Beasts of No Nation appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.39:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. The movie provided a solid presentation.
Sharpness usually worked well. Though a few wider shots displayed a smidgen of softness, the majority of the movie gave us accurate, precise visuals.
I saw no shimmering or jaggies, and edge haloes remained absent. The movie also displayed no print flaws.
Beasts opted for a fairly typical mix of amber/orange and teal, though not cranked to absurd extremes. One scene also opted for a strong red/pink orientation. Within those constraints, colors looked appropriate.
Blacks appeared dark and dense, and shadows boasted good delineation. Low-light scenes seemed smooth and well-rendered. This turned into an effective transfer.
I also felt pleased with the engaging DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack of Beasts. Unsurprisingly, combat/action scenes added the most zing to the proceedings, as those cranked out vivid material from all around the spectrum.
In addition, the mix brought a good sense of place and ambience throughout the film. Music showed nice stereo presence, and effects meshed together well. These moved smoothly across speakers and formed a quality environment for the material.
Audio quality seemed satisfying. Music was clear and full, while effects offered accurate, dynamic information.
Speech appeared natural and concise, without edginess or other issues. The soundtrack fit the story on display and became a lively partner to the visuals.
A few extras round out the disc, and we open with an audio commentary from writer/director Cary Joji Fukunaga and 1st AD Jon Mallard. Both sit together for this running, screen-specific discussion of story/characters, cast and performances, sets and locations, photography and costumes, music, research, and related domains.
Though Mallard chimes in with some good info, this remains Fukunaga’s track, and he makes it an effective examination of the film. We get a strong overview of various subjects through this rich, compelling chat.
With Passion Project, we get a one-hour, one-minute, 41-second documentary. It includes notes from Fukunaga, author Uzodinna Uweala, producers Amy Kaufman, Daniela Taplin Lundberg and Riva Marker and actors Idris Elba and Abraham Attah.
“Passion” looks at the source novel and its adaptation, story/characters, Fukunaga’s approach to the material, sets and locations, cast and performances, photography, and audio/music. Inevitably, some of the commentary’s content repeats here. Nonetheless, we get plenty of unique content in this tight, informative program.
Next comes an Interview with Writer/Director Cary Joji Fukunaga. In this 21-minute, 27-second piece, Fukunaga chats with film/TV producer and cultural critic Franklin Leonard about his life and career as well as aspects of Beasts. This turns into a compelling piece that complements the other extras.
Costume Design runs 20 minutes, nine seconds and features comments from costume designer Jenny Eagen. She covers her choices and work for the film in this enjoyable overview of the topic.
In addition to the film’s trailer, we get the usual Criterion booklet. It includes credits, photos and an essay from critic Robert Daniels to complete the set on a satisfying note.
As a dark depiction of the world of child soldiers, Beasts of No Nation offers a brutal but usually compelling experience. Though it loses momentum as it goes, the movie still becomes a bracing tale of war. The Blu-ray comes with very good picture and audio as well as a good collection of bonus materials. Expect a solid release for a largely involving tale.