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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

 

Brick [Blu-ray]

 

(Rian Johnson, 2005)

 

Optimum - Region 'B' - Blu-ray LEFT vs. Alliance - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - RIGHT

 

 

 

Review by Gary Tooze

 

Production:

Theatrical: Bergman Lustig Productions

Video: Optimum Home Entertainment / Alliance

 

Disc:

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

Runtime: 1:45:20.400 (4% sped-up)/ 1:49:48.039

Disc Size: 21,303,406,496 bytes / 23,154,001,843 bytes

Feature Size: 21,098,766,336 bytes / 22,849,179,648 bytes

Video Bitrate: 17.96 Mbps / 18.00 Mbps

Chapters: 12 / 21

Case: Standard Blu-ray (thicker UK) case / Standard US Blu-ray case

Release date: July 20th, 2009 / August 16th, 2011

 

Video:

Aspect ratio: 1.78:1 / 1.85:1

Resolution: 1080i - 25 fps / 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

 

Audio:

DTS-HD Master Audio English 1648 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1648 kbps / 16-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 /
48 kHz / 768 kbps / 16-bit)
LPCM Audio English 1536 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1536 kbps / 16-bit

DTS-HD Master Audio English 4018 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 4018 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)
DTS-HD Master Audio French 4043 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 4043 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)

 

Subtitles (both):

None

 

Extras (both):

• None

DVD included with Alliance

 

Bitrate:

Optimum - Region 'B' - Blu-ray TOP vs. Alliance - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 

Description: A detective story set around a California high school, BRICK dares to combine the teen and film noir genres. In mixing these two disparate worlds, Director Rian Johnson creates many comically jarring and ironic moments. When loner Brendan Frye (a barely recognizable Joseph Gordon-Levitt of THIRD ROCK FROM THE SUN) gets a desperate-sounding call from his ex-love Emily (Emilie de Ravin), he feels compelled to help her, plunging himself into the seedy world of teenage crime that pulled her away from him in the first place. Throughout this journey, Brendan plays a hard-boiled type reminiscent of Humphrey Bogart's iconic Sam Spade character. Johnson's script invests heavily in the fiction of Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler, and is filled with other archetypical characters like the femme fatale (Nora Zehetner), the eccentric crime lord (a brilliant Lukas Haas), and the dame in distress. As teens trade in their cell phones for things as old-fashioned as pay phones and 1940s gangster vocabulary, occasional references to detention and first period provide a humorous contrast with the otherwise unbelievably complex, precocious, and largely parentless world that these teens inhabit. With its heavy reliance on references to old noir classics like THE MALTESE FALCON and THE BIG SLEEP, the film may risk alienating viewers not familiar with these older films. Seeing teenagers speaking in coded detective-movie-style lingo is entertaining, but mixed with the often overlapping, fast-paced but muttered dialogue, it also proves to be distracting at points. People eager to see a predictable teen drama may be confused by BRICK, as its goal is to turn the genre on its head, earning inevitable comparisons to films like 2001's surreal teen fantasy DONNIE DARKO. Because of the film's attention to detail and witty yet hard-to-follow dialogue, BRICK may be better appreciated on second viewing.

 

 

The Film:

You will forgive me for reaching back 35 years for a quotation to open this review of "Brick," since the movie itself is inspired by hard-boiled crime novels written by Dashiell Hammett between 1929 and 1934. What is unexpected, and daring, is that "Brick" transposes the attitudes and dialogue of classic detective fiction to a modern Southern California high school. These are contemporary characters who say things like, "I got all five senses and I slept last night. That puts me six up on the lot of you." Or, "Act smarter than you look, and drop it."

What is the audience for this movie? It is carrying on in its own lifetime a style of film that was dead before it was born. Are teenage moviegoers familiar with movies like "The Maltese Falcon"? Do they know who Humphrey Bogart was? Maybe it doesn't matter. They're generally familiar with b&w classics on cable, and will understand the strategy: The students inhabit personal styles from an earlier time.

Excerpt from Roger Ebert at the Chicago Sun-Times located HERE

 

 


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

This transfer is interlaced (1080i) and is running at 25 fps. I don't think this exports a dramatic weakness in the final visual presentation. The film itself shows Indie grit and a less-polished edge. It was probably never meant to look glossy and pristine. Suitable to the tone of Brick the transfer exports a darker image and colors never leap off the screen. This Blu-ray looks superior to DVD but probably isn't a prime example to showcase the format. Detail is never crisp but some outdoor scenes look the most impressive with hint a of depth. This is single-layered with a modest bitrate and I don't think it's a candidate for re-purchase if you already own the DVD. This is despite the fact that it's the best looking digital appearance of the film - although I suppose it may surface in Region "A" one day - done with more care in regards to to the video transfer.

The Alliance transfer is superior - not simply a marginally higher bitrate/file size but it is progressive (NOT interlaced) and in the, un-bastardized, 1.85:1 aspect ratio. Visually it is slightly brighter but the color scheme is supported but has cooler skin tones and detail is the same. Like the Optimum there is still some noise. The Alliance also runs in the correct theatrical running speed (approx. 24 frames per second).

 

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

 

Optimum - Region 'B' - Blu-ray TOP vs. Alliance - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 

Optimum - Region 'B' - Blu-ray TOP vs. Alliance - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 

Optimum - Region 'B' - Blu-ray TOP vs. Alliance - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 

Optimum - Region 'B' - Blu-ray TOP vs. Alliance - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 

Optimum - Region 'B' - Blu-ray TOP vs. Alliance - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 

Optimum - Region 'B' - Blu-ray TOP vs. Alliance - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 

Optimum - Region 'B' - Blu-ray TOP vs. Alliance - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 

Optimum - Region 'B' - Blu-ray TOP vs. Alliance - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 

Optimum - Region 'B' - Blu-ray TOP vs. Alliance - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 

Optimum - Region 'B' - Blu-ray TOP vs. Alliance - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 

Optimum - Region 'B' - Blu-ray TOP vs. Alliance - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 

 

Audio :

The DTS-HD Master 5.1 at 1648 kbps has some kick but I also suspect a more dynamic mix could have brought some further presence to the track. I actually tested the LPCM 2.0 channel option and liked it enough to stick with it a while. The violence can pack a surprising wallop and while the track gives some oomph - I can't help confess the feeling that it is as lackluster as the image. There are no optional subtitles and my Momitsu has identified it as being a region 'B'-locked.

Significant upgrade in the audio with a powerhouse DTS-HD Master 5.1 at 4018 kbps. It is crisp and has some formidable depth. The Alliance also offers a French DUB. Another area where the region 'A' disc surpasses. It also does not offer subtitles.

 

 

 

Extras :

None - which is unfortunate as the film warrants a commentary - as found on the single-disc US DVD edition HERE. All we are given is a kind of cool menu:

No extras as well but the Alliance does offer a DVD of the Feature in the package.

 

Optimum - Region 'B' - Blu-ray LEFT vs. Alliance - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - RIGHT

 

 

 

BOTTOM LINE:
I had a soft spot for Brick the first time I saw it in 2006. It's very cool in it's own unique way. Unfortunately, this Blu-ray isn't up to the task with a weak single-layered, interlaced transfer, no subtitles and not a single extra. We like the film quite a lot, and this is the best I've seen it look but we still must give this a pass.

Still an enjoyable film experience and nice to have it in its superior attributes. 

Gary Tooze

August 17th, 2009

September 14th, 2012

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

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 7500 DVDs and have reviewed over 3000 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:

Samsung HPR4272 42" Plasma HDTV
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)

Gary W. Tooze

 

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