Mongol: The Rise of Genghis Khan—Picturehouse (Blu-ray)

Video: 4.25/5
Audio: 3.75/5
Extras: 0/5

Based on leading scholarly accounts and written by Bodrov and Arif Aliyev, "Mongol" delves into the dramatic and harrowing early yars of the ruler who was born as Temudgin in 1162. As it follows Temudgin from his perilous childhood to the battle that sealed his destiny, the film paints a multidimensional portrait of the future conqueror, revealing him not as the evil brute of hoary stereotype, but as an inspiring, fearless and visionary leader.

Going into this film I will say I was very limited in my knowledge of Genghis Khan. Rather than creating a film covering his known conquests, Mongol looks at the creation of the leader from his early teens until his rise to power. You see the early decisions he made that affected his role in life in great magnitude and get a glimpse of the events that shaped his character. The film is a great character piece filled with excellent performances, but it is not a major action piece as some of the trailers may lead you to believe. The film’s pace can be a bit slow at times but fans of a great character drama with impressive production values should definitely give this one a look.

New Line delivers a great looking HD presentation for this one. The photography is gorgeous and the level of fine detail displayed in close up shots is nothing short of breathtaking. Some of the longer shots look a bit washed out due to the intense sun and lighting but I didn’t find anything offensive. Some very light banding pops up near the end of the film but it was hardly intrusive. Colors are very natural in tone and balance and contrast levels are solid throughout. This is one of the better New Line transfers I’ve seen.

Now that Warner has taken over New Line’s Blu-ray production we’re seeing the same mistreatment of the audio presentation that we’ve been seeing with so many of Warner’s titles. New Line was consistently providing top tier DTS-HD Master Audio soundtracks that displayed reference quality dynamics and surround presence. Warner seems fit to undo that quality with a standard Dolby Digital 5.1 mix that doesn’t make the most of what this format has to offer. I just don’t know what Warner’s reasoning is in all this. They are the only studio, major or independent, that isn’t supporting at least lossless audio on the majority if not all of their Blu-ray titles. This mix does sound good but lacks the spatial quality of the better mixes out there. Dialogue sounds a bit boxed in and the surround soundstage doesn’t boast the seamless quality I was hoping for. Bass response is still quite good though and the battle sequences deliver impressive dynamics. Still, you have to wonder why Warner continues to think that they don’t need to deliver the quality other studios are happy to deliver with EVERY title.

No extras are included with this release. I guess an Academy Award nominated foreign film doesn’t rate them nowadays.

This was a great character piece with amazing cinematography. It is disappointing to see Warner continue to cripple their audio presentations despite their overwhelming support for the format. We can only hope this won’t continue to be an ongoing trend with future titles.