Downsizing 4KUHD Review

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The Movie: 6.5/10
More big and small! That’s my whole review. Oh, is that not enough? Right.

I’m a huge fan of movies about someone or something being too big or too small in the world around them/it. I have seen many, some from as early as the 1930’s and 40’s. The technology that filmmakers have used for almost a century to make people who are very tiny look like they are living among our average everyday items has improved, of course. The idea is the same, show a guy who is 5 inches tall look like he’s sitting on a cracker box (or some other big and small situation) and that becomes the spectacle of the movie. My issue with Downsizing is that they used the modern technology with green screen and CGI to do the special effects, but for some reason they didn’t bring me enough of the idea, the contrast, the struggle of what it would be like to be the size of a smart phone in a world of “giants”.

I realize that they wanted to be a bit more intellectual, and the heart of this movie does try to be a bit above the average spectacle flick, but come on…..if you are calling your movie DOWNSIZING and you go to the trouble to shave Matt Damon’s head ( not really) so he can be shrunken to fit in a tiny city full of tiny people, show it off! At one point we see nurses scooping the newly tiny people onto what looks like a spatula and moved to a cart like they were just a bunch of items to stock in a grocery store, which was pretty fun. The problem was that the look of it was still a bit iffy. The look of the nurse and the colors, contrast, and lighting just don’t all match up to make it any more convincing than Attack of the Puppet People from many decades ago.

So, what am I saying? I’m saying this movie needs to lighten up! I know it can’t. I mean, that would mean they have to reshoot, reedit, and rerelease, which won’t happen, which means we have to say it like it is. The filmmakers tried so hard to not make the size issue an issue in their very deep and meaningful story, that they might as well not have ever used that hook in the first place.

What’s the big story? Humanity is killing the planet and we are all one big family, so we need to get our shit together and grow up….by downsizing and using fewer resources:) That’s it. It’s not much more than that, a movie like Avatar used to give a bigger message. The problem is that while I watched Avatar (3 times in theaters) I was mesmerized by everything. It was a CGI, motion capture extravaganza, and my brain was occupied with that as the story and message filtered in around the colors and floating islands. I’m not saying Avatar has a better story, it’s pretty straight forward and very similar to Downsizing. We are destroying our planet, and using our resources without considering the world around us. The difference is that James Cameron knew to use the look of his movie, the hook, to deliver his ideas, while Downsizing seems like they were almost embarrassed about using the trick of shrinkage. I say embrace it.

The most we see of the big and little is in the early part of the movie, and then little Matt Damon carries a rose around for a few minutes, and then there are little people on a little boat with little bits of “tall” grass around them from time to time. Oh, his friend sits on a box of food, but it’s very underwhelming. What would I do to make it better? MORE BIG AND SMALL stuff, it’s simple. Go with the lowest common denominator, I don’t mind. Shock me by showing me a tiny person riding on a toy through the house to get away from a curiously and giant cat. Yea, I can handle that. You can even go with a more challenging idea and show me a tiny person falling in love with a person who has not been and can’t be shrunken for some reason, and examine how they cope. Have a tiny mom in her kid’s backpack while she spies on her at school to catch the bully who’s pushing her around. You know, play it up, make me wonder what it would be like to fit in that backpack.

I will say though, even with my criticisms, I did enjoy it. I can have fun and not be fully satisfied with some elements of a movie. The ideas are fine, and there are a few social commentaries that make sense, whether people are unshrunken, or fully shrunken. We get a hard-hitting message about how different people fit into society in terms of culture, nationality, ability, etc.

The bottom line would be that if I want to see some imperfect special effects showing me someone who has been zapped to be as small as a shoe, I’ll watch old episodes of bewitched. Darren and Darin, or Daren, or Darren, whichever, got shrunk down a lot and I was convinced he was about to get dropped into a drawer or swept out with the trash. I was not convinced that Mat Damon was at risk of being mistaken for a Ken Doll, which would have been so much more fun.

Features: 6/10

  • Working With Alexander (12 Minutes) – Cast and crew kiss the directors arse.
  • The Cast (11 Minutes) – A look at the multifaceted and multicultural cast used in the film.
  • A Visual Journey (14 Minutes) – Production design is discussed.
  • A Matter Of Perspective (9 Minutes) – The miniature effects used in the film were not as simple as they seem. Here we take a look at how they were made.
  • That Smile (6 Minutes) – A look at the many faces of Matt Damon.
  • A Global Concern (6 Minutes) – The movie is heavily focused on environmental issues, here each member of the cast and crew tell you what they are doing to combat this.
  • 4KUHD, Blu-ray & UV Digital Copy

Audio & Video: 8/10
Downsizing comes to 4K and Blu-ray courtesy of Paramount Home Entertainment. The AVC encoded transfer on both formats is pristine and makes the film a true joy to watch. Black levels are very good and fine detail is on par with other Paramount releases. If I had to nit-pick it would be that the special effects on the 4K version look worse than they actually are because of the high level of detail.

The DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 track is immersive but not particularly exciting. Dialog which makes up most of the run-time is clear, central and precise and when action does happen LFE is pronounced and prioritized.  Surround speakers are not used much, aside from a scene in  a party midway through.

Overall Score 6.5/10