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

Film:


Extras:


Audio/Video total rating:

( Max score: 100 )

87






Studio and Year: Touchstone - 2011
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Feature running time: 146 minutes
Genre: Drama

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, Spanish/French Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish
Starring: Viola Davis, Emma Stone, Octavia Spencer, Dallas Bryce Howard, Jessica Chastain, Allison Janey, Cicely Tyson,
Written & Directed by: Tate Taylor based on the novel by Kathryn Stockett
Music by: Thomas Newman
Region Code: A,B,C

Blu-ray Disc release Date: December 6, 2011







"You is kind. You is smart. You is important."



Film Synopsis:


Adapted from the NY Times #1 bestseller by Kathryn Stockett The Help is about a young white woman, Eugenia "Skeeter" Phelan, and her relationship with two black maids during Civil Rights era America in the early 1960s. Skeeter is a budding journalist who decides to write a controversial book from the point of view of the maids (known as the Help), exposing the racism they are faced with as they work for white families.


My Take:


In reading the supplied press jacket from Disney I felt that it mirrored my thoughts about this wonderful film so closely that I decided to include it here.

The Help is an inspirational, courageous and empowering story about very different, extraordinary women in the 1960s South who build an unlikely friendship around a secret writing project — one that breaks society’s rules and puts them all at risk. The Help stars Emma Stone as the courageous Eugenia “Skeeter‟ Phelan, who goes against the beliefs of her family and friends to find her own voice. The critically praised, emotional performance of Viola Davis as Aibileen Clark, a woman who secretly dreams of one day having more than she has been given, offers a deep emotional storyline. The breakthrough performance of Octavia Spencer as Minny Jackson, whose sass and tough exterior disguise the pain and fear she faces every day, brings both drama and humor to the film. Bryce Dallas Howard breathes life into the catty Jackson socialite Hilly Holbrook and Jessica Chastain brings charm and humor as Celia Foote, a kind housewife living outside of town who longs to fit in. Sissy Spacek, Allison Janney and Ahna O‟Reilly also provide vivacious performances that round out this all-star female ensemble.

Listening to author Kathryn Stockett and best friend/filmmaker Tate Taylor talk about the novel and film it is obvious that both were personal projects stemming from life experiences growing up in Mississippi. Obviously they didn’t grow up in the era depicted in the story however each grew up in a household that employed a black maid who became an integral part of their childhood/family. My wife and daughter read the book and felt that the film as written and portrayed captured its essence vividly. I found The Help to be stirring, poignant, funny and relevant. It paints in broad strokes and touches on several societal issues, the most obvious of which is racism, but the thematic tone remains consistent. There is a genuine quality that imbues the characters especially Aibileen, Minny, and Hilly. Viola Davis and Dallas Bryce Howard give incredible performances. There is no denying that The Help is purposefully a statement piece, a testimonial, but that doesn’t make it any less effecting. It speaks from the heart and does so with the best intentions despite its manipulative trappings. I loved it for all of the subtleties found not only in the performances but in the transcendent emotion found in its context. I look forward to watching it again.



Parental Guide:


The rating is for 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.**


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


Audio: 82


  • Dynamics:

  • Low frequency extension:

  • Surround Sound presentation:

  • Clarity/Detail:

  • Dialogue Reproduction:





Video: 92


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

  • Resolution/Clarity:

  • Black level/Shadow detail:

  • Color reproduction:

  • Fleshtones:

  • Compression:

The Help comes to Blu-ray Disc from Touchstone/Disney featuring 1080p AVC encoded video that has an average bitrate of 28 Mbps and lossless DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio that has an average bitrate of 3.5 Mbps.

A variety of 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 cinematography is beautiful. Images are crisp with well balanced color and definitive resolution that provide a transparent and lustrous quality. Skin tones are varied with natural looking complexions that appear lifelike. Shadow detail is strong which enhances depth during dark segments that contain limited light. Blacks are deep and dynamic which adds punch to sequences containing mixed light and dark elements. Contrast is stable which delivers bright punchy whites and vivid eye popping primary colors. The exterior shots and earth tones of the southern landscapes exhibit excellent delineation with viable long range acuity. Grain is visible, in light, even layers that provides a filmic texture. This is a rewarding and pristine quality presentation that looks terrific.

This isn’t the type of film that requires extended dynamic range, frequent surround use or deep bass but it certainly benefited from lossless audio’s higher fidelity. The front oriented DTS-HD Master Audio sound 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 discrete surround activity however the film’s music utilized the entire soundstage to provide a satisfying sense of dimension.



Bonus Features:

  • HD The making of The Help: From friendship to film – 23 minute retrospective/documentary

  • (HD) In their words: A tribute to the maids of Mississippi – 11 minutes

  • (HD) 5 deleted scenes with introduction by director Tate Taylor

  • (HD) “The living proof” music video by Mary J. Blige

  • Bonus DVD of The Help



Final Thoughts:


Based on Kathryn Stockett’s novel The Help is an inspirational film that tells the poignant story about very different, extraordinary women in the 1960s South who build an unlikely friendship around a secret writing project. I found this film to be evocative, funny and relevant as it paints in broad strokes that touch on several societal issues, the most obvious of which is racism, but the thematic tone remains consistent. It speaks from the heart and does so with the best intentions despite its manipulative trappings. I loved it for all of the subtleties found not only in the performances but in the transcendent emotion found in its context. The Help debuts on Blu-ray Disc from Disney in a nicely balanced package that features top notch high definition video, crystal clear lossless sound quality and worthwhile bonus material. It comes highly recommended.















Ralph Potts
AVS Forum Blu-ray Reviews





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JVC DLA-RS50 3D Ready 1080p High Definition Front Projector

Stewart Filmscreen - Studiotek 130 G3 100” 16x9 Screen

Onkyo PR-SC5508 THX Ultra 2 Audio/Video Processor

Sherbourn Technologies - 7/200 Seven Channel Amplifier

Oppo BDP-93 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)

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SV Sound PB-13 Ultra (Rosenut finish)

APC AV S15BLK Power Conditioner/Surge Protector

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Never got a chance to see this when it first came out but all the reviews i've read it looks like a good movie. I'll give this one a spin.
 

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By chance I just caught this one last night with my wife and 10 yr. old daughter. Great review Ralph, spot on as always. I have to say one of the best American films I've seen in quite some time. I liked the way the subject matter was up front and the way the film dealt with different stereotypes. Glad to see high marks for the video transfer as this is a definite buy for me!
 

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I went to this movie mainly because I drag my family to see action movies on the big screen and felt that I had to go along with them to see a movie that they really wanted to see. I was surprised how much I enjoyed this movie. I will definitely be renting this movie from Netfix when it comes out.


Cal68
 

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Easily one of the better if not the best films of 2011
 

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I was surprised to see Ralph give the movie so many stars, and after the first 45 mins I was REALLY doubting it, but that's why I rarely, if ever, stop watching a movie half way through. The second half of the film in particular was excellent. I had no idea that Bryce Dallas Howard was this good of an actress. She had me cringing every time her character came on screen lol. She got some serious acting chops and I really hope she starts getting some more prominent roles.


Overall the film was excellent. It's very difficult to watch at times, and I honestly still can't believe this was how America was back in the middle part of the 20th century. I never become numb to the portrayal of how things were, and I hope others don't either.


Thumbs up!
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·

Quote:
Originally Posted by Summa /forum/post/21340448


I was surprised to see Ralph give the movie so many stars, and after the first 45 mins I was REALLY doubting it, but that's why I rarely, if ever, stop watching a movie half way through. The second half of the film in particular was excellent. I had no idea that Bryce Dallas Howard was this good of an actress. She had me cringing every time her character came on screen lol. She got some serious acting chops and I really hope she starts getting some more prominent roles.


Overall the film was excellent. It's very difficult to watch at times, and I honestly still can't believe this was how America was back in the middle part of the 20th century. I never become numb to the portrayal of how things were, and I hope others don't either.


Thumbs up!

Greetings,


Glad you stuck with it Summa.
I agree that Dallas Bryce Howard truly owned this character.


Regards,
 

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Wife had read the book and really wanted to see this in the theater but for one reason or another never did. We watched a rental several nights ago and thought it was an excellent film although my wife contends the book provided much more detail and background on the characters so she rated it better than the film. Viola Davis continues to impress, the rest of the actors were perfectly cast. Thanks for the well written review.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by pokekevin /forum/post/21337211


Easily one of the better if not the best films of 2011

Better than Rise of the Planet of the Ape? I wonder why this movie has not been reviewed yet?
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Summa /forum/post/21340448


I honestly still can't believe this was how America was back in the middle part of the 20th century. I never become numb to the portrayal of how things were, and I hope others don't either.

Not all of America was like this. Growing up in the 60s, I know that there were never segregated bathrooms, KKK attacks, etc. etc. in NJ or NY. However, the south was a whole different story...things were horrendous for people of color (and people like George Wallace didn't help.) Remember, this story takes place in Mississippi. That's not to say that racism didn't exist elsewhere, of course. But most areas in the U.S. weren't at this level of inequality during the early 60s. (Thankfully.) Excellent film and probably will get a few Oscar nods.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·

Quote:
Originally Posted by gbaby /forum/post/21346889


Better than Rise of the Planet of the Ape? I wonder why this movie has not been reviewed yet?


Greetings,


Because 20th Century Fox doesn't forward review copies until close to or right at street date. My review copy of Rise of the planet of the apes arrived day before yesterday.


I will get to it in the next day or so.


Regards,
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ralph Potts /forum/post/21347135


Greetings,


Because 20th Century Fox doesn't forward review copies until close to or right at street date. My review copy of Rise of the planet of the apes arrived day before yesterday.


I will get to it in the next day or so.


Regards,

Sorry for the diversion, but I appreciate your response as I saw it last night and thought it was off the charts and one of the most entertaining movies I've seen in quite some time. So impress was I with it, I looked for the review on this forum to see if you were as impressed as I was impressed. In any event, I'll wait for your assessment which I don't expect necessarily to mirror mine.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by cinema13 /forum/post/21346969


Not all of America was like this. Growing up in the 60s, I know that there were never segregated bathrooms, KKK attacks, etc. etc. in NJ or NY. However, the south was a whole different story...things were horrendous for people of color (and people like George Wallace didn't help.) Remember, this story takes place in Mississippi. That's not to say that racism didn't exist elsewhere, of course. But most areas in the U.S. weren't at this level of inequality during the early 60s. (Thankfully.) Excellent film and probably will get a few Oscar nods.

That's exactly why it's so hard for me to fathom. I grew up in the north like you did. Back when I was really young in the 70s, my parents best friends were AFrican Americans (I'm caucasian). They lived next door and we all stayed close and kept in touch for years and years. We had just about all races, cultures and ethnicities represented in the neighborhoods I grew up in, and that's the environment I'm most comfortable in today.


I remember when I first moved here to Atlanta ten years ago, I was standing in line with my girlfriend to see a movie. There was some idiot behind me talking about white and black people, and how they should stay separated. He compared this to how in the wild, "lions and zebras are always apart and never hang out with each other". Against my better judgement, I turned around and explained to him the concept of "species", and while lions and zebras were different species, white people and black people were not. If looks could kill....



Racism has never made sense to me, as it's not a conscious choice that we make in life. This country (and the planet, for that matter) would be such an amazing place if this concept didn't exist to such a degree, particularly in the minds of the ignorant..
 

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An incredible, moving film that deserves all the awards possible .. a real tear jerker that got to me more than once ..


A perfect blend of dispair and hope ..


Best of the Year in my book .. and Hollywood at it's finest ..


I remember those days .. America at it's worst ..
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by mgkdragn /forum/post/21351246


An incredible, moving film that deserves all the awards possible .. a real tear jerker that got to me more than once ..


A perfect blend of dispair and hope ..


Best of the Year in my book .. and Hollywood at it's finest ..


I remember those days .. America at it's worst ..

Just got it. Looks good.


But let's face it, America is at it's worst today.
 

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Saw this earlier in the week...having a movie night for it Tuesday. Best of the year for me
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by gbaby /forum/post/0



Better than Rise of the Planet of the Ape? I wonder why this movie has not been reviewed yet?

Rise was a better of the year but the emotions got me lol. Kind of like american history x. Great films that year but the believable and somewhat realistic story made it the best in my eyes
 
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