Defending Your Life appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. Though not a great-looking movie, the transfer appeared to replicate the source.
Sharpness was generally fine. Occasional signs of softness crept in at times, but these remained modest, so most of the flick came across with acceptable definition.
No signs of jagged edges or moiré effects occurred, and the image lacked edge haloes. With a good layer of grain, I didn’t fret about noise reduction, and print flaws remained absent.
Mainly made up of blues and ambers, the palette leaned a little cold, and the transfer reproduced these in an appropriate manner. They lacked vivacity most of the time, but that seemed to stem from design choices.
Blacks were dark and dense, while shadows showed positive delineation. A product of its era, this image worked fine given the source.
As for the film’s DTS-HD MA 2.0 soundtrack, it also worked nicely for its vintage. Given the movie’s ambitions, the mix didn’t shoot for much, but it added a little zest to the proceedings.
Music showed good stereo presence, and the various channels contributed reasonable engagement to the sides. Given the focus on dialogue, the track didn’t attempt much more than ambience, but with some scenes – like those on vehicles or in restaurants – added decent involvement.
Audio quality also seemed appropriate. Speech was reasonably natural and concise, while music showed acceptable pep and clarity.
Effects brought us accurate enough material. This became a wholly acceptable track for a movie from 1991.
How did the Blu-ray compare to the DVD version? The DVD went with a stereo track only, so the addition of surrounds made this a more engaging mix, and the lossless nature added warmth.
The visuals came across as cleaner and better defined. The DVD felt mediocre, so this turned into a good upgrade.
Whereas the DVD only included the movie’s trailer - which reappears here – we get a few other materials as well. First comes a November 2020 Conversation with Writer/Director/Actor Albert Brooks and Filmmaker Robert Weide.
During this 28-minute, seven-second program, we hear about Brooks’ development of the flick and his ambitions, story/character areas, themes, cast and performances, photography, art direction and effects and music. I wish Brooks had done a commentary, but this still turns into an insightful view of the film.
Taken from archival sources, we find a compilation of Interviews with Writer/Director/Actor Albert Brooks and Actors Rip Torn and Lee Grant. In this 12-minute, 23-second compendium, we get notes about various aspects of the production and how each participated.
Shot for the US talk show Crook & Chase, this becomes a fairly general look at the movie. Though not especially strong, it still gives us a decent collection of period notes.
Recorded in November 2020, Spending Time in Judgment City goes for 21 minutes, 41 seconds and brings notes from theologian/critic Donna Bowman. She gets into Brooks’ view of the afterlife and some interpretation of the film. Bowman offers an interesting take on the flick.
We finish with a booklet that includes credits, art, photos and an essay from filmmaker Ari Aster. It adds value to the set.
When it attempts to bring a morality fable, Defending Your Life drags. However, more than enough of the movie boasts fine comedy to make it a mostly entertaining affair. The Blu-ray comes with generally positive picture and audio as well as a decent array of bonus features. I wish we got more supplements, but this nonetheless offers a pretty good release for a pretty good movie.
To rate this film visit the DVD review of DEFENDING YOUR LIFE