Cover Art and Menus: 7/10
The cover does nothing to reflect the personality, tone, or even subject matter of the film. It’s a nice enough design, but completely misses the point for me. The menus are much nicer. They are the Blu-Ray stylings, but have a very functional, easy to navigate mechanic that gets you to any chapter or extra you want quickly. That can’t be said for all menus, so good work.
- Interviews With Brad Pitt & Cate Blanchett – Extensive interviews to sink your starry eyed teeth into.
- David Fincher Audio Commentary – Fincher loves his movies almost as much as he loves to talk about his movies, so this is a good way to revisit the film. I actually really enjoy listening to him, one of my favorite directors who openly discuss more than just making movies.
- Visual Effects & Makeup Footage – Well, visual effects require a lot of digital work, funny make up, computers, and geeky folks who like to sit in the dark with a mouse in one hand and coffee in the other.
- Step By Step Aging Brad Pitt – See how they age our very own Mr. Pitt, one wrinkle at a time.
- David Fincher’s Creative Process On The Set – He’s one of my favorite filmmakers to watch and listen to…so this is an excellent extra for me to indulge myself.
- Alexandre Desplat Score Interview – The music is very present in this movie, the kind that tugs your heart strings. See how it all came together.
- Storyboard,Costume & Art Direction Featurettes – Oh, this movie spans a lot of years, a lot of fashion styles, a lot of history, so the costumes and sets are pretty amazing!! See the whole process from script to screen.
- Still Galleries – Photos
- Essay By Film Critic Kent Jones – I’m not a fan of movie essays. I understand the importance of studying and analyzing films and stories, I just don’t get that excited to read someone’s opinion about it….ironic, don’cha think?
The Movie: 8.5/10
I want to say all the things that this movie is begging for me to say, but I think we’ve heard enough about the sentimentality, the special effects, and the star power. The thing about this movie isn’t just it on its own as a watching experience, it’s what follows me around now when I think about it.
What is life but a series of events that we all, every human on the planet, understand to be in order from childhood to growing old (if we’re lucky) and then on to death? Somehow those events, moments, experiences, they all seem more poignant when you look at it in a new way. This time around it’s being born in an old body that grows younger through the years.
It seems like a medical anomaly, but no one seems to care about that in the movie. So, it’s like a magician with his trick hand over there waving a little scarf at you while he pulls a pigeon out of his pants with the other. The heart of this film isn’t about what it’s like to grown younger, but that a life well lived as a series of choices that string together to lead us to some kind of satisfaction, that’s what keeps swirling in my head.
There is nothing extraordinary about Benjamin Button. He’s not particularly good at anything. He doesn’t have hidden powers or skills. He’s not exceptionally charming or wise or ambitious. He’s just who he is. He makes decisions as they come across his path and he never looks back with regret.
A person born with the infirmities of being old, a body racked with time from day one, who then grows younger and younger, that’s a damn good idea for a story. How does would it happen? What would it look like? There are a ton of questions and I’m afraid the one thing I didn’t get from The Curious Case of Benjamin Button was any kind of satisfaction to those questions. I was distracted by the special effects and it was kind of anti-climactic as the last third of the movie seemed to just wrap things up without the same care and attention that the first parts of it had.
It’s a sentimental movie, that’s for sure, but it has crawled into my psyche for a while to rattle around and keep me thinking about life and what not…that’s a big deal. I recommend it for a long comfy weekend afternoon, preferably when it’s raining or snowing or something outside makes you want to cuddle up with a blanket and a good cry.
Audio & Video: 10/10
Shot almost entirely in digital and never transferred to film, The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button is an excellent showing for Blu-Ray. Criterion supervised the overall transfer with the approval of director David Fincher and the attention to detail is evident in every scene. From the opening studio logos covered in thousands of high definition buttons, to the final moments you will be hard pressed to find fault with this transfer. The first half of the movie has a lot of darkness, with shadowy details on faces (I think it was to hide some CGI work) and low lit conditions. The movie brightens up and we get to see impressive detail and color especially anytime we see Kate Blanchett’s eyes. The movie is presented in a letter boxed 2.40:1 1080P transfer that perfectly preserves the look of the theatrical version.
The uncompressed TrueHD soundtrack really works well. Dialog is clear (I couldn’t understand every word of the dying old lady in the opening narration, but it wasn’t the fault of the audio track) and the few action scenes there are really kick up the levels to 11. What is most impressive about the soundtrack though is how it uses the surround speakers ALL of the time. Even quiet dialog scenes in the old peoples home have a ticking grandfather clock working it’s magic in the rear speakers. I really enjoyed this movie and its presentation on Blu-Ray,.I would like more of the bigger movie studios to use the Criterion label, snobby as they may seem, they do stand for quality.
You get a a lot of value for the money with this Blu-Ray, that’s for sure. I’m still not a fan of spending almost 30 bucks on a movie, any movie, but if you love this one you will want it on your shelf to watch over and over. The extras are fantastic, the commentary, it’s all top quality. It’s a great package for a sentimental person in your life:)
Overall Score 8/10