Funny Games (1997) Criterion Collection Blu-ray Review

Two violent young men take a mother, father, and son hostage in their vacation cabin and force them to play sadistic “games” with one another for their own amusement.

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

Film:

Extras:

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

80

Details:

Studio and Year: 1997 Criterion
MPAA Rating: NR
Feature running time: 109 Min
Genre: Drama, Thriller, Crime

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

Audio Format(s): Greman: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
Subtitles: English
Starring: Susanne Lothar, Ulrich Mühe, Arno Frisch, Frank Giering
Directed by: Michael Haneke
Music by: Michael Haneke
Written by: Michael Haneke
Region Code: A

Release Date: May 14th, 2019

“A Nightmare.”

My Take:

From Criterion:
Michael Haneke’s most notorious provocation, Funny Games spares no detail in its depiction of the agony of a bourgeois family held captive at their vacation home by a pair of white-gloved young men. In a series of escalating “games,” the sadistic duo subject their victims to unspeakable physical and psychological torture over the course of a night. A home-invasion thriller in which the genre’s threat of bloodshed is made stomach-churningly real, the film ratchets up shocks even as its executioners interrupt the action to address the audience, drawing queasy attention to the way that cinema milks pleasure from pain and stokes our appetite for atrocity. With this controversial treatise on violence and entertainment, Haneke issued a summation of his cinematic philosophy, implicating his audience in a spectacle of unbearable cruelty.

Oh Funny Games, what did you do to me?? I watched you captivated by your interesting structure and great casting. Coupled with being stylistically dealt out in a way where things happen when we are not looking (dropping of the eggs) combined with seeing gut and heart-wrenching crimes, Haneke’s riff on violence and entertainment is filmed and delivered just as our antagonists would want; for entertainment– And Haneke knows he is pulling this off when he breaks the fourth wall by having one of the bad guys look and wink to the camera (see the top photo). There is no deeper meaning here than that, which to me was the Achilles heel of the film. I wanted some background, some answers. Some viewers enjoy the feeling of ending up guessing. Id like to know just a little more– otherwise what is that point? This is why I am torn with enjoying the film. My reaction is just what he was shooting for; how did this film of torture and torment entertain me?? Give it a shot if you dare.

Replay Value: 

Parental Guide:

Frightening and Intense scenes, and mild nudity

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: 78
(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: 82
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

 

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

 

Funny Games comes to Blu-ray from Criterion featuring 1080p AVC encoded video and lossless DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 that has an average bitrate of 3.2 Mbps.

The new 2K digital restoration, supervised by director Michael Haneke is intended to be a faithful rendition of its 35mm source. I can report that it showcases the film gorgeously. Other than the slightly soft long intro panning shot of the family’s car driving to their peaceful vacation home, the film was rendered without issue. Colors flesh-tones were very satisfying as was the delineation of finer details. Black levels during darker scenes were stable and the 3mm film grain was left intact.

The DTS-HD lossless audio track did a nice yet plain jane job. I could have used more oomph when the Death Metal was cut into the film with its wink-nod to the audience. Dialogue and basic atmospherics were handled well and the mix was clear and spacious. I’ll remember this for its Video, however, the limited need for the audio track too wow is most likely the reason.

Bonus Features:

  • HD: New interviews with Haneke and actor Arno Frisch
  • HD: New interview with film historian Alexander Horwath
  • HD: Press conference from the 1997 Cannes Film Festival featuring Haneke and actors Susanne Lothar and Ulrich Mühe
  • HD: Trailer
  • HD: New English subtitle translation
  • Booklet: An essay by critic Bilge Ebiri

Final Thoughts:
Funny Games has an unsettling charm that seemed to lure me in, even when I was made uncomfortably numb; which that is a testament to the direction, cinematography, and acting. After the viewing a put on Michael Haneke’s American remake from 2007, which was as close to shot for shot as you can get; it was a worth-while (re)watch. I wish there was an added feature with comparisons documenting the 2 films. That being said, I was disappointed with the lack of supplemental features, however, the new 2K digital restoration made up for it and will certainly please fans….can a film like this have them??

 

Lee Weber
AVS Forum Blu-ray Reviews

Reference Review System:
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Next Level Acoustics Cineweave 138″ 2.35:1 Acoustically Transparent Screen
Da-Lite Pro Imager Projector Screen Masking System
Yamaha CX-A5200 AV Processor – Calibrated by Jeff Meier @ Accucal
ATI AT4000 Signature Series Amplifiers 11×200 Watts
Sony UBP-X1000ES 4K UHD HDR Blu-ray Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
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Sony 75″ MASTER Series Z9F XBR-75Z9F 4K UHD HDR LED
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