The Review at a Glance: (max score: 5 )
Audio/Video total rating:
( Max score: 100 )
Studio and Year: Summit Entertainment - 2011
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Feature running time: 91 minutes
Disc Format: BD-25
Encoding: AVC (MPEG-4)
Video Aspect: 2.40:1
Audio Format(s): English DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio, Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles: English SDH
Starring: Mel Gibson, Anton Yelchin, Jodie Foster, Jennifer Lawrence
Directed by: Jodie Foster
Music by: Marcel Zarvos
Written by: Kyle Killen
Region Code: A
Blu-ray Disc release Date: August 23, 2011
"He's here to save Walter's life"
Walter, once a successful and happy family man, has hit rock bottom. But, in his darkest hour, he finds a rather unusual savior: a beaver hand-puppet that takes over Walter's life in an attempt to change things for the better.
The Beaver is an emotional story about a man on a journey to re-discover his family and re-start his life. Plagued by his own demons, Walter Black was once a successful toy executive and family man who now suffers from severe depression. No matter what he tries, Walter can't seem to get himself back on track...until The Beaver, a hand puppet, enters his life.
The plotline primarily revolves around Walter, a man who somewhere along the line finds that the important things in his life have lost meaning. As he stands perched on the precipice of depression induced self destruction Walter develops an alternate personality represented by a beaver hand puppet through which he now communicates. The Beaver helps him recover and begin to reestablishes his relationships both at home and work. There is an integral subplot involving Walter's teenage son Porter, who struggles with feelings of resentment toward his father (for the familial issues resulting from his illness) while trying to find balance in the ungratifying social environment at school. Porter finds warmth in his new found relationship with Norah, the class valedictorian, who is struggling with a difficult personal loss. Walter and Porter exist on different planes however there is a parallel that binds them. Each will find that in truth the answers required to heal them can be found in the strength of the familial bonds that they have both taken for granted.
This is an interesting film. Depending on your outlook this could easily be dismissed as an attempt at dark comedy that completely misses the mark. Looking at little closer the narrative walks a fine between absurdity and tragic relevancy relative to the tone of the subject matter. I think that screenwriter Kyle Killen and director Jodie Foster successfully convey a sense of irony via wonderfully interwoven humor and character derived interplay. I have to admit that I found the film's approach relative to the serious subject of mental illness to be refreshing. By design it isn't overtly humorous but it's easy to detect and plays well against the elements of drama that it underlines. Mel Gibson's terrific performance anchors the ensemble cast that features solid turns from Anton Yelchin, Jennifer Lawrence and my girl Jodie Foster who is equally adept on both sides of the camera. I found The Beaver to be rewardingly bizarre in its compassionate and sometimes funny portrayal of the complexities and difficulties faced by those with mental illness and their families.
The rating is for mature thematic material, some disturbing content, sexuality and language including a drug reference.
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 Beaver comes to Blu-ray from Summit Entertainment 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 3.5 Mbps.
This a solid video presentation that offers excellent refinement during close ups and discernibly crisp definition within objects during mid level camera pans. The color range sets the film's thematic tone and has a reserved aesthetic that rarely offers bright, eye catching hues. Rendering is clean and depth is appropriate. Fleshtones keep pace with the look of the rest of the film and have a balmy but natural texture. Spot on contrast yielded crisp, bright whites and blacks were stable but slightly elevated which leaves them appearing less dynamic and occasionally flat. I didn't see this as a problem based upon the visual style of the film. I saw no overt signs of video related artifacts or anomalies.
The lossless audio soundtrack capably renders the recording's elements and sounds fine. High level detail provides plenty of depth and audible texture to voices. Subtle background effects within the listening area are clearly audible as well. Being a film driven predominantly by dialogue doesn't afford this mix a lot of opportunities for involving surround sound. Its use is primarily to provide subtle atmospherics and spatial enhancement for the music score. Dynamic range is limited but appropriate for the source material.
- Audio commentary with director Jodie Foster
- (HD) 2 deleted scenes with optional director commentary
- (HD) Everything is going to be ok: Making of The Beaver - 12 minute featurette
The Beaver is a somewhat bizarre albeit refreshing expose on the complexities and difficulties faced by those with mental illness and its effects on their families. It's wonderfully balanced script contains enriching elements of drama and humor that are accented by the well placed cast and Jodie Foster's apt direction. It comes to Blu-ray Disc from Summit Entertainment featuring gratifying high definition audio/video and a complimentary offering of bonus supplements. The Beaver may not be everyone's cup of tea but I think it is well worth checking out. Toss it in your rental queue and see for yourself.
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