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



Audio/Video total rating:

( Max score: 100 )

Studio and Year: Universal - 2013
MPAA Rating: R
Feature running time: 107 minutes
Genre: Thriller

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

Audio Format(s): English DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio
Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish
Starring: Jude Law, Rooney Mara, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Channing Tatum
Directed by: Steven Soderbergh
Music by: Thomas Newman
Written by: Scott Z. Burns
Region Code: A,B,C

Blu-ray Disc release Date: May 21, 2013
"One pill can change your life"

Film Synopsis:

After her husband (Tatum) is released from prison for insider trading, Emily (Mara) begins suffering from terrifying anxiety and turns to psychiatrist Dr. Banks (Law) for help. But when Banks prescribes an experimental drug for her, the side effects have chilling and deadly consequences.

My Take:

As a fan of the genre I looked forward to Side Effects. The trailer didn’t stir much interest however the cast and director were enough to elicit a desire to check it out when it came to Blu-ray. Billed as a psychological thriller the layer peeling narrative divulges the plot in an unfolding fashion that leaves you to decipher certain elements from a cause and effect perspective. The characters are introduced pretty much up front leaving little room for an established connection before the plot thickens. This is intentional and actually works well within the story’s construct.

Things start off slowly as Emily and her husband are reunited after his prison term from insider trading. It is shockingly established that she suffers depression which lands her in the care of psychologist Dr. Banks who follows up with her care via prescribed medications and therapy sessions. Emily seems unresponsive to either really until a meeting with Emily’s previous doctor (Zeta-Jones) where she recommends that Dr. Banks try an experimental drug known as Ablixa. This is where the story takes a disquieting turn that quickly evokes suspicions that there is more going on than meets the eye arousing the sleuth in us.

As more and more details come to light it becomes evident that there is undeniably more to Emily or Dr. Banks but who, what and why? This is where Side Effects succeeds as it elicits responses to each unfolding piece of the story while maintaining enough cloak and dagger to shroud the truth. To this point I was all in and liked the pacing, plot development and character design. Unfortunately as it drew nearer to the conclusion I began to smell what was coming and hoped I was wrong. Alas my suspicions were right and the twist at the end was a little silly in execution and not in keeping with the well crafted build up of the first two acts. That isn’t to suggest that the ending completely derails the film because it doesn’t. I just thought that a more tangible finish would have capped things off much better than what they came up with.

Oh well, they can’t all be Hitchcock and Side effects has enough going for it to keep even fervent genre fans entertained for an hour and a half.

Parental Guide:

The rating is for sexuality, nudity, violence and 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: 84

(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: 88

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

  • Resolution/Clarity:

  • Black level/Shadow detail:

  • Color reproduction:

  • Fleshtones:

  • Compression:

Side effects comes to Blu-ray Disc from Universal Studios Home Entertainment featuring 1080p AVC encoded video that has an average bitrate of 34 Mbps and lossless DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio that has an average bitrate of 3.7 Mbps.

Colors are effectively used in this film to help set the tone/setting based upon the mood of the scene and characters within it. The chroma range isn’t diverse but hues can vary from being sullen and inanimate to warm and inviting. Skin tones are appropriately bland with natural highlights and descriptive variation. Images onscreen were exquisitely detailed and sharp with superb depth of field and visible texture during wide angle shots. Contrast is spot on and blacks are deep with revealing delineation that provides excellent perceptibility during scenes shot at night or in lower lighting. The video has a clean, pristine quality that enhanced dimensionality and provided a looking through a window effect.

DTS-HD MA 5.1 surround mix features dialogue 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 superior clarity and depth. There is little call for active surround activity and extended dynamics however there is frequent use of atmospheric sounds that utilize the entire soundstage in support of the exterior/interior venues depicted in the film. The end result is an excellent audio presentation that renders the soundtrack’s elements with aplomb.

Bonus Features:

  • Behind the scenes of Side effects – 3 minute featurette

  • Ablixa website experience – Interactive faux advertising page

  • Ablixa commercial

  • Intenin commercial

  • My scenes bookmark feature

  • BD-Live enabled

  • Bonus DVD

  • Digital Copy

  • Ultraviolet Digital Copy

Final Thoughts:

Side effects is an engaging, multi-faceted thriller that successfully leads viewers down one path only to upend them with a neo-noir mystery/drama that keeps you off balance. The finale doesn’t quite live up to the first two acts but there is still plenty of fun to be had for enthusiastic genre fans. It comes to Blu-ray Disc from Universal Studios Home Entertainment featuring excellent high definition video, crystal clear lossless sound and bonus supplements that prove far less interesting than the film. When you’re in the mood for an evocative thriller with a bite Side effects is worth checking out.

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

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-103 Universal Disc/3D capable Blu-ray Player (HDMI Audio/Video)

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

4,801 Posts
When I first glanced at the title of your post I thought it meant side effects of home theatre use, then I remembered it was the movie

Good review as usual Mr. Potts and this is a must see for me, even if it's a rental.

816 Posts
I'll be checking this one out, but probably just a rental. Most movies like this are a one and done for me.

21,216 Posts
I saw Side Effects in the theater, primarily because of the high regard I had developed for Rooney Mara as a result of her bravura performance as Lisbeth Salander in the US version of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. I liked Side Effects well enough to give it a grade of 8 Stars out of 10. Mara could not have been better as the enigmatic Emily Taylor. As usual, Jude Law and Catherine Zeta Jones were terrific as two psychologists. Last and definitely least, Channing Tatum was adequate as Emily's husband. I have no plans to buy this film on BD or even rent it for a second viewing but it's a good bet for those of you who are looking for a well made psychological thriller.

816 Posts
I really enjoyed this movie, even though I saw the pieces come together very early in the movie. I won't ruin it for those that haven't seen it, though it probably won't matter because if you're expecting a twist it's the only one that makes sense. Still, great movie and I was happy with the outcome.
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