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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

 

The Informant! [Blu-ray]

 

(Steven Soderbergh, 2009)

 

 

Review by Gary Tooze

 

Production:

Theatrical: Warner

Video: Warner Home Video

 

Disc:

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

Runtime: 1:48:15.488

Disc Size: 19,919,284,292 bytes

Feature Size: 19,079,510,016 bytes

Video Bitrate: 17.30 Mbps

Chapters: 27

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: February 23rd, 2010

 

Video:

Aspect ratio: 1.78:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: VC-1 Video

 

Audio:

Dolby TrueHD Audio English 1306 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1306 kbps / 16-bit (AC3 Embedded: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 640 kbps / DN -4dB)
DUBs: Dolby Digital Audio French 640 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 640 kbps / DN -4dB
Dolby Digital Audio Portuguese 640 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 640 kbps / DN -4dB
Dolby Digital Audio Spanish 640 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 640 kbps / DN -4dB
Dolby Digital Audio English 192 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps / DN -4dB / Dolby Surround

 

Subtitles:

English, French, Portuguese, Spanish, none

 

Extras:

• Commentary By Director Steven Soderbergh And Screenwriter Scott Z. Burns
• 4 Deleted Scenes (6:25 in HD)

 

Bitrate:

 

 

Description: Mark Whitacre (Matt Damon) was fast rising through the ranks at agri-industry powerhouse Archer Daniels Midland (ADM) when he became savvy to the company's multinational price-fixing conspiracy, and decided to turn evidence for the FBI. Convinced that he'll be hailed as a hero of the people for his efforts, Whitacre agrees to wear a wire in order to gather the evidence needed to convict the greedy money-grabbers at ADM. Unfortunately, both the case -- and Whitacre's integrity -- are compromised when FBI agents become frustrated by their informant's ever-shifting account, and discover that he isn't exactly the saintly figure he made himself out to be. Unable to discern reality from Whitacre's fantasy as they struggle to build their case against ADM, the FBI watches in horror as the highest-ranking corporate bust in U.S. history threatens to implode before their very eyes. Scott Bakula, Joel McHale, and Melanie Lynskey co-star.

 

Two Ocean's Trilogy veterans - Matt Damon and director Steven Soderbergh - reteam for a snappy skewering of big business based on the true story of the highest-ranking corporate whistleblower in U.S. history. Damon plays Mark Whitacre, whip-smart and immensely likable even as his schemes to expose corporate honchos illegally fixing the price of food additives become increasingly untethered. Pay attention to the fun and intrigue of The Informant! and be informed!

 

 

The Film:

Part of this delicious confection of confusion is a tribute to Damon's acting skills (and to the supporting role played by his facial hair). Much credit must also go to the director, for two key reasons.

1. Soderbergh hired Marvin Hamlisch to score the picture, resulting in a soundtrack that wavers between Benny Hill chase music and one of the rare uses of Turkey in the Straw outside of a Foghorn Leghorn cartoon. Hamlisch won three Oscars in 1974 for his music in The Way We Were and The Sting, but also scored such films as Woody Allen's Bananas and The Spy Who Loved Me. In spite of the film's '90s settings, it's the sounds of the '70s that percolate the soundtrack. Hamlisch is an inspired choice, as is...

2. The decision to undercut serious scenes with bizarre voiceovers, apparently originating in Whitacre's brain in real time. Grave conversations will suddenly fade out, replaced by such random ruminations as why German has such a long word for pen (it's kugelschreiber); how polar bears know to hide their noses when they hunt (a myth, I know); and ideas for prime time: "There should be a TV show about a guy ..."

Strip away these two vital ingredients and The Informant! would become The Insider, a 1999 drama in which Russell Crowe, similarly chubby, dishevelled and bespectacled, plays a whistleblower inside the halls of Big Tobacco. Whitacre is similarly based on a real man (and the script, by Scott Z. Burns, on a non-fiction book), a vice-president at multinational ADM who in 1992 approached the FBI with allegations of price-fixing in the food additives industry.

Excerpt from Chris Knight at the National Post located HERE

 

 


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

This is kind of a ho-hum Blu-ray transfer - single-layered with the feature taking up less than 20 Gig with a nominal bitrate. Shot with the Red Camera first utilized on Che, it shows similar anomalies for certain natural light rendering. But while contrast may be less remarkable than we have seen from the format there are instances of extremely effective detail and good colors.  There is no real grain... or noise to inhibit. It probably looked quite similar to this theatrically - fairly bright clear and a shade glossy. This Blu-ray gave me a decent if not overwhelming viewing.

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Audio :

The Dolby TrueHD 5.1 track at 1306 kbps is less a part of the presentation being a dialogue heavy film with no excessive action sequences to separate and push effects sounds to the rear channels. It competently handles all that is thrown at it. Marvin Hamlisch's mood setting score (perfect 70's comic beats) along with the deliberate font of the locational title changes (sample above) adds some nice kitsch to the aura. There are optional DUBs and subtitles and my Momitsu has identified it as being a region FREE disc playable on Blu-ray machines worldwide.

 

 

Extras :

The commentary By Director Steven Soderbergh and Screenwriter Scott Z. Burns is very good. Burns seems to give solid input and Soderbergh gives his usual excellent information regarding production. Paired with Burns gives a great foil to the discussion talking about the transfer of the film to the screen etc. There are also 4 reasonably inconsequential, but interesting deleted scenes running 6.5 minutes in HD.

 

 

BOTTOM LINE:
There is a lot of positives here - thought-provoking, witty and amusing at the same time but some may not appreciate the humorous touches but they can tend to make the "whistle-blower" impact all the more real by distancing other impressions. Being totally dour might make it all the more forgettable - plus Soderbergh stated in the commentary he would garner direct comparisons with The Insider - which he didn't want. The Blu-ray has appeal being a superior presentation than the corresponding DVD - at $7 more - although many may be satisfied with the latter indulgence. 

Gary Tooze

February 8th, 2010

 

 

 

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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