
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