The Review at a Glance: (max score: 5 )
Audio/Video total rating:
( Max score: 100 )
Studio and Year: The Weinstein Company - 2008
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Feature running time: 97 Minutes
Disc Format: BD-50
Video Aspect: 1.85:1
Audio Format(s): English 3.0 PCM
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish
Starring: Javier Bardem, Penelope Cruz, Scarlett Johansson, Rebecca Hall, Patricia Clarkson, Chris Messina
Written & Directed by: Woody Allen
Region Code: A
Blu-ray Disc release Date: January 27, 2009
"Life is the ultimate work of art"
Oscar winner Javier Bardem (No Country for Old Men), Oscar nominee Penelope Cruz (Volver) and Golden Globe nominee Scarlett Johansson (The Nanny Diaries) light up the stunning city of Barcelona in this sexy romantic comedy. Vicky and Cristina are two young Americans spending a summer in Spain, who meet a charming "Casanova" and his beautiful but volatile ex-wife. When they all become romantically entangled, the smoldering sparks begin to fly in hilarious fashion.
Vicky Cristina Barcelona is considered a romantic comedy but its comedic side is more abstract than direct which is one of its strengths. The story revolves around two young women who decide to vacation in Barcelona Spain for two months in July and August. The two are good friends but are quite different. Vicky (Hall) is engaged to be married and is the reserved type who thinks things through. Cristina (Johansson) is outgoing, open, artistic, and impulsive. While at an art gallery Cristina sees a Spanish artist, Juan Antonio (Bardem) who she is attracted to but decides not to meet him. Later while the two are dining at a local restaurant they see him again. He approaches them and in a rather forward and confident way invites them both to travel with him to Oviedo for the weekend. He describes them as two beautiful women and is direct about his desire to sleep with them both. Vicky’s response was that she didn’t appreciate his candor and that he assumed too much. Cristina on the other hand found him charming and expressed interest in going. Long story short they end up going with Vicky stating emphatically that she is there only to keep an eye on Cristina. As the three of them spend time together they learn that Juan is a free spirit who loves women and is currently separated from his estranged wife Maria Elena (Cruz). He speaks of her with reverence while admitting that their relationship is a volatile one which is why they are better off apart. Things get complicated when the three of them become romantically involved. This leads to conflicting feelings for Vicky and the re-emergence of Maria Elena makes for a rather interesting turn of events for Cristina.
I found this to be an entertaining film that was both depressing and enlightening. What an interesting character study someone like Juan Antonio would make. When he said that he and Maria Elena had a volatile relationship he wasn’t kidding. This is a sexy, romantic drama about how life can throw you a curve ball just when you thought you had everything you wanted. The twists and turns experienced by the principal’s are at the heart of the story and Allen’s direction is solid. The cast did a great job and the film’s locations in Spain were beautifully shot. While this may not have the classic status of Woody Allen’s best work it is well done and appealing on its own.
The rating is for mature thematic material involving sexuality, and smoking.
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:
Vicky Cristina Barcelona comes to Blu-ray Disc from The Weinstein Company featuring 1080p VC-1 encoded video that has an average bitrate of 26 mbps and 3 channel PCM audio that has a constant bitrate of 3.1 mbps.
I found this to be a solid high definition video presentation that offered beautiful long range visuals and breath taking vista views of the Spanish locations featured in the film. Colors were rich in saturation and depth with lustrous primaries and vivid secondary colors. At times images had a nearly infinite feeling of visual perspective that enhanced the perception of fine texture in the stone structures, streets and landscapes in Barcelona and Oviedo. Blacks were fairly deep with discernible gradational quality. Low light and shadowy backgrounds revealed plenty of detail which made them more dimensionally acute. The only nit that I have to pick is that for some reason certain shots appeared noticeably out of focus. I am pretty sure that this is not related to the encoding but I couldn’t imagine why it would be intentional. This only occurred in a few instances and was brief in duration. The 3 channel PCM audio offered little in the way of atmospheric effects as the presentation was delivered over the front three channels. This is a dialogue driven film that utilized a light music soundtrack that consisted mostly of acoustic guitar. Sound quality was excellent with a one dimensional perspective and strong center channel emphasis. Dialogue was crystal clear and well intonated with average room penetration that was never a problem due to the quiet nature of the source. While I would like to have seen (or heard) a more diverse use of surround sound to replicate the various sounds of the venues portrayed in the film I thought that for the source material it was adequate and sounded fine.
This is a bare bones Blu-ray Disc that offers no bonus content and utilizes a very basic menu system.
Vicky Cristina Barcelona is a well written, directed and acted film from Woody Allen. It doesn’t quite live up to his best films but it has a charm of its own. It comes to Blu-ray Disc from The Weinstein Company in a rather sparse package that offers 3 channel audio, basic style menus and no bonus content. On a positive note its high definition video presentation is quite good and along with the film elevates this disc to being worthy of a rental.
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