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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze


The Messenger [Blu-ray]


(Oren Moverman, 2009)



Review by Gary Tooze



Theatrical: Oscilloscope Laboratories

Video: Oscilloscope Laboratories



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

Runtime: 1:52:54.809

Disc Size: 45,101,754,693 bytes

Feature Size: 27,181,467,648 bytes

Video Bitrate: 24.61 Mbps

Chapters: 18

Case: Custom case with two slipcases and double fold out

Release date: May 18th, 2010



Aspect ratio: 2.35:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video



DTS-HD Master Audio English 2274 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 2274 kbps / 16-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 16-bit)
LPCM Audio English 1536 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1536 kbps / 16-bit
Commentary: LPCM Audio English 1536 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1536 kbps / 16-bit



English, none



• Commentary with Director/co-writer Oren Moverman, producer Lawrence Inglee and actors Ben Foster + Woody Harrelson
Going Home: Reflections From the Set (behind-the-scenes footage (11:40 in SD)
Notification: A documentary about the notification process (24:07 in SD)
Q&A with the cast and crew (27:15 in HD!)
DVD of the film and same extras plus shooting script in a PDF file

5 Oscilloscope trailers





Description: Co-written by Oren Moverman and Alessandro Camon, THE MESSENGER is a powerful and tender story about a returned war hero making his first steps toward a normal life.

In his first leading role, Foster stars as Will Montgomery, a U.S. Army officer who has just returned home from a tour in Iraq and is assigned to the Army’s Casualty Notification service. Partnered with fellow officer Tony Stone (Harrelson) to bear the bad news to the loved ones of fallen soldiers, Will faces the challenge of completing his mission while seeking to find comfort and healing back on the home front. When he finds himself drawn to Olivia (Morton), to whom he has just delivered the news of her husband's death, Will’s emotional detachment begins to dissolve and the film reveals itself as a surprising, humorous, moving and very human portrait of grief, friendship and survival.

Featuring tour-de-force performances from Foster, Harrelson and Morton, and a brilliant directorial debut by Moverman, THE MESSENGER brings us into the inner lives of these outwardly steely heroes to reveal their fragility with compassion and dignity.



The Film:

At one point in “The Messenger” a soldier, just back from an overseas tour of duty, is telling a story during a welcome-home party with some friends. It starts out as a funny reminiscence of a local character he knew in Iraq, but when the anecdote takes a gruesome turn, the laughter is replaced by uncomfortable silence. Nobody gets the point of what he’s saying, or maybe nobody wants to hear it, and the happy mood of the reunion fractures.

That soldier is not one of the main characters in this movie, Oren Moverman’s sober and satisfying drama. He disappears after that one scene, having emphasized one of the film’s central insights. The wars in Afghanistan and Iraq have created a fissure in American society, a split that is not political but rather experiential — between the people who have been directly affected and those who have not.

This divide is perhaps most painful when it splits lovers, friends and close family members. But as “The Messenger” demonstrates with sensitive acuity, it is not necessarily a clear and simple line, and people who seem to live on the same side — servicemen on duty together, a veteran and a widow, a husband and a wife — can find themselves estranged and unable to communicate what they have in common.

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 Messenger has a very impressive transfer to Blu-ray. Detail is highly remarkable and it exhibits depth at times. This is dual-layered with a soft palette color scheme perhaps reflecting the battle fatigues often worn. The image is slightly blue-green.  Everything seems superior than, the included, SD-DVD can relate with a fine sheen of textured grain giving the image some substance. There are pragmatic touches that keep the production appearing more limited but the transfer quality is superb. It produces a solid presentation.
















Audio :

The DTS-HD Master 5.1 at 2274 kbps isn't a barn-burner but to be fair the film hardly exports extended separations. This is mostly, front channel, dialogue driven with some scattered effect noises that aren't really aggressive. The Messenger leans to more of a performance piece and hence is certainly not in the action genre so don't expect any dramatic depth or range from the inherent track. Conversations can be slightly scattered reinforcing the vérité feel of the film. There is also a lossless 2.0 stereo channel track available that should also suffice for most. Dialogue is clear enough but there are optional English subtitles for those who might require it and my Momitsu has identified it as being a region FREE disc playable on Blu-ray machines worldwide.



Extras :

Oscilloscope Laboratories have added some solid supplements with a decent-to-strong commentary with director/co-writer Oren Moverman, producer Lawrence Inglee and actors Ben Foster + Woody Harrelson. We are told when the improvised lines are and the actors give input about prep for certain scenes. Short segments are allowed for the film to run - overall it is a bit sedate but worth the extra spin and its inclusion is appreciated. We get the 25-minute short documentary Notification - the last work by the late Joe Kelly. It explores people on both sides of the causality notification process. It is stated that Joe was a member of The Messenger family and I found this short work as a great companion piece to the feature film. Going Home: Reflections From the Set has brief interviews with behind-the-scenes footage and lasts just over 10-minutes. In HD is a Variety Screening Series Q&A with the cast and crew just shy of 1/2 an hour. There is an enclosed SD-DVD in the package which has the film and same extras and adds on the shooting script in a PDF file. Lastly there are 5 Oscilloscope trailers. The cardboard package is quite extensive - perhaps more so than it needed to be and many might have preferred the standard Blu-ray case.



This is a very good film that gives the impression of trying a bit too hard to appear limited in it's production - although from the commentary we know much of this is absolutely genuine. It's heavily performance driven and Foster and Harrelson are gripping with frequent tension as well as camaraderie in their relationship. If you are in the mood this can really be a satisfying drama exploring many emotions for the, less explored, topic. Oscilloscope have given the film its due with a near perfect
Blu-ray presentation and worthy extras. It supports the film in the best way for your home theater enjoyment. I think this is a film worthy of repeat viewings - it is simply layered with its humanity shining through as a strong consideration. I had a rewarding viewing and definitely recommend.  

Gary Tooze

May 1st, 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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