L  e  n  s  V  i  e  w  s

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


A Little Background     Openers     


    Modus Operandi     The Scorecard:     

Emotive Connection      Audio     Operations    Extras     The Movie     Equipment




Unbreakable - BRD

(M. Night Shyamalan, 2000)



Review by Leonard Norwitz



Theatrical: Blinding Edge Pictures

Video: Touchstone Home Entertainment



Aspect ratio: 2.35:1

Feature film: 1080p

102 minutes: 31 chapters

Single disc

Supplements: 480i



English 5.1 Uncompressed (48 kHz/24-bit)

English DD 5.1 Surround

French DD 5.1 Surround

Spanish DD 5.1 Surround



Feature: English SDH, French, Spanish

Extras: English SDH, French, Spanish



Behind the Scenes hosted by Bruce Willis

Comic Books & Superheroes: with Samuel L. Jackson

• Deleted Scenes with M. Night

• The Train Station Sequence in Multi-Angles

• Night's First Fight Sequence


Locking Blu-ray case

Release Date: April 1st, 2008



The Score Card


The Movie : 7

Security guard, David Dunn (Bruce Willis), is returning home from New York to Philadelphia when his train is derailed at high speed.  All are killed except himself who escapes injury quite literally unscathed.  When he meets his anxious and semi-estranged wife (Robin Penn Wright) and boy (Spencer Treat Clark) he walks through throngs of people in a daze of survivor's guilt and what-the-hell-just-happened.  And who wouldn't?  Later, he finds a note on his car windshield asking him how many days he had ever been sick.  A sensible question, under the circumstances.  Eventually he makes his way to Limited Edition, a graphic comic book and art gallery managed by Elijah Price (Samuel L. Jackson).  Elijah suffers from a genetic condition quite the opposite of Dunne's where his bones are subject to breaking as easily as a cracker – thus the name given by teasing schoolmates, "Mr. Glass."  Gradually, with Elijah's prodding, Dunn becomes aware of something that he had gone to some pains to forget: his invulnerability to certain assaults on his body that would have vanquished the ordinary mortal. 


But Elijah seems to have an obsession about Dunn that goes beyond mere curiosity.  He suggests not so much a bell-shaped curve with himself at one end and someone such as Dunne at the other.  Elijah sees these polarities in grandiose comic book terms, as opposites of monumental proportions.  There is something menacing about his insistence, something preternatural about his knowledge and intelligence.  Is he the author and illustrator of the comics he displays and sells; is he the ultimate curator of the genre; or what?






Image : 9 (8~9/9)

The score of 9 indicates a relative level of excellence compared to other Blu-ray DVDs.  The score in parentheses represents: first, a value on a ten-point scale for the image in absolute terms; and, second, how that image compares to what I believe is the current best we can expect in the theatre.


Some of the close-up details are of near-demo quality.  Since so much of the movie takes place in the shadows, we might expect intrusive amounts of noise or a tendency to brighten the better to see what's going on.  Happily, neither is the case.  If anything, the dark areas tend to go to near black without much subtlety, which is OK since the nature of the movie does not cry out for more information.  Bit rates are generally in the mid-thirties.




By the way, did you happen to notice the lighting blooper in the scene where David and his wife return home from their date (just before then of chapter 19)?  I felt it leapt off the screen from an otherwise perfectly lit movie.






SD (2-disc) TOP vs. Blu-ray BOTTOM









Audio & Music : 7/7

There is a blistering crack of breaking glass as the main menu makes its way into existence.  It's very effective as a scare tactic, but it is also a little anticlimactic since there are no analogous snaps in the movie – this despite Elijah's cracking good fall down the stairs to the Underground.  I only point this out so that you not sit there waiting for something that doesn't quite happen.  The atmospherics are nicely rendered.  I especially liked the rain outside the house of the victims' house at the film's climax.  Like the great majority of the action, the audio mix is understated.  Willis tends to mumble; Jackson tends to shout; while Penn is so self-effacing as to be inaudible.   Finding the right note will test your system


Operations : 7

Touchstone Blu-ray DVDs are distributed by Buena Vista whose front-loaded promos and previews (not so many this time) can be chapter-skipped before the loading of the feature film begins.  On the other hand, I found the menu operations to be most sensible, informing of us about the length of the various segments.  I also liked the fact that the features themselves, except for the Deleted Scenes had no chapters so it was relatively easy to return to the film.  Note the small font yellow subtitles.




Extras : 7

While none of the bonus features are in HD, they are presented in variable-to-high quality anamorphic SD, including the inserts of scenes from the feature film. Behind the Scenes is a 14-minute documentary guided by Willis that covers the basics of production design.  The 19-minuteComic Books & Superheroes, kicked off by Samuel L. Jackson, looks at how the graphic art ideas became realized in the movie.  There are also 28 minutes worth of Deleted Scenes with comments by the director.  These are the same features that were included in the 2004 2-disc SD (Reviewed HERE).


I admit to a certain personal disdain for Night's lack of humility.  In the extras we find him admonishing his production team to find unique sounds and "singular" music cues – as if never before heard.  It's right, I thought, that he doesn't have a lazy approach to film making, for it would have been easier to use an off-the-shelf approach.  But to hear him talk, it's as if he's discovered the concept.  No, that's not it exactly.  It's as if he owns the rights to it.  Of course, my response to the way the man talks about himself says nothing about the finished product. I'm happy I never met Beethoven or Wagner, for I hear they were both sonsabitches.  The point I'm making is that in case you haven't gotten into the habit, I caution you to watch bonus features AFTER you watch the movie.



Comment :

I like to think of Unbreakable as two characters in search of a genre on the one hand and Buffy/heavy on the other.  Unlike many a fantasy adventure feature film these days, Unbreakable  doesn't actually begin life as a comic book or a manga, so much as it uses the genre to spawn, perhaps even to justify, a screenplay.  The protagonists are positioned explicitly out of the comic book tradition.  We know this, because one of them, Elijah, aka Mr. Glass, says so – and often.  Once Elijah is convinced that David Dunn is material from the same comic book he is operating from, Elijah solicits Dunn with all the skill he has available.


The Buffy angle struck me almost immediately: Elijah is The Watcher.  Dunn is The Slayer.  Dunn resists his destiny despite restless sleep, waking nightmares engaged by The Dark One, and growing evidence of superhero abilities – the implications of which are impressed upon him continually by Elijah.  (To save you the strain on your memory, Joss Whedon's superhero predates Night's by 8 years, though I am implying no connection other than that which is apparent.)  The notion of humor in an M. Night movie, however, is disconcerting, even inexplicable.  In the one scene that moves contrapuntally in that direction (when Dunn talks his boy into giving up his gun), we smile uncomfortably in relief, but also puzzlement. 


Cute is not Night's strong suit.  Nor are fleshed out supporting characters, nor strong dialog.  (I wince when the doctor tells Dunn why he is interested in his case after the train wreck: "There are two reasons why I'm looking at you like this: one because it seems in a few minutes you will be officially the only survivor of this train wreck. . . " etc, etc.)  I mean, who talks like this – let alone a triage doctor?  On the other hand, Unbreakable is nothing if not a comic book in motion, so maybe I should give the man a break when his writing is less than theatrical or even human, as we know it.  No, it is darkness, shadow, and reflections in a glass darkly where M. Night's muse lives and thrives. Unbreakable is full of such moments.  No, that's not quite correct either. Unbreakable is darkness, shadow, and reflections in a glass darkly, and upside down at that.  Yours, perhaps?


Recommendation : 7

I saw this movie only once before watching last night on Blu-ray – that was back in 2000 at my local cineplex.  I remember thinking it was contrived and twisted for the sake of being twisted.  Perhaps now that I've seen quite some few comic and manga-derived movies and TV series, I cast a wider net for the genre.  I still think the movie s twisted and contrived, but I also find much to admire in its willingness to avoid the obvious cliché and to take things slowly.  The Blu-ray transfer is awesome, as these screenshots cannot begin to describe properly.


Leonard Norwitz
March 22nd, 2008





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