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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze


Animal Kingdom [Blu-ray]


(David Mich˘d, 2010)



Review by Gary Tooze



Theatrical: Porchlight Films

Video: Sony Classic Pictures



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

Runtime: 1:53:10.784

Disc Size: 40,841,035,832 bytes

Feature Size: 22,971,439,104 bytes

Video Bitrate: 21.96 Mbps

Chapters: 16

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: January 18th, 2011



Aspect ratio: 2.35:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video



DTS-HD Master Audio English 3313 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 3313 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



English (SDH), English, Spanish, none



• Audio commentary with director David Mich˘d
Creating Animal Kingdom (1:11:25 in 1080i)
Q&A with director David Mich˘d and actors Jacki Weaver and James Frecheville (33:53 in SD)

Theatrical Trailer (2:02 in HD!)

• Multiple Previews in HD!





Description: Despite being no saint herself, Julia Cody has shielded her seventeen year old son, Joshua 'J' Cody, from her Melbourne-based criminal relatives who they have not seen in years. After Julia dies in front of J's eyes from a self-inflicted heroin overdose, J, who is slightly detached from life, feels he has no choice but to contact his maternal grandmother, Janine 'Smurf' Cody, the family matriarch, for a place to live. Smurf rules the family with a borderline incestuous love over her three sons, the quietly menacing Andrew 'Pope' Cody, the hyperactive Craig Cody, and the barely of age Darren Cody. Pope and his best friend, Barry 'Baz' Brown, are armed robbers, with Darren their up and coming apprentice, while Craig is a mid level drug dealer. Melbourne's Armed Robbery Squad is after specifically Pope, who is hiding out. But when the standoff between the Codys and the Armed Robbery Squad is brought up a notch, an all out war ensues, with some casualties and J caught in the middle. The only grounding in J's life is his girlfriend, Nicky Henry. With those casualties comes an investigation by Homicide Detective Senior Sergeant Nathan Leckie, who knows the Codys are involved in some of those deaths. As Leckie tries to get J on his side, J has to figure out how best to get himself out from the middle, where he trusts neither side. J also wants to figure out how to exact what he considers justice in an all around bad situation.


Welcome to the Melbourne underworld. It's the Wild West, played out on the city's streets. Armed robber Pope Cody is... on the run from a gang of renegade detectives who want him dead. His business partner and best friend, Barry "Baz" Brown. wants out of the game. Pope's younger brother Craig Cody is making a fortune in the illicit substances trade, whilst the youngest Cody brother, Darren, naively navigates his way through this criminal world -- the only world his family has ever known. And into this world arrives their nephew, Joshua "J" Cody, who comes to believe that he is a player in this world. But, as he soon discovers, this world is far larger and more menacing than he could ever imagine.



The Film:

With a bleached-blond mane, a glittering blue-eyed stare and a ferocious smile, Smurf Cody (Jacki Weaver) is the mama lion to a criminal brood of armed robbers and drug dealers in the mostly terrific Australian gangster film “Animal Kingdom.” The opening images of the movie, the directorial and screenwriting debut of David Mich˘d, are statues and drawings of lions. Although the Codys live in bland-looking suburban Melbourne, it might as well be the jungle, for all they care about law and order.


With the exception of J Cody, the 17-year-old stray cub who narrates the story several years after the fact, the family is a clan of sociopaths engaged in a deadly war with Melbourne’s out-of-control armed-robbery squad. J (James Frecheville) is thrown into the lion’s den when he goes to live with Smurf and her three sons, Darren (Luke Ford), Craig (Sullivan Stapleton) and Pope (Ben Mendelsohn), after J’s mother dies from a heroin overdose.

Excerpt from Stephen Holden at the NY Times located HERE

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

Animal Kingdom has a gritty, thick appearance that translates well on the Blu-ray from Sony. The textures are evident throughout and it does create some minor noise in the darker sequences. Nothing is glossy or dynamically crisp - which is the intentional appearance. It probably looked quite similar to this theatrically. There is an Australian Blu-ray in existence but we don't own to compare, but I doubt there are significant image quality differences. This is a dual-layered transfer with a modest bitrate. Detail is supported but it never stands out as a notable part of the visuals. Colors appear realistic (maybe some blue bias) without false enhancement and there is some depth. So, aside from some minor noise this Blu-ray reports the film's 'look' faithfully. By modern standards this is fairly tame visually but as a representation of the original - I doubt it could be much more accurate. This Blu-ray is consistent which contributes to the heavier vÚritÚ aura.





Commentary Subtitle sample













Audio :

A potent DTS-HD Master 5.1 track at 3313 kbps is part of the presentation. There is not as much aggression in the film's audio as you might expect - but when there is the track responds intensely. There is a segment where a rifle is being tested near an open field and the resulting punch is like a canon. There is appropriate depth and this lossless rendering responds well with some adroit if not abundant separations. There are subtitle offered for both the feature and the commentary track (Aussie accent is nor overpowering) and my Momitsu has identified it as being a region 'A'-locked disc.


Extras :

This was the debut feature-length film for writer/director David Mich˘d who supplies a decent if occasionally awkward commentary. He informs of detailed information on many aspects that only someone in his position would be privy to. It's nicely paced and those keen on some of the production nuances of Animal Kingdom may find the indulgence rewarding. An extensive supplement feature Creating Animal Kingdom runs almost 1 1/4 hour (in 1080i) and has input from the production crew, filmmakers and the cast with interviews and behind-the-scenes footage, rehearsals, auditions and more. It covers many areas with specific chapters devoted to each production topic and fills in further gaps not covered in Mich˘d's commentary. As well as a theatrical trailer and many previews in HD we get a kind of ad-ho 1/2 hour Q&A with director Mich˘d and actors Jacki Weaver and James Frecheville recorded at the Los Angeles Film Festival.



Animal Kingdom is a highly lauded Australian film receiving a massive 17 AFI (Australian Film Institute) award nominations. It's an extremely well-written and precisely thought-out story akin to a grassroots Godfather
. There is intelligent pacing and the films carries a kind of haunting, intense, suspense through the characters. The Blu-ray does its job as well as can be expected and the extras are substantial with the commentary and long 'Making of...' featurette. I strongly recommend seeing Animal Kingdom and the  Blu-ray seems the absolute best way you are likely to find outside of catching it in a Festival.

Gary Tooze

January 10th, 2011




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