The Review at a Glance: (max score: 5 )
Audio/Video total rating:
( Max score: 100 )
Studio and Year: Sony Pictures - 2009
MPAA Rating: R
Feature running time: 111 minutes
Disc Format: BD-50
Encoding: AVC (MPEG-4)
Video Aspect: 2.35:1
Audio Format(s): English DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio
Subtitles: English, English SDH,
Starring: Viggo Mortensen, Charlize Theron, Robert Duvall, Guy Pearce, Kodi Smit-McPhee
Directed by: John Hillcoat
Music by: Nick Cave & Warren Ellis
Written by: Jon Penhall
Region Code: A
Blu-ray Disc release Date: May 25, 2010
"Keep carrying the fire"
An all-star cast are featured in this epic post-apocalyptic tale of the survival of a father and his young son as they journey across a barren America that was destroyed by a mysterious cataclysm. A masterpiece adventure, THE ROAD boldly imagines a future in which men are pushed to the worst and the best that they are capable of - a future in which a father and his son are sustained by love.
The Road is based on the novel of the same name by Cormac McCarthy, the author of No country for old men. A father (Mortensen) and his young son (Smit-McPhee) fight to survive after an unspecified apocalyptic event, traveling toward the warmer coast with the hope of possible food, safety, and the company of fellow survivors. Along their journey, with scarce shelter and resources available, they encounter many horrors and hardships, and must endure the constant fear of roaming cannibals and other desperate gangs. Despite having next to nothing but each other, and with little more than the clothes on their back, a rusty cart and a pistol for defense, they manage to maintain their humanity, decency and a human connection.
Watching the trailer for this film gave me a different impression of what it was going to be like. While it wasn't really what I envisioned I was pleasantly surprised by it. I found the first thirty five minutes or so frustrating because it gave little to no background on the characters or what had happened, which left me feeling disconnected to Papa and Boy. I came to find out that the connection had to be made over the course of the film and it was. This is a dark and foreboding story about a father and son struggling to survive in a world where an unexplained cataclysm has vanquished animals, crippled Mother Nature and left the planet a seemingly barren shell. In the aftermath mankind seems to have lost its humanity where many have sunk to ruthless depravity.
We learn about some of Papa and Boy's past through a series of flashback sequences, most of which offer snippets of the once happy Papa and his Wife (Theron). Later we see a little more which explains how the cataclysm affected their lives and ultimately why she is not with them. This is a character driven film that depicts the love between a father and son while telling it from a perspective that relates in part to morality interwoven with the need for survival at the most basic level. Boy and Papa are the primary characters however they encounter many nefarious types, with only a few exceptions, along their journey. Children are seen as special since there are few left. Boy's compassion and empathy is in stark contrast to all of those around him, including his father. The heart of the story lies in the journey, both spiritually and emotionally, between Boy and Papa and the looming inevitability of their plight.
Viggo Mortensen gives a superb performance that is perfectly matched by the credible and evocative turn by his young co-star Kodi Smit-McPhee. Robert Duvall and Charlize Theron each contribute with small but defining roles. The Road isn't a completely fulfilling film and some may find the staggered pacing too slow especially if expectations are different. I think that sticking with it pays off and results in an emotive and rewarding dramatic film that is worth seeing.
The rating is for mature thematic material, violence, language and disturbing images.
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 Road comes to Blu-ray Disc from Sony featuring 1080p AVC encoded video that has an average bitrate of 24 Mbps and lossless DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio sound that has an average bitrate of 3.6 Mbps.
The video has a stylized look that utilizes a de-saturated color scheme and slightly scaled back contrast which gives images a flatter less dynamic appearance. Blacks are strong and detail in dark areas and shadowy backgrounds is excellent. The primary color range is limited to shades of dark blue, gray and black with splashes of crimson red and amber highlights. The visual design isn't such that it offers glossy, razor sharp quality however resolution is excellent as images are delineated and dimensionally strong. There are a series of flashback sequences where the monochromatic appearance vanishes. Colors are rich and satisfying as objects onscreen offer vibrant textures and clear definition. This film's intentionally dark visuals and vapid color don't exhibit the eye catching imagery generally associated with new release films coming to Blu-ray but that doesn't prevent it from looking terrific in high definition.
The lossless audio presentation has no trouble conveying the elements present in the soundtrack. Dialogue reproduction is good and exhibits clear intonation with fair room penetration. The mix does a nice job of handling the various directional cues and near field simulation featured in the screenplay. Atmosphere creating sounds mixed to the rear channels create a neatly balanced rear soundfield that seamlessly blends with the front soundstage. This generally consists of spatial ambience however discrete effects are present and appropriate based upon the events transpiring onscreen. Dynamics are potent which lends weight to sound effects and authoritative extension to low frequency effects. You will want to turn up the earthquake/falling tree scene during chapter 12. I was impressed by the high level clarity, front/rear channel integration, and powerful room energizing bass featured in this brief but memorable sequence. I found this to be a stirring audio presentation that hits the high points quite well.
This title includes Sony's new Movie IQ features which requires a BD-Live connection and allows fans the option of viewing continuously updated details on the cast and crew and to explore relevant trivia such as production facts, music, and soundtrack information which are tied into scenes in the movie.
- Making of The Road - 13 minute featurette
- 5 Deleted/extended scenes
- Audio commentary with director John Hillcoat
- (HD) Theatrical trailers
- BD-Live enabled
The Road is based upon the novel of the same name by Cormac McCarthy. It isn't exactly what I anticipated but nevertheless makes for an emotive and rewarding dramatic film. Viggo Mortensen and young co-star Kodi Smit-McPhee are magnificent as a father and son struggling to balance survival while sustaining their humanity in a world where achieving both seems to be impossible. Its stylized video presentation and lossless DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack shine on Blu-ray Disc. Fans will find the limited number of bonus features disappointing however that doesn't taint an otherwise solid offering from Sony. The Road is a film that is worth checking out but I would suggest a rental prior to purchase.
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