The Review at a Glance: (max score: 5 )
Audio/Video total rating:
( Max score: 100 )
"Do not disturb the family"
Following the tragic death of her father on her eighteenth birthday, India Stoker (Wasikowska) meets Charlie (Goode), her charismatic uncle, whom she never knew existed. When Charlie moves in with India and her unstable mother (Kidman), both are drawn to his charming and calming demeanor. But it soon becomes clear that Charlie’s arrival was no coincidence, and that the shocking secrets of his past could affect India’s future...or shatter it completely.
Stoker is Korean filmmaker Park Chan-Wook’s first foray into English language film. Based on a screenplay by Wentworth Miller (yes the actor) this is an interesting and stylistic concoction that brims with atmosphere while spinning a dark tale with a multifaceted narrative. The story has an odd coming of age context with elements of mystery and even horror that play like a psychological character study. I noticed that the script leaves aspects of the proceedings up to the interpretation of the audience which is fine considering the eclectic nature of the storyline and ambiguous relationships among the principal characters. While this all sounds potentially convoluting to comprehension the fact is that it somehow works quite well within the narrative construct.
I will admit that Stoker doesn’t exactly make for a wholly satisfying film however it cleverly lures you into its world via an erotically pulsating and untamed framework that stimulates with crafty cinematography and an unusual cadence that might be off putting to viewers expecting a more traditional genre entry. I wasn’t completely taken with it but must admit to finding it intriguing as the layers of the story were slowly and deliberately peeled back. I liked the narrow scope of the character base and the fact that much of what goes on takes place in the house but you somehow don’t realize it. The cast is solid, especially Mia Wasikowska who carries the primary load.
Stoker is an effective multi-genre piece that asks more than the average viewer may be willing to give however there is no denying that it is a stylistic and mildly haunting film that pushes the envelope if only to defy expectations.
The rating is for disturbing violent and sexual content.
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)
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
Stoker comes to Blu-ray Disc from 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment featuring 1080p AVC encoded video that has an average bitrate of 34 Mbps and lossless DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio that has an average bitrate of 3.2 Mbps.
This is a stylized high definition video presentation that utilizes a muted level of chroma that works toward conveying the thematic elements depicted in the story. Primary colors like blue and red are vividly reproduced and pop against the sepia tones and darker colors used in the sets and costumes. All are cleanly rendered cleanly with natural looking texture and delineation. The photography doesn’t lend the video to glossy, eye catching definition however images are detailed and sharp which provides appreciable depth and dimension. Close ups reveal lucid subtle nuance that allows the pores, stubble, peach fuzzy hair and subtle skin variation among the cast to be distinguishable. This also applies to the surface structure of objects and clothing within the frame. Black levels and contrast is spot on with estimable detail visible within dark backgrounds and shadows. Grain is present but never intrusive as the video had a clean/pristine quality that looked great.
I think this is a subtly engaging and well designed lossless audio presentation that plays well to the film’s thematic tone. It effectively uses the entire sound field to elicit reaction to sounds emanating from differing vantage points and off screen cues. The soundtrack’s recorded elements are enhanced by its rich clarity, and dynamic range. Dialogue through the center channel is crystal clear and maintains a position of prominence within the front soundstage. The rear channels contain a mixture of spatial ambience as well as directional panning cues that effectively correlate with the events transpiring onscreen. This surround mix capably handles the subtle intricacies thrown at by this excellent soundtrack as it augments the elements of fright in this creepy film.
Coming from the mind of Wentworth Miller and in the hands of seasoned director Park Chan-Wook Stoker is an effectively engaging, and stylistically rewarding dark mystery thriller. It comes to Blu-ray Disc from 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment featuring excellent high definition video quality, engaging lossless DTS-HD Master Audio surround sound and a fair supplemental package that looks behind the scenes at the production, including insightful details from the cast/crew. I can’t say that Stoker has universal appeal but it makes for a very decent rental option when you’re in the mood for something a little different.
AVS Forum Blu-ray Reviews
Reference Review System:
JVC DLA-RS55 3D Ready 1080p High Definition Front Projector
(Calibrated with Calman 5 & C6 Meter from Spectracal)
Stewart Filmscreen - Studiotek 130 G3 100” 16x9 Screen
Marantz AV8801 11.2 Channel Audio/Video Processor
Sherbourn Technologies - 7/200 Seven Channel Amplifier
B&K Reference 200.7 Series 2 Seven Channel Amplifier
Oppo BDP-103 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
Wireworld, Better Cables (Silver Serpent) - Audio/Video/Speaker Cabling
Cool Components - CP-CP102 cooling package
Thanks Ralph, I'm a big fan of Chan-Wook Park. I've been looking forward to seeing his first english language film since I heard about Stoker, he has a wonderful visual style, twists around standard story lines in unique manner, and always keeps you engaged.
Thanks for the review and it looks like a decent rental. It's tough not to buy them all on blu ray Ralph, they sound so good on the 8801, especially DTS MA
If you enjoyed the Vengeance Trilogy and Thirst, this is a slightly toned down Hollywood version of Park Chan-wook's work.
I enjoyed it, though it was fairly short and to the point. Mia played a critical role to the success of this film. Usually I preferred to watch films without previewing the trailers, this is one of the few I could do that.
A good little gem for Park's 1st American film. Fans of his would not be disappointed.
Thanks for the review Ralph! I watched this the other day and have to say it really stuck with me and had me contemplating the subtext well after the credits rolled. I really enjoyed it, Mia Wasikowska and Mathew Goode were both brilliant and I found the Hitchcockian undertones beautifully crafted and placed.
Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
I believe the coming of age story revealed India to have a love for murder, not Charlie (obviously) and he seemed to ultimately play the role of catalyst for India to realize her defining purpose.
Maybe I'm off the mark here but I find the film lends itself to some interesting discussion and I really enjoy Park Chan-Wook's work in other films as well.
I liked it. A lot. Very stylish and tense. The visuals are amazing, meticulously done and beautiful.
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