Mar 112015
 

Birdman might not quite be the home-run of a film some make it out to be, but no doubt Alejandro G. Iñárritu’s character-driven opus, with commentary on modern-day blockbusters, is anything if not original and features a fantastic performance by Michael Keaton who was deserving of the Best Actor award.

 

 

Birdman
(2014)


REVIEW NAVIGATION

The Movie
| Special Features | Video Quality | Audio Quality | Overall

Genre(s): Drama, Comedy, Fantasy
Fox | R – 119 min. – $39.99 | February 17, 2015

MOVIE INFO:
Directed by:
Alejandro G. Iñárritu
Writer(s): Alejandro G. Iñárritu, Nicolás Giacobone, Alexander Dinelaris Jr. & Armando Bo (written by)
Cast: Michael Keaton, Zach Galifianakis, Edward Norton, Andrea Riseborough, Amy Ryan, Emma Stone, Naomi Watts

DISC INFO:
Features:
Featurettes
Digital Copy: Yes
Number of Discs: 1

Audio: English (DTS-HD MA 5.1), French (Dolby Digital 5.1), Spanish (Dolby Digital 5.1)
Video: 1080p/Widescreen 1.85
Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish
Disc Size: NA
Codec: MPEG-4 AVC
Region(s): A, B, C


** Click Here to Purchase Birdman on Blu-ray from Amazon.com
**


THE MOVIE – 3.5/5

Alejandro G. Iñárritu is perhaps one of the more innovative, as well as dour, filmmakers working today where modern cinema is packaged with a tidy bow and unleashed to the most demographics as possible in the hopes of squeezing every dime out of the consumer. Mind you, nothing wrong with that as at its core Hollywood is in it to make a profit, where it becomes a problem is when they sacrifice good story and direction to grab that coin. In many ways, Iñárritu touches, and criticizes the Hollywood blockbuster and in particular, superhero movies (and Transformers for good measure).

And all of that is good and well founded. But the problem at hand I had with Birdman or {The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) (hereon referred to just as Birdman) was it wasn’t particularly impactful in both emotions and temperament. Michael Keaton is absolutely fantastic playing a version of himself as Riggan Thomson, a former movie star whose fame has waned over the years since walking away from a popular franchise, “Birdman,” 20+ years back. Instead of making bank, a la Robert Downey Jr. in the Iron Man and Avengers franchises, Thomson has worked hard to regain relevance in the form of a Broadway stage play, an adaptation of Raymond Carver’s short story, “What We Talk about When We Talk about Love” which co-stars Riggan’s girlfriend, Laura (ANDREA RISEBOUROUGH).

After an accident, or maybe not (viewer perspective is everything in this film), one of the performers has to be replaced and co-star Lesley (NAOMI WATTS) suggests acting phenomenon yet volatile method actor Mike Shiner (EDWARD NORTON), going so far as to refinance his home, in order to pay for Shiner’s expensive contract, which only furthers Riggan’s financial stake into the play… Add to his troubles, his relationship with his recovering drug addict daughter, Samantha (EMMA STONE), is strained, though the two do reconnect during her time serving as his assistant.

As I briefly noted, Birdman balances fantasy and neurosis and which is which is dependent on the viewer’s perspective. This comes to fruition in the film’s controversial (for the lack of a better word) finale which has divided many viewers with a fair share hating or at the very least, being frustrated with it while others loved it (count me in the latter). Iñárritu’s use of perspective is prevalent throughout the film from the one-shot style with no discernible cuts (though if you pay attention, you can see them) save for one key sequence toward the end. Although this does seem to push into gimmick territory, it appears there is method to the director’s madness.

Directing and style aside, Birdman is a study in exceptional acting. We all know by now Michael Keaton turns in perhaps one of his best and more nuanced performances and in my mind was deserving of the Best Actor award (however, hard to beat out an actor playing a real-life person); Edward Norton is great in an almost biographical sense (if what is reported true about the actor) though he and Watts more or less disappear into the second act and Zach Galifianakis has a couple of good scenes but is mostly one-note; last Emma Stone actually wasn’t bad and I have to think some make-up was done to give her an even more frail appearance in keeping with her drug addiction past. She and Keaton, and Norton as well, have some great scenes together and is one of the few that evoked any sort of emotion.

And there’s the films (quasi) downfall: I didn’t really care that much about any of these characters. Sure, the acting is great and some of the lines are well written, but nothing about any of them made me want to root for (or against) them. Of course, it’s not as if a movie can’t succeed with a bunch of scoundrels (see Reservoir Dogs), yet here these characters, save for Norton, fell completely flat in terms of emotional depth. Keaton himself, though, does have some solid scenes that do at least payoff for his final scene.

SPECIAL FEATURES – 2.5/5

This release comes with a matted slip cover. The disc is housed in a red case and inside is a redemption code for the Digital Copy.

Birdman: All Access (33:28; HD) is an expansive behind-the-scenes making-of featurette showing Iñárritu style working with his cast and crew and features on-set interviews.

A Conversation with Michael Keaton and Alejandro G. Inarritu (14:03; HD) – The actor and director discuss the movie, plot and characters.

Gallery: Chivo’s On-Set Photography are a series of still images.


VIDEO – 5.0/5

Birdman flies – or falls depending on your interpretation – onto Blu-ray presented in its original 1.85 widescreen aspect ratio and a 1080p high-definition transfer. The picture quality is utterly fantastic. Detail levels are sharp and well defined, colors nice and bright but not overly so, and as one would expect, there are no signs of aliasing, pixilation or other flaws. I was actually very impressed as even recently released films can be a crapshoot as to quality.

AUDIO – 4.75/5

Nearly equally to task is the 5.1 channel DTS-HD Master Audio track. Dialogue sounds crisp and clear throughout and ambient noises make fantastic use of the rear channels, able to hear subtle dialogue in distant shots or off-screen actions. The lossless track also has good depth from the score by Antonio Sanchez, even if it is obnoxious and annoying.



OVERALL – 3.5/5

Overall, Birdman might not quite be the homerun of a film some make it out to be, but no doubt Alejandro G. Iñárritu’s character-driven opus, with commentary on modern-day blockbusters, is anything if not original and features a fantastic performance by Michael Keaton who was deserving of the Best Actor award. The Blu-ray released by Fox has good video/audio transfers and on the surface the features might seem limited but the “All Access” featurette is well made.


Brian Oliver, The Movieman
Published: 03/07/2015

 

 

 

 

 

Check out some more screen caps by going to page 2. Please note, these do contain spoilers.

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