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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

Under the Skin [Blu-ray]


(Jonathan Glazer, 2013)



Coming out on Blu-ray in the UK via Studio Canal (one day before the US release):


Review by Gary Tooze



Theatrical: Film4 and British Film Institute (BFI)

Video: Lions Gate



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

Runtime: 1:48:16.323

Disc Size: 24,864,669,622 bytes

Feature Size: 18,187,481,088 bytes

Video Bitrate: 17.98 Mbps

Chapters: 16

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: July 15th, 2014



Aspect ratio: 1.85:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video



DTS-HD Master Audio English 3150 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 3150 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)



English (SDH), English, Spanish, none



• 10 Production Featurettes - Camera, Casting, Editing etc. (42:23)

• Previews (12:12)

• Bookmarkable





Description: An alien assumes the form of an alluring female (Scarlett Johansson) and prowls the streets of Scotland, leading lonely and unsuspecting men to their doom in director Jonathan Glazer's surreal adaptation of Michel Faber's genre-bending novel of the same name.



The Film:

Scarlett Johansson as an extraterrestrial femme fatale cruising the streets of Glasgow in Jonathan Glazer’s cerebral sci-fi horror fantasy “Under the Skin” is an indelible personification of predatory allure. Wearing a dark wig and a fake-fur jacket, her character, an alien with a sinister agenda, is as fetishized an object of desire as Marlene Dietrich admired through the lens of Josef von Sternberg. You may also think of Ava Gardner, as perfect a female specimen as Hollywood ever produced, coldly working her wiles.

Ms. Johansson’s luscious, cherry-red lips, onto which she is shown daubing deeper shades of crimson, seem to have an extra cushion of softness. In “Under the Skin,” it is as if the voice of Samantha — the operating system Ms. Johansson voiced in “Her” — has taken human form. But instead of a seemingly empathetic cyberfriend, she turns out to be a heartless humanoid temptress from outer space.

Excerpt from NY Times located HERE

Johansson delivers a career best performance as the alien seductress - with her cool, blank expression and air of chilling detachment, she is nothing less than astonishing (even the middle-class London accent she adopts is excellent). It's an extraordinary piece of work, haunting, entrancing and utterly convincing - she's even more alien than David Bowie, in The Man Who Fell To Earth, her nearest cinematic equivalent (well, next to Natasha Henstridge in Species).

Glazer's script removes some of the context from the novel, leaving the alien's motivations all the more frightening for being deliberately unexplained. Similarly, the relative lack of dialogue leaves the audience clinging to every flicker of movement on Johansson's face as a clue to what might be going on; a disorienting experience that is deeply strange and unsettling, most notably in a scene shot on the beach with the alien blankly ignoring the cries of a baby whose parent has been swept out to sea after trying to rescue a dog.

Excerpt from Matthew Turner View London located HERE


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

Under the Skin is released on Blu-ray from Lions Gate (also coming out by Studio Canal in Region 'B').  The video portion seems a little technically under-whelming being single-layered with a low bitrate. I suspect it was shot on HD (but printed to 35mm). Anyway, it looks fine. There are a lot of impressive visual effects and much of the film is very dark. I didn't see a hint of noise and the contrast was adept.  The image carried some depth and the Scottish countryside sequences are very pleasing.  Scarlett looks... head-turning - she's great by the way. The 1080P presentation is as pristinely clean as you might anticipate. I may compare the UK Blu-ray one day. The film has so much to offer visually which really demands this higher video resolution format, however the audio transfer really blew me away.
















Audio :

Audio is more than half the film experience, IMO and the DTS-HD Master 5.1 surround track at a healthy 3150 kbps sounds amazingly intense at times, rich, crisp and constantly evocative. The score is by Mica Levi (her only film composer credit to date), also known as "Micachu" - augmented by performances by Deacon Blue, Darude and Soundtree. This is quite unique and adds a dramatic expression to the film presentation. The lossless sounds amazing at times and handles the film's enigmatic rhythms with grace exporting epic and encompassing audio. There are optional English and Spanish subtitles on the region 'A' Blu-ray disc.


Extras :

There are ten separate 'Production-related' featurettes with topics like 'Camera', 'Casting', 'Editing' etc. It has some the the filmmakers and crew supplying information. It runs almost 45-minute and is detailed giving a sense of where the energy was spent in creating the film. There are also over a dozen minutes of previews to skip through before starting the feature and the BD disc is 'book-markable'. A commentary might be too much as it is not a film to dissect - as it really relies on your own interpretations, although we'd all love to know the director's intentions.



W.O.W. I've watched Under the Skin three times now. And I really don't know what to say. I was getting vibes of Kubrick and... I found it appealing as it is a film deeply connected in its sound and it's score. And telling, or rather 'not telling' but hinting, at its story visually. The Lions Gate Blu-ray may be a little technically underwhelming, but this is really all about the film. This is, definitely, not cinema to all tastes. It's about as weird a film as I have seen in years. So if you want something that will make you think, perhaps confuse you, leave you with more questions than answer but will also keep your senses stimulated - Under the Skin is quite the experience.


P.S. Please don't send me email that you hated it and didn't understand it. Maybe just re-watch it. 

Gary Tooze

July 6th, 2014


Coming out on Blu-ray in the UK via Studio Canal (one day before the US release):


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.

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Gary W. Tooze






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