Michael Clayton appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. Though not great, this became a mostly satisfying presentation.
Sharpness was usually appealing. A little softness crept in at times, a factor that seemed exacerbated by some edge haloes, but the majority of the film appeared pretty concise and accurate. No issues with shimmering or jaggies occurred, and print flaws remained absent.
In terms of colors, Clayton went with a lot of teal. Other scenes opted for a more orange/amber feel, but a bluish tint dominated. Within those parameters, the hues seemed fine.
Blacks were dark and deep, and shadow detail seemed quite good, as low-light shots demonstrated fine clarity. The haloes and occasional light softness made this a “B-“, but I still thought the movie was mostly well-depicted.
As for the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack of Michael Clayton, it presented a laid-back experience. This wasn’t a dynamic action flick, so general ambience dominated the soundfield. I thought it added a little environmental material but nothing that stood out as memorable. Even the sequence in which Clayton’s car exploded remained unimpressive in terms of scope. Music provided a little more kick, but overall, this was a subdued mix.
At least I thought audio quality was good. Music showed nice range and clarity, with crisp highs and solid lows. Effects lacked much punch, but they were acceptably accurate and clean. Speech was an important commodity and worked fine. The lines were always natural and concise. This became a serviceable mix that seemed appropriate for a film of this sort.
How did the Blu-ray compare to the DVD version? Audio was literally identical. Clayton hit Blu-ray in the bad old days where Warner often failed to provide lossless soundtracks, so this disc replicated the same DD 5.1 track from the DVD.
At least the visuals showed improvements. The Blu-ray seemed tighter, smoother and more film-like. Though never a great presentation, the Blu-ray delivered a clear step up in quality.
The Blu-ray replicates the DVD’s extras, and we start with an audio commentary from director Tony Gilroy and editor John Gilroy. The brothers sit together for this running, screen-specific track. They start with a look at the project’s origins and development before they dig into cast and performances, editing and cinematography, story and deleted scenes, score, sets and locations, and a few other production specifics.
Even though they claim to hate self-congratulatory commentaries, the brothers can’t resist the urge to throw out a lot of praise, especially as the flick progresses. Nonetheless, they go over more than enough good info to make this a worthwhile discussion. Tony dominates and digs into plenty of informative subjects. I could live without the happy talk, but I think the track emerges as a generally good one.
Three Additional Scenes last a total of five minutes, 42 seconds. The first (3:27) shows a secret romantic fling between Clayton and a coworker, while the second (1:26) shows the follow-up for the hit and run case Michael handles. For the final clip (0:49), we see more prep for the planting of the car bomb.
Scene One feels pretty superfluous to me; it’s vaguely interesting to learn something about Michael’s private life, but I don’t think it adds to anything since we already get a good feel for the dead-end life lived by Clayton.
Scene Three is pretty pointless, I believe, as it’s just technical chit-chat, though it does attempt to tell us why the baddies went with such a noisy way to kill Michael.
I like Scene Two, as it’s good to find out just what Michael does for the hit and run that we learn of early in the film. Yeah, it doesn’t really serve the plot, but it bothers me that the final cut leaves us hanging about that circumstance, so I like this segment.
We can watch these with or without commentary from Tony and John Gilroy. They tell us a little about the scenes and let us know why they cut them. Their remarks give us some nice insights.
If you desire a nice throwback to the stark dramas of the 1970s, Michael Clayton should satisfy you. It maintains that era’s grittiness and lack of sentimentality but still manages to feel modern and fresh. Some excellent performances help buoy it and make the movie memorable. The Blu-ray offers generally good picture and audio with a few useful bonus materials. Clayton holds up well as a solid drama.
To rate this film, visit the DVD review of MICHAEL CLAYTON