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A view from the Blu (-ray) on DVDBeaver by Leonard Norwitz

The Lookout [Blu-ray]

 

(Scott Frank, 2007)

Miramax Blu-ray LEFT vs. Echo Bridge Blu-ray RIGHT

 

 

Review by Gary Tooze

 

Production:

Theatrical: Spyglass Entertainment

Video: Miramax / Echo Bridge

 

Disc:

Region: 'A'-locked (as verified by the Momitsu region FREE Blu-ray player)

Runtime: 1:38:39.955 / 1:38:38.162

Disc Size: 31,627,595,918 bytes / 25,008,723,704 bytes

Feature Size: 28,664,801,280 bytes / 22,814,932,992 bytes

Video Bitrate: 28.24 Mbps / 24.99 Mbps

Chapters: 15 / 15

Case: Standard Blu-ray cases

Release date: August 14th, 2007 / August 9th, 2011

 

Video:

Aspect ratio: 2.39:1 / 1.78

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

 

Audio:

LPCM Audio English 6912 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 6912 kbps / 24-bit
Dolby Digital Audio English 640 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 640 kbps / DN -4dB
Dolby Digital Audio French 640 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 640 kbps / DN -3dB
Dolby Digital Audio English 192 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps / DN -2dB

 

DTS-HD Master Audio English 3303 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 3303 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)
DTS-HD Master Audio English 850 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 850 kbps / 16-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 384 kbps / 16-bit)

 

Subtitles:

English (SDH), French, Spanish, none

None

 

Extras:

Audio commentary with writer/director Scott Frank and director of photography Alar Kivilo
"Sequencing The Lookout" making-of featurette
"Behind the mind of Chris Pratt"
Movie Showcase:; Instant access to select movie scenes that showcase the ultimate in high definition picture and sound

Audio commentary with writer/director Scott Frank and director of photography Alar Kivilo
"Sequencing The Lookout" making-of featurette
"Behind the mind of Chris Pratt"
 

Bitrate:

Miramax Blu-ray TOP vs. Echo Bridge Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

Description: Acclaimed screenwriter Scott Frank (Minority Report) makes a mind-blowing directorial debut in The Lookout, a gritty, high-tension crime thriller starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt (Inception), Jeff Daniels (Good Night, and Good Luck) and Isla Fisher (Wedding Crashers). Chris "Slapshot" Pratt (Gordon-Levitt), whose once-bright future has been dimmed by a head injury, is a night janitor at a bank. Lonely and frustrated, Chris falls prey to a con man's seductive promise of romance and a better life, and agrees to help rob the bank where he works. Filled with heart-pounding action, edge-of-your-seat suspense and a twist you'll never see coming, The Lookout will grip you and never let go...

***

The Lookout marks Academy AwardŽ-nominated screenwriter Scott Frank’s ("Out of Sight"), directorial debut. The intelligent... crime drama is centered around Chris, a once promising high school athlete whose life is turned upside down following a tragic accident. As he tries to maintain a normal life, he takes a job as a janitor at a bank where he ultimately finds himself caught up in a planned heist.

***

Chris Pratt is the most popular boy in school in a small town in Kansas.  He's a whiz at hockey.  His family is rich.  He has a winning personality.  He's good looking.  And he drives a cool car – right into a truck, unfortunately, along with three hapless friends.  Four years later, he is sorting out a difficult life as a disabled person.  He shares an apartment with a blind man (played with sardonic, tough love appeal by Jeff Daniels.)   To the casual observer, Chris looks little different from anyone else, a little slower, perhaps.  But then we notice his intermittent difficulty in grasping things with one hand, or his inability to correctly remember his to-do list in sequence.  His daily life – no, his hourly life - is managed by lists.  He works hard at his life now.  By and large, the townspeople are sympathetic.  His father, less so.  Chris's life is an open book, as it has always been, and he falls easy prey to those few who would take advantage of his awareness of the discrepancy between who he is, who he was, and who he might have become: Thus our movie - as a few bad people who also see a similar discrepancy in their own lives plot to use Chris as a key player for a bank heist.

 

 

The Film:

Head injury + a list-making compulsion = Memento – right?  I'm sure the comparison has been made to death elsewhere; but be advised, if you haven't seen this film, that that is where the comparison ends.  Let's not mention it again, shall we.

 

A well-scripted screenplay, well-acted, photographed and scored.  What more could you ask?The story itself doesn't win any honors for originality, but the execution is several cuts above your garden-variety melodrama-cum-thriller.  There's an awful lot of talent out there, if only they could all come together in the same place.  The Lookout is just such a place.  O.K., it's not perfect: I'm not entirely convinced by all that happens in the bank during the heist, but it has savvy about all its characters. 

 

Chris Pratt's voiceover monologues are especially keen: witty, despairing, insightful, and hopeful by turns.  And here's the surprise: Unlike many actors who try this trick, Joseph Gordon-Levitt can actually read.  He can speak.  And he can act.  From such lowly and (I thought at the time) not particularly promising beginnings in his first season as a teenage alien on that funniest of TV sitcoms about visitors from another planet who take on human form to assimilate, learn and report, this young man, now 25, has transformed himself into a real actor.  And he has an expressive face and the physicality to go with the talent.  If this movie had nothing but Gordon-Levitt's performance and a good script for him to read, The Lookout would be worth your time.  (By the way, I read in the IMDB Trivia that one of his favorite films is Dumbo, which earns him extra points in my book.)

 

But there is more: in all its supporting characters, especially Matthew Goode as the conniving, insinuating Gary Spargo.  Again, the writing is there to clarify the monster that lurks without, yet understands the need to be embraced by the weakness within.  The writing is good, despite one or two minor distractions (as when Chris hits on his case worker.)  It's all definitely small-town, and often correspondingly small-minded.  There are few big or profound ideas in this script – but, then it's not that kind of movie.

Leonard Norwitz of DVDBeaver

Image :    NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.

Image : 8.5

Photography this good demands a good image, and this Blu-ray delivers in all the right places: deep blacks, natural color, the ability for the shadows to be alive with possibilities without artificial brightening.  As usual with on-location shooting, sharpness is inconsistent, but that's in the original film.  Only the opening scene in the car at night has the hallmark of heightened reality that we expect from a special effects sequence.

What the hell is going on here? What in the world was Echo Bridge thinking by putting this 2.39:1 theatrically shown film out in a bastardized 1.78:1 ??!? Especially since a Blu-ray already exists that is in the proper aspect ratio and is technically superior (dual-layered, higher file size and bitrate, less noise etc.) The below screen grabs should give you an idea of the difference - from what the filmmakers intended to what some clown at Echo Bridge thought you'd like better. Wow - head scratching time, or what.   

 

CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION

 

Miramax Blu-ray Subtitle sample (no subtitles on Echo Bridge)

 

 

Miramax Blu-ray TOP vs. Echo Bridge Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

Miramax Blu-ray TOP vs. Echo Bridge Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

Miramax Blu-ray TOP vs. Echo Bridge Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

Miramax Blu-ray TOP vs. Echo Bridge Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

Miramax Blu-ray TOP vs. Echo Bridge Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

Miramax Blu-ray TOP vs. Echo Bridge Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

Miramax Blu-ray TOP vs. Echo Bridge Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

Miramax Blu-ray TOP vs. Echo Bridge Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

Miramax Blu-ray TOP vs. Echo Bridge Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

Miramax Blu-ray TOP vs. Echo Bridge Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

Miramax Blu-ray TOP vs. Echo Bridge Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

Miramax Blu-ray TOP vs. Echo Bridge Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

Miramax Blu-ray TOP vs. Echo Bridge Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

Miramax Blu-ray TOP vs. Echo Bridge Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

Miramax Blu-ray TOP vs. Echo Bridge Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

Audio :

The Lookout is not a crash-bang movie, so the important thing is that the dialogue is clearly enough heard in busy contexts such as the local tavern, at the Learning Center, or at the party at the farm.  The sound is good enough, but not remarkable.  That's probably as it should be.  I found the music a little odd at first, but soon got used to it.  I think the composer was just trying to be portentous as the movie started. NOTE (Ed.) My Momitsu has identified it as being a region 'A'-locked.

The Echo Bride has a DTS-Master (in 5.1) at 3303 kbps where the Miramax has the linear PCM (also uncompressed) at a whopping 6912 kbps. I own both and did some direct scene sampling and I, personally, like the LPCM a bit better - it has a more echo-ey and tinny high-end but the bass exports a notable depth not as apparent in the Echo Bride transfer. It may be a minute difference for most but it seems to have more substance in my brief testing. The new Blu-ray offers no subtitles where the Miramax has optional English, French and Spanish.

 

Extras :

Behind the Mind of Chris Pratt is a 10-minute reflection on his character by Gordon-Levitt. Sequencing The Lookout is about a 20-minute making-of featurette.  Both of these Extras are formatted in 16x9, but they interpolate scenes from the film in HD with comments by the director and cast in SD.

Both have the commentary - which I enjoyed - as well as the two featurettes ("Sequencing The Lookout" + "Behind the Mind of Chris Pratt") but the Echo Bridge loses the less-consequential Movie Showcase sequence - which only gives us yet another reason to endorse the Miramax edition.

 

Miramax Blu-ray LEFT vs. Echo Bridge Blu-ray RIGHT

 

 

 

BOTTOM LINE:
Recommendation: 9

Highly recommended for the movie, performances, and image.

Like Leonard I endorse the film - actually, I am quite enthusiastic about my recommendation. We probably didn't need to go to this extent - what this webpage does is make aware to our community the aspect ratio issue. This alone is a deal-breaker, or should be, for everyone. This film deserves its audience and it should be seen as the Miramax Blu-ray presents it. Don't settle for less.

Leonard Norwitz
LensViews
August 12th, 2007

Gary Tooze

September 20th, 2011

 


 

About the Reviewer: Hello, fellow Beavers! I have been interested in film since I viewed a Chaplin festival on PBS when I was around 9 years old. I credit DVD with expanding my horizons to fill an almost ravenous desire to seek out new film experiences. I currently own approximately 9500 DVDs and have reviewed over 3500 myself. I appreciate my discussion Listserv for furthering my film education and inspiring me to continue running DVDBeaver. Plus a healthy thanks to those who donate and use our Amazon links.

Although I never wanted to become one of those guys who focused 'too much' on image and sound quality - I find HD is swiftly pushing me in that direction.

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Gary W. Tooze

 

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