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A view on Blu-ray and DVD video by Leonard Norwitz

Away We Go [Blu-ray]


(Sam Mendes, 2009)






Review by Leonard Norwitz



Theatrical: Focus Features & Big Beach/Edward Saxon

Blu-ray: Universal Studios Home Entertainment



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

Runtime: 1:37:45.234

Disc Size: 27,763,097,617 bytes

Feature Size: 21,211,699,200 bytes

Video Bitrate: 21.63 Mbps

Chapters: 20

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: September 29th, 2009



Aspect ratio: 2.35:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: VC-1 Video







DTS-HD Master Audio English 3777 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 3777 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
DTS Audio Spanish 768 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 768 kbps / 24-bit
Dolby Digital Audio English 192 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps / Dolby Surround



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



• Commentary with Director Sam Mendes & Writers Dave Eggers & Vendela Vida

• The Making of Away We Go - in HD

• Green Filmmaking - in HD

• BD-Live 2.0



The Film:

Directed by Sam Mendes (an Oscar winner for "American Beauty") from an original script by Dave Eggers and Vendela Vida, "Away We Go" is graced with an endearing central couple, apprehensive about their impending parenthood. Unfortunately, most of the other people in the film add to that anxiety by being smugly self-involved and a trial to endure.

Counterculture types Burt ("The Office's" John Krasinski) and Verona (Maya Rudolph of "Saturday Night Live") are a longtime unmarried couple who are charmed to be in each other's company even if mundane things like replacing broken windows in their Colorado home with glass instead of cardboard seem to be beyond them.

But with a child on the way, Burt and Verona worry that they haven't figured out how to care for themselves, believing that at age 34 they are screw-ups (the R-rated film uses a much more graphic term). So when they end up taking a rambling trip across the country to visit old friends and family, it's not just to decide where to live, it's also to help figure out how to live.

There's nothing wrong with this as a concept, but the way it plays out is problematic. Accompanied by a melodic score by singer-songwriter Alexi Murdoch, Burt and Verona are so immediately appealing and good-hearted, so obviously right for each other, that the whole notion that they worry about being feckless losers comes off as the rank contrivance it very much is. - Kenneth Turan

Excerpt of Kenneth Turan'sreview from LA Times located HERE



Image: 8/8   NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were ripped directly from the Blu-ray disc.
The first number indicates a relative level of excellence compared to other Blu-ray video discs on a ten-point scale. The second number places this image along the full range of DVD and Blu-ray discs.

As Burt & Verona crisscross the country, we wonder if we're meant to be in a kind of travelogue, with each area they visit – Phoenix, Montreal, Miami – given an artful cinematographic presentation with its own color palette, each faithfully rendered in Blu-ray. The image tended to soften at times, though I felt this was not a fault of the transfer. I was aware of no artifacts, enhancements blemishes or other fringe benefits.
















Audio & Music: 7/8
Alexi Murdoch's occasional bursts of song and guitar are so crispy and richly rendered that the dialogue track sounds muted by comparison; though in absolute terms, dialogue is clear and focused. Each time Murdoch returned I couldn't shale the impression: one sounds live, the other recorded. On the other hand, the music doesn't come riding in with six guns blazing, nor, for that matter, do the surround effects, which are, make no mistake, appropriate and naturally convincing. Once into a scene we soon fall into the new reality – until the next time Alexi Murdoch takes center stage as a familiar distraction. On yet another hand, the audio mix at the nightclub is most realistically conveyed in all its dynamism and ambient subtlety. This really did sound live.




Operations: 7
The feature film is divided into sensibly organized chapters in an easy to manage menu, as are Universal Bu-rays in general. No U-Control or PIP on this one.


Extras: 3
The extra features are the same as on the DVD, except that they are upscaled to high def. Then there's BD-Live, for those who enjoy that community. I checked out the commentary from time to time, which, possibly due to the absence of the principal actors, was merely informative and routine. Just as routine is the quarter-hour Making-of featurette. In "Green Filmmaking" the filmmakers show us how they made a movie that left no trash on the grass.



Bottom line: 6
Away We Go is another one of those movies that pleases audiences more than critics. Alas, I fear that, in this case, I find myself among the latter. Writers Eggers & Vida seem to be trying so hard to make the main couple so charming and everyone else around them so unpleasantly kinky the deck is stacked from the start. In any case, the picture and sound are good, though the extras might have been more.

Leonard Norwitz
October 7th, 2009






About the Reviewer: I first noticed that some movies were actually "films" back around 1960 when I saw Seven Samurai (in the then popular truncated version), La Strada and The Third Man for the first time. American classics were a later and happy discovery.

My earliest teacher in Aesthetics was Alexander Sesonske, who encouraged the comparison of unlike objects. He opened my mind to the study of art in a broader sense, rather than of technique or the gratification of instantaneous events. My take on video, or audio for that matter – about which I feel more competent – is not particularly technical. Rather it is aesthetic, perceptual, psychological and strongly influenced by temporal considerations in much the same way as music. I hope you will find my musings entertaining and informative, fun, interactive and very much a work in progress.

The LensView Home Theatre:




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