Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Room Blu-ray Review

Reviewed by Allie Schembra
Academy Award and Golden Globe winner Brie Larson (Best Actress, Room, 2015) and Screen Actors Guild Award nominee Jacob Tremblay (Best Supporting Actor, Room, 2015) bring to life the fearless determination of a mother and child who risk everything to break out of captivity and embrace their freedom in the critically acclaimed film RoomLarson has won Best Actress awards from the Independent Spirit Awards, Screen Actors Guild, National Board of Review, and multiple film critics' societies for her portrayal of the fiercely protective Ma. Directed by Lenny Abrahamson (Frank), Room features heart-wrenching performances by Academy Award nominees Joan Allen (Best Actress, The Contender, 2000; Best Supporting Actress, The Crucible, 1996; Best Supporting Actress, Nixon, 1995) and William H. Macy (Best Supporting Actor, Fargo, 1995) as parents who have finally been given back their daughter, and Sean Bridgers (HBO's "Deadwood") as the man who abducted her

Film (4 1/2 out of 5 stars)
When I first heard of it, I wasn't sure I wanted to see of would even like Room, but after seeing previews, I knew I wanted to see it in the theater. Unfortunately, I missed it in the theater, so when given the chance to review the Blu-ray, I jumped on it. I loved this movie. It was not as sad and depressing as I thought it would be, and I loved all the characters in it (save for their captor.)

Ma and Jack live in "room," an 11x11 foot shed in an undisclosed location in Ohio. Ma has been in "room" for seven years, and Jack is five years old. When Ma was taken, she was 17 years old. Jack and Ma have a daily routine, which includes watching TV, doing exercises, school lessons, cooking meals, cleaning and other things to keep them busy. They never leave "room."

To answer Jack's questions about the world he sees on the television, Ma tells him it's not real, just make believe. She doesn't believe that they will ever leave "room." On Jack's fifth birthday, Ma makes a cake for him, but has no candles because "Old Nick," the man who kidnapped Ma all those years ago, won't bring her any. For anything they need, "Old Nick" brings it in, and Ma has to ask him for everything. "Old Nick" stays for a few hours and Ma hides Jack in the wardrobe and does her best to keep Jack safe from "Old Nick."

With each passing day, Ma tries to come up with an escape plan, finally explaining to Jack that the outside world is real and tells him of her life before "room." She comes up with a plan to get Jack out of "room" and tells him what to do. When "Old Nick" takes Jack's carpet-wrapped body out of "room" Jack finally sees what the world is like. Jack jumps from the back of the truck and finds a man who calls the police. Jack is able to lead the police back to the "room," where Ma is rescued. Jack and Ma are reunited with Ma's parents, and they return to Ma's childhood home. 

Reintegration isn't as simple as they think, though and Ma finally agrees to give an interview to a reporter about her ordeal. When the interview turns to why Ma didn't make "Old Nick" take Jack and give him up, she ends the interview and goes into a deep depression. After a suicide attempt, Ma ends up in the hospital and Jack is left with his grandparents. He bonds with his grandmother and begins adjusting to his new life, even making a friend. When Ma returns, he asks to go back to "room," and once there, he notices how small it really is. 

After saying goodbye to "room," the two leave it for the final time and move on with their lives.
Room was such an amazing movie. I felt so much sympathy for the characters, yet really wanted them to plan a grand escape. The 11x11 room was so stifling that even I felt a bit claustrophobic just watching. Brie Larson was fabulous as "Ma," and absolutely deserved the Academy Award for this character. Little Jacob Tremblay was so good as "Jack." He really portrayed innocent, scared, timid and unsure about the world. Joan Allen and William H. Macy were excellent as Ma's parents, both having different reactions to the return of their daughter and finding out that she has a son.

The direction was wonderful; I can't imagine directing a movie that mostly takes place in an 11x11 space. Bringing "room" to life was a challenge and Lenny Abrahamson did such a great job. He really made the story believable and I felt myself being pulled into the story and the becoming really invested in the characters. The room itself was small and depressing, but Ma made it a home... the only home Jack knew. Everything about Room was impressive and well-done. 
Video (4 out of 5 stars)
The 1080p high definition, widescreen presentation of Room was excellent. While I noticed a few fuzzy parts, the majority of the picture was crisp and clear. Colors were accurate and the dreariness of "room" was spot on. I really enjoyed how bright the picture got once Ma and Jack got out of "room" and liked how the picture not only showed what was happening, but also told the story.
Audio (4 out of 5 stars)
Room's English 5.1 DTS-HD master audio was also very good. The dialogue was easily hear and volume levels were even. I loved how there wasn't much ambient noise, but when there was, there was a reason for it. It wasn't just there to be there. The music chosen was haunting, but at the same time, hopeful and it was easy to get lost in the music. Subtitles in Spanish and English SDH are available for those who need them.
Extras (3 1/2 out of 5 stars)
The special features included were really interesting and I enjoyed each one. My favorite was the feature describing "room" and how it was created and moved to Los Angeles for the premiere. 
  • Making Room (12:03) -- behind the scenes of the movie with cast and crew interviews.
  • 11x11 (9:06) -- a discussion about the room and how it was created. Talk about the novel and how it was brought to life
  • Recreating Room (4:23) -- set designers talk about building Room and then taking it apart and moving it from Canada to Los Angeles for the premiere.
  • Trailers
  • Bookmarks
Summary (4 out of 5 stars)
I loved Room. I could go on and on about everything that makes this movie so great, but then no one would really need to watch it for themselves. It's not as sad and depressing as one might think. All the actors were wonderful in their roles, and Brie Larson absolutely deserved all the awards she was nominated for and won. I may not watch Room often, but it's definitely one I will watch again and again.

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