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H D - S E N S E I

A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

Prisoners [Blu-ray]


(Denis Villeneuve, 2013)





Review by Gary Tooze



Theatrical: Warner

Video: Warner Studios



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

Runtime: 2:33:11.390

Disc Size: 32,490,472,583 bytes

Feature Size: 29,908,961,280 bytes

Video Bitrate: 19.86 Mbps

Chapters: 16

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: December 17th, 2013



Aspect ratio: 1.78:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video



DTS-HD Master Audio English 3332 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 3332 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)

Dolby Digital Audio French 640 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 640 kbps / DN -4dB
Dolby Digital Audio Spanish 640 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 640 kbps / DN -4dB



English (SDH), French, Spanish, none



• Behind the Scenes - Prisoners: Every Moment Matters (3:05)

Behind the Scenes - Prisoners: Powerful Performances (9:24)

DVD with UltraViolet code





Description: A small-town carpenter turns vigilante in order to rescue his abducted daughter and her best friend in this thriller starring Hugh Jackman and Jake Gyllenhaal. Six-year-old Anna and her friend Joy have vanished on Thanksgiving without a trace. Devastated, Anna's father Keller Jackman makes note of a run-down RV that had been parked on their street at the exact time the girls went missing. When the driver, Alex Jones Paul Dano is swiftly arrested by Detective Loki Gyllenhaal, it starts to look like the lead will pay off. Alex, however, is quickly released due to lack of evidence, sending Keller into a frenzy as he realizes that if Anna isn't found soon, odds are she never will be. Knowing that time is not on his side, and ignoring Detective Loki's pleas to leave the case to the pros, Keller risks sacrificing his own freedom in a bid to locate the girls before it's too late. Melissa Leo, Maria Bello, Terrence Howard, and Viola Davis co-star.



The Film:

No one is likely to miss echoes of the “enhanced interrogation” justifications used by the Bush administration to defend the torture of prisoners. But screenwriter Aaron Guzikowski has upped the ugly ante in the ethical conundrum: First, would you torture a suspect if it meant saving your child? And second, would you torture a suspect who is himself, in a sense, a child?

Amid the trauma of losing a child, the Dovers’ domestic bonds strain: Grace dopes herself with pills, while Keller takes up the bottle he put down nine years before. The Birch family fades into the background after expressing their repulsion for, and unwillingness to stop, Keller’s scheme.

The second, more commercial, strand of Prisoners is a thriller. Villeneuve and his ace team – including the Coen brothers’ cinematographer, Roger Deakins, and Clint Eastwood’s editors, Joel Cox and Gary Roach – provide the rich visual texture and pace to slide us effortlessly through this slippery dark world, past the plot holes and red herrings, into a dream world.

This part of the movie belongs to Jake Gyllenhaal, playing a gaunt loner with a mythological name, Detective Loki, who has a compulsive blink and a creepy neck tattoo. We first meet him at a Chinese restaurant, having Thanksgiving dinner alone and trying to flirt with a waitress, when the call comes through about the missing children. It’s his character’s function to lead us through the grisly puzzle of a serial killer’s plot. When Alex disappears, Loki is not only trying to find the missing girls, but the former suspect as well. Keller and Loki meet, confront each other, and crisscross each other’s paths as they circle around the mystery.

Excerpt from the Globe and Mail located HERE


Barring a truly phenomenal fourth quarter, it's hard to imagine Prisoners not being one of the titles among the Best Picture nominees. As mystery/thrillers go, this one falls into the "prestige" area. The screenplay is smart, the execution is impeccable, and the holes are few and far between. Best of all, it lacks the cookie-cutter element that infects too many of these movies. Although I figured out the puzzle before its explicit reveal, I didn't put the final piece into place until shortly before that moment. It's rare that a movie keeps me guessing that long.

As satisfying as Prisoners is from a mystery standpoint, some will find it tough going. The subject matter - child abduction and possible child murder and/or abuse - will make some viewers uncomfortable to the point where they may not be able to watch the entire thing. There are no graphic scenes of child mistreatment but the importance of the topic to the narrative may be upsetting for some viewers. Prisoners isn't a "feel good" experience. It's dark, straying into the territory where David Fincher enjoys spinning his yarns. The presence of Jake Gyllenhaal creates unintentional echoes of Zodiac.

Excerpt from James Berardinelli located HERE

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

Prisoners looks sweet on Blu-ray from Warner.  The 1080P resolution deftly supports Roger Deakins' wonderful, voyeuristic, cinematography.  This is dual-layered for the, over 2.5 hour film.  Prisoners is a dark film - frequently shot at dusk in rainy locales. When splashes of color do hit the screen - they are bright and intense. Detail and contrast are at a very high level. This Blu-ray looks like it is a strong replication of the theatrical appearance. This is transferred in 1.78:1 and exhibits frequently depth - especially in the day-lit sequences - and there is no visible noise.















Audio :

It's a great audio track - a DTS-HD Master 5.1 surround at a healthy 3332 kbps. It packs a punch with some snappy effects and moody score composed by Jˇhann Jˇhannsson. It exports both range in some subtleties (plenty of rain) and some rich, atmospheric depth. There are two foreign-language DUBs in Dolby, optimal subtitles and my Oppo has identified it as being a region FREE disc playable on Blu-ray machines worldwide.




Extras :

The supplements offer only 2, shortish, generic video extras. Prisoners - Every Moment Matters runs 3 minutes and has Hugh Jackman and Jake Gyllenhaal exploring the tense relationship between Keller and Loki. Prisoners - Powerful Performances is 9.5 minutes and has snippets from the strong cast and director. The package also contains a DVD with UltraViolet code for digital download.



Prisoners affected me more than any film I have seen in at least a year. Aaron Guzikowski's script stirs a philosophical debate - one I cannot deny siding with Keller Dover's actions if I was honest - and faced with the same situation. Child abduction is the ultimate devastation - society's most reprehensible crime. I have seen the film twice and now, and if anything, the impact was even more eviscerating. This may not be a masterpiece, but it challenges - in uncomfortable way - and is brilliantly acted on all fronts - Hugh Jackman, Jake Gyllenhaal and the supporting parts (what about Melissa Leo!). I was really blown away by Prisoners and can fully endorse the Warner Blu-ray as a terrific way to view the film in your home theater. See this one

Gary Tooze

May 16th, 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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