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Wednesday, January 10, 2018

mother! 4K Ultra HD Review

Academy Award winners Jennifer Lawrence and Javier Bardem deliver unforgettable performances in Academy Award nominated Darren Aronofsky’s praised opus, the film shattered audiences and critics around the world. This visually arresting and psychological thriller will leave your heart pounding and your mind blown. The film also stars Oscar nominees Ed Harris and Michelle Pfeiffer, along with Domhnall Gleeson, Brian Gleeson and Jovan Adepo.


Film (2 out of 5 stars)
BE WARNED - SPOILER FILLED REVIEW
mother! stars Jennifer Lawrence as “Mother,” Javier Bardem as “Him,” and Ed Harris and Michelle Pfeiffer as two additional unnamed characters, “Man” and “Woman.” The story follows Mother and Him, a couple living in an out-of-the-way county house. Him is a writer with severe writing block, and Mother is slowly refurbishing their large country home.

One evening, there’s a knock at the door and when Him opens it, he finds Man standing there. Man tells him that he’s a doctor nearby and thought the house was a bed and breakfast. Him invites Man in and ends up offering him lodging. Mother is not pleased, but clearly goes along with her husband’s decision. That night, Mother wakes up to find Him missing from bed and goes to find him. She finds Him with Man in the bathroom as Man has fallen ill. As Him tells her Man is fine, she notices a large cut in his side that Him tries to cover up.

The next morning, there is another knock at the door and Woman, Man’s wife has arrived. Invited by Him to stay, Man and Woman make themselves at home, to the point where Woman has Mother doing her laundry as she explores the house. Woman makes her way up to Him’s study, where she finds a crystal displayed on the shelf. Mother ushers Woman for the room just in time to see Him and Man arrive back at the house from a walk. Later, Him and Mother hear a crash come from the study, where they find that Man and Woman have broken the crystal. By now, Mother has had enough as kicks Man and Woman out of the house.

But before they can leave, Man and Woman’s two sons arrive to dispute Man’s will before he dies of his illness. A fight ensues and the younger son is almost killed by the older son, who runs away. Him, Man, and Woman take the younger son to the hospital, leaving Mother to clean up the bloody mess in the house. When they return, Mother finds out the son has died and soon after people begin arriving at the house to pay their respects to Woman and Man. As more and more people arrive, the house descends into chaos with people everywhere. When some people cause a flood in the kitchen, Mother emphatically kicks everyone out of the house. After they are gone, Mother and Him argue about their relationship and end up making love. The next morning, Mother tells Him that she is pregnant.

Months later, as Mother prepares to give birth, Him tells her that he’s finished his latest poem and that she was the inspiration. On the night they were supposed to celebrate, Mother finds Him on the porch with a small group of people. Him tells her that they are fans who just wanted to see him. However, more and more people show up and in a repeat of the events from the last time, the house dissolves into chaos… only this time, Mother is pregnant and about to give birth. She finds these people all over the house, stealing Him’s and Mother’s belongings, ripping down walls, and destroying their lovely home. She tries to get them to leave, but instead, the army shows up in full riot gear, which causes more problems. 

As Mother tries to escape, she goes into labor and Him finally rescues her and takes her into his study and barricades the door. After giving birth to a baby boy, Him tells Mother the people outside want to see the baby, but she refuses. Him takes the baby while Mother sleeps and hands him off to his adoring fans. When Mother awakens, she tries to get the baby back from the people, only to find the baby has been sacrificed. In her sorrow, Mother escapes to the basement where she empties the furnace of its oil and lights the house on fire, killing everyone in it. When the fire burns out, Him, having escaped any injury, picks up Mother, who is burned and barely alive, and takes her upstairs where he asks for her forgiveness and love. She agrees, and as she dies, Him reaches into her chest and removes her heart, revealing a new crystal.

mother! is a movie full of symbolism. If you pick up on it, the movie is better that you would think, but personally, I still found it disappointing and a waste of two hours. When I spend more time watching the clock, playing on my phone, letting my mind wander, or a dozen other things, then there is no hope of my ever liking the movie. Most of my disappointment comes from my thinking that this was a straight up psychological horror movie.

I normally really like Jennifer Lawrence, but I found her performance to be pretty one note. I didn’t believe her as angry, terrified, or traumatized, and she was not believable as a wife to Him. Her chemistry with Javier Bardem was lacking and awkward, and while much of it was likely intentional, it took away from the movie for me. To be honest, the best part of the movie was Michelle Pfeiffer as Woman. She brought her typical attitude, facial expressions, and grace to her role. Ed Harris was good as Man, but I think anyone could have been dropped into that role and would have been good. I think that director Darren Aronofsky overthought the story and threw too much symbolism into it which for me, made it almost unwatchable.
Video (3 out of 5 stars)
Other than Michelle Pfeiffer, the best thing about mother! is the video. The 1080p high definition picture is crisp and clear, and the colors are bright or dark and muted depending on the need of the scene. The location was beautiful, and the house was lovely. Scene transitions were good, with no noticeable issues. The 4K version looks much better.
Audio (3 out of 5 stars)
The English Dolby Atmos audio was at best average. I had a hard time hearing much of the dialogue, and couldn’t find an even volume level as the dialogue would be quiet and then the crowds of people would be so loud, I had to adjust the sound again. The uneven sound levels just added to my dislike of the movie. Audio is also available in French 5.1 Dolby Digital, Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital, Portuguese 5.1 Dolby Digital, and English audio description. Subtitles are available in English, English SDH, French, Spanish, and Portuguese.
Extras (1 1/2 out of 5 stars)
With only two items, the special features for mother! were entirely lacking. I did not enjoy them at all.
  • mother! The Downward Spiral: At just over 29 minutes, this behind-the-scenes look at the movie includes interviews with the cast and crew.
  • The Makeup FX of mother!: Of the two features, this was the more interesting one. This is a behind-the-scenes look at the special effects of the movie, including how scenes were completed, how characters that were human were made into animatronic doubles in order to keep the look accurate.
Summary (2 out of 5 stars)
mother! was a waste of my time, and if I had paid money for it, a waste of my money. Even with my understanding of the symbolism of the characters and story, I still sat on my couch for two hours wondering what the heck I was watching. This is not a movie I would recommend to others or will likely ever watch again. I know there are others out there who disagree with me and find that this movie is creative, thought-provoking, and wonderful… I am definitely not one of them. While I can’t (and won’t) recommend it to anyone, if you are a fan of Aronofsky’s work, you might enjoy it. 

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