The Review at a Glance: (max score: 5 )
Audio/Video total rating:
( Max score: 100 )
Studio and Year: MGM - 1990
MPAA Rating: R
Feature running time: 107 Minutes
Disc Format: BD-50
Encoding: AVC (MPEG-4)
Video Aspect: 1.85:1
Audio Format(s): English DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio, Spanish/French Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish
Starring: James Caan, Kathy Bates, Lauren Bacall, Richard Farnsworth, Frances Sternhagen
Directed by: Rob Reiner
Music by: Marc Shaiman
Written by: William Goldman based on the story by Stephen King
Region Code: A
Blu-ray Disc release Date: September 15, 2009
"Paul Sheldon used to write for a living, now he's writing to stay alive"
Novelist Paul Sheldon (Caan) doesn't remember the blinding blizzard that sent his car spinning off the road. Nor does he remember being nursed back from unconsciousness. All he remembers is waking up in the home of Annie Wilkes (Bates)a maniacal fan who is bent on keeping her favorite writer as her personal prisoner for the rest of his "****-a-doodie" life!
Famed novelist Paul Sheldon (Caan) is the author of an ongoing series of romance novels that revolve around character Misery Chastaine. Being very superstitious Paul always completes his works in the same way at the same location, The Silver Creek Lodge in snowy Colorado. After completion of his latest novel, he departs from Silver Creek in his classic 1965 Ford Mustang headed back to New York. He gets caught in a blizzard and his car spins off the road and down an embankment on a mountain pass. He is seriously injured and dying but is rescued by Annie Wilkes (Bates) a local nurse who also happens to be Paul Sheldon's number ONE fan. She brings Paul back to her isolated farm house and treats his two badly broken legs and dislocated shoulder. When Paul regains consciousness Annie informs him that they are snowed in and the phone lines are down. She convinces him that he can't be transported to a hospital until the snow clears. Annie also reveals how infatuated she is with Paul as a writer and how she adores Misery Chastaine. Initially Paul sees his meeting with Annie as fortuitous because had she not come along he would certainly have perished. Annie also had the presence of mind to collect Paul's completed manuscript from the car wreck. When she asks for permission to read it Paul happily agrees. After reading it Annie hints to Paul that she has a criticism but is reluctant to disclose it to him. When he insists, Annie tells him that she felt that his use of profanity was unnecessary and beneath him. When he explained that this is the manner in which inner city kids talk Annie became startlingly aggressive and flew into a brief tirade. It was at this point that Paul had the inkling that perhaps not all was right in this tiny, secluded farmhouse where he was now a helpless guest.
I would honestly hope that if you are reading this you have had the pleasure of seeing this superb and uniquely disturbing thriller that of course comes from the twisted mind of Stephen King. I love how this story develops into a demented cat and mouse game between Annie and Paul. This is considered to be within the horror genre but to me it is more of a psychological thriller than a horror film. It is centrally focused on these two individuals and is fed by the gravity and potentially grave circumstances that Paul finds himself in. Once he comes to realize just what/who he is dealing with in Annie Wilkes it's too late. By too late I mean she is standing over his bed in one of the most memorable scenes ever filmed. The story methodically builds and draws you in as more and more of Annie's dark side is revealed. On one hand she chastises Paul for using profanity in his latest manuscript. Conversely she makes a reference to the Sistine Chapel by asking Paul what's the name of the ceiling that dago painted? When she discovers that Paul's latest and newly released Misery novel kills off the character her reaction verifies Paul's growing uneasiness about her and simultaneously replaces it with fear. From this point forward Annie removes the façade and Paul decides that he will need to resort to inventiveness if he expects to see the outside world again. In the meantime the local Sheriff continues to assemble the pieces regarding Paul's disappearance. Focus remains on the two central characters as Caan and Bates give riveting performances. Kathy Bates justifiably won an Academy Award and Golden Globe for her portrayal of Annie Wilkes. James Caan is deserving of high praise as well. He played off of her perfectly which lent so much credibility to not only his character but hers. As the film builds towards its climax fear, suspense, and anticipation are transfixing. When the dust settles we are left with an engrossing, memorable, and superbly crafted thriller that in my opinion is one the best Stephen King film adaptations ever.
The rating is for violence, language, and strong thematic elements that would not be suitable 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:
Misery comes to Blu-ray disc from MGM featuring 1080p AVC encoded video that has an average bitrate of 30 mbps and lossless DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio sound that has an average bitrate of 3.7 mbps.
This is a high quality video encoding that looks superb on Blu-ray. Colors are vivid with subtle tonal variation, clean rendering lifelike depiction. The range of colors isn't extensive but those represented looked great. This is particularly noticeable in the scene where Annie serves Paul breakfast. There is a close up of the food on the tray which contains a variety of colors in differing shades. The soft hues and sepia tones seen in Annie's house have realistic texture and spot on tonal balance. Facial complexions and skin tones are warm, with pinkish highlights that never look unnatural. Images are well detailed and sharp over the course of the film. The level of detail present regardless of perspective was notable and gave the video's 1.85:1 frame strong dimension. There are minor fluctuations in apparent resolution that are more than likely related to the original photography and don't infringe upon fidelity. I had no trouble making out the thread patterns in clothing, draperies or the texture on wooden surfaces on the interior walls and furniture in the Wilkes house. Film grain was intact, and appeared well preserved and consistent in appearance throughout the presentation. Well balanced black and white levels brought plenty of visible detail to bright and dark segments. This aided in the perception of low level detail during the nighttime shots of the Wilkes farm and shadow detail in background as Paul lay helpless in the basement. I thought this was a beautiful and filmic presentation that has never seen this classic looking better on home video.
The lossless soundtrack is presented in a front oriented mix that is highlighted by Marc Shaiman's wonderfully engaging music score. The orchestrated elements are spread across the front of the room with subtle articulation that blends perfectly with the rest of the soundtrack to create an evenly balanced, multi-dimensional presentation where the music helps drive the story. Excellent directional spacing and imaging across the main three channels enables smaller background sounds within the mix to be detectable. Dialogue is definitively authoritative with excellent clarity and room penetration through the center channel. The soundstage opens up during the car accident, book burning and helicopter flyover sequences and extends the dynamic range nicely. Envelopment is good as the rear channels enliven blowing wind, overhead pans and thrown snow that comes right at the camera. Low frequency detail has good tactility during these segments, but isn't frequently used over the course of the film. I thought this was a great sounding and appropriate surround mix that hit the high points quite well.
There is no bonus content contained on the Blu-ray disc. The following bonus features are found on the included bonus DVD (the 2007 Collector's Edition release).
- Audio commentary by director Rob Reiner
- Audio commentary by screenwriter William Goldman
- Misery loves company - featurette
- Marc Shaiman's Musical Misery Tour - featurette
- Diagnosing Annie Wilkes - featurette
- Advice for the stalked - featurette
- Profile of a stalker - featurette
- Celebrity stalkers - featurette
- Anti-stalking laws - featurette
- Original theatrical trailer
- Original Season's Greetings trailer
Misery is indeed a classic psychological thriller that very well may keep you up at night. Kathy Bates gives a memorable and award winning performance as the undeniably creepy Annie Wilkes. She is perfectly counter balanced by James Caan in arguably one of his best roles. Fox is to be commended on its high definition debut on Blu-ray disc. It looks and sounds better than ever. While there is no Blu-ray disc exclusive content the inclusion of the 2007 Collector's Edition DVD provides a healthy compliment of bonus features for those who haven't previously owned this film. If you're a fan this is an easy recommendation for an upgrade. If you have never seen it this is the disc to pick up. Recommended!
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