Archive for the ‘Big Eyes (2014)’ Category

Blu-ray Cover

Distributor: Starz / Anchor Bay

Release Date: April 14, 2015

Region: Region A

Length: 105 min

Video: 1080P (MPEG-4, AVC)

Main Audio: 5.1 English DTS-HD Master Audio (3461 Kbps)

Alternate Audio: 5.1 Spanish Dolby Digital Audio

Subtitles: English, Spanish

Ratio: 1.78:1

Notes: This title is also available on DVD and comes with an Ultraviolet copy of the film.

Title Screenshot

“What probably influenced me was the mixture of emotions that you get by looking at the images… There’s sort of an eerie quality and sadness, as well as a darkness and humor and color. All those things together obviously resonated with people. There were a [lot of] other artists that tried copying it, but couldn’t quite capture that unique strangeness of the images.” –Tim Burton (DirectConversations.com)

Tim Burton strikes again! Big Eyes tells the outrageous true story of one of the most epic frauds in history. In the late 1950s and early 1960s, painter Walter Keane (Waltz) had reached success beyond belief, revolutionizing the commercialization of popular art with his enigmatic paintings of waifs with big eyes. The bizarre and shocking truth would eventually be discovered though: Walter’s works were actually not created by him at all, but by his wife Margaret (Adams). Big Eyes centers on Margaret’s awakening as an artist, the phenomenal success of her paintings, and her tumultuous relationship with her husband, who was catapulted to international fame while taking credit for her work.

Big Eyes was up for two additional Golden Globe® nominations including Best Performance by an Actor in a Musical or Comedy and Best Original Song. The film has garnered numerous accolades including an Independent Spirit Award nomination for Best Screenplay and BAFTA nominations for Best Leading Actress and Best Production Design.

Out of fairness, I should probably admit that Tim Burton isn’t my favorite director. He should be applauded for his unique vision, but it seems rather unfortunate that his vision rarely lends itself to honest subject matter. His films are usually nothing more than extended quirky life-action cartoons. Prior to Big Eyes, my favorite Burton films were Ed Wood, Big Fish, and Sweeny Todd. I admit to being amused by Beetlejuice and Edward Scissorhands as a small child, but their magic dissipated as I grew into a functional adult.

This might be why Big Eyes is such a pleasant surprise. The Burton quirkiness is still evident, but there seems to be a greater purpose behind this effort. The characters are real people, and are portrayed as such. Margaret and Walter Keane are full of the contradictions that real people are plagued with, and their story is an interesting and psychologically complex one. Burton tells his story with the visual proficiency of a master filmmaker, and the result is one of his best efforts. It certainly tops anything that he has attempted since Sweeny Todd (and I would claim that most of this film’s success sprang from the genius of Stephen Sondheim and Hugh Wheeler).

Amy Adams gives an incredibly subtle performance, and is to be commended for her quiet portrayal of Margaret Keane. Unfortunately, I cannot say the same thing for Christoph Waltz’s portrayal of Walter Keane. Waltz has a tendency to go over the top in a manner that would be better suited to some of Tim Burton’s other films. His ‘cartoonish’ performance often undermines the more subtle work of Amy Adams, and becomes rather ridiculous at times. His performance was more appropriate when Walter was supposed to be charming (since he was playing a part) than when his more abusive side becomes apparent. Some of these darker moments would have been more effective if they had been portrayed in a quieter manner. However, this might be the fault of Tim Burton’s direction. After all, Burton isn’t known for his subtlety. These issues never become so malignant that one becomes distracted. Some people might actually enjoy the camp-like nature of Waltz’s performance. Very few films are perfect.

I prefer not to go into the details of the story because a film should be viewed with fresh eyes. It is recommended that your fresh eyes see Tim Burton’s Big Eyes. It is quite a nice diversion.

Screenshot 1

The Presentation:

3.5 of 5 Stars

The Blu-ray disc is housed in a standard Blu-ray case with film related artwork, and the case is housed in a slipcover with the same cover art.

Menu 01 menu 02

menu 04 Menu 03

The animated menus employ footage from the film supported by Danny Elfman’s score.

Screenshot 02

Picture Quality:

4.5 of 5 Stars

The 1080p AVC transfer is presented at an aspect ratio of 1.78:1, and unfortunately features brief moments of banding. However, these moments are never distracting, and the image is otherwise exceptional in every way. Details and textures are crisp and attractive while colors are always bold and healthy. Burton’s color palette is well represented here, while showcasing deep black levels.

Screenshot 3

Sound Quality:

4.5 of 5 Stars

Anchor Bay’s lossless 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track is a wonderfully mixed accompaniment to the wonderful picture transfer. Dialogue, atmosphere, and music are effectively balanced so that the audience can enjoy a truly immersive experience. It is nice when a track manages to be clear while remaining immersive but never distracting, and this particular track does this with wonderful efficiency. There might be a few moments of separation in the rear speakers, but these never become troublesome. One doubts if most people will even notice them. There certainly aren’t any issues that should discourage people from purchasing the disc.

Screenshot 4

Special Features:

2.5 of 5 Stars

The Making of Big Eyes – (1080p) – (21:33) –

While one could hardly call this featurette a comprehensive look at the creation of Big Eyes, this program does manage to be marginally more interesting than the standard promotional EPK fluff that seems to plague most discs. This piece briefly looks at the true story that the film is based upon, and Margaret Keane’s iconic paintings (but never in any detail). It also briefly covers the cast and crew (complete with the back-patting that one expects from such programs), Tim Burton’s direction (with more back-patting), and brief “behind the scenes” footage is included to illustrate these topics.

Q&A Highlights – (1080p) – (33:55) –

These “Q&A Highlights” includes moments from two different Q&A sessions. The first (and most interesting) features Scott Mantz moderating a conversation with Scott Alexander, Larry Karaszewski, Amy Adams, and Margaret Keane.

The second Q&A features Anthony Breznican moderation a conversation with Tim Burton, Amy Adams, Christoph Waltz, Krysten Ritter, and Jason Schwartzman. These interviews are mildly interesting (if not particularly penetrating). There are moments of real interest included here amongst the typical surface comments. It is certainly worth watching.

Screenshot 05

Final Words:

Anchor Bay’s Blu-ray disc features an admirable transfer of one of Tim Burton’s better films, and Burton fans will certainly want to pick up a copy.

Review by: Devon Powell