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

Film:


Extras:


Audio/Video total rating:

( Max score: 100 )
89





Studio and Year: 20th Century Fox - 2013
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Feature running time: 131 minutes
Genre: Drama

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


Audio Format(s): English DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio, Spanish/French/English Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish
Starring: Geoffrey Rush, Emily Watson, Sophie Nelisse
Directed by: Brian Percival
Music by: John Williams
Written by: Michael Petroni based on the novel by Markus Zusak
Region Code: A

Blu-ray Disc release Date: March 11, 2014
"Based on the best-selling book"


Film Synopsis:


Based on the beloved best-selling book comes an “extremely moving” (Leonard Maltin, Indiewire) story of a girl who transforms the lives of those around her during World War II, Germany. When her mother can no longer care for her, Liesel (Sophie Nélisse) is adopted by a German couple (OSCAR® Winner Geoffrey Rush* and OSCAR® Nominee Emily Watson**). Although she arrives illiterate, Liesel is encouraged to learn to read by her adoptive father. When the couple then takes in Max (Ben Schnetzer), a Jew hiding from Hitler’s army, Liesel befriends him. Ultimately, words and imagination provide the friends with an escape from the events unfolding around them in this extraordinary, acclaimed film directed by Brian Percival (Downton Abbey).


My Take:



This big screen adaptation penned by Michael Petroni begins in 1938 and tells the story of 12 year old Liesel (Sophie Nélisse), who is sent to live with foster parents, the kind-hearted Hans Hubermann (Geoffrey Rush) and his prickly wife Rosa (Emily Watson). Reeling from a recent tragedy occurring only days before and timid around the new “parents” she’s just met, Liesel struggles to fit in – at home and at school, where her classmates taunt her as “dummkopf” due to her inability to read.


Immensely curious and obsessively driven, Liesel is determined to change that. And she gets help from her gentle and empathetic “Papa,” as Hans works day and night with Liesel teaching her to read from, The Gravedigger’s Handbook, which she walked off with – an impulsive act of thievery that will have profound consequences for which she is quite unaware.


Liesel’s love for reading and her growing appreciation for her new family are heightened when she befriends a new guest in the Hubermann’s home – a Jewish refugee named Max (Ben Schnetzer), who shares her passion for books and encourages Liesel to expand her powers of observation, even as he hides from the Nazis in a dark and dank basement. Equally transformative is her burgeoning friendship with a young neighbor, Rudy (Nico Liersch), who teases Liesel about her book thievery even as he finds himself falling in love with her. These friendships, along with her growing love of books provide both an escape and a pathway to shaping Liesel’s destiny. She comes to appreciate not only the power of words, but a power beyond words. For Liesel these experiences will not only shape her but prepare her for what she must face…


I haven’t read the novel but looked forward to seeing The book thief as the subject matter and its heroine looked interesting. The character of Liesel is the film’s driving force and while the connection to her up front is lacking the narrative establishes a viable bond to her as we have the opportunity to witness and experience the formation of the story’s integral and transformative relationships. At its heart this is what The book thief subsists on as the interrelationships draw you into the defining warmth of the story’s essence while simultaneously portraying a dark period in our history as seen through a child’s eyes. This is a two edged sword that is accompanied by the requisite reminder of the war, Nazism and its effects on so many.


I enjoyed The Book Thief but didn’t find that it made for a wholly satisfying film. Considering the period and location for its setting it seems to gloss over elements directly related to portions of its plot. This may be intentional as the primary theme truly centers on the spirited little girl and the inspiration she imparts to those around her. Even in that regard the film’s emotional center doesn’t truly descend deep enough to invoke a visceral response. As much as the film aspired to be moving and poignant it fell just short of the mark winding up an entertaining emboldened/heart warming tale with characters you cared about. Part of this is owed to apt direction by Brian Percival but much is credited to the strong performances by the cast beginning with newcomer Sophie Nelisse who shares excellent chemistry with co-stars, Geoffrey Rush, Emily Watson and supporting players Ben Schnetzer and Nico Liersch.

The Book Thief is a rewarding film that will probably appeal more to tween audiences than their parents but merits attention from genre fans that enjoy dramas based on the period depicted in its story.



Parental Guide:


The rating is for some violence and intense depiction of thematic material.



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: 88

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

  • Dynamics:

  • Low frequency effects:

  • Surround Sound presentation:

  • Clarity/Detail:

  • Dialogue Reproduction:

  • *Low frequency extension (non-rated element):


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:


The Book Thief comes to Blu-ray Disc from 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment featuring 1080p AVC encoded video that has an average bitrate 25 Mbps and lossless DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio sound that has an average bitrate of 4 Mbps.


This 2.40:1 framed Blu-ray Disc presentation features a solid looking video encoding that boasts stable contrast, bright, detailed whites, and gradationally enhanced grays. This coupled along with punchy blacks and delineated shadow detail gives images both light and dark excellent depth. The video is crisp and definitively resolved as fidelity appears to be intact. Wide angle shots have appreciable dimension with clear rendering of objects within foregrounds and backgrounds. Close ups reveal lots of subtle refinement as the intricate textures within facial features, clothing, and objects is easily discernible. This isn’t an overly colorful film. Many sequences have a filtered and de-saturated appearance that seems to coincide with the director’s intention. Deep shades of blue and green stand out nicely against the muted chromatic range and look great. Skin tones rarely yield any truly defining complexional characteristics but all appear natural within the scope of the source material. On occasion sharpness wavers however it appears innate and isn’t distracting. Overall quality is excellent as the video has a pristine and dimensionally strong perspective that is visually pleasing.


The DTS-HD Master Audio sound mix is perfectly suited to the source material. Dialogue is rendered clearly with good intonation and average room penetration. The bulk of the presentation is handled by the front three channels. Imaging and directional spacing is excellent as soundstage pans are seamlessly integrated. John Williams’ music score is reproduced by the entire sound platform with the front channels containing the orchestrated instrumentation and the rear channels providing ambient extension. The orchestrated elements are clear, sibilant free and dynamically satisfying. Bass response is held to the upper registers and surround sound activity is limited to subtle venue replication via atmospheric ambient extension and occasional discrete sound placement that effectively supports the events transpiring onscreen. This is true in all but the sequences involving the air raid attacks on the village where the soundstage broadens and the application of low frequency effects produce room shaking bass that rumbles with palpable authority.



Bonus Features:

  • (HD) 4 deleted scenes

  • (HD) A hidden truth - Bringing The Book Thief to life (4 segments totaling 30 minutes):
    1. An inspirational story
    2. Finding the thief and her family
    3. Bringing the past to life
    4. The legend and the music
  • (HD) Theatrical trailer




Final Thoughts:


Based on the beloved best-selling book of the same name by Markus Zusak, about a spirited girl who transforms the lives of those around her during World War II, Germany, The Book Thief is a rewarding big screen adaptation that would have benefited from a deeper script. Nonetheless it proves heartwarmingly entertaining and is well worth watching. It comes to Blu-ray from 20th Century Home Entertainment featuring excellent high definition video quality, a solid DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio soundtrack and a middling supplemental offering that takes a glimpse behind the scenes. The Book Thief on Blu-ray is recommended viewing that deserves a place at the top of your rental queue.










Ralph Potts
AVS Forum Blu-ray Reviews





Reference Review System:



JVC DLA-RS4910 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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Much appreciated review, Ralph. I had seen this as a new release and it looked promising--not one I would preorder but I was considering watching it via iTunes. So your review is very timely and based on your comments, I will give this film a look.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·

Quote:
Originally Posted by spiritfox  /t/1522941/the-book-thief-blu-ray-official-avsforum-review/0_20#post_24493466


Much appreciated review, Ralph. I had seen this as a new release and it looked promising--not one I would preorder but I was considering watching it via iTunes. So your review is very timely and based on your comments, I will give this film a look.

Greetings,


You're very welcome Bob. Be sure to post back with your thoughts afterward.




Regards,
 

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I saw this at the theater and was greatly impressed with the movie. I enjoyed it as a peek into history piece. I was especially impressed with the narration of the story. Thanks Ralph for the great job you do. Someone has to do it and you are doing it very well.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Stormshadow4life  /t/1522941/the-book-thief-blu-ray-official-avsforum-review#post_24493629


Curious to watch this one.

I wonder if I'll end up hating it in the same way I did The Boy In The Striped Pajamas.

Wow! What the hell!


That was a great movie.



I've been interested in seeing The Book Thief, never read the book, but critics did give this movie some bad reviews overall. But what the hell do they know.


I'll probably like this though as Ralph liked it so it seems safe to say I will also.
 

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I saw a private screening of this movie and got to meet the legendary Geoffrey Rush and it was simply a fantastic movie in my opinion, I absolutely loved it.
 

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I read the book, which is one of the best I've read in some time. Then I watched the movie which I feared would be a disappointment compared to the book. But I thoroughly enjoyed the movie. I think it was very well done.
 

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I loved it too, the girl who played the lead was adorable. Rush and Watson delivered as usual.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ralph Potts  /t/1522941/the-book-thief-blu-ray-official-avsforum-review#post_24493497


Greetings,


You're very welcome Bob. Be sure to post back with your thoughts afterward.




Regards,

Watched this last night and really enjoyed it. I am always impressed with the talents of some of the young actors and actresses out there and I thought Sophie Nélisse was quite impressive in her role as Liesel. A demanding role for her and I found her quite convincing. I have not read the book but I found the story quite interesting as it showed an aspect of living in Germany pre- and during the war that is not commonly told. I'm glad I watched this one, and may buy it at a later date. Another movie that also tells the tale of a German family--this one post-war is "Lore" which I watched a few months ago. Always interesting to see stories told from different view points.
 

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Greetings Ralph



After watching this one the wife looked at me and said I need to buy this and I couldn't agree more . This was a great intimate perspective of the small life of a few very engaging people portrayed by talented cast and newcomer to watch, the few quibbles you pointed out about the video where noticed but soon forgoten and not overall distracting, the audio was very well mixed and the air raid indeed woke up the room from the peaceable well scored music and dialog



Thanks


Jeff
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·

Quote:
Originally Posted by audiofan1  /t/1522941/the-book-thief-blu-ray-official-avsforum-review/0_20#post_24601368


Greetings Ralph



After watching this one the wife looked at me and said I need to buy this and I couldn't agree more . This was a great intimate perspective of the small life of a few very engaging people portrayed by talented cast and newcomer to watch, the few quibbles you pointed out about the video where noticed but soon forgoten and not overall distracting, the audio was very well mixed and the air raid indeed woke up the room from the peaceable well scored music and dialog



Thanks


Jeff

Greetings,


Thanks for chiming in with your thoughts Jeff. I am glad you enjoyed this one as well...




Regards,
 

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Watched the movie yesterday. I thought it was okay. i think i watched it too soon after reading the book, and couldn't help noticing all the (unnecessary, in my opinion) changes they made. Also, they really short changed her relationship with Max and Papa when compared to the book, so that was a real bummer.
 

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Watched this last night, this film was fantastic throughout. I loved it. The young girl and the young boy were fantastic as well as Rush and Watson. Personally for me I would give this a 4/5 stars.


The air raid was a nice touch for the LFE I enjoyed that.


Thanks again !!
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Franin  /t/1522941/the-book-thief-blu-ray-official-avsforum-review/0_20#post_24803147


Watched this last night, this film was fantastic throughout. I loved it. The young girl and the young boy were fantastic as well as Rush and Watson. Personally for me I would give this a 4/5 stars.


The air raid was a nice touch for the LFE I enjoyed that.


Thanks again !!

Greetings,


Awesome Frank! Thanks for posting back with your thoughts..




Regards,
 
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