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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

Erin Brockovich [Blu-ray]

 

(Steven Soderbergh, 2000)

 

 

Review by Gary Tooze

 

Production:

Theatrical: Universal Pictures / Columbia

Video: Universal

 

Disc:

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

Runtime: 2:11:17.286

Disc Size: 43,923,090,776 bytes

Feature Size: 37,102,098,432 bytes

Video Bitrate: 31.38 Mbps

Chapters: 44

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: May 6th, 2014

 

Video:

Aspect ratio: 1.85:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: VC-1 Video

 

Audio:

DTS-HD Master Audio English 2630 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 2630 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)
DUBs:

DTS Audio Spanish 768 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 768 kbps / 24-bit
DTS Audio French 768 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 768 kbps / 24-bit

 

Subtitles:

English (SDH), English, Spanish, French, none

 

Extras:

• Digital Copy of Erin Brockovich (Subject to expiration. Go to NBCUCodes.com for details.)
Includes UltraViolet (Subject to expiration. Go to NBCUCodes.com for details.)
Deleted Scenes (30:07 with optional commentary)
Erin Brockovich: A Look at a Real Life Experience (3:58)
Spotlight on Location: The Making of Erin Brockovich (15:12)
Theatrical Trailer (2:33)
100 Years of Universal: Academy Award Winners (9:35)
100 Years of Universal: The Lot (9:26)
My Scenes
BD-Live
pocket BLU App

 

Bitrate:

 

 

Description: Julia Roberts stars in this legal drama based on the true story of a woman who helped win the largest settlement ever paid in a direct-action lawsuit. Erin Brockovich (Roberts) is a single mother of three who, after losing a personal injury lawsuit, asks her lawyer, Ed Masry (Albert Finney), if he can help her find a job. Ed gives her work as a file clerk in his office, and she runs across some information on a little-known case filed against Pacific Gas and Electric. Erin begins digging into the particulars of the case, convinced that the facts simply don't add up, and persuades Ed to allow her to do further research; in time, she discovers a systematic cover-up of the industrial poisoning of a city's water supply, which threatens the health of the entire community. Erin Brockovich was directed by Steven Soderbergh; Julia Roberts earned a $20 million payday for her work on the film, the highest salary paid to a female film star up to that time.

 

 

The Film:

Being the true story of a struggling single mother's exposé of a water poisoning case, implicating the giant utility Pacific Gas and Electric, the film has obvious antecedents in the likes of The Rainmaker and A Civil Action. As with Out of Sight and The Limey, though, the pleasure of Soderbergh's approach lies not in the familiarity of the storyline, but in his fresh, intelligent reconstruction of it. Where the film differs from, and marks a maturation on, his earlier work is in its humanist rather than formalist inclinations: while the glowing cinematography and bluesy soundtrack maintain the sheen of the previous films, the focus here is on Erin (Roberts, in her best performance to date) and her relations with her family, lover (Eckhart), colleagues and some of the plaintiffs whose cause she trumpets. It's a credible, magnificent characterisation. As the brisk, concise storytelling excises the fat, so Erin cuts through the crap. The film steers past every potential cliché, finally redeeming not only Erin but the true life genre. Perhaps not as purely enjoyable as the director's last two films, but a deeply satisfying achievement.

Excerpt from TimeOut located HERE

There's also room in Erin Brockovich for fine acting in minor roles, including Marg Helgenberger and Cherry Jones as Hinkley women with whom Erin bonds and Tracey Walter as a slightly creepy local man who seems to be stalking her (but who, of course, holds a valuable secret). Albert Finney's Ed is another of the actor's familiar cantankerous types, mannerisms and accent apparently borrowed from W. C. Fields. Jamie Harrold offers an amusing shtick as a water-board clerk smitten by Erin; Peter Coyote is less fortunate with the generic role of a hotshot lawyer, one of the script's few weak links. Perhaps the best thing about this relaxed and supremely engaging film (for my money the best work either the director or his star has ever done) is that even its near-fairytale resolution doesn't offer a magical transformation. When we leave Erin, she is far richer and more successful than when we found her, but she's just as highly-strung and nearly as neurotic. Like the people of Hinkley, she isn't free from the consequences of American life, but she has done what she can to take control of her little piece of it.

Excerpt from BFI located HERE

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

Erin Brockovich has heavy edge-enhancement on Blu-ray from Universal. It appears to be high-frequency and reminded me of how extensive it was on the same studio's Tremors Blu-ray. It really tends to flatten the image making characters (Albert Finney in capture 4 and Peter Coyote in capture 16) look like cardboard cut-outs. The 'golden-yellow-green' hue is still prevalent for a lot of the darker and indoor sequences. It seems unusual to have so much manipulation added to the visuals - it has robbed the film of its textures. I didn't find it consistent throughout. It is in the original 1.85:1 aspect ratio and colors and flesh tones, seem true. Like the previous HD-DVD - this uses the VC-1 encode.

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Audio :

Universal add a DTS-HD Master 5.1 surround track at 2630 kbps. There aren't an abundance of effects but some minor separation is notable. Thomas Newman (In the Bedroom, American Beauty, Shawshank Redemption) does the score and it sounds very crisp in the lossless. We also get a couple of Sheryl Crow tunes (Redemption Day, Everyday Is a Winding Road) adding some natural flavor to the film. Everything sounds very good. There are optional subtitles and my Oppo has identified it as being a region FREE disc playable on Blu-ray machines worldwide.

 

Extras :

The supplements appear to duplicate the HD-DVD with 1/2-hours worth of Deleted Scenes with optional commentary. There is also a 4-minute piece with the real protagonist - Erin Brockovich: A Look at a Real Life Experience and a generic Spotlight on Location: The Making of Erin Brockovich for about 15-minutes. Then there are the usual trailers and Blu-ray bells and whistles (Digital Copy, UltraViolet, My Scenes ability, BD-Live and pocket BLU App).

 

 

BOTTOM LINE:
Hard to deny Julia Roberts' camera magnetism. She frequently reminds me of Audrey Hepburn. Erin Brockovich is an entraining film and so much of that goes to Roberts although the supporting cast are strong. I so surprised at the level of digital manipulation on the Blu-ray... especially for such a, relatively, recent film. I suspect those keen on this brand of Hollywood cinema might be less-scrutinizing about the image. Anyway, you have been forewarned.   

Gary Tooze

May 5th, 2014

 


 

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 5000 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.

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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