Ralph Potts reviews director Alexander Payne's satire in which a man realizes he would have a better life if he were to shrink himself to five inches tall, allowing him to live in wealth and splendor.

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

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


Studio and Year: Paramount - 2017
MPAA Rating: R
Feature running time: 135 minutes
Genre: Drama/Comedy

Disc Format: BD-100
Encoding: HEVC
Video Aspect: 2.40:1
Resolution: 2160p/24

Audio Format(s): English DTS-HD 7.1 Master Audio, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Czech, German, Italian, Polish, Russian Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles:English SDH, Spanish, French, Portuguese, Arabic, Bahasa, Malaysian, Cantonese, Chinese, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, German, Greek, Hebrew, Hindi, Icelandic, Italian, Korean, Norwegian, Polish, Romanian, Slovakian, Swedish, Thai, Turkish
Starring: Matt Damon, Christoph Waltz, Hong Chau, Kristin Wiig, Jason Sudakis
Directed by: Alexander Payne
Music by: Rolfe Kent
Written by: Alexander Payne and Jim Taylor
Region Code: A

Release Date: March 20, 2018
"get small…LIVE LARGE"
My Take:

When scientists find a way to shrink humans to five inches tall, Paul Safranek, and his wife Audrey, decide to ditch their stressed out lives in order to get small and live large in a luxurious downsized community. Filled with life-changing adventures and endless possibilities, Leisureland offers more than riches, as Paul discovers a whole new world and realizes that we are meant for something bigger.

I am a big fan of director Alexander Payne’s films, and when I saw the trailer for Downsizing I was immediately intrigued. I never made out to see it in the theater, but, looked forward to reviewing it when it hit home video. Co-written by Payne, along with Jim Taylor, and much like his other films, Downsizing is character driven, awkwardly humorous, and speaks to the human condition from a place that is seemingly identifiable. This is certainly the case during the film’s first hour, which I was enjoying quite a bit.

Beyond that, the narrative takes an abrupt tonal shift, abandoning the momentum, characters, and thematic tone that mated so well with its conceptual approach. It then takes Paul on this odd journey of self-discovery, while interjecting an off-kilter romance, of sorts, that only further muddles things. For me, that romance is the only thing of interest in the last hour, and frankly, that never gets fleshed out. Downsizing presents interesting ideas, perfect suited to Alexander Payne’s strengths as a storyteller, but, this is simply a case where more isn’t better, and it just peters out. A shame, because, I really enjoyed the concept, the entire first act, Hong Chau’s excellent performance, and the host of cameos featured in the film.

Replay Value: 2.0 Stars

Parental Guide:

The rating is for language, including sexual references, some graphic nudity, and drug use.

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.**

UHD Presentation(HDR-10): 74
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

  • HDR: Dark Highlights:
  • HDR: Bright Highlights:
  • HDR: Expanded Color & WCG:
  • Resolution: 
  • Visual Impact: 

UHD Presentation (Dolby Vision): 74
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

  • HDR: Dark Highlights:
  • HDR: Bright Highlights:
  • HDR: Expanded Color & WCG:
  • Resolution: 
  • Visual Impact: 

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

Downsizing comes to Ultra HD Blu-ray from Paramount Home Distribution featuring 2160pHEVC encoded video and lossless DTS-HD 7.1 Master Audio sound.

For its presentation in Ultra HD Downsizing was rendered from a 3.4K source, finished on a 2K DI and up-converted to 4K. In looking at the opening moments of this UHD presentation the first thing that struck me was that there wasn't an appreciable uptick in sharpness and detail compared to the Blu-ray. Colors, especially primary and earth tones were a bit more vivid and fleshtones offered a hint of gradational warmth that looked quite natural. Upon closer inspection, I could make out finer details in facial features and clothing, but this predominantly came during close ups. On occasion, discernible improvements in depth could be seen in wide angle shots such as those taking place in Leisureland, and later in the rustic setting in Norway, but in most respects, I saw little difference in apparent resolution when checking select scenes from the UHD and Blu-ray.

I also found the presentation to be very tame in terms of its use of HDR’s dynamic highlights, both bright and dark. With the exception of the nighttime shots in the Norwegian woods, the image didn't make any visually compelling use of interstitial black levels offset by vivid bright elements. In general, the image, which looked fine overall, lacked the eye-catching depth and sparkle compared to the better Ultra HD presentations I have seen. I wouldn't describe it as poor quality, but there is little about this Ultra HD presentation that left an impression on me.

Dolby Vision vs HDR-10:

I utilize the TCL 55P607 UHD Dolby Vision HDR flat panel in my review system to enable me to compare the visual quality of titles that contained the Dolby Vision metadata versus its HDR-10 counterpart on the same disc. All titles are first watched via my JVC front projector. I then select specific scenes which are watched on the TCL, first via HDR-10 then via Dolby Vision. The TCL isn’t among the top tier flat panels with DV, however it came recommended by AVS Senior Editor Mark Henninger, and calibrates/performs extremely well for a set at its price point.

* The cumulative A/V score will still be based upon the HDR-10 rating, with the DV rating serving as informational only for now.*

Comparing the DV and HDR-10 presentations for Downsizing, I found the HDR elements to be the same, as the rendering of color, and dynamic highlights, didn’t appreciably standout when viewing the same select scenes.

This is essentially a dialog driven film however there are aspects of the presentation that make effective use of the rear channels to expand the soundstage. Dialogue is crystal clear with discerning vocal description and refined texture. The mix relies heavily upon the front three channels. Separation, imaging and directional spacing are excellent as the mix of dialogue, music and recorded sounds are clearly articulated. The LFE channel is used primarily for subtle impact and for upper bass frequencies associated with the film’s music.

For those not familiar with the details regarding Ultra HD Blu-ray you can refer to my article that includes some pertinent data on the subject. Here is the link:

Ultra HD Blu-ray Has Come to AVS Forum Blu-ray Reviews

Blu-ray Video:

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: 

Downsizing comes to Blu-ray from Paramount Home Distribution featuring AVC encoded video and lossless DTS-HD 7.1 Master Audio sound.

This is a solid looking high definition rendering that sports plenty of fine detail with sharp edges and crisp definition that provides discerning dimensional perspective during wide angle camera pans. Colors range from warm, vivid and inviting to cool, reserved and almost tonally neutral. This is obviously a creative decision that draws definitive visual boundaries and works quite well. Blacks are rich and noticeably deep with a slight boost to contrast that is just enough to give the video a visually dynamic aesthetic without negatively impacting fidelity. Visible detail in low lit scenes/backgrounds is quite good, offering discernible depth of field. I didn’t see any obvious signs of video related artifacts as the video had a pristine and generally pleasing quality.

Bonus Features:
  • Disc 1: Downsizing Ultra HD Blu-ray
  • Disc 2: Downsizing Blu-ray
  • Working with Alexander - Featurette
  • The Cast - Featurette
  • A Visual Journey - Featurette
  • A Matter of Perspective - Featurette
  • That Smile - Featurette
  • A Global Concern - Featurette
  • Digital HD Copy
Final Thoughts:

Downsizing is a conceptually solid film that starts off much better than it finishes, ultimately resulting in a frustrating viewing experience that left me wanting. It comes to Blu-ray from Paramount Home Distribution in the Ultra HD Combo Pack that features underwhelming Ultra HD video, gratifying high definition audio/video and a decent assortment of bonus material. Downsizing will more than likely disappoint fans of director Alexander Payne’s other works, but, gets a rental recommendation nonetheless.

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 AV7704 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)
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