THE GREY Blu-Ray Review
By: Matt C
THE GREY is an uncompromising, engrossing film that suffers from a dissapointing Blu-ray release. Warning: plot spoilers ahead.
Liam Neeson Interview For THE GREY Part 1-
Death is uncompromising and unrelenting. No matter your physique, personality, or social standing, death will find you regardless if you're ready for it or not. This is where THE GREY exists, thriving on that moment when the end of life arrives. The Grey is less man-vs-wolf showdown, more about how man deals with imminent danger and even death. Each scene of this film is difficult to watch and that's a good thing, from the hostile environment of the frozen wastes of Alaska to the way each of our characters meets their end. In a world where Hollywood glorifies the hero standing in triumph, THE GREY is a winner for its realistic view of the way people face death.
Interview Frank Grillo & James Badge Dale Interview For The Grey Part 3-
The Movie - 4/5
When a plane loaded with oil drillers crashes into the middle of an Arctic Alaskan wasteland, one man must lead the survivors on a deadly journey filled with wild wolves desperate to defend their home from unwelcomed human guests. At the head of this rag-tag group of ex-cons and otherwise hard men is John Ottway (Liam Neeson, Taken), who's been hired by the local oil drilling company to protect the employees from the wolves who roam and own the territory where the company happens to be drilling. Like all of the drillers, Ottway comes from a difficult background, but one which will come in handy after he and the others survive the deadly crash. And from the moment that crash happens, the audience is treated to an engrossing film about survival and death. As Ottway's team is cut down one by one, he desperately seeks an escape, allthewhile dreaming about returning to his wife and the comfort of a tender moment. As the film moves toward a gripping conclusion, Ottway comes face to face with the Alpha wolf, leaving the audience to wonder about the outcome. This movie does not proceed down the path that some would have predicted: there are no happy endings here. However, watching these men get picked off one by one, some by illness, others by simply being beat down by the chase, while others are consumed by the elements, makes you realize how random life can be, and that the choices people make near the end of their lives help us to better understand them. That element is re-visited so often in The Grey, but never overdoes or makes the event itself any less relevant. Direction, music, and casting are excellent, with only minor problems apparent in the script itself. If you're considering the greatest movie thrillers, adding The Grey to it is a necessity.
The Video - 3.5/5
The Grey is presented in a MPEG4-AVC transfer that's free of errors, banding, or edge enhancement. Details on faces, including sweat, hair, and bloody cuts, look terrific. The grit of this movie plays out very well in certain scenes, lending more credibility to the film's punishing nature. Outdoor scenes are another story: although not terrible, these could have been a lot better. Individual flakes on the ground are lost in a bed of white, while contrast between that and darker clothing is problematic. Everything seems to blend into their base colors, with very little detail present in certain scenes. Others, such a CGI nature scenes, are good but not excellent. Colors seem true, but any detail or variation is lost. I wonder if Director Joe Carnahan (Smokin' Aces) meant for these scenes to be so stark, and while I did not see this in the theatre, it's clear that the home video version is missing something.
The Audio - 5/5
If The Grey suffers from a bad video transfer, the audio more than makes up for it, delivering a perfect DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 transfer. While the booming sounds of the airplane crashes, snow storms, gunfire, and wolf effects are impressive, it's the surround environment that makes this transfer so terrific. The lossless sound field wraps the listener, enveloping them in a way few discs do. Extra sounds, such as the sound of wind and feet moving in snow, echoed from my surround setup, making me feel as though I was there. The LFE is powerful, as wolves attack and tear at their victims, but it's also the dialogue which is very clear, never getting crushed by the environment in Carnahan's environment. This is the what audiences should expect from film, and I'm glad to see creators of The Grey spent so much time on this aspect of the transfer.
Supplements - 2/5
One of the most disappointing parts of this release is the lack of quality supplements. With such a talked-about ending, one would have hoped for a roundtable discussion by the cast and crew, or perhaps more technical information on wolves and how CGI and animatronics brought these beasts to life. Instead, we are let down by one of the worst set of supplements in recent memory. Don't blink, or you might miss them all:
Director's Commentary with Director/Writer Joe Carnahan and Editors Jason Hellman and Roger Barton: A potentially interesting but ultimately uneven commentary about the production process, Carnahan spends just enough time addressing the end and post-credits scene without delivering a complete experience. While there is a lot of information about the film (including the incredible plane crash sequence), the commentary turns flat in many places. However, be sure to catch the commentary regarding the family pictures near the film's end. There is some cussing in the commentary, especially at the end, possibly induced by the drinking that apparently occurred during recording.
Deleted Scenes (22:25, HD): There are six sequences provided, including one with Ottway's wife. That is the only item worth mentioning, as the rest are simply extended versions of scenes from the film. Some of these, including an exchange around the campfire, are simply tedious.
The version I reviewed came in a Combo Pack, with a Blu-ray, DVD, and a UV digital copy of the movie. Additionally, there are BD-Live and social network features, as well as a D-Box component. A slipcase was also provided.
The Final Word - 3/5
With such a strong theatrical showing, THE GREY should have received a better home release. Unfortunately, it misses the mark, delivering a disappointing video transfer and a lack of supplements. The audio is terrific, and the film itself a memorizing experience about facing imminent death, provided that one can excuse some of the shortcomings of the home release. Videophiles would be advised to wait for a more robust release, while general audiences probably won't care. The Grey is rated R for violence, sexual situations, and language. This is definitely not a movie for anyone under 17, unless you enjoy comforting your post-nightmare child in the middle of the night.
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