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The Master (Blu-ray) Official AVSForum Review

post #1 of 16
Thread Starter 
The Review at a Glance: (max score: 5 )

Film: attachment.php?attachmentid=109946&d=1210373637

Extras: attachment.php?attachmentid=109943&d=1210373647

Audio/Video total rating:

( Max score: 100 )

Studio and Year: The Weinstein Company - 2012
MPAA Rating: R
Feature running time: 137 minutes
Genre: Drama

Disc Format: BD-50
Encoding: AVC (MPEG-4)
Video Aspect: 1.85:1
Resolution: 1080p/24

Audio Format(s): Dolby TrueHD 5.1
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish
Starring: Philip Seymour Hoffman, Joaquin Phoenix, Amy Adams, Laura Dern
Directed by: Paul Thomas Anderson
Written by: Paul Thomas Anderson
Music by: Jonny Greenwood
Region Code: A

Blu-ray Disc release Date: Febuary 26, 2013

"I am a writer, a doctor, a nuclear physicist and a theoretical philosopher. But above all, I am a man, a hopelessly inquisitive man, just like you."

Film Synopsis:

1950s-set drama centered on the relationship between a charismatic intellectual known as “The Master” (Philip Seymour Hoffman) a WWII veteran who creates a belief system which catches on with other lost souls--and a young drifter (Joaquin Phoenix) who becomes his right-hand man.

My Take:

I really enjoy Paul Thomas Anderson's work. I had a hard time with "There Will Be Blood" upon first viewing, but the films subtle nuances grew on my exponentially upon my second time. "Magnolia" is one of my favorite films of the last 20 years, and I agree with his quote "... what I really feel is that Magnolia is, for better or worse, the best movie I'll ever make.". The Master continues some of the philosophical/religious undertones and questions brought up by "There will Be Blood", but here he delves into the cult aspect of religion, and how it attracts and almost feeds on the damaged mind, whether it be mental illness, physical sickness, abuse, loneliness, or in this case scarred WWII vet Freddie Quell (Joaquin Phoenix).

The Master is said to have roots in L. Ron Hubbard and the beginnings of Scientology, however, it really is Freddie Quell's story. Freddie is played...actually channeled is a better word, by a brilliant Joaquin Phoenix, who morphs himself into this man, with his speech impediment, his lanky and emaciated look, his awkward posture...even the insane look in his eyes. His Oscar nomination is more than warranted, and a loss would almost be criminal. Freddie is a sex addict, a drunk, a drifter, a broken WWII vet, in search of something, but never able to commit to anything. His wandering leads him to "The Cause", and its "Master" named Lancaster Dodd, played by a completely convincing Philip Seymour Hoffman. Hoffman's range is perfect for the part as he dynamically goes from charming and completely likable to biting your head off within an instant. His character is based on Hubbard, and to deny that is foolish. He even looks like a bit like Hubbard, the film is set in the same time-frame, we even meet "The Master" on a vessel at sea where he can be away from scrutiny of the skeptics and critics, just like Hubbard and Scientology's Sea Org fleet of vessels.

The Master is a great film, with superb acting, direction and scenes that completely take you into this world. The cinematography is gorgeous, and there are some shots, like in the motorcycle scene that make the 1.85:1 image look and feel like cinemascope. The Master is a hard film for those with the modern attention span who want fast cars, fast bullets, fast everything. This is film-making, pure and simple. Its slow-burn is intense, characters are rich, flawed and completely believable, and thought all seems clear on the surface, there is much more to discover underneath the words and scenes. Whether or not you are completely fulfilled with the films answers and resolution at its climax is not a bad thing.--it really is the whole point.

Parental Guide:

Rated R for sexual content, graphic nudity 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.**

Audio: 86

(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

  • Dynamics: attachment.php?attachmentid=109946&d=1210373692

  • Low frequency extension: attachment.php?attachmentid=109945&d=1210373692

  • Surround Sound presentation: attachment.php?attachmentid=109946&d=1210373692

  • Clarity/Detail: attachment.php?attachmentid=109947&d=1210373692

  • Dialogue Reproduction: attachment.php?attachmentid=109947&d=1210373692

Video: 96

(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

  • Resolution/Clarity: attachment.php?attachmentid=109947&d=1210373692

  • Black level/Shadow detail: attachment.php?attachmentid=109947&d=1210373692

  • Color reproduction: attachment.php?attachmentid=109947&d=1210373692

  • Fleshtones: attachment.php?attachmentid=109947&d=1210373692

  • Compression: attachment.php?attachmentid=109948&d=1210373692

The Master> comes to Blu-ray from Anchor Bay Home Entertainment featuring 1080p AVC encoded video that has an average bitrate of 24.4 mbps and DTS-HD MA 5.1 sound that has an average bitrate of 2.4 mbps

The Master, shot in 65mm and matted to 1.85:1, is a glorious looking high definition transfer, with all the filmic qualities of celluloid shining through, and all the resolution the 1080p Blu-ray medium will allow. Film fans will love this, and fans of the film will be nothing short or captivated, again. Cinematographer Mihai Malaimare Jr. (Coppola's Twixt, Tetro and Youth Without Youth) seemed to nail what PT Anderson was looking for, as the look, and shots are of the craft of film-making. Like I mentioned above "The cinematography is gorgeous, and there are some shots, like in the motorcycle scene that make the 1.85:1 image look and feel like cinemascope." Depth of field and resolution are striking, grain is subtle but there, colors rich and vibrant but also can go cold and sad, and black levels are strong with great shadow detail and no crush.

The DTS-HD MA 5.1 is a front focused affair, but when called upon, like the shoppers and children in the department store, can subliminally help to pull you further into the strange world. Dialouge is focused, and always audible, unless Phoenix's Freddie Quell is mumbling, as his speech never quite has the articulation and sibilance of normal speech. The score by Radiohead's Johnny Greenwood is mesmerizing, with a whimsical yet frightening mood. It comes across full-bodied and dynamic, as does this films sound design as a whole. Of Course, don't expect dramatic use of LFE and fast transients here, this is about mood and feel, which this track has in spades.

Bonus Features:

  • (HD) Outtakes

  • (HD) Additional Scenes

  • (HD) Music by Jonny Greenwood (20 min)

  • (HD) “Unguided Message” 8 Minute Short / Behind the Scenes

  • (HD) Teasers/Trailers

  • (HD) “Let There Be Light” (1946) John Huston’s landmark documentary about WWII veterans (58 Minutes)

Final Thoughts:

Dear Hollywood,

Can you please make more "Films" like this, as we get plenty of "movies"...Oh I know why you don't, cause this amazing film cost 32 million (much less than a blockbuster) and only made half that on its theatrical run. What a shame. Also, shame on you Academy, for leaving out his film for Best Picture, PT Anderson as director as well as the score and cinematography. At least it got nominated for best actor as well as supporting actor and actress.

The Master is a rich, dense and amazingly crafted film from a technical standpoint, and this come thought brilliantly in HD on Anchor Bay's Blu-ray release. Besides it fabulous presentation, it has some enjoyable supplements, including John Huston's insightful documentary, “Let There Be Light”, which is one of PT Anderson's inspirations for this film. Unfortunately we are missing a commentary, which I would have loved to check out here.The Master is a film from a modern auteur, and not to be missed. Don't expect deep religious or philosophical questions to be answered, this is about a broken soul and a megalomaniac. Whether or not you are completely fulfilled with the films answers and resolution at its climax is not a bad thing.--it really is the whole point.


Lee Weber
AVS Forum Blu-ray Reviews

Reference Review Systems:

JVC DLA-RS4810 3D 1080p 3D High Definition Front Projector
Screen Innovations Solar HD 1.3 120" 2.40:1 CinemaScope Screen
Onkyo PR-SC5509 Pre/Pro
Sunfire Theater Grand 7201 Amplifier
Sony BDP-S790 Blu-ray Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
Triad InRoom Gold LCR's
Triad OnWall Silver Surrounds
2 Triad Silver OmniSubs

Panasonic TC-P65VT30 3D 1080p Plasma
Marantz NR1603 Receiver
Sony PS3 (HDMI Audio/Video)
MKSound MP-7 LCR's
MKSound SUR-55T Surrounds
MKSound SB-8 Subwoofer

Gear mentioned in this thread:

post #2 of 16

loved this movie and the performances it had.
I can not wait.

I had hoped it would be a bit closer to a score of 100 based on the 65mm film stock it was made with.
post #3 of 16
Thanks for the excellent review - you have certainly renewed my interest in this one.
I actually enjoyed "Let there be Blood" (the first time through). So; this is now on my must-see list.
post #4 of 16
this one will be awesome on 4k when it gets here.
post #5 of 16
Great review. I'm usually not a drama guy but I'll have to give this one and some of the others you mentioned a shot. Not sure if this is the right place to ask, but it looks like you changed your review system speakers again. Any chance of updating the build thread with some pics and reviews of the new speakers?
post #6 of 16
Great review. I saw this in Hollywood at the Arclight Dome in true 65mm, and it was astounding. This is a testament to the power of film in a overwhelmingly digital medium. The Oscars snubs, particularly to the DP, are absolutely criminal. PTA is the most inspired, if not finest, filmmaker working today. I can't wait to see what he does next. I hope he sticks with film.
post #7 of 16
Thanks for the review. Put it in my queue for release end of Feb. Missed it at the theater.
post #8 of 16
Beautiful Blu-Ray. Wish I'd seen it in 65MM. Superb acting and brilliantly made. Only problem is, there is no charachter to like in this movie.. I wouldn't share the same room with Joaquin Phoenix's role. It's a great movie as you say, but I think the unpleasentness put off people during awards time. "Silver Linings Playbook" had imperfect charachters, but they all had their own charm. The couldn't deny Phoenix, Hoffman or Adams their Oscar nominations for which the give the performances of their lives. Great review, I hope it inspires more people to get the Blu-Ray.
post #9 of 16
Hi Folks,

i love 65mm, Cinerama and all this Stuff !
It hard ti catch this Film in 65mm in Germany anyway.
But why is this not one 1:2,40 Format ????????
Some Idea.

Best Dirk
post #10 of 16
This film is well acted out but a little confusing in spots. My wife and I liked it but we both thought that it was rated a bit higher than we would give it.
post #11 of 16
Thread Starter 
Thanks guys!

@rboehl-- this is definitely not a film for everyone!

@JVoth -- I will try to do that this weekend as I am stuck here in this blizzard in Boston! Ill tell ya, I love these Triads and think I will be sticking with them for quite a while...
post #12 of 16
Originally Posted by MSchu18 View Post


loved this movie and the performances it had.
I can not wait.

I had hoped it would be a bit closer to a score of 100 based on the 65mm film stock it was made with.
I saw this in 65mm and while it's good and it's not the most detailed looking on the big screen, but it's likely an artistic choice. If the transfer to disc is truthful to the film i don't think you'll have an issue with the way it looks.
post #13 of 16
I saw it in 65mm also. the "hand" or texture was stunning... worth every penny invested. I dont think resolving power is the issue as is maintaining the textural feel of the print.
post #14 of 16
I like the term "modern attention span"...ain't that the truth!..can't wait to check out the film. Thanks!
post #15 of 16
The transfer to Blu-ray is excellent. Great quality. The movie itself is a little slow, but I found it interesting.
post #16 of 16
Watched this film on blu-ray early last week and enjoyed it even more than I had anticipated. Joaquin Phoenix was simply outstanding in his role, and Philip Seymour Hoffman was very good, too. After seeing this movie, I decided to watch "Magnolia", another Paul Thomas Anderson film that was just as good, or even better.

Thanks, Lee! smile.gif
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