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  • Erin Brockovich (HD DVD)

    Posted in: Disc Reviews by Archive Authors on August 12th, 2007

    Overall
    Film
    Video
    Audio
    Extras
    (out of 5)

    Erin Brockovich tells a story based on a true series of event. Erin (Julie Roberts in her Oscar winning role) has a tough life. She’s a single mother of three kids, her two ex-husbands left her not supporting her or her children, she can’t seem to find any work due to her lack of education, and she has $16 in her bank account. Life seems to be continuing on a downward spiral for Erin. Things start looking up when she is practically handed a job by her defense lawyer Ed Marsy (Albert Finney). It’s here that Erin stumbles upon a case involving PG&E, a $28 billion company that had been disposing a chemical into the local water supply of a nearby town called Hinkley, California.

    Erin and Ed soon find themselves in a lot more than they ever probably bargained for when this case turns more ugly as each minute passes.

    The strength of a film like Erin Brockovich is, like the recent Pursuit of Happyness, the film plays off the emotional reactions the audiences will have for the story and the characters. It’s obvious that whenever a story is presented that features A. characters struggling to overcome seemingly insurmountable odds and B. those same characters overcoming said odds that C. the audience will feel better about themselves and the whole system we live in. Roberts, for the most part (with the exception of a few sequences were she is overly argumentative) is convincing as Brockovich. She displays the necessary emotions of struggle and pain that we, as the audience, can easily identify with. Even though I can’t speak for myself, I’m sure we’ve all known someone who has gone through similar situations where life seems like it’s on the edge, only to be suddenly picked up by a rare fortune of luck.

    I must admit that I was quite surprised by this one as I’ve always found Julia Roberts to be one of those actors who just seems to be ‘there’ in films never really making any substantial impact (even in her big hit Pretty Woman she felt overly flat to me). Roberts captures every necessary emotion with pure finesse; the type of finesse that was very deserving of her Oscar statue. If you haven’t yet seen this one and you have the slightest interest, definitely do so soon. You won’t regret it.

    Video

    Presented in a 1080p, VC-1 Encoded, 1:85:1 Widescreen Aspect Ratio, Erin Brockovich has always had a rather drab look to it with numerous sequences of grain and noise. Luckily this HD release improves the image quite a bit, but these aforementioned problems still exist.

    Color usage was interesting here. During some of the night sequences, I noticed a bit of softness to the print. Now I’ve never seen the SD counterpart completely, but I do recall this softness seemed more prevalent in the SD counterpart. Now this is more than likely a stylistic choice by director Soderbergh (similar to how Traffic looked when released last year), but I felt it helped to capture some of the themes here. Grain is present throughout the film, but again felt more placed that overly annoying or cumbersome. Detail was quite fine here, which surprised me. You can easily make out the little intricate details in the background of the exterior shots. But the overall image seemed to lack that 3-D quality we’ve come to expect. Never did the image ‘pop’ or ever present a really sparking image. Still I suppose most will be pleased with this effort by Universal. I just felt somewhat cheated.

    Audio

    Arriving with the standard Dolby Digital Plus 5.1, Erin Brockvich is a mostly dialogue heavy film, which is translated just fine here.

    Dialogue, as I just mentioned, carries a majority of the film. I never noticed any real instance of muddled or unintelligible dialogue. Surround usage, surprisingly I might add, were rather active here during the opening sequence where Erin is hit and throughout the film via the accompanying score from Thomas Newman. Dynamic Range was active as well with numerous instances of little effects creeping out of the surrounds. All in all this was a fine effort from Universal that helped to translate the themes of the film.

    Special Features

    • Deleted Scenes: Here we get a handful of deleted scenes (roughly 30 minutes) that are definitely worth watching through, especially if you enjoyed the film as much as I did. Oddly enough here, Soderbergh provides comments, but couldn’t sit down and record a commentary?
    • Erin Brockovich:: Here we get a quick (4 minute) clip with the real-life Erin Brockovich.
    • Spotlight: On Location: Running 15 minutes in length, this somewhat brief feature looks at the story of Erin Brockovich in documentary form. Worth a watch I suppose, but this one definitely needed a lengthier run time.

    Closing Thoughts

    Universal has put together a decent package for this one here. With acceptable video, fine audio and a fantastic film, the overall package is only hurt by the lack of any real substantial features (minus the deleted scenes). Recommended for fans and a strong rental for those curious to see if Roberts deserved her Oscar.




    Posted In: 1.85:1 Widescreen, Disc Reviews, Dolby Digital Plus 5.1 (English), Dolby Digital Plus 5.1 (French), Drama, HD-DVD, Universal

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