H D - S E N S E I

A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze


The Number 23 [Blu-ray]


(Joel Schumacher, 2007)



Review by Gary Tooze



Theatrical: New Line Cinema

Video: New Line Home Video



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

Runtime: 1:38:06 (Theatrical) 1:41:16.272 (Unrated Version)

Disc Size: 30,940,559,743 bytes

Feature Size: 20,399,431,680 bytes

Video Bitrate: 22.98 Mbps

Chapters: 23

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: October 6th, 2009



Aspect ratio: 2.35:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: VC-1 Video



DTS-HD Master Audio English 2198 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 2198 kbps / 16-bit (DTS Core: 5.1-ES / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 16-bit)
Dolby Digital Audio English 192 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps / Dolby Surround



English (SDH), English, none



• Commentary with director Joel Schumacher (theatrical version only)

"The Number 23 Enigma" documentary (25:03 in HD!)

Creating the World of Fingerling (11:11 in HD!)

• The Making of The Number 23 (22:20 in HD!)

16 Deleted / Alternate Scenes (14:38)

Behind the Story - How to do Your Numbers (Introduction, Calculating your numbers, Number Matches etc.)

Focus Points and Fact Track (Theatrical Only)

Theatrical trailer





Description: In Joel Schumacher’s psychological thriller THE NUMBER 23, Jim Carrey takes on another dramatic role. Carrey’s character is similar to his roles in THE TRUMAN SHOW and ETERNAL SUNSHINE OF THE SPOTLESS MIND: he portrays an average man thrust into quite extraordinary situations after a series of strange events cause him to question everything he’s ever taken for granted. On his birthday, Walter Sparrow is given a mysterious and tattered book called THE NUMBER 23 by his loving wife, Agatha (Virginia Madsen). As Walter reads the book, he quickly notices its alarming similarities to his own life. Rather than stop reading, he continues, unknowingly inviting the book to take over his life. The deeper Walter gets into the plot, the more he sees himself in its protagonist, Fingerling, whom we see through highly stylized sequences in which Carrey appears as the seedy detective character. Madsen is also present in these scenes, cast as Fingerling’s pain-loving girlfriend Fabrizia. As Fingerling and Fabrizia’s love affair inches towards its fiery conclusion, we learn the role the number 23 has played in their story and will play in Walter’s future if he cannot keep his growing obsession with it at bay. While Carrey and Madsen are adept at playing a man gone mad and a headstrong wife in crisis, they are most fascinating as their dark counterparts, and Schumacher succeeds in creating a truly intoxicating noirish underworld of sex and death through those sequences.



The Film:

Since this is a thriller, there must be a twist. One goes into a movie like The Number 23 with this expectation. However, not only is the twist telegraphed early but it is presented in a clumsy and unconvincing manner. Other films have employed a similar plot device to good effect. (I will refrain from naming titles since that would constitute unnecessary spoilerage.) The Number 23 shows how not to do it. The film has a few things going for it. Matthew Libatique's cinematography is evocative and there are isolated individual scenes that work when dissociated from the movie as a whole. But as a cohesive piece of entertainment, The Number 23 is largely a failure. 

Walter Sparrow (Jim Carrey) is leading a seemingly normal life with a seemingly normal wife, Agatha (Virginia Madsen), and a seemingly normal son, Robin (Logan Lerman). (It's necessary to throw in a "seemingly" here and there because of the nature of the production.) Everything changes the day his wife purchases a copy of a book entitled The Number 23 at a used bookstore. The book is about the obsession of the main character, a detective named Fingerling, with the number 23 in its various permutations. Walter becomes obsessed with the book. He senses an eerie connection between himself and Fingerling and, like the protagonist, he believes there's something important about how often 23 appears in his life. A psychologist friend (Danny Huston) suggests that he sees 23 everywhere because he's looking for 23 everywhere, but Walter ignores this sensible advice and begins to imagine conspiracies and murders.

Excerpt from James Berardinelli at ReelViews located HERE



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

Firstly - you get the option of watching the 'Theatrical' or the, 3:10 longer, 'unrated' version of The Number 23. These are seamlessly branched on the Blu-ray so quality of the image is exactly the same regardless of which cut you choose. We frequently shift from a dream state with heavy blown-out lighting to the 'real' world. I'll focus more on the visuals without the saturated effects as I'll assume the unnatural look is close to the intended - essentially, making it very hard to critique as I didn't see this theatrically. Most of the film shows a nice consistent grainy texture that produces a grittier look than I anticipated. I liked it and don't see any extravagant digital transfer manipulations altering beyond the acceptable. Colors aren't extensively used but when they are they seem brighter and truer than SD could relate - especially reds. Skin tones seem very true - contrast exhibits healthy, rich black levels. This Blu-ray seems to export the intended appearance very well. It's not a smooth glossy look - but this heavier grain is more suited to the film.  By modern standards this seems a reasonably faithful representation of the original - I doubt much more could be accomplished visually. I don't have any dramatic complaints - it's exceptionally clean with a darker cast and this is all probably very accurate and suitable to the film's genre. It looks quite good.

















Audio :

The only option (aside from the 2.0 channel commentary track) is a DTS-HD Master 5.21 at 2198 kbps. It's not the most memorable of tracks but the subtleties definitely exist which is a good thing. Audio never elevates over video. Harry Gregson-Williams' score is competent with a thrilling edge to it. Range and depth don't play a big part but this may be more to do with the original track than the transfer. Dialogue is clear and defined but there are optional English subtitles and my Momitsu has identified it as being a region FREE disc playable on Blu-ray machines worldwide.




Extras :

The supplements appear to duplicate the NTSC DVD edition with Schumacher's commentary only available on the theatrical version. He's relaxed and excellent to listen to and he describes information, beyond production, that illuminates certain themes and concepts of the film. It's worth listening to if you were at all keen on The Number 23. There are 16 deleted or alternate scenes that were removed from both versions - they expand on certain details and I would say some would have been of benefit to filling in some plot information. We get three featurettes that are all in HD - they last close to an hour. "Finding your Life Path Number' could definitely have been given a pass in the opinion of this reviewer but the 25-minute "The Number 23 Enigma" documentary was pretty interesting. We also get a theatrical trailer and 'Focus Points' + 'Fact Track' pop-ups for the theatrical only. It's a pretty impressive set of extras actually.



The film... well, it seems almost universally panned. This is definitely a shame because the concept is such a strong one. I didn't feel the dream-state visuals helped my appreciation of the story at all. Carrey and Madsen are both excellent - it starts as a decent thriller but gets distracted along the way till the ending leaves us as mentally scattered as what transpires - perhaps this was intentional. It opts for too many twists and should have been kept more straightforward in my opinion. The Blu-ray is just fine in both audio / video and extras and I doubt we're going to see a better presentation of this particular film - but purchasers who haven't seen it shouldn't be seduced by the trailer - the film is essentially unfulfilling but some may enjoy simply for the concept and performances. 

Gary Tooze

October 5th, 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 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








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