(500) Days of Summer Blu-ray Review
'(500) Days of Summer' is presented in widescreen 2.40:1 with MPEG-4 AVC 1080p coding.
Shot with a budget of only $7.5 million, the image is crisp and sharp for the duration. The print, as is to be expected for such a recent movie, is in pristine condition with absolutely zero damage. The level of detail is impressive, with dirty marks visible on the seats of the karaoke bar and background signs/the text on greetings cards are clearly legible. Some of Tom's intricate drawings also expose the fine detail on this release, with even his tiny, painstakingly drawn windows in his “mini-cities” standing out with sharp definition. All of the titles of the movies in the second hand record store are also perfectly defined. There's also plenty of detail in the various subtle patterns of Summer's attire, her origami ordained abode and the majority of textiles throughout have almost tangible textures. The facial close ups reveal Deschanel's stunningly large and sparkling sapphire blue eyes, not to mention the downy fuzz on her chin/arms (the trappings of high definition at work!). The contrast ratio is strong for the duration, with a nice white balance and strong black levels, although they do not quite reach the inky depths which BD is capable of. Shadow detail is also spot on, even during the more dimly lit portions of the presentation.
The colour palette is pastille heavy, with the dull browns and greens of Tom's pullovers dominating and seem to almost perpetuate to the rest of the presentation. There are no really vibrant instances of colouring, aside from when Tom is loved up to the nines but overall the naturalistic, almost sepia (at times), palette really suits the source material. This was a directorial choice to add to the tone, as all primary colouring, aside from the stunning Summer-blue, was omitted. There is a gentle fizz of grain for the duration but this is always organic and unobtrusive. The majority of the scenes exude a pleasing depth and the mid range shots reveal a pleasing three-dimensionality, with the some of the city-scape scenes adding a tiny taste of that sought after3D-pop factor (and exposing a lot of nice detail, such as gargoyles etc). I did note a couple of soft scenes but I will only remove half a point as this may also have been an intentional directorial decision.
An eight is awarded here and with this BD release looking very good indeed, it comes recommended.
'(500) Days of Summer' comes with a dts HD Master Audio 5.1 surround track.
The audio mix on this BD release is largely dialogue driven, with the only other facet adding any audio impact coming by way of the score. There aren't a whole lot of audio effects but the all important dialogue is never difficult to follow and is firmly rooted to the centre channel. There were a few audible nuances noted, such as the “pock” of the Wii-mote as Tom and Rachel play Wii tennis or the buzz of activity in the office area. For the majority of the presentation the audio action is pretty much locked to the front three channels, with only a couple of scenes waking the surrounds and subwoofer from their slumber. This is not a flaw of the mix but rather the manner in which the surround track was originally engineered. It's subtle and unassuming, as if afraid to come to the forefront to disturb the delicate and fragile romance of Tom and Summer.
One of the most talked about points of this movie was the soundtrack. Many heralded it as cool and trendy but for me it was only so-so. It really is a little too contemporary for its own good at times, with many of the tracks standing as modern “classics”; which translates to shallow and commercial in this reviewer's book (with the exception Wolfmother of course!). The surround bleed is pretty much nonexistent (aside from a few of the tracks, such as the upbeat numbers) and the majority of the score was firmly rooted to the front stereo channels, which is perfectly weighted with nice treble. The bass presence is for the most part soft and gentle, suiting the presentation to a tee.
This is most definitely not one to show off the power or the agility of your surround system but the material is presented in a gentle, almost nonchalant manner, as the director intended. This release gets a solid seven but is nowhere near an eight.
'(500) Days' comes packed with an admirable selection of extras, most of which add interesting and worthwhile insight into the feature presentation. There's also a digital copy of the movie included, in addition to the BD.
First up we've got a commentary track from Marc Webb, Writer Michael Weber, Writer Scott Neustradter and Joseph Gordon-Levitt. Webb does most of the talking and goes into plenty of detail regarding his directorial choices for the movie, characterisation and all of the concepts contained in the story. Levitt gives his experiences on working with Webb and also his thoughts on working on such an intimate project. Both point out many of the nuances of the piece for the duration of the commentary. The writers also add their opinions on the story and how well their tale has been adapted for the silver screen. There's plenty of amusement during throughout and all the participants seem to get on very well with one another. This track is most certainly worth a listen and there's some really worthwhile content included.
“Lost Days of Summer: Deleted and Extended Scenes" (HD) - This extra offers nine additional scenes, with option commentary from Marc Webb, Writer Michael Weber, Writer Scott Neustradter and Joseph Gordon-Webb. “Date with Alison (Day 345)” - this scene is an extension from the one included in the movie. The commentary adds a lot of information on the scenes themselves and why they were cut. “Tom sees Summer Everywhere (Day 306)” - A short scene but one that should have been left in the finished product as its really pretty cool. “The Worst Morning Ever” - another pretty cool (and hilarious) scene that was cut from the movie and one which shows the worst day of Tom's life. “Tom in the Movie Theatre (Day 286)” - an extended scene from when Tom features in his own French tragedy. “Tom and Summer Argue” - an alternate to the scene where Tom and Summer have their big bust up and again I believe that this should have been left in as its much more amusing than the scene which replaced it. “Paul Meets Summer” - an extended scene of the moment when Summer meets Paul; no great loss. “Family Dinner (Day 11)” - this deleted scene follows on from the Wii tennis scene and again, is no great loss. “I think we should stop seeing each other” - a deleted scene that is very short and very insignificant. “Love Testimonials” - an extended version of the scene included in the movie and they're really not that different. A couple of very worthwhile additional scenes here, which is refreshing from the usual rubbish included in the additional supplements.
“Not a Love Story: Making (500) Days of Summer” (HD 29mins) - Webb, the writers, the producers and all the cast provide their thoughts on the movie. There's discussion from all the aforementioned participants on the movie itself and the part they played in making the magic happen. The non linear fashion in which the movie is presented, the characters (and the actors), Webb's directional style and all the sets are discussed. There's plenty of interviews, b-roll/behind the scenes footage and scenes from the movie itself are all included her. Well worth a watch.
Sumer at Sundance (HD 13mins) - This mini-documentary gives us a behind the scenes glimpse of the premiere (and subsequent reactions) of '(500) Days of Summer' at the Sundance Film Festival.
Audition Tapes (SD 6mins) - This interesting feature contains Matthew Gray Gubler's (Paul) and Geoffrey Arend's (McKenzie) audition tapes for the movie. There's also an additional commentary track from Webb, during which he gives his impression of the actors and why they were chosen.
Summer Storyboards (SD) - This feature offers the storyboards for “The Summer Effect” and “Reality/Expectation” as well as a storyboard to film comparison of both. There's also another interesting commentary track with Webb.
“Break Dance” (SD 4mins) - This is a (very) short film, which was directed by Webb and which stars Gordon-Levitt and Deschenal, depicting a robbery which turns into a music video with the two stars dancing. I'm not too sure what the point of this is and it's a bit silly; music video indulgence I suppose.
Mean's Cinemash: “Sid and Nancy/(500) Days of Summer” (HD 3mins) - Another Webb short, in which his two favourite stars parody Sid and Nancy. Again a bit silly but at least they're making the effort to make worthwhile extras.
Music Video:“Sweet Disposition by The Temper Trap” (SD 4mins) - A Webb directed music video for the title track to the movie, which is sung by a rubbish, Coldplay type band.
Conversations with Zooey and Joseph (HD 12mins) - In this series of short (scripted) conversations, the two stars of the movie discuss acting versus reality, the creative process for making the movie, their favourite parts of LA, karaoke singing and the role music plays in the movie (and also She And Him - Zooey's “band”). I would imagine that this feature would only be interesting for fans of these two actors but to the layman it's not very interesting at all.
Filmmaking Specials (HD 7mins) - Webb speaks about why he cast the two main leads and how perfect they are in each of their respective roles, the stats of the “Summer effect”, the colour palette, . There's a Fox Movie Channel Special with Deschanel and Gordon-Levitt. Although the majority of the content is brief, there's some interesting features none-the-less.
Trailers (HD) - Here, for your viewing pleasure, are trailers for 'Adam', 'Amelia' and 'Fame'.
'(500) Days of Summer' was released this year (2009) and was the first feature length production from former music video director, Mark Webb. Joining this fledgling director are a cast of relative unknowns (in the movie world), with Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Zooey Deschenal, playing the lead characters. This is a story of boy meets girl but it's not your average love story. It follows Tom (Gordon-Levitt) and Summer (Deschenal) as they embark on an unusual relationship of discovery, based purely on the pursuit of happiness. While this seems like an attractive proposal to both, it's not long before things begin to sour. The plot follows a completely non linear timeline of said "500 Days of Summer" and the entire piece is presented in a engaging, witty and genuinely enjoyable manner, with some novel direction from Webb and strong performances from the entire cast. Reaffirming its position, with a couple of Golden Globe nominations, as a sleeper hit of 2009, this movie comes recommended to all.
The video presentation is sharp and well defined for the duration, exposing a lot of detail and exuding a pleasing depth (for the majority). The audio presentation is largely front-heavy and unassuming but this really suits the presentation and is in line with the director's intentions. The extras package contains some worthwhile content and the commentary track from the director, writers and cast adds an extra layer of understanding to the feature presentation. Overall this is a worthwhile BD release and comes recommended.
Suggested retail price when reviewed: £24.77
Our Review Ethos
To comment on what you've read here, click the Discussion tab and post a reply.