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Body of Lies Blu-ray impressions

Blu-ray

This evening, we watched Body of Lies, Ridley Scott’s most recent film. I tend to find Scott rather frustrating as a filmmaker. On the one hand, he has one of the best visual eyes of any Hollywood director, and when he’s on the ball and has a decent script to work with, can turn out some truly terrific material. On the other hand, of late he has demonstrated a rather unfortunate habit of picking scripts that just aren’t all that involving. To this day I haven’t managed to make it through American Gangster, and I found Body of Lies to be similarly heavy-going. In spite of the topical material (or, actually, possibly because of it), I just didn’t find myself connecting with any of the characters. Leonardo Di Caprio and Russell Crowe are both fine actors, but their characters never really came to life for me, and more often than not I felt as if I was just watching them wandering from one plot point to another, with nothing to involve me along the way. Frankly, the film just sort of “is”, and while it’s technically extremely well-made, and well-acted across the board, I just wish I had more of a reason to care about what was going on.

As for the disc, Warner really impressed me here. I’m accustomed to finding their transfers rather underwhelming, so it was a delight to be greeted by this extremely crisp and, for the most part, nicely-encoded image. Grain is superbly reproduced and detail is excellent, with no evidence of filtering or sharpening of any sort. Over at the AV Science Forum, Joshua Zyber pointed out some macro-blocking in Chapter 31, describing is as “some of the worst macroblocking” he’d ever seen on a BD. Naturally, I was on the look-out for it, and it’s true, there is some blocking in this scene (the walls and roof in a hospital ward in certain close-ups of Mark Strong are affected - see Example 15). However, I personally would describe it as fairly minor and can name several BDs with significantly worse compression problems. It’s certainly the only blight on what is otherwise an absolutely stellar encode. 9.5/10

Body of Lies
studio: Warner; country: USA; region code: ABC; codec: VC-1;
file size: 25.5 GB; average bit rate (including audio): 28.45 Mbit/sec

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Posted: Thursday, February 26, 2009 at 10:14 PM | Comments: 2
Categories: BD Impressions | Blu-ray | Cinema | Technology | Web

 
Comments

1.

I was just thinking that since the issue is so small perhaps this film should go on the main list over at AVS rather than the minor issues list as per page one and the new criteria at the top of the page.

Posted by: FoxyMulder, February 27, 2009 2:41 PM

2.

I first saw this in December and, having seen it again on a plane yesterday, I am even more fond of it. Its greatest strength, in my opinion, is the way it depicts both the centre of the Middle East and the ambiguity that spawns from our cross-cultural exchanges, galvanised in the film by its backdrop of the war on terror. There is an appropriate shade of grey throughout the entire film and I find it refreshing for Hollywood to attempt to depict day-to-day operations as opposed to making more generalised statements on the supposed state of a suicide bomber or on the root cause of the current West/Middle East "crisis" (cf. The Kingdom, Syriana).

Body of Lies is intelligent, seemingly well researched and focused: it does not work in broad themes but in engaging detail. As someone who spends time in the Middle East, I think Body of Lies does more to capture the personal exchanges and the material/physical challenges than most other films of its ilk.

Posted by: Richard Booth, March 2, 2009 8:07 PM

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