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ALCHEMY

MOVIE INFO

Director:
Kim Farrant
Cast:
Nicole Kidman, Joseph Fiennes, Hugo Weaving, Maddison Brown, Nicholas Hamilton
Writing Credits:
Fiona Seres and Michael Kinirons

Synopsis:
A family finds their dull life in a rural outback town rocked after their two teenage children disappear into the desert, sparking disturbing rumors of their past.

MPAA:
Rated R

DISC DETAILS
Presentation:
Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
Audio:
English Dolby TrueHD 5.1
English Dolby Stereo 2.0
Subtitles:
English
Spanish
Closed-captioned
Supplements Subtitles:
None

Runtime: 111 min.
Price: $24.99
Release Date: 8/18/2015

Bonus:
• “The Cast” Featurette
• “The Story” Featurette
• Previews and Trailer


PURCHASE @ AMAZON.COM

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


Strangerland [Blu-Ray] (2015)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (August 10, 2015)

Has Nicole Kidman become the queen of the direct-to-video movie? It seems like 90 percent of the DTV discs I receive star either Kidman or Nicolas Cage – and sometimes both of them.

Technically 2015’s Strangerland got a US theatrical exhibition. However, it never ran on more than 15 screens and apparently only stayed in theaters for three days! With a final gross of barely $17,000, I think this becomes the moral equivalent of a direct-to-video release.

Catherine Parker (Kidman) and her husband Matthew (Joseph Fiennes) live in the middle of the Australian desert with their teenage kids Tommy (Nicholas Hamilton) and Lily (Maddison Brown). None of them like the area where they live, and we learn some hints that wild child Lily’s behavior forced the Parkers to move there.

We sense other familial problems through strains in the Catherine/Matthew relationship, but these land on the back burner when Lily and Tommy go missing. Catherine freaks out about this and gets even more concerned when a massive dust storm rolls through town. This creates complications that snarl the search, and additional issues connected to the Parker family’s past add to the intrigue.

On the positive side, Strangerland boasts a nice cast. In addition to Kidman and Fiennes, we find Hugo Weaving as the local police investigator. All do fine in their parts, though I think the movie under-utilizes Fiennes; he gets little to do other than seem wounded or angry.

Of the three, Weaving probably fares the best. Kidman gets the showiest part and she’s fine, but she sometimes seems to try too hard and she overplays the dramatics. Weaving manages a nice balance between concerned and mistrustful as the cop who deals with the widening web of intrigue.

While I like the actors, I think Strangerland fails to give them an especially interesting tale. Part of the problem comes from its confused focus. At times it feels like a police procedural/thriller, while other parts seem like your basic “troubled family drama”.

The various components don’t come together in a particularly smooth manner, so that makes Strangerland something of a mishmash. The tale feels slow and superficial much of the time, as it lacks the dramatic heft to make it succeed. Strangerland manages to keep us moderately involved due to its mystery, but it only sporadically kicks to life.


The Blu-ray Grades: Picture B+ Audio B/ Bonus D+

Strangerland appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.40:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. No substantial issues affected the presentation.

Overall sharpness remained good. A smattering of wider elements could seem a little soft, but those didn’t create real distractions. Instead, the movie tended to be accurate and concise. I noticed no shimmering or jaggies, and the film lacked edge haloes or source flaws.

Given the desert setting, the palette opted for a fairly yellow/sandy look, though Strangerland did the Modern-Day Hollywood thing and featured some teal as well. Within stylistic choices, the hues looked fine. Blacks were deep and dense, while low-light shots depicted appropriate clarity. The image seemed to be more than satisfactory.

Though not quite as good, the movie’s Dolby TrueHD 5.1 soundtrack suited the story. For the most part, this was a subdued affair, as the stark desert setting didn’t require much auditory ambition. The dust storm used the channels to great effect, but it was a brief standout, so the rest of the mix tended toward atmosphere.

Audio quality worked well. Music was full and rich, while speech appeared distinctive and crisp. Effects offered solid clarity and range, with nice low-end at times. I felt this became a “B” soundtrack.

The Blu-ray provides two featurettes: The Cast (8:23) and The Story (5:36). In these, we hear from director Kim Farrant, producers Macdara Kelleher and Naomi Wenck, director of photography PJ Dillon, and actors Nicole Kidman, Joseph Fiennes, Hugo Weaving and Lisa Flanagan. These tell us about story/characters as well as cast and performances as well as the movie’s development and Farrant’s approach to the material. Both featurettes tend to be fluffy and superficial.

The disc opens with ads for Kidnapping Mr, Heineken, The World Made Straight, The Iceman and Good People. We also get the trailer for Strangerland.

Parts of Strangerland fare well, as the movie occasionally lives up to its aspirations to become a dramatic thriller. However, the pacing sputters and the various elements don’t mix together well. The Blu-ray brings us good picture and audio but it lacks substantial bonus materials. Strangerland’s cast carries it but can’t keep it for general mediocrity.

Viewer Film Ratings: 3.5 Stars Number of Votes: 2
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