Fences Blu-ray Review - AVS Forum | Home Theater Discussions And Reviews
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post #1 of 10 Old 03-08-2017, 11:42 AM - Thread Starter
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Fences Blu-ray Review



Ralph Potts reviews this film adaptation of August Wilson’s Pulitzer Prize winning play about a working-class African-American father trying to raise his family in the 1950s, while coming to terms with the events of his life.



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

Film:

Extras:

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

86



Details:

Studio and Year: Paramount - 2016
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Feature running time: 138 minutes
Genre: Drama

Disc Format: BD-50
Encoding: AVC
Video Aspect: 2.40:1
Resolution: 1080p/24

Audio Format(s): English DTS-HD 7.1 Master Audio
Subtitles: English, English SDH, Spanish, French
Starring: Viola Davis, Denzel Washington, Russell Hornsby, Stephen MCKinley Henderson, Jovan Adepo, Mykelti Williamson, Saniyya Sidney
Directed by: Denzel Washington
Music by: Marcelo Zarvos
Written by: August Wilson based upon his play
Region Code: A

Release Date: March 14, 2017


"Some Fences Can’t Be Mended"


My Take:

Denzel Washington and Viola Davis star in the film adaptation of August Wilson’s Pulitzer Prize-winning play. Set in the 1950s in the Hill District of Pittsburgh, Fences centers on a black blue collar worker named Troy Maxson, who is bitter that baseball's color barrier was only broken after his own heyday in the Negro Leagues. Maxson sees his life from a short-sided perspective and is prone to taking out his frustrations on his loved ones.

I wasn’t familiar with the play or any of August Wilson’s works, prior to the release of this film. Wilson died in 2005, but his legacy, and body of work, lives on. Winner of the Pulitzer Prize in the late 80’s Fences is a character driven period story that takes a snapshot of African American life, drawn from the well of people, coping with the trials of their time/upbringing, and its cyclical complexities, which can impact familial life. This is a personal story that digs below the surface, via a culturally underscored narrative, that speaks to the human condition, through the eyes of these wonderfully drawn characters that have an earthy essence.

Taken from the stage play, the screenplay is narrow in scope, delivering its drama/melodrama via compelling dialog, strong thematic framing, and the preservation of those elements required to maintain the theatrical essence. Both Denzel Washington and co-star Viola Davis won Tony Awards for their performances in the 2010 revival of the play. Stephen Henderson, Russell Hornsby, and Mykelti Williamson were part of the same production, and reprised their roles here with aplomb. As I watched it I was reminded of people that I knew from my childhood, who were either friends or relatives connected to my parents.

I found Fences to be an emotional, and stirring film that successfully reaches the audience, not only through its subject matter, but through the marvelous performances of its ensemble cast. If I had only one minor nit to pick it would be the film’s runtime. It just seemed to run a tad too long, with certain scenes dragging out a bit longer than necessary. It’s evident that Director Denzel Washington, the cast, and production crew are passionate about the material, and have the utmost respect for its creator. The outcome is a gritty drama, that, despite its period specific story, has a timeless appeal, with roots that can touch generations.


Replay Value:


Parental Guide:

The rating is for thematic elements, language and some suggestive references.

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: 82
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)


  • Dynamics:
  • Low frequency effects:
  • Surround Sound presentation:
  • Clarity/Detail:
  • Dialogue Reproduction:
  • DSU 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:


Fences comes to Blu-ray Disc from Paramount Home Entertainment featuring 1080p AVC encoded video that has an average bitrate of 30 Mbps and lossless DTS-HD 7.1 Master Audio sound that has an average bitrate of 4 Mbps.

This high definition video presentation looks great and features a distinctive visual aesthetic that utilizes a reserved chromatic palette which makes use of sepia tones and muted primary colors. Certain sequences/elements make bolder use of color with deeper saturation. Contrast and brightness are well balanced which results in distortion free and satisfying image quality. Blacks appear deep and punchy but delineation in low level scenes can range from very good to average. Flesh tones are a bit on the bland side but retain enough complexional variety to avoid appearing lifeless. Close ups offer appreciable texture and subtle refinement. Wide angle shots, especially those shot in the natural light of day, have excellent depth, with resolute definition quality that is rarely questionable. I didn’t notice any signs of compression or video related artifacts.

The DTS-HD 7.1 MA surround mix features dialog that is full bodied with defining tonal characteristics and prominent soundstage position. High level detail is readily apparent as subtle sound effects, music and voices are rendered with excellent clarity and appropriate depth. There is little call for active surround activity and extended dynamics however there is use of atmospheric sounds that utilize the entire soundstage in support of the exterior/interior venues depicted in the film. The end result, is a complimentary audio presentation that renders the soundtrack’s elements with aplomb.


Bonus Features:
  • (HD) Expanding the Audience: From Stage to Screen – 9 minute featurette
  • (HD) The Company of Fences – 9 minute featurette
  • (HD) Building Fences: Denzel Washington – 7 minute featurette
  • (HD) Playing the Part: Rose Maxson – 7 minute featurette
  • (HD) August Wilson’s Hill District – 6 minute featurette
  • Digital HD Copy



Final Thoughts:

Based on the August Wilson’s Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award winning play of the same name, Fences is a reverent film adaptation that appears to capture the essence and spirit of play, making for a compelling and stirring drama that resonates. It comes to Blu-ray from Paramount Home Entertainment featuring solid technical quality mated with a worthwhile supplemental package that includes insights from the cast/crew. Fences deserves a spot at the very top of your Blu-ray rental queue, and comes highly recommended for theater and cinema 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” 16x9 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
Cool Components - CP-CP102 cooling package
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Ralph C. Potts
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post #2 of 10 Old 03-08-2017, 04:25 PM
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Since there is no comments, give us that passengers ultra HD review
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post #3 of 10 Old 03-09-2017, 06:45 AM
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Great review, Ralph. I will buy this to support Denzel, a great actor with a humble spirit.
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post #4 of 10 Old 04-18-2017, 08:50 AM
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Powerful Film.

I watched this film last night and thought it was a very powerful film. While it was very dialog driven, it was powerful dialog. The story is fundamentally about a man who was subjected to unnecessary bias that kept him from reaching his potential both in sports and in life. Viola Davis gave a great performance and she looked great. But, as good as her performance, I thought Denzel's performance was better and he should have received the Oscar for his performance. I could relate to his character and at times, I felt these events occurred in my own family.
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post #5 of 10 Old 05-08-2017, 07:18 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gbaby View Post
I watched this film last night and thought it was a very powerful film. While it was very dialog driven, it was powerful dialog. The story is fundamentally about a man who was subjected to unnecessary bias that kept him from reaching his potential both in sports and in life. Viola Davis gave a great performance and she looked great. But, as good as her performance, I thought Denzel's performance was better and he should have received the Oscar for his performance. I could relate to his character and at times, I felt these events occurred in my own family.
If you want to see an interesting comparison of acting choices, you can find James Earl Jones performing a scene from a stage production in the 80s on Youtube.
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post #6 of 10 Old 05-08-2017, 07:27 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jhaigh View Post
If you want to see an interesting comparison of acting choices, you can find James Earl Jones performing a scene from a stage production in the 80s on Youtube.
Actually I think there's footage of Denzel's stage version too if I'm not mistaken. Really interesting to see how the same words can be manipulated to such different effect.
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post #7 of 10 Old 05-09-2017, 06:40 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jhaigh View Post
If you want to see an interesting comparison of acting choices, you can find James Earl Jones performing a scene from a stage production in the 80s on Youtube.
Whose performance did you like best?
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post #8 of 10 Old 10-26-2017, 06:48 PM
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I missed Fences in the theater but have wanted to see it ever since. Denzel Washington is arguably the finest actor alive and the luminous Viola Davis' performances have deeply impressed me for years. Earlier this week the film showed up in UHD HDR quality in the Kaleidescape store. I bought and downloaded it to my Kscape Strato and watched it earlier this week.

As Ralph said in his excellent review, Both Denzel and Davis reprise their Tony Award winning performances in the 2010 Broadway revival of August Wilson's Pulitzer Prize winning play. Davis also won the Best Supporting Actress Oscar for her film performance. Most of the rest of the movie's cast had also performed their roles on Broadway. Wilson received a posthumous Oscar nomination for Best Adapted Screenplay. Although the nominees in that category were extraordinarily strong, I think Wilson's screenplay was the best of the bunch.

The emotions portrayed in the film are naked and raw, which makes it sometimes hard to take. Nevertheless, doing so is more than worth the effort. The intrafamily conflicts among the father, Troy (Washington), mother, Rose (Davis), and Cory (Jovan Adepo), are heartbreaking. The greatness of Wilson's writing and his acute observations of the human condition, however, made it impossible for me to take sides. We are who we are and must do with that the best job we can and that is the story Wilson tells. 8 Stars out of 10 but it will take me a while to gather the fortitude to watch the film again.
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post #9 of 10 Old 11-05-2017, 03:00 PM
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Finally watched “Fences” last night. Can’t put my thoughts into words any better than gwsat.
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post #10 of 10 Old 03-22-2018, 05:16 AM
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Finally saw this Netflix rental. Excellent acting by Viola Davis I had only seen her on "How To Get Away With Murder". Some parts did feel a little too long like they dragged. Overall, I did enjoy this movie.
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