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MOVIE INFO

Director:
Tim Burton
Cast:
Amy Adams, Christoph Waltz, Jon Polito, Danny Huston, Krysten Ritter, Jason Schwartzman, Terence Stamp
Writing Credits:
Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski

Synopsis:
A drama about the awakening of the painter Margaret Keane, her phenomenal success in the 1950s, and the subsequent legal difficulties she had with her husband, who claimed credit for her works in the 1960s.

Box Office:
Opening Weekend
$3,001,738 on 1,307 Screens.
Domestic Gross
$14,423,300.

MPAA:
Rated PG-13

DISC DETAILS
Presentation:
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
Audio:
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles:
English
Spanish
Closed-captioned
Supplements Subtitles:
English

Runtime: 105 min.
Price: $34.99
Release Date: 4/14/2015

Bonus:
• “The Making of Big Eyes” Featurette
• Q&A Highlights
• Previews


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EQUIPMENT
Panasonic TC-P60VT60 60-Inch 1080p 600Hz 3D Smart Plasma HDTV; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.

RELATED REVIEWS


Big Eyes [Blu-Ray] (2014)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (April 12, 2015)

Across his 30 years as a director, Tim Burton has tended toward action and fantasy. Even when he broke with that trend via 1994’s Ed Wood, he created a quirky biographical drama that avoided a traditional sensibility.

For the first time in 20 years, Burton returns to the bio-pic well with 2014’s Big Eyes. Set in Northern California circa 1958, Margaret Ulbrich (Amy Adams) leaves her bad marriage and takes her young daughter Jane (Delaney Raye) with her.

They wind up in San Francisco and Margaret attempts to pursue a career as a painter. This doesn’t go especially well, but she eventually meets Walter Keane (Christoph Waltz), a fellow artist. Walter charms and romances Margaret, and the pair quickly wed.

Walter attempts to peddle both their art but only Margaret’s portraits of enormous-eyed children sell. These become a big hit – and Walter takes credit for them.

This bothers Margaret but she goes along with it because Walter seems better able to promote and move the art. While the work becomes tremendously successful and makes the couple wealthy, problems eventually ensue, as the lie overwhelms the relationship.

20 years ago I thought Burton was a genius, but I have to admit I’ve soured on him somewhat over that time. He seems to create more duds than winners these days, and I go into his movies with low expectations.

Burton now tends to succeed best when he ventures away from his usual fare. Of the eight 21st century directorial efforts Burton did prior to Eyes, I thought only two worked well: 2004’s Big Fish and Sweeney Todd. While both nodded toward Burton’s usual quirks, they still deviated from his standard path to a reasonable degree.

Because of this, I hoped Big Eyes would bring me Burton’s first satisfying film in years. While I don’t think it matches up with his better earlier efforts, Eyes does become an interesting look at its subject.

Eyes< might be Burton’s most traditional movie – at least since Ed Wood. I hesitate to call Wood “traditional” because it created such an exuberant and campy bio-pic, but it lacks the overt weirdness that comes with most of Burton’s work.

The same holds true for Eyes. Burton occasionally allows the film to indulge in unusual elements – like a visual effects-laden sequence in which Margaret sees people with large eyes ala her art – but most of the movie goes down a standard path, albeit one touched with some of Burton’s flamboyance. Like Wood, there’s a slightly surreal feel about a lot of the film’s depictions.

Nonetheless, Burton largely restrains himself, and even with those occasional extravagant tendencies, the narrative goes down a logical, traditional path. I regard that as a good thing, as it creates a more human, emotional tale that I might expect from Burton. Given his standard tendencies and the kitsch factor involved with the titular artwork, I feared the movie would be equally over the top and ironic.

Big Eyes avoids that, as it concentrates on the Margaret/Walter relationship and how this evolves due to their business partnership. Those factors work best during the movie’s first half. I find the parts about their rise to prominence more interesting than the bickering/downfall, and the tale thrives as we see the Keane art sell in huge numbers. When we get to the inevitable decline, matters sputter somewhat – not terribly, but enough to mean the movie seems less compelling.

Some of this stems from Waltz’s flamboyant performance as Walter. When we see Walter as lively and charismatic, Waltz’s work becomes engaging, but when Walter goes to a darker place, the movie and Waltz’s turn don’t go along for the ride. Waltz creates such a perky, theatrical Walter that the film avoids some of the emotional darkness it should probably explore.

This becomes more notable as a contrast with Adams’ much more reality-based performance as Margaret. She gives a gravity to Margaret that doesn’t exist in Waltz’s Walter, and some of that makes sense, as the movie intends to paint Walter as a charismatic con-man.

Nonetheless, the disconnect between Adams’ and Waltz’s approaches to their roles becomes more glaring as the movie progresses. It probably doesn’t help that Burton plays some events for laughs when he should look toward a more dramatic path.

Those quibbles aside, I think Eyes mostly entertains. While not as dynamic and distinctive as I might like, it still provides an interesting enough take on a fascinating subject.


The Disc Grades: Picture A-/ Audio B/ Bonus C

Big Eyes appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.78:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. This became a terrific visual presentation.

Sharpness excelled. Virtually no softness marred the image, as it consistently delivered tight, concise images. The movie lacked shimmering or jaggies, and it failed to suffer from any edge haloes. Print flaws also created no distractions.

At the movie’s start, teal dominated, and I feared the entire movie would follow. While ample amounts of that hue ensued, Eyes managed a myriad of other colors and made them look dynamic. Blacks were deep and dense, while low-light shots offered good clarity. Everything about the transfer satisfied.

While not as impressive, the movie’s DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack remained suitable for the story. The soundscape tended toward environmental material, and that restricted its scope. Street and nightclub scenes offered the most immersive material, and a few other segments brought out decent ambience. This was still a mostly low-key experience, though.

Audio quality worked well. Speech seemed natural and distinctive, without edginess or problems. Music was vivid and vibrant, and effects appeared accurate and clear. Though not impressive, the soundtrack came across reasonably well.

Two extras show up here. The Making of Big Eyes goes for 21 minutes, 33 seconds and offers notes from director Tim Burton, screenwriters Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski, Margaret Keane, producer Lynette Howell, and actors Amy Adams, Christoph Waltz, Krysten Ritter, Jon Polito and Danny Huston. We learn about the history behind the movie, story/characters, cast and performances, and Burton’s work on the set. “Making” provides a general overview, but it’s a reasonably good one. Though nothing about it excels, it gives us a decent array of notes.

Q&A Higlights lasts 33 minutes, 35 seconds and features comments from Karaszewski, Alexander, Keane, Adams, Burton, Waltz, Ritter, and actor Jason Schwartzman. The “Highlights” look at the project’s roots and development, cast and performances, Burton’s impact on the production, and other movie notes. Like the prior featurette, this one contains a pretty positive mix of insights.

The disc opens with ads for St. Vincent and One Chance. No trailer for Big Eyes appears here.

While not one of Tim Burton’s best films, Big Eyes does deliver a fairly interesting bio-pic. It benefits from a good cast and an interesting subject to become a mostly worthwhile effort. The Blu-ray brings us excellent visuals, good audio and some decent bonus materials. Big Eyes turns into a largely entertaining affair

Viewer Film Ratings: 2.5 Stars Number of Votes: 2
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