The whole thing has a ‘made for Oscar Night’ feel
Repetitive head trauma chokes the brain! And turns man into something else.Dr Bennet Omalu is a brilliant, multi-degree holding physician, forensic pathologist and neuropathologist who is credited with discovering chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a degenerative neurological disease, by examining American football players while working at the Allegheny County Coroner's Office in Pittsburgh. His publication caused massive controversy within the Footballing community, specifically with the NFL whose own research flatly contradicted the findings and they used their considerable might to quash the publication. However, with a rising suicide rate (players began shooting themselves in the heart to preserve their brain for research) the tide eventually turned against them, Dr Omalu was vindicated and the NFL began settling lawsuits levied against them.Such is the ‘David and Goliath’ nature of Concussion, starring Will Smith, which highlights this portion of Dr Omalu illustrious career. As a factual story the screenplay, as with all ‘based on true events’ plays a wee bit fast and loose with the truth, but for dramatic effect the narrative plays very well. All the actors, especially Smith (despite a wavering accent), acquit themselves with aplomb, director Peter Landesman keeps the pace high, but not at the expense of character motivations and empathy – indeed the whole thing plays a bit ‘made for Oscar Night’. This is no bad thing, but it does soften the blow of the climax which was more circumstance than fought for by Dr Omalu and, as such, plays out as matter-of-fact rather than little-man-winning, which the film so wants to hang its hat on.
Picture QualityThe disc presents a theatrically correct 1.85:1 1080p transfer using the AVC codec and is Region free.
Detail is incredible for this shot digitally feature, from close up skin texture and clothing weaves to distant cityscape shots of Pittsburgh; there are keen edges throughout never softening unless intended. As clean and crisp as ever there was.
Colours are quite dour; there is a desaturation of reds and greens giving quite a stylised blue/grey (steel – geddit?) image, which nevertheless remains faithful to the director's intentions with no cases of wash or bleed. Skin tones, despite this stylisation, remain good, while the blue tones are strong and limitless.
As clean and crisp as ever there was
Brightness and contrast are set to give deep, sombre and inky blacks that add a huge push of depth and punch to the picture. Check out Smith standing bathed in shadow, barely visible until he takes the slightest step forward; a great showcase for black level. The other end of the scale fairs just as well with whites holding strong without clipping.
Digitally there are no compression issues, no edge enhancement, jaggies or any other problems. The original print is in pin-perfect condition and maintains a filmic quality despite being digital.
Sound QualityI went with the English DTS-HD MA 5.1 track. By its very nature this track is somewhat front loaded, being mainly dialogue led; which is clear, precise, sounds very natural and given a little spread around the front. Effects are, somewhat limited, but cars, trains, street noise, weather all provide the surround speakers with something to do. The score makes the most of the surround environment though, especially the night club scene, where the surrounds and subwoofer conspire to make is sound like you really are there. Bass itself is well maintained and tight giving the mix decent sense of realism, but LF effects are again limited. Overall what is presented is well mixed, clean and bright. Listen out for the woodpecker and its foreboding significance.
ExtrasAudio Commentary – With director Peter Landesman who discusses casting, characters, locations, score, themes, story development, shooting and more in this well-spoken, informative and well delivered track.
Deleted Scenes – Nine in total all around a minute each adding a few character beats but nothing that's missed.
Crafting Concussion featurette – Running just shy of fifteen minutes this brief making of feature covers a lot in its run time, including intervews with plenty of cast and crew.
Inside the True Story featurette – All too brief ten minutes in which cast, crew and those actually involved in the events (including Dr Omalu himself) talk about the facts of this remarkable story, shame about all the clips.
Blu-ray VerdictConcussion is a 2015 film based on the (mostly) true events surrounding Dr Bennet Omalu and whilst pitched as a ‘David v Goliath’ story it really isn’t. There are clear overtones of the myth but Dr Omalu presents his findings in an earnest attempt to better the safety of the players, not to overthrow a corrupt regime. As such the story, while being kept high on pace, characterisation and drama never really hits that ‘little-man-winning-against-the-evil-corporation’ that it is so wants to be. Indeed the climax is more of a matter-of-fact happening than any executed cunning plan. This has the overall effect of deflating the film, somewhat, even if the actors pour their heart and soul into their respective roles in a ‘made-for-Oscar-Night’ rendition whilst the film score, cinematography and narrative follow suit. Ultimately it plays as a TV special, an absorbing and entertaining TV special, but a TV special none-the-less.
Ultimately the film plays as a TV special
As a Blu-ray package the set from Sony Pictures is pitched as a winner; the picture is sublime in its attention to detail, colouring (albeit stylised) and black level, while the DTS-HD MA 5.1 surround track, although mostly front loaded due to the nature of the dialogue-centric narrative, is clear and precise with good bass and a decent surround environment when called upon. The extras are a little weak, considering the true facts of the film, but the director's commentary does make up for some short fall.
You can buy Concussion on Blu-ray here
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