Serenity Blu-ray Review

A fishing boat captain juggles facing his mysterious past and finding himself ensnared in a reality where nothing is what it seems. Check out Ralph Potts’ Blu-ray review of Serenity.

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



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



Studio and Year: Universal – 2019
MPAA Rating: R
Feature running time: 107 minutes
Genre: Thriller

Disc Format: BD-50
Encoding: AVC
Video Aspect: 2.39:1
Resolution: 1080p/24

Audio Format(s): English DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish
Starring: Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway, Jason Clarke, Djimon Hounsou, Diane Lane, Jeremy Strong
Written & Directed by: Steven Knight
Music by: Benjamin Wallfisch
Region Code: A,B,C

Release Date: April 30, 2019

“On Plymouth Island, No One Ever Dies…Unless You Break the Rules”


“Baker Dill is a fishing boat captain living a quiet and sheltered life on an island off the coast of Florida. He spends his days leading tours off a tranquil, tropical enclave called Plymouth Island and is obsessed with catching “Justice”, an evasive giant tuna fish. Dill’s tranquility is shattered when he is approached by his ex-wife who requests that he murder her abusive new husband.” – Universal Pictures Home Entertainment

My Take:

From the creative mind of Oscar® nominee Steven Knight comes a daringly original, sexy, stylized thriller. Baker Dill (Academy Award® winner Matthew McConaughey) is a fishing boat captain leading tours off a tranquil, tropical enclave called Plymouth Island. His quiet life is shattered, however, when his ex-wife Karen (Academy Award® winner Anne Hathaway) tracks him down with a desperate plea for help. She begs Dill to save her – and their young son – from her new, violent husband (Jason Clarke) by taking him out to sea on a fishing excursion, only to throw him to the sharks and leave him for dead. Karen’s appearance thrusts Dill back into a life he’d tried to forget, and as he struggles between right and wrong, his world is plunged into a new reality that may not be all that it seems.

I saw the trailer for Serenity and it’s subject and thematic tone weren’t immediately distinct other than it appeared to be some sort of thriller, perhaps of the psychological type. Either way it didn’t strike me as being the least bit interesting so I never gave it much consideration. When it arrived for review, I was only marginally interested in seeing it but, my wife who is a Matthew McConaughey fan was all in.

The first two acts of Serenity play out very much like a Lifetime Movie, with very little background on the primary character of Baker Dill other than his immediate affiliations with Constance (Diane Lane) and his first mate Duke (Djimon Hounsou) with neither relationship seeming to truly have any meaning within the narrative’s construct. Interspersed are several odd “moments” where Baker almost seems to be dreaming while awake, seeing things that don’t sense to him (or the audience for that matter).

It’s the beginning of the third act, with the introduction of Karen that the pieces of the puzzle begin to take shape. With that the film begins to feel more like an episode of the Twilight Zone. Unfortunately, it’s elements simply don’t add up to a gratifying mind bender as the details on exactly what is happening and why, while possibly interesting, aren’t, feeling very much been there and done that, only better. This isn’t helped by Matthew McConaughey’s hammy portrayal of Baker Dill or the cardboard cutouts of the roles handed out to quality actors like Anne Hathaway, Diane Lane and poor Jason Clarke. The only relationship that had the most potential, the one behind the film’s mystery, is the one that literally had zero development. The final/closing scene made no sense to boot.

Serenity is a ham-fisted attempt at film noir that wants to be clever and intriguing but, winds up feeling gimmicky and pretentious.

Replay Value:

Parental Guide: 

The rating is for language throughout, sexual content, and some bloody images.

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: 
  • 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: 

Serenity comes to Blu-ray Disc from Universal Pictures Home Entertainment featuring 1080p AVC encoded video and lossless DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio sound.

This is a satisfying high definition video presentation that delivers quality which is on par with a newer release film coming to Blu-ray Disc. Colors appear natural with pleasing depth and an intentionally subdued palette. Complexions are realistically depicted with defining texture, and good tonal separation. Blacks are respectable but don’t offer the depth and delineation that make them stand out. Detail in low light and dark backgrounds is estimable. Images offer good dimensional depth, stable sharpness, and clarity but doesn’t have opulent high-level detail and vibrant colors. This appears to look exactly as intended which when all is said and done is fine.

The lossless audio presentation is solid and renders the soundtrack with aplomb. Dialogue is clearly rendered through the center channel and the recordings various elements are reproduced with appreciable refinement and appropriate depth. Aural perspective is one dimensional with emphasis on the front channels however venue replicating effects and diffuse ambience is fed to the rear channels which provide an effective sense of envelopment.

Bonus Features:

  • DVD
  • Digital Copy

Final Thoughts:

From the mind of writer/director Steven Knight Serenity is an overreaching thriller that hopes to ply the audience with a plot twist that never gains any momentum. It comes to Blu-ray from Universal Pictures Home Entertainment featuring solid technical merits. Serenity takes a big swing that results in a foul ball that will leave genre fans wanting. This one is best avoided unless you’re interested in catching it on cable TV.

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 AV7704 Audio/Video Processor
Emotiva XPA-7 Gen 3 Seven Channel Amplifier
Emotiva XPA-11 Gen 3 Amplifier
Panasonic DP-UB820 Ultra HD Blu-ray 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)
Dual SVS PC4000 Cylinder Subwoofers
Panamax M5400-PM Power Conditioner/Surge Protector
Wireworld, Better Cables (Silver Serpent) – Audio/Video/Speaker Cabling
AC Infinity Aircom T8 Component Cooling Systems 

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