Archive for the ‘Trumbo (2015)’ Category

Trumbo cover

Distributor: Universal Studios

Release Date: February 16, 2016

 Region: Region Free

Length: 125 min

Video: 1080P (MPEG-4 AVC)

Main Audio: 5.1 English DTS-HD Master Audio

 Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish

Ratio: 1.85:1

Notes: A DVD edition of this film is also available.

“It’s a very dark time with a lot of loss and treachery, dark aspects of human nature came out with the scapegoating and witch-hunting. That’s for real, but it was also true that they were also using humor as a coping strategy so the film uses humor as a coping strategy. It can be dangerous if you’re letting off too much of the tension by joking, but I felt it would be inauthentic if there wasn’t humor.” –Jay Roach (Awards Daily, December 10, 2015)

It must be said that one’s expectations deplete when it becomes known that the genius (note sarcasm) behind such films as Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery, Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me, Austin Powers in Goldmember, Meet the Parents, and Meet the Fockers will be directing a film about the most celebrated member of “The Hollywood Ten.” Trumbo’s battle with the blacklist is such an important story that it might seem like a waste to allow someone like Jay Roach to direct the film. It seems like such a director might squander the subject’s boundless potential.

Luckily, there is little cause for concern. When one forgets what they know about the real story and views the film without any preconceived notions about what the film should be, it becomes evident that they are watching an extremely enjoyable movie.

Jay Roach summed up the film quite accurately in an interview when he quoted John McNamara (who wrote the screenplay):

“The screen writer said, ‘It’s not history; it’s a story about history.’ I really subscribe to that. It’s trying to get the essence of what happened to these guys, rather than becoming the record of the blacklist. It could never be that. It’s 13 years packed into two hours, it’s actors pretending to be people, it’s sets and make-up, but it can be something else — an attempt to raise questions and be authentic to the characters.” –Jay Roach (Awards Daily, December 10, 2015)

Audiences may have heard something about the story before. In 1947, Dalton Trumbo (Bryan Cranston) was Hollywood’s top screenwriter until he and other artists were jailed and blacklisted for their political beliefs. Trumbo used words and wit to win two Academy Awards and expose the absurdity and injustice of the blacklist, which entangled everyone from gossip columnist Hedda Hopper (Helen Mirren) to John Wayne, Kirk Douglas and Otto Preminger. The resulting film is an astonishing portrait of an often forgotten chapter of American history that features a performance by Bryan Cranston that earned him a well deserved Academy Awards nomination.

One Sheet

Theatrical One Sheet

The Presentation:

 3.5 of 5 Stars

 The disc is protected in a standard Blu-ray case with film related artwork, and the case is protected by a special slip cover with the same artwork. The original poster art would have been preferable to the artwork chosen, but this is nearly always the case.

 The menus utilize a slight alteration of the original poster art and are easy to navigate.

Picture Quality:

 5 of 5 Stars

 Universal’s picture transfer is absolutely gorgeous. Of course, this isn’t terribly surprising considering that the film was shot digitally, but this is really quite perfect. Colors are gorgeously rendered, contrast is perfectly accurate, blacks are deep without crushing the image, there aren’t any unsightly digital artifacts, and details are absolutely razor sharp! There doesn’t even seem to be any minor issues.

Sound Quality:

 5 of 5 Stars

The sound mix is just as lovely and perfectly represents the filmmaker’s intentions. The dialogue is really the star of the show in this film, and every word is crisp and clear while still allowing the music and sound effects to breathe. Jay Roach does some surprising things with the sound mix and it is nice to see that the transfer is so accurate.

Special Features:

1 of 5 Stars

It is probably unrealistic to expect a proper documentary about the life of Dalton Trumbo (or the Hollywood blacklist) to be included on this disc, but it would have added quite a bit of richness to the film. The two features included don’t amount to much at all. They could have left them off of the disc. That said, the terrific image and sound transfers more than make up for any lack of supplemental material.

Who is Trumbo? – (1080P) – (4:02)

I know who Dalton Trumbo is, but this question is hardly touched upon. Instead, viewers are given the EPK treatment. Key participants laud the virtues of the film and discuss the actual Dalton Trumbo in the vaguest of general comments. The sole element that makes this wort watching is a very short clip of the actual Dalton Trumbo. Just don’t blink! You might miss it.

Bryan Cranston Becomes Trumbo – (1080P) – (1:59)

This almost seems like a short trailer that features interview footage of Bryan Cranston discussing the film. There isn’t much here.

Final Words:

Trumbo is certainly worth watching, and this Blu-ray transfer of the film is absolutely fabulous!

Review by: Devon Powell