The Review at a Glance: (max score: 5 )
Audio/Video total rating:
( Max score: 100 )
Studio and Year: 20th Century Fox - 2011
MPAA Rating: R
Feature running time: 115 minutes
Disc Format: BD-50
Encoding: AVC (MPEG-4)
Video Aspect: 2.40:1
Audio Format(s): English DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio, Spanish/French/English Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish
Starring: George Clooney, Shailene Woodley, Beau Bridges, Robert Forster, Judy Greer, amara Miller, Nick Krause, Matthew Lillard
Directed by: Alexander Payne
Written by: Alexander Payne, Nat Faxon, Jim Rash
Region Code: A
Blu-ray Disc release Date: March 13, 2012
"Life is complicated"
From celebrated director Alexander Payne comes a wonderfully warm and witty and bittersweet drama about a detached father's attempt to reconnect with his two daughters and their often-hilarious quest for the truth.
Based on the best-selling novel by Kaui Hart Hemmings and set in Hawaii, THE DESCENDANTS is a sometimes humorous, sometimes tragic journey for Matt King (George Clooney) an indifferent husband and father of two girls, who is forced to re-examine his past and embrace his future when his wife suffers a boating accident off of Waikiki. The event leads to a rapprochement with his young daughters while Matt wrestles with a decision to sell the family's land handed down from Hawaiian royalty and missionaries.
Alexander Payne's films aren't difficult to spot. His characters are generally earthy, awkwardly funny, and the stories speak to the human condition from a place that seems genuinely identifiable at least on some level. As soon as I saw the trailer for The Descendants (on another title that I had in for review), I summoned my wife, showed her, and we decided that we had to see it upon release, and we did. The Descendants is a wonderful dramatic film that takes a snapshot of a family undergoing a recent crisis after a severe accident befalls their wife/mother, leaving her in a coma. What we come to find out is that there were some pretty serious cracks in their familial foundation long before the accident. None of their problems are especially uncommon but are exacerbated by the accident which leaves a loving yet disconnected father trying to cope with two daughters, one an angry teenager, and the other an impressionable preteen longing for attention. Lastly, you have a husband who has lost his way as a partner and allowed the daily routine that life can be to become his priority. Together he and his daughters take a journey of discovery, some of it very painful, some of it very enlightening. What they discover is that the most important aspect of their journey is that they took it together.
None of the situational drama in this film is overtly original. What makes it special is the nuance found in the development of the story as it pertains to the characters and their interaction. The things that are said and done have an authenticity based upon what could easily be understood given the circumstances. The drama is rarely melodramatic and is offset by awkward moments of levity that have a seamless quality that reminds us that life even amidst tragedy can still be funny. I loved the cast. George Clooney and Shailene Woodley were both deservedly nominated for Academy Awards. As a unit the entire cast is deserving of praise as together they make the film what it is with each getting their moment to shine and doing so brilliantly. The film received 5 Academy Award nominations including Best Picture. For me, The Descendants is simply one of the best films of the year and entitled to all of the accolades bestowed upon it.
The rating is for language including some sexual references.
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 Descendants comes to Blu-ray from 20th Century Fox HE featuring 1080p AVC encoded video that has an average bitrate of 21 Mbps and lossless DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio sound that has an average bitrate of 3.1 Mbps.
This video presentation is consistent with most newer release films coming to Blu-ray and looks great. Colors are bright, with vivid primaries, and deep saturation which makes them visually pleasing. Contrast and brightness are nicely balanced which adds punch to colors and brightly lit scenes while keeping darker elements dynamic and gradational. Complexions are rich in tonal description with natural highlights that appear lifelike. Images are crisp with stable sharpness and appreciable definition that brings out plenty of subtle texture within the objects and people onscreen.
The lossless DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack is more than capable of handling the elements present in this dialogue driven comedy and sound excellent overall. Vocal reproduction is smooth and strident free through the center channel. The front oriented surround mix is delivered via a wide soundstage, with opulent detail and appropriate prioritization. Atmospheric ambience is lightly mixed to the rear channels which provides subtle venue replicating surround envelopment and music enhancement.
- (HD) 3 Deleted scenes
- (HD) Everybody loves George - 7 minute featurette
- (HD) Working with Alexander - 13 minute featurette
- (HD) The Real Descendants - 12 minute documentary
- (HD) Hawaiian style - 16 minute featurette
- (HD) Casting - 8 minute featurette
- (HD) Working with water - 11 minute featurette
- (HD) Music videos:
- Will I ever see you again
- Postcards from paradise
- Honolulu's whisper
- (HD) Waiting for the light - 3 minute production feature
- The world parade - Hawaii ( 10 minuet silent film)
- (HD) A conversation with George Clooney and Alexander Payne - 12 minutes
- Bonus DVD
- Digital Copy
Nominated for 5 Academy Awards, The Descendants is moving, funny, wonderfully enacted/directed and simply one of the best films of 2011. It makes its way onto Blu-ray in a solid offering from 20th Century Fox that features excellent high definition video, crystal clear lossless sound quality and a complimentary assortment of bonus features. This one comes highly recommended. Enjoy!
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