Oldboy Blu-Ray Review

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The Movie: 7/10
How do you define a story like Oldboy? I’ve seen it told two slightly different ways, and each time it stands out as a story with tried and true elements but with a certain layer that’s hard to explain. A man, actually a jerk, finds himself held captive in a motel room prison. He is fed, manipulated, but mostly left to just be alive, alone, for 20 years. The best part of this story is that even though a man held captive with no explanation is an amazing concept, it’s really just part of this story. The rest is a twisted journey through redemption, hatred, revenge, love, and horrible horrible stuff. Yes, horrible stuff happens in this story, or has happened to seed parts of the story, so be aware that this is not for the kids to hang around and watch with you.

Josh Brolin is good, if not a bit overly acterly sometimes. I understand the idea of being held prisoner for 20 years, in essentially solitary confinement, would possibly make some people behave strangely, he sometimes acts the way a character in a movie would act under the circumstances, not the way we might think of a real person behaving. I still like him a lot.

Elizabeth Olsen is the best thing about this movie. She’s exactly the character she is portraying. She’s caring, a bit of an easy mark for a sob story, slightly broken, but pretty dang tough. She’s becoming someone I look forward to seeing in more and more movies.

Sharlto Copley is the bad guy, of sorts. I like him, well, not his character but I like Copley. He has a bit of an overblown idea of this character though. As a billionaire with a weird terrible past he hams it up an awful lot to make him seem almost cartoony instead of menacing or disturbed.

The story still makes me think about the possibilities of what humans can do to one another. It’s got those awful themes that SHOULD make us all feel sick to our stomachs, and I kind of like that weird stimulation. On the other hand it has an element of farce with the people who manage this prison motel. They are ridiculously out of the tone of the rest of the movie. The thugs are basically leftovers from West Side Story. The man in charge, played by Samuel L. Jackson, is so uninteresting and a drag on the legitimacy of the rest of the movie it did take me out of the bubble of belief when he was on the screen. The music is OK, but not quite crazy dark enough for me. This is not an easy tale to experience and like the movie Se7en we are taken to dark places by the whole thing, visually, score, everything. Oldboy (this version) has less of a consistent darkness that it needs to leave me feeling terrible about humanity, instead I feel like I watched a movie. That’s not a bad thing, just not the feeling this story deserves.

Features: 5/10

  • The Making Of Oldboy – Probably the best special feature here, this is a 16 minute look behind the scenes with Spike Lee and the principal cast. I was disappointed that they only touched on the original film and Japanese Manga, but the rest of the featurette is very interesting.
  • Transformation – The cast and crew take a look at Josh Brolin’s performance., interesting but unfortunately this only lasts 2 minutes.
  • Alternate & Extended Scenes – Four extended scenes that do not really add anything to the Oldboy equation. Still completionists might enjoy them.
  • Talking Heads – Pretty much a bunch of recycled footage from the making of all quick cut over the trailer. Talking Heads is a perfect name for it.
  • Workout Video – 49 seconds of fighting clips from the movie.
  • DVD & UV Digital Copy

Cover Art and Menus: 6/10
I like the idea of the cover more than the look of it. I understand the main character and I get that they wanted to present him with a particularly intense look in his eye. The thing is, he looks more like an action dude than he should so I wouldn’t want it as a poster without the true angst!! The menu is navigation.

Audio & Video: 7/10
Oldboy is a strange movie visually, to me it looks like Spike Lee used traditional film for the first third of the movie then switched to digital for the remainder. The 1080P AVC transfer that Sony have created brings the movie to life warts and all. There are a few flaws in the image which I have not really experienced on recent Blu-Ray’s, white specks and even dust appear in the image on occasion, aside from that though flesh tones are accurate and shadow detail is second to none.

The DTS-Master audio 5.1 track is way more impressive than the video with perfect pans across the rear channels. Dialog is centered and clear and on the rare occasion that music occurs the LFE channel lights up and creates a nice rumble in the room. Like the movie this is not a particularly remarkable presentation but it gets the job done.

Overall Score 7/10