The Review at a Glance: (max score: 5 )
Audio/Video total rating:
( Max score: 100 )
Studio and Year: The Weinstein Company - 2012
MPAA Rating: R
Feature running time: 137 minutes
Disc Format: BD-50
Encoding: AVC (MPEG-4)
Video Aspect: 1.85:1
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
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.
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.
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.**
(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 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.
- (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)
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.
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