Friday, January 23, 2015

Gone Girl Blu-ray Review

Reviewed by Jami Ferguson
Gone Girl - directed by David Fincher and based upon the global best seller by Gillian Flynn - unearths the secrets at the heart of a modern marriage. On the occasion of his fifth wedding anniversary, Nick Dunne (Ben Affleck) reports that his beautiful wife, Amy (Rosamund Pike), has gone missing. Under pressure from the police and a growing media frenzy, Nick’s portrait of a blissful union begins to crumble. Soon his lies, deceits and strange behavior have everyone asking the same dark question: Did Nick Dunne kill his wife?

Film (4 out of 5 stars)
This is one of those movies where even trying to summarize the movie could spoil the film for others, so I will try to avoid that in this review. IMDB summarizes Gone Girl as follows: “with his wife's disappearance having become the focus of an intense media circus, a man sees the spotlight turned on him when it's suspected that he may not be innocent.” Twentieth Century Fox goes a bit further to say “On the occasion of his fifth wedding anniversary, Nick Dunne reports that his wife, Amy, has gone missing. 

Under pressure from the police and growing media frenzy, Nick's portrait of a blissful union begins to crumble. Soon his lies, deceits and strange behavior have everyone asking the same dark question: Did Nick Dunne kill his wife?” That’s about all you really want to know about this film going into it.  I won’t go into any further details about how the plot unfolds to avoid spoilers.  If you do know what’s going on, (perhaps you’ve read the book or read too many Facebook posts) the story is still very interesting to see on the screen.  

Anything with a good plot twist usually gets ruined, so if you can, watch the film sooner rather than later. Nick is played by Ben Affleck.  The film takes you from the moment he met his wife Amy (Rosamund Pike) through their engagement, marriage, their move to the suburbs, and eventually her disappearance.  When Nick becomes a suspect, he needs the service of attorney Tanner Bolt (Tyler Perry) and finds himself in the crosshairs of television personality Ellen Abbot (Missi Pyle).  Every aspect of Nick’s life is questioned, including his relationship with his sister and business partner Margo (Carrie Coon). 

Amy’s parents become heavily involved in the search and soon point a finger at Nick.  We learn that a literary character called Amazing Amy was based on their daughter’s life and you realize how important publicity and public perception is to Amy’s family.  Amy’s former relationships also come into play including her wealthy ex-boyfriend Desi (Neil Patrick Harris). With David Fincher directing, you can expect a dark and twisted ride and it feels as though all characters, big and small, play a significant role.

The big screen adaption of Gillian Flynn’s novel “Gone Girl” was released on Blu-ray on January 13, 2015.  Flynn also wrote the screenplay for the film which has received numerous award nominations.  Actress Rosamund Pike is nominated for a 2015 Academy Award for Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role. Golden Globe nominations were received for Best Director, Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture, Best Screenplay and Best Original Score – Motion Picture. The film and its actors have been awarded multiple film critics association awards.  With all the buzz around the book and the movie, I managed to miss seeing this during its theatrical release.

I may have gone into this with low expectations, but I liked the film much more than I expected.  I’m not a huge fan of Ben Affleck in general, but he was a good choice for the role of Nick.  I’m even less of a fan of Rosamund Pike, but she was also well cast in this film.  David Fincher is obviously an expert at building tension and revealing secrets in a timely matter.  The viewer is intentionally kept in the dark for much of the film.  This is the type of film that takes the viewer on a ride you should just enjoy.  If you spend too much time thinking through every possibility you’ll probably miss a lot of subtle details.  

As I write this review I’ve only seen the film once but I wager that I’ll notice new particulars the second time around. More than one of my friends (adult females) commented that they watched the film with their parents and were highly embarrassed.  Be warned that the film contains some explicit sex scenes, and brief frontal male nudity, that may be uncomfortable to watch with parents and grandparents.
Video (4 1/2 out of 5 stars)
Gone Girl is presented on Blu-ray with an AVC encoded 1080p transfer and a 2.40:1 ratio.  The film has a consistent yellow hue that is almost a character of its own. Fine detail is excellent and transitions well through a variety of lighting conditions.  With only a single feature on the Blu-ray disc, the film is not overly compressed – even with a 149 minute run time.
Audio (4 1/2 out of 5 stars)
Gone Girl offers a subtle but impressive DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 mix. Trent Reznor’s Oscar nominated score helps build tension and attitude in this thriller. Environmental sounds round out the ambiance and show great directionality. With narration by the main characters, dialogue is clean and consistent throughout without being overwhelming. Everything you hear is intentional and adds to the mood and success of this film.
Extras (2 out of 5 stars)
For such a publicized film I expected a long list of special features with a significant focus on Gillian Flynn. Instead the Blu-ray offers only audio commentary from Director David Fincher. Fincher’s commentary is entertaining, but is more humorous and less technical than I expected. Additionally, the Blu-ray case contains “Amazing Amy Tattle Tale”, a reproduction of one of the stories about Amy where Amy learns some lessons about honesty and responsibility.
Summary (4 out of 5 stars)
If you haven’t read the book, Gone Girl offers genuine surprises.  Even if you have read the book, the film generates genuine tension and thrills and is well acted and directed.  With a two and a half hour run time, some will complain that it takes too long to get going but I enjoyed every minute.  When many films push the two hour mark I start wondering if they are going to wrap it up soon, and that didn’t happen with Gone Girl. The combination of Fincher’s directing and Flynn’s writing worked well for me.  With a stellar audio and visual presentation, the only place the Blu-ray was lacking was in the special features department.  I recommend watching and owning Gone Girl on Blu-ray.

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