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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) [Blu-ray]


(Alejandro González Iñárritu, 2014)





Review by Gary Tooze



Theatrical: New Regency

Video: Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation



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

Runtime: 2:02:49.153

Disc Size: 47,830,623,568 bytes

Feature Size: 40,266,418,176 bytes

Video Bitrate: 34.18 Mbps

Chapters: 28

Case: Red Blu-ray case inside cardboard slipcase

Release date: February 17th, 2015



Aspect ratio: 1.85:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video



DTS-HD Master Audio English 3770 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 3770 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 /
48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)
Descriptive Audio: Dolby Digital Audio English 448 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 448 kbps

Dolby Digital Audio Spanish 448 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 448 kbps
DTS Audio French 768 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 768 kbps / 24-bit
Dolby Digital Audio Portuguese 448 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 448 kbps
Dolby Digital Audio Czech 448 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 448 kbps
Dolby Digital Audio Hungarian 448 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 448 kbps
Dolby Digital Audio Polish 448 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 448 kbps
Dolby Digital Audio Turkish 448 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 448 kbps



English, Spanish, French, Dutch, Portuguese, Arabic, Bulgarian, Croatian, Czech, Greek, Hebrew, Hungarian, Icelandic, Korean, Chinese, Polish, Romanian, Serbian, Slovak, Slovenian, Turkish, none



Birdman: All Access - A View From the Wings (33:28 in 1080P)

A Conversation with Michael Keaton and Alejandro González Iñárritu (14:03 in 1080P)

Gallery of On-Set Photos





Description: A fading actor (Michael Keaton) best known for his portrayal of a popular superhero attempts to mount a comeback by appearing in a Broadway play. As opening night approaches, his attempts to become more altruistic, rebuilt his career, and reconnect with friends and family proves more difficult than expected. Lindsay Duncan, Zach Galifianakis, and Edward Norton co-star in this black comedy from Biutiful director Alejandro González Iñárritu.



The Film:

At one point during Birdman, Michael Keaton’s Riggan Thomson, a former movie star-turned-wannabe artist, deludes himself that he is his superhero persona, Birdman, skimming through the skyscrapers of New York at a dizzying speed. It’s an image that could stand for the film itself: untethered, a feel for the slightly ridiculous, completely exhilarating. Escaping the heavy gloom of 21 Grams, Babel and Biutiful, Alejandro González Iñárritu (credited here as Alejandro G. Iñárritu) has conjured up something that takes on board Huge Issues — sanity, narcissism, parenthood, marriage, creative integrity, artistic legacy — but with a directness and lightness rarely present in his back catalogue.

It could be termed this year’s Gravity, and not because they share a Mexican director and DP Emmanuel Lubezki. Like Cuarón’s film, Birdman soars on a purely cinematic imagination, defying formula, expressing ideas in completely visual ways. As an exercise in pure technique, it is daring, exacting and will leave you head-scratching in a how-did-they-pull-that-off? way. But the form always serves the substance.

Excerpt from EmpireOnline located HERE

Directed, written and produced by Alejandro González Iñárritu, BIRDMAN tells the story of Riggan Thomson (Michael Keaton), (Batman Returns, Clean and Sober) – famous for portraying an iconic superhero – as he struggles to mount a Broadway play. In the days leading up to opening night, he battles his ego and attempts to recover his family, his career, and himself. The film has enamored critics and audiences alike with its technical achievements using a single shot concept and captivating performances from an all-star ensemble cast, which include Zach Galifianakis (The Hangover, Due Date, Dinner for Schmucks), Edward Norton (The Grand Budapest Hotel, Primal Fear, American History X), Andrea Riseborough (Oblivion, Shadow Dancer), Amy Ryan (Gone Baby Gone, Win Win), Emma Stone (The Help; Crazy, Stupid, Love, The Amazing Spiderman franchise) Naomi Watts (St. Vincent, The Impossible, King Kong) as well as breath-taking cinematography from Academy Award-winner Emmanuel Lubezki.

Featured on over 168 Top Ten lists, BIRDMAN has garnered attention worldwide and has received more than 200 nominations from such esteemed groups as the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences, receiving nine Academy Award nominations, including “Best Picture,” won two Golden Globe awards (“Best Performance by an Actor,” “Best Screenplay”), recipient of the Darryl F. Zanuck, Producer of the Year Award for Best Motion Picture as well as a Screen Actors Guild award (“Best Ensemble,”) and has also been nominated for six Spirit Awards, including “Best Feature.”) BIRDMAN has also earned nods from the American Film Institute, the National Board of Review and the New York Film Critics Online.

Excerpt from the Fox Press Release HERE

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

Birdman appears as strong as you might anticipate on Blu-ray from 20th Century Fox.  The image quality looks pristine.  This is dual-layered with a max'ed out bitrate. Colors and hues are rich, deep and authentic without embellishment. It is transferred in the 1.85:1 aspect ratio. This was shot with by Emmanuel Lubezki, DoP with an Arri Alexa ('M' and XT products, 'Plus' used for the steadicam) and the camera in the film is extremely fluid, handheld steadicam shots - often going 360, with extensively long takes following the characters around. The HD has no noise or artifacts of any kind. This Blu-ray has captured the theatrical feel well. It is very artistic, bold and ambitious. The 1080P is totally flawless - representing the film as perfectly as this medium can.















Audio :

Fox use a DTS-HD Master 5.1 surround at a whopping 3770 kbps. Effects exist and often very surprising adding further to the robust punch of the track. Separations are rife. Birdman has a kind of beatnik drum score by Antonio Sanchez running through the film. The brushes sound very crisp - like they are in the room. It works very well and you can also find samplings of Mahler, Tchaikovsky, Ravel and Rachmaninoff - all sounding wonderful but the drum solos dominate. There is a 'Descriptive Audio' audio track available and many foreign-language DUBs and subtitle options. My Oppo has identified it as being a region FREE disc playable on Blu-ray machines worldwide.


Extras :

Extras include the 1/2 hour Birdman: All Access - A View From the Wings featurette with director/writer Alejandro González Iñárritu speaking to the cast/crew and a lot of interesting behind-the-scenes process. It is fairly extensive. There is also a 1/4 hour Conversation with Michael Keaton and Alejandro González Iñárritu going over some of the production minutia, opinions and emotion. Lastly we get a 'Gallery of On-Set Photos' with the option of running manually or automatically.



Birdman is marvelous although I didn't embrace it immediately. Keaton has always been an absolute favorite (Clean and Sober is one of my most-viewed films) - I don't think he has ever given a bad performance, in my eyes. This is such a great concept movie - endlessly amusing, touching, sad... I probably appreciated the darker aspects as much, or more, than the comedic ones. I was frequently reminded of Synecdoche, New York. Certainly, pure pleasure - probably my favorite viewing of the past year. Ultimately re-watchable and we can give the Fox Blu-ray our highest recommendation. I envy those who will be seeing Birdman for the first time! 

Gary Tooze

February 5th, 2015




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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