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



Audio/Video total rating:

( Max score: 100 )

Studio and Year: Sony Pictures - 1996
MPAA Rating: PG
Feature running time: 98 minutes
Genre: Fantasy/Family

Disc Format: BD-50
Encoding: AVC (MPEG-4)
Video Aspect: 2.40:1
Resolution: 1080p/24

Audio Format(s): English/Italian/Spanish DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio, French Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles: English SDH, English, Czech, Swedish, German, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, Chinese, Greek, Hebrew, Hungarian, Icelandic, Italian, Korean, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Thai, Spanish
Starring: Mara Wilson, Embeth Daviditz, Danny Devito, Rha Perlman, Pam Ferris
Directed by: Danny Devito
Music by: David Newman
Written by: Nicholas Kazan & Robin Swicord based on the book by Roald Dahl
Region Code: A,B,C

Blu-ray Disc release Date: December 3, 2013
"Books inspire people to do amazing things"

Film Synopsis:

See the world from a kid's-eye view with MATILDA, a modern fairytale that mixes hilarious humor with the magical message of love. Mrs. Doubtfire's Mara Wilson stars as Matilda, a super-smart little girl who's woefully misunderstood by her parents (Danny DeVito and Rhea Perlman), her brother, and an evil school principal. But with the help of a brave best friend and a wonderful teacher, Matilda discovers she doesn't have to get mad to get even.

My Take:

Based on the book by Roald Dahl Matilda tells a cute and timeless tale of imagination about a special little girl that won’t let the obstacles in her life, namely her offbeat family and a rather disdainful principal keep her from realizing her dreams. Clearly a project of passion for star/director Danny Devito the script diverges a bit from the book but the adaptation by Nicholas Kazan & Robin Swicord captures the essence of the story’s theme. The playful over the top screenplay coupled with Devito’s vision which employs plenty of special effects/gags is both spirited and pitch perfect for young audiences as the overall message is one of inspiration.

I haven’t seen it in years but was quickly reacquainted with its oddly effecting charm and gleeful tone. Mara Wilson’s ability for scene stealing first caught my attention in Mrs. Doubtfire and three years later she hadn’t lost a step. As an ensemble the cast enhances the enjoyment of the film adding an enriching and entertaining element through their various portrayals. Seventeen years later it’s still refreshingly fun and the type of children’s entertainment that can be passed on from one generation to the next.

Parental Guide:

The rating is for elements of exaggerated meanness and ridicule and for some mild language.

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: 80

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

  • Dynamics:

  • Low frequency extension:

  • Surround Sound presentation:

  • Clarity/Detail:

  • Dialogue Reproduction:

Video: 86

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

  • Resolution/Clarity:

  • Black level/Shadow detail:

  • Color reproduction:

  • Fleshtones:

  • Compression:

Matilda comes to Blu-ray Disc from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment featuring 1080p AVC encoded video that has an average bitrate of 25 Mbps and lossless DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio sound that has an average bitrate of 2.2 Mbps.

This video presentation features crisp, lucid detail during close-ups and discernible depth/refinement during mid level and wide angle camera pans. Contrast is nicely balanced so that images are bright and punchy with resplendent colors that are visually pleasing. Flesh tones are a little washed out but well delineated which mate well with the visual style of the presentation. Blacks are not especially deep but appear dark enough that they stand out nicely when onscreen with mixed content. Grain is intact and appears naturally rendered throughout. The film use of near field camera angles and fly on the wall perspectives were enhanced in high definition and added to the overall quality of this rendering. I didn’t make note of any deleterious video anomalies and thought that Matilda looked solid on Blu-ray.

The DTS-HD Master Audio mix presents this soundtrack’s elements quite naturally. There is lots of spoken dialogue in the film but it contains a variety of sounds and music that benefit from the high resolution afforded by lossless sound. The recording sounds a little dated but refined and dynamically supported. There are moments where there is no dialogue and the only auditory used to propel the story, are the music and/or a series of sounds. They are cleanly reproduced and free from strident highs or an edgy mid range. The front soundstage is narrow but opens up nicely during several sequences. There isn’t much in the way of active surround sound or deep low frequency effects but the application of supportive rear channel ambience and upper level bass adds an enriching element that enhances the presentation.

Bonus Features:

  • (HD) NEW/Exclusive - Afternoon Tea, A very magical Matilda Reunion – 21 minutes

  • Matilda’s movie magic – 16 minute featurette

  • A children’s guide to good manners – 3 minutes

  • Escape to the library – 5 minute feature

  • My movie about making Matilda by Mara Wilson – 6 minutes

  • Ultraviolet Digital Copy

Final Thoughts:

Based on the book by Roald Dahl Matilda is an entertaining and timeless adaptation that makes for excellent family entertainment that can be enjoyed from one generation to the next. It makes its debut on Blu-ray in this solid offering from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment that features gratifying high definition video, crystal clear lossless sound and worthwhile supplement set that includes legacy material and the brand new “Afternoon Tea….”, which brought the cast together after 17 years to share memories and reminisce about making the film. If you’re a fan or are looking for a film to share with your little children you can’t go wrong with Matilda on Blu-ray.

Ralph Potts
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
Carada Masquerade Horizontal Masking System

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-103D Universal Disc/3D capable Blu-ray Player (With Darbee video processing)

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
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