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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

 

The Road [Blu-ray]

 

(John Hillcoat, 2009)

 

 

Review by Gary Tooze

 

Production:

Theatrical: Dimension Films

Video: Sony Pictures

 

Disc:

Region: 'A'-locked (as verified by the Momitsu region FREE Blu-ray player)

Runtime: 1:51:20.715

Disc Size: 33,699,554,294 bytes

Feature Size: 29,065,445,376 bytes

Video Bitrate: 28.97 Mbps

Chapters: 16

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: May 25th, 2010

 

Video:

Aspect ratio: 2.35:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

 

Audio:

DTS-HD Master Audio English 3761 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 3761 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 / DN -4dB

 

Subtitles:

English (SDH), English, none

 

Extras:

BD Exclusive: movieIQ+sync™ and BD-Live connect you to real-time information on the cast, music, trivia and more while watching the movie!
Director John Hillcoat Commentary with optional English subtitles
• Five Deleted and Extended Scenes (6:37 in SD)
The Making of The Road (13:47 in SD)
Theatrical Trailer #1
Theatrical Trailer #2

7 Previews

 

Bitrate:

 

 

Description: From Cormac McCarthy, author of No Country For Old Men, comes the highly anticipated big screen adaptation of the beloved, best-selling and Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, The Road. An all-star cast are featured in this epic post-apocalyptic tale of the survival of a father and his young son as they journey across a barren America that was destroyed by a mysterious cataclysm. A masterpiece adventure, The Road boldly imagines a future in which men are pushed to the worst and the best that they are capable of - a future in which a father and his son are sustained by love.

 

 

The Film:

How could the director and writer, John Hillcoat and Joe Penhall, have summoned the strength of McCarthy's writing? Could they have used more stylized visuals, instead of relentless realism? A grainy black-and-white look to suggest severely limited resources? I have no idea. Perhaps McCarthy, like Faulkner, is all but unfilmable.

The one great film of his work is the Coens' "No Country for Old Men," but it began with an extraordinary character and surrounded him with others. The Road is not fertile soil, providing a world with life draining from it. McCarthy's greatest novels are Suttree and Blood Meridian. The second, set in the Old West, is about a fearsome, bald, skeletal man named Judge Holden, who is implacable in his desire to inflict suffering and death. ("Blood Meridian" is being prepared by Todd Field, director of "In the Bedroom.")

 

Hillcoat's earlier film, "The Proposition" (2005), written by Nick Cave, seems almost McCarthy-like. Something in McCarthy's work draws Hillcoat to it, and you must be a brave director to let that happen. Writing this, I realize few audience members can be expected to have read The Road, even though it was a selection of Oprah's Book Club. Fewer still will have read McCarthy's other works.

I've been saying for years that a film critic must review the film before him, and not how "faithful" the film is to the book -- as if we're married to the book, and somehow screen adaptation is adultery. I realize my own fault is in being so very familiar with Cormac McCarthy. That may affect my ability to view any film adaptation of his work afresh. When I know a novel is bring filmed, I make it a point to not read the book. Yet I am grateful for having read McCarthy's.

Excerpt from Roger Ebert at the Chicago Sun-Times located HERE

 


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

The Road perpetuates itself with a fairly drab look with plenty of earthy browns and unresponsive grays. This is intentional instilling a rather hopeless and foreboding atmosphere in an attempt to replicate the aura of the McCarthy book in which it is based. It works just fine on Blu-ray and Sony have given us a dual-layered transfer with a reasonably high bitrate. The image quality shows some grit and minor grain. The infrequent color splashes - usually in flashback dreams - look all that more impressive by comparison.  Contrast exhibits consistently strong black levels and I'm thankful there doesn't appear to be any boosting or DNR. There are a lot of dark scenes. This Blu-ray while not aspiring to the high levels of the format's more impressive capabilities - does, from all I can gather, replicate The Road's original and intended appearance extremely well.

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Audio :

There is an excellent DTS-HD Master 5.1 at 3761 kbps. Like the video it rarely tests your system's capabilities but seems supportive of the film narrative. There are some bare separations, although not extensive, with an occasional gunshot, natural phenomenon (fire, water, rain, earthquakes etc.) rumbling in your subwoofer but it's a dialogue, which is sparse (an appropriate word to describe the proceedings), that takes a bigger role than effect sounds. The score has mellow moments that generally don't come into, noticeable, play much - which is often what you want from film music. There are optional English subtitles and my Momitsu has identified it as being a region 'A'-locked but available in 'B' (UK link above and below).

 

 

Extras :

We get a commentary from director John Hillcoat (it offers optional English subtitles although his Aussie accent is not difficult) and he admits from the start that he is winging it - but he does a good job. He comes across as intelligent as he did with Nick Cave on The Proposition commentary. Decent points of production and details are brought up and I was never board. It's worth the spin. Included are five deleted and extended scenes running less than 7-minutes but they too were interesting although their exclusion seems appropriate. Lastly there is a 15-minute generic Making of... with soundbyte input from Viggo Mortensen, producer Nick Wechsler and more from Hillcoat. Those features are in SD only and there are two trailers and some previews. Ohhh... untested at the time of review is the BD Exclusive: movieIQ+sync™ and BD-Live connect you to real-time information on the cast, music, trivia and more while watching the movie! Active next week I presume!

 

 

BOTTOM LINE:
I had a strongly positive reaction to this film. I thoroughly enjoyed my viewing and wish I could do it all over again for the first time. I like Mortensen a lot - I think he's great - and Hillcoat (The Proposition) is climbing the ranks as one of my favorite modern directors. I want to say this is an apocalypse film, which I always love, but it's not really - it is a declaration of a father's love for his son with some inherent, and surprising, depth. The Blu-ray won't blow your socks off - the film's visuals or audio were not meant to do that - but they do create a viably strong atmosphere which is a big part of the presentation. Prepare that there are some harsh topics dealt with here but this film has one of our highest recommendations! 

Gary Tooze

May 17th, 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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