The Review at a Glance: (max score: 5 )
Audio/Video total rating:
( Max score: 100 )
Studio and Year: Universal - 2011
MPAA Rating: R
Feature running time: 118 minutes
Disc Format: BD-50
Encoding: AVC (MPEG-4)
Video Aspect: 2.40:1
Audio Format(s): English DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio
Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish
Starring: Liam Neeson, Frank Grillo, Dermot Mulroney, Dallas Roberts, Joe Anderson, Nonso Anozie, James Badge Dale
Directed by: Joe Carnahan
Music by: Marc Streitenfeld
Written by: Joe Carnahan & Ian Macenzie Jeffers
Region Code: A,B,C
Blu-ray Disc release Date: May 15, 2012
"Live or die on this day"
Liam Neeson stars as John Ottway, a sharp shooting wolf hunter who becomes an unlikely hero, leading a group of oilrig roughnecks on a death-defying backwoods trek through the Alaskan wilderness. When a plane transporting them to Anchorage crashes on a remote mountaintop, eight survivors must find their way back to civilization or perish in a frozen wasteland. With Ottway as their guide, the ravaged group faces hostile terrain with limited supplies. Most terrifyingly, they are stalked by a pack of fierce and cunning wolves. In order to survive, they will have to turn the tables on the ferocious predators in an unparalleled wilderness adventure.
Liam Neeson is among the more consist actors of his generation and at nearly sixty shows no signs of slowing down. I tend to like his films and although I didn't catch The Grey while it was in theaters I looked forward to checking it out on Blu-ray. The Grey is as straight forward a survival thriller as you can get and it wastes little time setting up the characters and placing them in harms way. Once things are in place (meaning they are stranded in the Alaskan wilderness) the wonderfully crafted script settles in and provides taut pacing, well drawn characters and plenty of suspense, danger and emotion. The primary catalyst driving the ebbs and flows of anxiety/tension/fear is a pack of wolves that have taken exception to their presence. The survivors are comprised of men from various walks of life most of whom seem to share a commonality in suffering from painful remnants of their pasts. The narrative extracts just enough information (while eschewing overplayed melodrama) to allow us to care about these men while properly counterbalancing those dramatic elements against the primary theme of survival amidst insurmountable odds. As such it becomes all too apparent early on that this film isn't going to pull punches and resort to campy heroics and chants of Kumbaya. People are going to die. What I found gratifying and involving was watching the escalating nature of the storyline, its effect on the characters and the emotive context that eventually results. The cast as an ensemble is equally deserving of praise and truly owns their respective characters. The Grey has a visceral and pervasive edginess that never really lets up right through to the conclusion. It isn't a feel good film nor is it meant to be. It tells a story of hope, despair, reflection and kinship. Its story is also steeped in harsh reality. I thoroughly enjoyed it.
The rating is for violence/disturbing content including bloody images and for pervasive 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:
The Grey comes to Blu-ray from Universal Studios HE featuring 1080p AVC encoded video that has an average bitrate of 32 Mbps and lossless DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio sound that has average and constant bitrate 3.9 Mbps.
This high definition presentation has a light grainy and filmic quality that doesn't lend itself to razor sharp clarity and three dimensional quality. This film has an intentionally stylized visual design that utilizes a limited color scheme that works aesthetically well for the films subject matter/time period. The color range is limited to shades of steely blue, gray and black with splashes of crimson. Warm accents are used here and there to break up the film's monochromatic essence. Fleshtones hold up well against the de-saturated chroma and don't appear unnatural. Uneven light and shading are prevalent. Contrast is spot on which empowers whites and grays without washing away detail. Whites are punchy and grays are multi-staged and deep. The use of CGI and green screens softens some elements during wide angle pans but I never found it to be overtly distracting. I found the quality of the video to be high. It isn't always razor sharp but it's cleanly rendered with plenty of subtle refinement and delineation that enhanced depth and revealed fine detail in objects, clothing, and physical features. Shadow delineation is a bit of a mixed bag which impacts visual penetration in certain scenes while others offers discerning depth of field. I didn't detect any other obvious signs of video related anomalies or artifacts and thought that this encoding looked solid.
A movie like this lives or dies (no pun intended) by its soundtrack and this DTS-HD Master Audio mix nails it. This is a captivating surround sound mix that features an immersive array of well placed sound effects that pray upon your aural senses. Near field sounds are accurately placed within the sound field which gives them multi-dimensional perspective that places you right in the middle of the action. The entire room is illuminated with an array of sounds that are both directional and ambient in nature. I appreciated the attention to detail that went into creating the surround mix as it effectively replicates the environments featured in the film. Bass is rich, authoritative, and room energizing as it accentuates the audio's excellent dynamic range with palpable impact. Dialogue intelligibility is never a problem even during the film's active moments. This is a great surround sound experience that certainly made this film more enjoyable.
- Feature commentary with co-writer/director Joe Carnahan and editors Roger Barton & Jason Hellman
- (HD) 6 deleted scenes
- Blu-ray Exclusive: Universal's U-Control - Featuring pre-visualization and storyboard comparisons of some the film's most exciting scenes.
- My scenes bookmark feature
- D-Box Motion Code enabled
- pocket BLU
- Bonus DVD of The Grey
- Ultraviolet Digital Copy
The Grey is a stimulating and involving survival thriller that features taut pacing, fleshed out characters and a visceral edge that proves thoroughly entertaining. It makes its way to Blu-ray from Universal Studios Home Entertainment featuring gratifying high definition video, superb DTS-HD Master Audio surround sound and a diminutive supplemental offering that left me wanting. If you're a fan this is a must have. If you haven't seen The Grey I highly recommend it.
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