The Wizard of Lies Blu-ray Review

Ralph Potts reviews this HBO Drama that chronicles Bernie Madoff’s Ponzi scheme, which defrauded his clients of billions of dollars.

The Review at a Glance:
(max score: 5 )



Audio/Video total rating:
( Max score: 100 )



Studio and Year: HBO – 2017
MPAA Rating: TV-MA
Feature running time:
Genre: TV Drama

Disc Format: BD-50
Encoding: AVC
Video Aspect: 1.78:1
Resolution: 1080p/24

Audio Format(s): English DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio, French DTS 5.1, Spanish Stereo
Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish, Dutch, Finnish, Norwegian, Swedish
Starring: Robert De Niro, Michelle Pfeiffer, Hank Azaria, Nathan Darrow, Alexandro Nivola
Directed by: Barry Levinson
Music by: Sacha Galperine
Written by: Sam Levinson and John Burnham Schwartz based on the book by Diana B. Henriques
Region Code: A,B,C

Release Date: October 3, 2017

“Only Those You Trust Can Truly Betray You”

My Take:

In 2008, stockbroker, investment adviser and financier Bernie Madoff made headlines around the world when he was arrested for perpetrating the largest Ponzi scheme in U.S. history. HBO Films’ The Wizard of Lies chronicles the events that led up to Madoff’s admission and the devastating aftermath.

The Wizard of Lies stars Robert De Niro as Bernie Madoff and Michelle Pfeiffer as his wife Ruth, in this HBO Films drama that dissects the events that led to the Wall Street financier’s stunning downfall in December 2008 for defrauding investors of over $65 billion, in the most infamous Ponzi scheme in U.S. history. Based on the book by Diana B. Henriques, and directed by Barry Levinson, it vividly recounts Madoff’s audacious deceptions that culminated in his vilification while catapulting his wife and two sons into a harsh and unrelenting spotlight, with tragic consequences.

I recall the news articles and accounts of Bernie Madoff’s arrest, but honestly knew little of the details of how it occurred. I found The Wizard of Lies to be a compelling drama that took a look at who Madoff was, how his perpetration impacted his family and a snapshot of how it affected his victims and the financial community. I enjoyed Robert De Niro and Michelle Pfeiffer’s performances which were complimented by the supporting turns by Hank Azaria, Nathan Darrow, and Alexandro Nivola.

The Wizard of Lies is a solid biopic that should be of great interest to genre fans.

Replay Value:

Parental Guide: 

The film contains thematic material 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: 84
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)


  • Dynamics: 
  • Low frequency effects: 
  • Surround Sound presentation: 
  • Clarity/Detail: 
  • Dialog Reproduction: 
  • DSU/DTS Neural:X Rating * (non-rated element): NA


Video: 90
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)


  • Resolution/Clarity: 
  • Black Level/Shadow Detail: 
  • Color Reproduction: 
  • Fleshtones: 
  • Compression: 


The Wizard of Lies comes to Blu-ray Disc from HBO Entertainment featuring 1080p AVC encoded video that has an average bitrate of 25 Mbps and lossless DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio sound that has an average bitrate of 2.1 Mbps. 

This 1.78:1 framed video presentation offers appreciable high definition resolution that has a satisfying glossy aesthetic. Images are stable and sharp with plenty of discernible texture and revealing fine detail during close-ups. Many of the show’s sequences are shot in uneven and low lighting. Shadow delineation and depth is quite good. Blacks are deep while exhibiting appreciable dynamic range with stable yet slightly elevated contrast that never infringes upon fidelity. Colors are snappy and bright and sullen and muted where appropriate. Fleshtones appear descriptive with variable depth that brings out the differing complexional types among the cast. This whistle clean and faithful high definition presentation easily bests the Netflix streamed image and looks great.

The DTS-HD MA soundtrack features crystal clear dialogue, gratifying dynamic range and a subtle, yet enriching surround sound mix. I was pleased with its use of spacial dimension, and directional cues to create a realistic and occasionally immersive sound field. This worked hand in hand with show’s music to build tension and drive its thematic elements. I thought it sounded quite good.

Bonus Features:

  • Interviews with Robert De Niro and Michelle Pfeiffer
  • Interviews with Director Barry Levinson and author Diana B. Henriques
  • Digital HD Copy

Final Thoughts:

Based on the book by Diana B. Henriques, The Wizard of Lies takes a compelling and dramatic look behind the curtain at the most infamous Ponzi scheme in U.S. history. It comes to Blu-ray Disc from HBO Films featuring excellent audio/video quality, mated with a middling supplemental package that offers insights from the cast/crew/author. The Wizard of Lies is worthwhile viewing for genre fans.


Ralph Potts
AVS Forum Blu-ray Reviews

Reference Review System:

JVC DLA-RS500 3D/4K Ready High Definition Front Projector
(Calibrated with Calman 5 & C6-HDR Meter from Spectracal)
Stewart Filmscreen – Studiotek 130 G3 100” 16×9 Screen
Carada Masquerade Electronic Horizontal Masking System
Marantz AV8802A 13.2 Channel Audio/Video Processor
Sherbourn Technologies – 7/200 Seven Channel Amplifier
B&K Reference 200.7 Series 2 Seven Channel Amplifier
Oppo UDP-203 Ultra HD Blu-ray Player
Sony Playstation 3 Blu-ray disc Player
System Controller: Apple iPad/iRule Pro HD Universal Remote Control
Canton “Ergo” and Canton In-Ceiling Series Speakers
SVS Ultra Surrounds (Gloss Finish in Bipolar Configuration)
SVS PB-13 Ultra (Rosenut finish)
SVS SB-13 Ultra (Piano Gloss finish)
Panamax M5400-PM Power Conditioner/Surge Protector
Wireworld, Better Cables (Silver Serpent) – Audio/Video/Speaker Cabling
AC Infinity Aircom T8 Component Cooling Systems