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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

Maps to the Stars [Blu-ray]


(David Cronenberg, 2014)


US Release out in April 2015 by Universal:


Review by Gary Tooze



Theatrical: Prospero Pictures

Video: Entertainment One



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

Runtime: 1:51:44.030

Disc Size: 40,965,531,849 bytes

Feature Size: 31,000,510,464 bytes

Video Bitrate: 29.56 Mbps

Chapters: 16

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: February 2nd, 2015



Aspect ratio: 1.85:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video



DTS-HD Master Audio English 3248 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 3248 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)

DTS-HD Master Audio English 2059 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 2059 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)



English (SDH), none



Audio commentary with screenwriter Bruce Wagner
Interviews with Cast and Crew:

Julianne Moore (3:48)
Mia Wasikowska (2:32)
Olivia Williams (3:41)
Evan Bird (2:09)
John Cusack (3:37)
Robert Pattinson (3:17)
David Cronenberg (director) (6:10)

• Bruce Wagner (screenwriter) (4:12)

Martin  Katz (producer) (3:30)

Additional Cast and Crew Interviews (1:39)

• On the Red Carpet (2:13)





Description: The Weiss family are an archetypical Hollywood dynasty - Dr Stafford Weiss (John Cusack) is a psychotherapist whose self-help books have made him a fortune. His wife Cristina (Olivia Williams) is the overbearing mom-ager of their thirteen-year old son, Benjie, a prodigious child star fresh out of drug rehab, and their estranged daughter Agatha (Mia Wasikowska) has recently been released from a psychiatric hospital.

Agatha is now back in Hollywood making friends with a wannabe actor named Jerome (Robert Pattinson), and has landed a new job as PA to one of Stafford’s clients - the neurotic and tempestuous actress Havana Segrand (Julianne Moore), whose dream of reprising her dead mother’s starring role from the 1960s is beginning to haunt her.



The Film:

A Hollywood family with some explosive secrets finds their perfect world unraveling in this satire from director David Cronenberg and writer Bruce Wagner. His wildly popular "Hour of Personal Power" TV program having earned him loyal following among the Hollywood elite, self-help guru Stafford Weiss (John Cusack) caters to his high-powered clientele as his wife Cristina (Olivia Williams) manages the career of their 13-year-old son Benjie (Evan Bird), a former child-star who's just returned home following a stint in rehab. Meanwhile, determined to start over after being released from a psychiatric hospital, burn-scarred Agatha Weiss (Mia Wasikowska) arrives in L.A. and strikes up a friendship with a local limo driver (Robert Pattinson) before landing a job as personal assistant to Havana Segrand (Julianne Moore), an aging Hollywood starlet whose career seems to be on the downturn. As a major motion picture about her celebrated mother Clarice (Sarah Gadon) goes into production, Havana comes undone by the realization that she may never emerge from her mother's formidable shadow. Subsequently adrift in a world of excess and artifice, Agatha seeks the one thing that could still give her life true meaning - redemption. Little does Agatha realize, in this town any attempt at achieving real substance leaves you dangerously exposed to the circling sharks who value self-preservation above all else.

Excerpt from MRQE located HERE

The creepiest haunted Hollywood movie since Mulholland Drive, David Cronenberg’s Maps to the Stars is working an even deeper graveyard groove than David Lynch did. Where Lynch’s 2001 Tinseltown takedown was a nasty noir bathed in shadows and evil portent, Cronenberg’s vision is as bright as a sunlamp, sterile as an operating theatre and still as a morgue. Everyone there seems already dead or well on their way, which means those who actually do die in the movie might be the lucky ones. Anything beats “living” here.

Based on an original script by novelist Bruce Wagner (I’m Losing You), Maps to the Stars tracks the arrival in Hollywood of a starstruck young woman named Agatha (Mia Wasikowska), who rolls off the bus from Jupiter, Fla., and right into Robert Pattinson’s limo. (When last seen in a Cronenberg movie – Cosmopolis – Pattinson was also in a limo, but this time he’s driving.) She wants to see the stars’ homes, but her intentions are more ambitious than snapping off a few selfies. Agatha’s got designs on this town and some particular people within it, and her arrival sets off a chain reaction of dread and panic that brings secrets bubbling to the surface of the movie’s many recurring water reservoirs: pools, baths, sinks and even toilets.

Excerpt from The Globe and Mail located HERE


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

Maps to the Stars gets an impressive transfer to Blu-ray from Entertainment One out of the UK.  It's dual-layered with a strong bitrate for, almost 2-hour, feature. Colors are tight and truer than SD could relate and contrast exhibiting healthy, rich black levels. There is some depth in the 1.85:1 frame.  It's pristinely clean showcasing some hi-def detail and there is no noise or any distractions to the 1080P crispness. This Blu-ray probably looks like exactly the theatrical version of the film Maps to the Stars. It seems devoid of imperfections of any kind.

















Audio :

EOne add a very competent DTS-HD Master 5.1 surround at a healthy 3248 kbps. The film does not have much defining separation but what is there is handled easily by the transfer. The score is by Howard Shore (Cronenberg's Scanners and Dead Ringers, Tim Burton's Ed Wood, Fincher's The Game and Se7en) and sounds subtle but supportive. There are optional English subtitles (see sample above) and my Oppo has identified it as being a region 'B'-locked.


Extras :

Plenty of relevant extras starting with a fabulous audio commentary with screenwriter Bruce Wagner who discusses so much about the film's themes, its specific scenes, the performers, how it changed from when he wrote is 20-years hence - and how he does not see it as a satire but rather an 'operatic fever-dream' and 'chamber-piece' as he adds in discussion of the melodramatic qualities of Douglas Sirk's films. He is great to listen to - one of the better commentaries I have heard so far this year. There are also short interviews with cast and crew including Julianne Moore, Mia Wasikowska, Olivia Williams, Evan Bird, John Cusack, Robert Pattinson, director David Cronenberg, screenwriter Bruce Wagner and producer Martin Katz. Each giving a bit on their invitation to the project and how it evolved. There is a shade more (different) with Cronenberg and Cusack plus some footage of the Red Carpet premiere. Obviously the highlight of the supplements is the commentary.



The characters of Maps to the Stars are all flawed - some so heavily there is nothing to appreciate about them - no hope of redemption. Their core seems to flows this deep selfishness and indifference to anything that does not relate to their personal advancement. One of the themes of the film is the 'breakdown of reality' as people tend to spin out of control. If you can accept that about the film you can switch to a range of emotions - amusement, shock, disgust. With the ensemble-like cast, locales of Hollywood, I kept thinking of Altman and his The Player. It's a fascinating piece of work and definitely worthy of re-visitation.  The Entertainment One Blu-ray provides an excellent a/v presentation with a very appreciated commentary and the supplemental interview sound-bytes. An exceptional, if often unpleasant, film experience. We give a very strong recommendation! 

Gary Tooze

March 3rd, 2015

US Release out in April 2015 by Universal:


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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