Michael Clayton—Warner Bros. (Blu-ray)
I really wanted to see this one during its theatrical run but missed the opportunity. After it was nominated for a bunch of awards this year, my interest peaked even more. I actually sat down to watch it while the Academy Awards was airing. I must say I'm surprised that this one was up for Best Picture. I thought it was a very good film, with really strong performances, but not quite Best Picture material. The film follows Michael Clayton, a big law firm bagman who does crisis management. This time around one of their top lawyers goes crazy during a meeting and jeopardizes a case involving a major agriculture company. The film never lost my interest and I was impressed with the level of suspense a legal thriller could sustain. While I might not agree with the Academy completely about the film, it is definitely worth a look for fans of the genre.
The HD presentation is quite good on this one. Contrast was definitely the high point and I was impressed with the inky blacks and solid shadow detail. Fine object detail is also strong, but overall detail wavers a bit from scene to scene. You can see how the photography changes a bit with longer shots coming off a bit softer than I prefer. Image dimension is good though and depth of image is about average. Colors are on the warm side but never oversaturated or distracting. Overall this is a strong HD presentation with only a few shortcomings.
I was disappointed to see the inclusion of only a standard Dolby Digital soundtrack on this release. I guess films nominated for Best Picture don't deserve the full advanced audio treatment. I really don't understand why only one studio releasing on the Blu-ray format isn't taking advantage of the full potential of audio playback. This should be a no brainer considering the bitrate available from the format. The mix overall is in line with the genre. There is a nice spatial quality and the score lends a lot to the presence of the mix and the tone of the film. Unfortunately I noticed quite a bit of static in some parts of the film. At first I thought this could be an equipment issue but it was present in multiple channels. I really don't think this is a limitation of the soundtrack (full bitrate Dolby Digital isn't what I would call lacking) but I'm surprised this wasn't caught during mastering. Aside from that there isn't too much to complain about. Dialogue sounds very natural and is balanced into the soundstage nicely and the mix does a convincing job of putting you in the environments.
Extras are a bit slim on this one. There is a feature commentary with the director and editor and some extended scenes that were trimmed from the movie.
I really wish Warner would have delivered a bit more on this presentation. This is a solid film and obviously highly regarded but yet we're still seeing half baked A/V presentations. This would have been a no brainer with a bit more consistency, but for now I would have to recommend a rental.