The Review at a Glance: (max score: 5 )
Audio/Video total rating:
( Max score: 100 )
Studio and Year: Warner - 2011
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Feature running time: 129 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 Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish
Starring: Tom Hanks, Sandra Bullock, Thomas Horn, Viola Davis, Jeffrey Wright, Max Von Sydow, John Goodman, Zoe Caldwell
Directed by: Stephen Daldry
Music by: Alexandre Desplat
Written by: Eric Roth based on the novel by Jonathan Safran Foer
Region Code: A,B,C
Blu-ray Disc release Date: March 27, 2012
"If things were easy to find they wouldn’t be worth finding"
Adapted from the acclaimed bestseller by Jonathan Safran Foer, “Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close” is a story that unfolds from inside the young mind of Oskar Schell, an inventive eleven year-old New Yorker whose discovery of a key in his deceased father’s belongings sets him off on an urgent search across the city for the lock it will open. A year after his father died in the World Trade Center on what Oskar calls “The Worst Day,” he is determined to keep his vital connection to the man who playfully cajoled him into confronting his wildest fears. Now, as Oskar crosses the five New York boroughs in quest of the missing lock – encountering an eclectic assortment of people who are each survivors in their own way – he begins to uncover unseen links to the father he misses, to the mother who seems so far away from him and to the whole noisy, dangerous, discombobulating world around him.
We went to see Extremely loud and incredibly close when it was released theatrically. We knew little about it other than the story revolved around a little boy, 9/11, and that it starred Tom Hanks and Sandra Bullock. For me the subject of 9/11 hits very close to home both professionally and personally. We know people that lost loved ones in the World Trade Center attacks and the film’s depiction of their last contact/telephone calls struck a chord. As for the film, we loved it. Based on the 2005 novel by Jonathan Safran Foer the story revolves around Oskar, an overtly bright eleven year old who has some of social/anxiety disorder (the story alludes to inconclusive tests on him for Asperger’s syndrome) and loses his closest friend, his father, in the 9/11 attacks. By design the narrative is evocative as it tells the story from Oskar’s point of view. His character, as drawn, is someone that understand things from a narrower perspective based upon practicalities that need to make sense. For him “The worst day” was something that he needed to make sense of. He needed something tangible to give him somewhere to begin. His father would often provide him with clues to scavenger hunts that required him to interact with people in the community and together they would examine/discuss Oskars findings. Nearly one year after 9/11 Oskar found a key in his father’s closet. Along with the key he found several “clues” that must have been left for him. His task, to find the lock that the key fits. For Oskar this provided a means for him to not only try and makes sense of something that made no sense but also as a way to feel closer to his father. From this point the storyline focuses on Oskar’s devised plan, a series of connective flashback sequences involving he and his father, the estrangement he feels toward his mother and the relationships he forms during his journey to find a very small needle (the key) in a huge haystack (New York City).
In my opinion Extremely loud and incredibly close isn’t a story about 9/11 per se. It’s a story that speaks to the human condition in terms of the effects of tragic loss and the rippling currents of guilt, grief and longing that follow. In this case it’s the perceptions of a special child that shared an incredible bond with someone and after losing that person faces it the only way he can. Unfortunately for him, he experiences all of the aforementioned emotions not only through a child’s eyes but from a limited perspective where logical meaning is paramount. Eric Roth’s screenplay is superbly crafted and filled with dialogue and scene specific phrasing geared toward unleashing Oskar’s thoughts, emotions or frustration at those around him. Newcomer (first time actor!) Thomas Horn is simply amazing. He is in every scene of this film and owns them all. There is a viably rich connection to him as well as to the film’s other characters, through him. As the story’s layers are peeled back there are several integral plot points that are unveiled. Things don’t quite turn out as you might expect or hope (or maybe they do) but that really isn’t the purpose. The primary cast members in Tom Hanks, Sandra Bullock and Max Von Sydow give strong performances (in support of Thomas Horn in my opinion). Stephen Daldry’s direction and Chris Menges’ cinematography also equally enrich the proceedings. The end result is a powerful and emotive film that is made up of a series of meaningfully rewarding moments. Nominated for two Academy Awards one for Best Picture, Extremely loud and incredibly close is a film that some may view as exploitive or opportunistic. I didn’t see it that way at all and look forward to watching it again.
The rating is for emotional thematic material, some disturbing images and language.
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:
Extremely loud and incredibly close comes to Blu-ray Disc from Warner Home Video featuring 1080p AVC encoded video that has an average bitrate of 19 Mbps and lossless DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio sound that has an average bitrate of 3.7 Mbps.
Shot digitally this film looks superb on Blu-ray Disc and features glossy high definition video quality that exhibit high level detail, razor sharpness and exquisite definition that brings out lifelike textures captured by the camera’s lens. Dimensional perspective has a near infinite appeal that can be visually stimulating. Close ups are noticeably refined and revealing of the subtlest details within facial features and objects within the frame. Mid level camera pans are equally enriching and offer excellent depth and dimension. Colors are appreciably delineated with natural rendering and punchy primaries that stand out among the remaining spectrum of secondary hues. Fleshtones are rendered with vivid tonality and discerning complexional depiction. Contrast is bold applied without overstatement as it enlivens colors and drives whites with washing away detail. Blacks are gradational and fairly deep which helps them pop during sequences containing a mix of light and dark elements. Detail in uneven light and darkened environments reveal visible shapes and structure in backgrounds. This is a pristine and reference quality presentation that looks great.
The lossless DTS-HD MA soundtrack has excellent dynamic range, detail rich clarity and makes ample use of the entire surround platform to drive the film’s thematic elements. Alexandre Desplat’s music score, coupled along with well integrated discrete and atmospheric sound effects, plays an intricate role in this sometimes active surround mix. The detection of subtle background sounds, off camera cues and spatial dimension within the room’s acoustic environment is excellent. The low frequency effects channel is active as the subwoofer works in tandem with the rest of the system to convey the palpably rich bass and dynamic impact associated with the “sounds” of New York City. Dialogue is firmly planted in the center channel and clearly renders voices and effects with appropriate distinction and balance within the front soundstage. I thoroughly enjoyed this audio presentation and found that it accentuated the feeling of “being there” while complimenting the film’s recorded elements.
Both the audio and video presentations mimicked what I saw in the theater and together make for an excellent home theater experience.
- (HD) Making Extremely loud and incredibly close - 19 minute look behind the scenes
- (HD) Finding Oskar - 7 minute featurette
- (HD) Ten years later - 11 minute retrospective
- (HD) Max Van Sydow: Dialogue with the “Renter“ - 44 minute production documentary
- Bonus DVD - Extremely loud and incredibly close
- Ultraviolet Digital Copy
Based on the novel by Jonathan Safran Foer Extremely loud and incredibly close is a powerful and effecting drama that speaks to the human condition in terms of the effects of tragic loss and the rippling currents of guilt, grief, longing and eventually closure that follow. The story follows an eleven year old boy in his desperate search in the hopes of keeping alive the connection he shared with his father who perished on 9/11. Nominated for two Academy Awards one for Best Picture, Extremely loud and incredibly close is a film that some may view as exploitive or opportunistic. I didn’t see it that way at all. It makes its way onto Blu-ray from Warner Home Video featuring sparkling high definition audio/video quality and a disappointing (no audio commentary really?) but passable assortment of bonus features. This film is recommended viewing and has found a home in my Blu-ray library.
AVS Forum Blu-ray Reviews
Reference Review System:
JVC DLA-RS55 3D Ready 1080p High Definition Front Projector
Stewart Filmscreen - Studiotek 130 G3 100” 16x9 Screen
Onkyo PR-SC5508 THX Ultra 2 Audio/Video Processor
Sherbourn Technologies - 7/200 Seven Channel Amplifier
Oppo BDP-93 Universal Disc/3D capable Blu-ray Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
Panasonic DMP-BDT310 3D capable Blu-ray Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
Toshiba HD-XA2 HD DVD Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
Sony Playstation 3 Blu-ray disc Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
System Controller: Apple iPad/iRule Pro HD Universal Remote Control
Canton "Ergo" Series speakers
Axiom Audio QS8 Quadpolar speakers
SV Sound PB-13 Ultra (Rosenut finish)
APC AV S15BLK Power Conditioner/Surge Protector
Furman SPR-20i Stable Power Regulator
Wireworld, Better Cables (Silver Serpent) - Audio/Video/Speaker Cabling
Cool Components - CP-CP102 cooling package