(Rob Reiner, 1990)
Review by Gary Tooze
Video:MGM Home Video
Region: FREE! (as verified by the Momitsu region FREE Blu-ray player)
Disc Size: 36,208,618,870 bytes
Feature Size: 35,912,828,928 bytes
Video Bitrate: 30.96 Mbps
Case: Standard Blu-ray case
Release date: September 15, 2009
Aspect ratio: 1.85:1
Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps
Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video
DTS-HD Master Audio English 3855 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 3855 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)
DTS Audio French 768 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 768 kbps / 24-bit
English, English (SDH), Chinese (traditional and simplified), Czech, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, French, German, Hungarian, Indonesian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Swedish, Thai, Turkish, none
Disc 2 (DVD) - has widescreen anamorphic SD version
• Commentary by director Ron Reiner
•Commentary by screenwriter William Goldman
• Misery Loves Company Featurette (29:52)
• "Marc Shaiman's Musical Misery Tour" (14:28)
•"Diagnosing Annie Wilkes" (8:47)
• "Advice for the Stalked" (4:58)
• "Profile of a Stalker" (6:17)
• "Celebrity Stalkers" (5:08)
• "Anti-Stalking Laws" (2:23)
Description: Based on the chilling bestseller by Stephen King, Misery was brought to the screen by director Rob Reiner as one of the most effective thrillers of the 1990s. From a brilliant adaptation by screenwriter William Goldman, Reiner turned King's cautionary tale of fame and idolatry into a mainstream masterpiece of escalating suspense, translating King's own experience with obsessive fans into a frightening tale of entrapment and psychotic behavior. Kathy Bates deservedly won an Academy Award for her performance as Annie Wilkes, an unbalanced devotee of romance novels written by Paul Sheldon (James Caan), whose books provide Annie with a much-needed escape from her pathetic life and her secret, violent past. After Annie rescues the injured Sheldon from a car accident, she seizes the opportunity to nurse her favorite writer back to health, but her tender loving care soon turns to terrorism as she demands that Sheldon write his latest novel according to her wish-fulfillment fantasies. From this point forward, Misery percolates to a boil as equal parts mystery, thriller, and cleverly dark comedy, with the helpless author pitched in deadly warfare against his number one fan. While Bates carefully modulates her role from doting kindness to sympathetic loneliness and finally to horrifying ferocity, Caan is equally superb as the celebrated author who must literally write for his life. It's essentially a two-actor film, but Richard Farnsworth and Lauren Bacall are excellent in supporting roles as they investigate the writer's mysterious disappearance. Frightening, funny, and totally irresistible, Misery was such a hit that some of Bates's dialogue entered the popular lexicon (particularly her nagging reference to Caan as "Mister Man"), and its nail-biting thrills remain timelessly intense.
Stephen King has a modest but undeniable genius for being able to find horror in everyday situations. My notion is that he starts with a germ of truth from his own life, and then takes it as far as he can into the macabre and the bizarre. Take "Misery," for example, the story of a writer who finds himself the captive of his self-proclaimed "No. 1 fan." The hero has not finished a novel to her liking, and now she has him in her grip and he is writing under a particularly painful and violent deadline.
I can only imagine what some of the more peculiar fan letters of a writer like King must read like, and perhaps one of them even suggested this story. "Misery" involves a writer named Paul Sheldon (James Caan) who has been prostituting his talent for years with a series of romantic historical potboilers about a character named Misery, who after great triumphs and travails has finally been killed off. Having assassinated the character he had come to hate, Sheldon holes up in a Colorado lodge to write a "real" novel, and when he finishes it he packs it into his car and heads down a mountain road in a blizzard, loses control of his car, and ends up injured and in a snowbank.Excerpt from Roger Ebert at the Chicago Sun-Times located HERE
Misery looks very strong on Blu-ray from MGM. It's a mighty leap beyond my older DVD with effective detail in close-ups, bright colors and a hint of visible, but fine, grain. Some scenes are a little soft and may have had some DNR but for the most part colors are bright and the 1.85 visuals look practically brand new. Contrast is exceptional. Daylight scenes are more impressive with depth being frequently apparent. This Blu-ray has a smooth professional appearance with no noticeable black-marks. I doubt much more could be done as it has a very high video bitrate on this dual-layered disc. This Blu-ray probably looks like the film Misery and it advances well beyond the last DVD editions in several key areas - notably detail and colors.
CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION
Along with a large number of foreign language DUBs we get an excellent DTS-HD Master 5.1 track at 3855 kbps. It's quite wonderful in exporting the subtleties of the score and the minimal effect noises. The more gruesome scenes are quite punctuating with strong bass. Dialogue is crisp and clean and I expect this may be as good as this film can sound. There are a plethora of subtitle options and my Momitsu has identified it as being a region FREE disc playable on Blu-ray machines worldwide.
There are no supplements on the Blu-ray disc but MGM have added a second disc to the package - the Collector's Edition DVD - complete with 2007 VOB files. Along with an SD 16X9 rendition of the film we get the two decent commentaries - a relaxed one by a comfortable Ron Reiner and the other, a bit more scattered, by screenwriter William Goldman. We get a featurette entitled Misery Loves Company. It runs 1/2 an hour with input from Reiner, Goldman, Bates and Caan and is an interesting 'making of...' with further production and character details not mentioned in either commentary. "Marc Shaiman's Musical Misery Tour" is 15-minutes on developing the film's score. we also get 5 less directly related pieces - "Diagnosing Annie Wilkes" (8:47), "Advice for the Stalked" (4:58), "Profile of a Stalker" (6:17), "Celebrity Stalkers" (5:08) and "Anti-Stalking Laws" (2:23). The latter 4 stemming more from Hollywood's political stance on stalking. Finally there are a couple of trailers. It seems rather odd, or perhaps lazy, that these couldn't have just been ported over to the Blu-ray (they had the space) but perhaps they had a few thousand of the CE DVDs left over that they wanted to get rid of. I really don't know.
September 8th, 2009
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
Samsung HPR4272 42" Plasma HDTV
Gary W. Tooze