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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

 

The Last Station [Blu-ray]

 

(Michael Hoffman, 2009)

 

 

Review by Gary Tooze

 

Production:

Theatrical: Zephyr Films

Video: Sony Pictures

 

Disc:

Region: A (B + C untested)

Runtime: 1:52:48.762 

Disc Size: 35,706,144,227 bytes

Feature Size: 28,882,882,560 bytes

Video Bitrate: 27.90 Mbps

Chapters: 16

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: June 22nd, 2010

 

Video:

Aspect ratio: 2.35:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

 

Audio:

DTS-HD Master Audio English 3869 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 3869 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)
Dolby Digital Audio English 192 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps / Dolby Surround
Dolby Digital Audio English 192 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps / Dolby Surround

 

Subtitles:

English (SDH), English, French, none

 

Extras:

• Commentary with Christopher Plummer and Helen Mirren
Commentary with Director Michael Hoffman
The Missed Station Outakes
Deleted Scenes
A Tribute to Christopher Plummer
movieIQ™+sync and BD-Live connect you to real-time information on the cast, music, trivia and more while watching the movie!

 

Bitrate:

 

 

Description: Having renounced his title and property, the great Russian writer Leo Tolstoy makes plans to donate his royalties to the Russian people, supported by his trusted disciple Chertkov. Tolstoy’s outraged wife wages a one-woman war to challenge her husband’s outrageous act of idealism.

 

 

The Film:

Leo Tolstoy wrote enormous novels that reached the very pinnacle of literary art. He was a master of both quality and quantity, which may be why “The Last Station,” a new movie about the end of Tolstoy’s life, confuses the two. You will certainly see better acting in a great many motion pictures (including from the cast of this one), but it is unlikely you will see more. To say that the actors — Helen Mirren, James McAvoy, Christopher Plummer and Paul Giamatti, among others — overdo it would be an understatement. I can’t handicap their Oscar chances, but isn’t there a scenery-eating contest every summer out on Coney Island?

 

Mr. Plummer plays Tolstoy as a kind of volatile Russian Santa Claus. When he laughs, it is a great, lusty laugh. When he shouts, it is a deep, abdominal bellow. And when he capers around his bedroom clucking like a chicken, you can be sure you are witnessing a world-historical feat of poultry impersonation. Ms. Mirren, as Sofya Tolstoy, the great man’s wife, matches Mr. Plummer howl for howl. She smashes crockery, enters rooms in a state of operatic dishevelment or regal calm and seems determined to restore literal meaning to the word henpecked. Not to be outdone, Mr. Giamatti twirls his moustache to denote his character’s villainy, and Mr. McAvoy does what he usually does, which is mime wet-eyed, stricken, lovable innocence, but this time in a more Russian way than he has before.

Excerpt from A.O. Scott at the NY Times located HERE

 


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

The Last Station doesn't look particularly striking on Blu-ray. In fact it looks quite soft although this may be an authentic representation of the film - the 1080P transfer isn't going to be demo for any system owner.  I questioned my capture method, but double checked and also suspected DNR which may have removed some of the inherent grain. I can't be positive but I think the best course of action will be to compare it to the Optimum UK edition and maybe even the DVD. It is a bit dumbfounding - more so as I kind of liked the film - especially the performances but close-ups were never as crisp as many may have anticipated. Colors shine in some scenes but overall the image exhibits a heavy, thick appearance, that while retaining a film-like look, just has no depth or crispness. We'll eventually compare the UK edition but I've heard similar complaints. The Last Station was probably shot in this manner.

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Audio :

The DTS-HD Master 5.1 at 3869 kbps is quite competent although the film doesn't have the type of aggression that might make the track more prominent. It does it's job very well - Sergei Yevtushenko's score can impress and it is rendered tightly and crisply. There are optional subtitles.

 

 

Extras :

Supplements offer some great commentary - a relaxed first with Plummer and Mirren and a second with director Michael Hoffman. Reflections of production from the performance standpoint and another, a more technical view, from the intelligent helmsman. The Missed Station Outakes had a lot of humorous missed lines etc. and there are also some Deleted Scenes, A Tribute to Christopher Plummer and the ability to watch with movieIQ™+sync and BD-Live connect you to real-time information on the cast, music, trivia and more while watching the film. A fab group of extras!

 

 

BOTTOM LINE:
The film is very good - perhaps a shade dry - but it has many positives and should have been more highly lauded in my opinion. The Blu-ray probably won't impress any adopters of the new format - in fact - they may be scratching their heads like I was. I wish I had seen this theatrically to give me a better frame of reference and the simple fact that the film has a lot to offer. McAvoy continues to impress and Plummer + Mirren volley back and forth as two of the best in their profession. I strongly recommend seeing the film but just be prepared for the Blu-ray's lack of video superlatives but the extensive extras (commentaries) do make up for it.

Gary Tooze

June 21st, 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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