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H D - S E N S E I

A view on Hi-def DVDs by Gary W. Tooze


Production: Warner


Region: FREE! (as verified by the Momitsu region FREE Blu-ray player)

Runtime: 1:59:55.021

Disc Size: 18,333,062,184 bytes

Feature Size: 17,731,037,184 bytes

Video Bitrate: 16.36 Mbps

Chapters: 27

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: February 19th, 2008



Aspect ratio: 2.40:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: VC-1 Video




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 -4dB
Dolby Digital Audio Spanish 640 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 640 kbps / DN -4dB
Dolby Digital Audio English 192 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps / DN -4dB / Dolby Surround



English (SDH), English, French, Spanish, none


• Commentary from director and editor with optional subtitles
• Additional Scenes with optional commentary

Synopsis: Michael Clayton is an in-house "fixer" at one of the largest corporate law firms in New York. A former criminal prosecutor, Clayton takes care of Kenner, Bach & Ledeen's dirtiest work at the behest of the firm's co-founder Marty Bach. Though burned out and hardly content with his job as a fixer, his divorce, a failed business venture and mounting debt have left Clayton inextricably tied to the firm. At U/North, meanwhile, the career of litigator Karen Crowder rests on the multi-million dollar settlement of a class action suit that Clayton's firm is leading to a seemingly successful conclusion. But when Kenner Bach's brilliant and guilt-ridden attorney Arthur Edens sabotages the U/North case, Clayton faces the biggest challenge of his career and his life. 


The Film:

Tony Gilroy, co-author of the superb Jason Bourne film trilogy, makes a stunning directorial debut with "Michael Clayton," an out-of-courtroom drama that helps solidify George Clooney's acting bona fides.

Gilroy's crafty original script is a legal thriller in the vein of Sidney Lumet's "The Verdict" and Sydney Pollack's "Absence of Malice." All three are about acts of malfeasance and the peeling away of their layered coverups, and with this performance, Clooney reminds me of no one so much as the star of those earlier films, Paul Newman.

It's no coincidence that Pollack co-produced "Michael Clayton" and snatched a fine supporting role for himself. He plays Marty Bach, the head of a Manhattan law firm that is heavily infested in defending an agrichemical company in a $3 billion class action lawsuit.


With the plaintiffs losing their resolve, a massive crisis erupts when Bach's lead attorney, Arthur Edens (Tom Wilkinson), appears to have a mental breakdown during a deposition.

Clooney's title character, known as "the fixer" at the firm, is sent to Wisconsin to retrieve Arthur and get the case back on track. But when Arthur, who is manic-depressive and has documents proving his client's guilt, turns up dead, Clayton faces his own crisis of conscience.

Gilroy has already proven himself a strong developer of character and plot. With this, he shows he is a terrific actors' director as well. Every performance in this film is spot-on.

Excerpt from the New York Daily News located HERE




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

Comment from Leonard (who also owns the Blu-ray): 'My impression of the video for the Michael Clayton Blu-ray is that I found, as you did, a good deal of "monochromatic black" in the picture; and while I longed for more interest in those blacks, I saw no noise there, nor much of a distracting grain in general. There was a certain amount of noise in the bright areas, such as overexposed skies, but it was hardly anything I would have noticed if I weren't looking for it. I would have given the image an overall score of between an 8.5~9. I suspect that my results are different from yours (and from my own prior to a month ago) because I have installed a Crystalio VPS3100 video processor between player and projector, and while most of the improvement in my picture is revealed with SD material, I do get a cleaner picture even with 1080p sources.'


This is not a strong transfer being single-layered and the feature taking up only 17 Gig with a low-ish bitrate. Noise definitely exists and black levels are occasionally crushed but the heavier texture really suits the film look. I would hope that a strong transfer would bring this quality to greater prominence. Since I upgraded my system - the Blu-ray looks much better just as, surprisingly, the film itself improves with repetition.    


Screen Captures

































It's funny how things change as now we say that we only have a Dolby Digital 5.1 track that sounds very competent. Aside from one or two scenes, though, the 5.1 audio is fairly under-utilized - but sounds adequately separated once called upon. There are optional subtitles in English, Spanish or French. My Momitsu has identified it as being a region FREE disc playable on Blu-ray machines worldwide.


Duplicated from the SD - we have an optional commentary which discusses the formation of plot details (John Gilroy - younger brother of the director Tony) and some production attributes (chosen color palettes etc...). There are a few gaps. I really appreciate the optional subtitles for the commentary - BFI have been doing it for a while. I think it's a great idea (especially if you have sleeping kids around). There are some additional scenes not used in the final cut - as a matter of fact, all the scenes with Jennifer Ehle as Clayton's girlfriend were removed (you can see her in this supplement).


BOTTOM LINE: The film? - it has really grown on me. I especially enjoyed the performances - Tilda Swinton was amazing - ditto for Tom Wilkinson and Clooney was also excellent. The film is a bit of a jigsaw puzzle that unifies fairly tightly in the finale. Michael Clayton is definitely worth a repeat viewings and while this Blu-ray A/V may underachieve it still gives a decent presentation of an unjustly overlooked film. From that standpoint it is recommended!

Gary Tooze

Revisited January 2010



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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. So be it, but film will always be my first love and I list my favorites on the old YMdb site now accessible HERE.  

Gary's Home Theatre:

60-Inch Class (59.58” Diagonal) 1080p Pioneer KURO Plasma Flat Panel HDTV PDP6020-FD

Oppo Digital BDP-83 Universal Region FREE Blu-ray/SACD Player
Momitsu - BDP-899 Region FREE Blu-ray player
Marantz SA8001 Super Audio CD Player
Marantz SR7002 THX Select2 Surround Receiver
Tannoy DC6-T (fronts) + Energy (centre, rear, subwoofer) speakers (5.1)

APC AV 1.5 kVA H Type Power Conditioner 120V

Gary W. Tooze