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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

Roar [Blu-ray]


(Noel Marshall, 1981)



Review by Gary Tooze



Theatrical: American Filmworks

Video: Olive Films



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

Runtime: 1:34:17.777

Disc Size: 48,798,858,501 bytes

Feature Size: 29,214,916,608 bytes

Video Bitrate: 35.00 Mbps

Chapters: 9

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: November 3rd, 2015



Aspect ratio: 2.29:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video



DTS-HD Master Audio English 2097 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 2097 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 /
48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)

DTS-HD Master Audio English 1905 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1905 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 /
48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)



• English, None



• Feature Audio Commentary with John Marshall and Tim League
The Making of ROAR (33:19)
Q&A with Cast and Crew at ROAR re-Premiere at The CineFamily, Los Angeles, CA (4/7/15) (39:52)
The Grandeur of ROAR - an essay by Tim League (7 text screens)
Trailer (2015) (1:43)
Photo Gallery (6:26)





Description: Produced over the course of ten years, Roar is an audacious cinematic experiment: a thriller showcasing the majesty and ferocity of African lions, filmed on location amidst dozens of actual untrained cats. Photographed by Jan De Bont (d.p. of Die Hard and director of Speed), the result is a spectacular achievement—though often terrifying to watch—as actors (not stunt men) flee, wrestle, and come face-to-face with the massive hunters.

Writer/director Noel Marshall stars as Hank, a doctor and outspoken naturalist in Africa who allows lions, tigers, cheetahs, and other big cats to roam freely around his remote estate. While away protecting animals from poachers, Hank’s family—including Marshall’s real-life wife and daughter, Tippi Hedren (The Birds) and Melanie Griffith (Working Girl)—arrive at his home and are stalked by the massive lions that have overrun the house.

Not surprisingly, many members of the cast and crew suffered injuries during the making of the film though care was taken to ensure that no animals were harmed. Since filming Roar, Hedren has become an advocate for the protection of big cats, founding the Roar Foundation and the Shambala Preserve.



The Film:

Wildlife activist and actress Tippi Hedren starred in this comic family adventure written, directed by, and costarring her producer husband Noel Marshall and inspired by the surprise success of Born Free (1966). Hedren is Madeleine, a woman who brings her children (including real-life daughter and future movie star Melanie Griffith) to the African jungle for a visit with her long-estranged husband Hank (Marshall). An eccentric scientist, Hank has dedicated the past several years of his life to fighting for the preservation of endangered species. A snafu results in the family being met not by the environmentalist, however, but a pride of ferocious felines. Roar (1981) was a box-office disaster that not only fell far short of recouping its $17 million budget -- Hedren and family reportedly had to mortgage their assets to finance it. The production was also known for its accident-prone, behind-the-scenes drama, which included a fire, a flood, and a disease that took the lives of several big cat performers. Resulting schedule delays turned the motion picture into an 11-year labor of love for Hedren, whose off-camera commitment to protection of big cats extended to the establishment of her own California game preserve called Shambala, later to be the subject of a book by Hedren and a television documentary.

Excerpt from MRQE located HERE

Come into Roar expecting an oddity rather than the typical movie experience, though, and all of those things can become pluses as one sits, mouth agape, at people doing really dangerous things with animals who can not give one single damn whether the human beings are hurt or not. The action seems like an endless string of potential maulings, a ridiculously tight circle of "aw, big kitty... hey, an animal that large may not know how fragile humans are... holy crap his arm's in the lion's mouth somebody do something!", and while it doesn't exactly manage to surprise each time, the human instinct to not be eaten by large wild animals is pretty powerful, and the movie doesn't quite go on long enough to override it. That roller coaster rise of adrenaline means that Marshall's movie draws a real emotional reaction that few films with much more well-executed acting, direction, and the like can manage.

I feel like a jerk for praising "Roar" on those merits, though - I'm not really comfortable writing copy for a "come watch people almost get killed!" ad campaign, and that's what recommending it based upon it being a crazy experience feels like. And I suspect that runs counter to Marshall's intentions, which seem to be along the lines of showing that people and animals can coexist. It's easier to do with some distance, knowing that what's done is done, because despite myself, my reaction is the same as most who see it: Stunned amazement, and the urge to show someone else. You really do have to see it, even if the idea of someone trying to make another is rather alarming.

Excerpt from eFilmCritic located HERE

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

Roar arrives on Blu-ray from Olive and Drafthouse Films. This is dual-layered with a max'ed out bitrate. The 1080P image, shot on 35mm, doesn't export much grain and looks more like it was shot on HD. I didn't find this waxy appearance to be bothersome in-motion but it is noticeable - so I am mentioning it. Colors appear solid and true if funky in a few scenes. The camera, and animals, are always moving and there weren't a lot of crisp static captures - but when there were it is definitely very sharp. Depth in the 2.29:1 frame (listed as being 2.35:1) is also apparent but I can't discount some possible digitization. The Blu-ray certainly improved the presentation over an SD rendering and the film's beauty and detail often makes it look like an wildlife documentary.

















Audio :

Audio is transferred by Olive to a DTS-HD Master mono (original) track at 2097 kbps (24-bit). Big cat sounds are deep (growls and roars) and often unnerving considering the interaction with the cast. American composer, Terrence P. Minogue (his only film credit) has done the score and it has orchestral, religious, and choral overtones. I started to appreciate it more in multiple viewings but I don't think it was a perfect fit for this mixed-genre film. There are optional English subtitles (and burned-in English for the brief non-English dialogue) and my Oppo has identified it as being a region 'A'-locked.


Extras :

There is an informative audio commentary with John Marshall and Tim League. Marshall explains much of the project's evolution and the many injuries, raising the lions from cubs, the dangers etc. It definitely enhances the viewing presentation to get this background information. There is also a 1/2 hour Making of ROAR with principals (Tippi, John Marshall, Richard Rush etc.) discussing the production and how it was made by The Birds star's whole family, the animals they rescued, the financing hurdles (Tippi sold the coat she wore in The Birds), difficulties getting shots with the animals etc. and there is also a new Q&A with cast and crew (but neither Tippi - who would be 85 - nor Melanie were involved) at ROAR re-Premiere at The CineFamily, Los Angeles in July of 2015. The Grandeur of ROAR - is a text essay by Tim League presented to be read over 7 screens and there is a trailer and interesting photo gallery.



Straddling the line between animal-rights activist documentary and creatures-feature horror, Roar is certainly one unique film. Of course, we all want to see more Tippi... and young Melanie was also a treat. But I think more appreciation will be garnered by indulging in the commentary and extras. I found it quite the head-scratcher the first spin through but some details were filled-in by John Marshall in the commentary. Initially it just looks like pure insanity - notably Noel Marshall interacting with these wild cats. The Blu-ray is one of Olive's better efforts in terms of supplements. It's quite an amazing experience watching this unusual production where death was just a paw-swipe away. Mind boggling. From that standpoint, plus Tippi and Melanie - are the reasons to indulge. There is definite value here. 

Gary Tooze

October 31st, 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.

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Gary W. Tooze






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