Burn After Reading Blu-ray Review

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by AVForums Feb 9, 2009 at 12:00 AM

  • Movies review

    Burn After Reading Blu-ray Review
    SRP: £24.99


    Burn After Reading comes to Blu-ray at a theatrically correct 1.85:1, using the VC-1 codec and naturally presented at 1080p. The film itself runs a little 'hot' with exaggerated contrast and colours a little on the dull side. This has obviously been a stylistic choice from the offset.

    The frame continually has tight focusing, leaning in on the principal actor's face at the time and as such the depth of field is rather narrow. This of course means there is a lack of dimensionality within the frame as there is little in the background which is in focus. This doesn't mean to say though that there is any less detail on offer. Skin and hair detail is exemplary along with textures from clothing or the walls and floors of the many buildings which our protagonists inhabit.

    Colours as mentioned above are rather flat and a little under saturated, they are still perfectly defined though and still encased within their respective borders with no bleed on show. Similarly these edges show little if no enhancement even when starkly contrasted against lighter background images. There are no other encoding errors either with no banding or blocking on show.

    Whites are a little bright, again due to artistic choices, yet never really seem to bloom and blacks are more than acceptable with good shadows in Osbourne or Harry's basements. This transfer certainly has that film like feel with a subtle veneer of grain throughout and the print is pristine with no dirt whatsoever. A good enough transfer but one which will not gain any awards in the wow factor.

    Burn After Reading Picture


    There is a good English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 to whet your appetite here but it does little to fulfill any hunger pangs. It's predominantly a frontal based approach with little going to the surrounds to add any ambiance to the mix.

    This in the main is not really required from this feature as with most Coen films the dialogue is so important. However some subtle use in the gym, outside weather effects or even on Osbourne's sailing ship would not have gone amiss. LFE is more or less non existent as again it's not required from this feature.

    That dialogue is well centred and always crisp and clear. Any dimensionality or depth to the mix comes from the score which is wide and distinct from your left and right channels. Tonal range from the middle to upper frequencies are more than acceptable with only the lower tones suffering a little from lack of bass. Again like the video, good enough for the job but little more than that.

    Burn After Reading Sound


    • Finding the Burn - 0:05:21 - 1080i/VC-1

      A brief introduction to the movie with Ethan and Joel. Frances, George and John all saying what they think the movie is about. Ethan and Joel are good to watch and listen to for the all too brief period they are on screen.

    • DC Insiders Run Amuck - 0:12:24 - 1080i/VC-1

      How Ethan and Joel came up with the initial idea for this production. The individual players have brief sections assigned to them, you learn a little about their characters and a little about the actor playing the part. Costume designer, Mary Zophres, has her say on how she decided on the clothes and hairstyles for the characters. Some of the design of the film is touched upon.

    • Welcome Back George - 0:02:51 - 1080i/VC-1

      How Ethan and Joel enjoy working with George and why they wrote this part for him to tempt him back. George has say into why he enjoys working with them.

    There is a BD-Live connection which works perfectly well with additional trailers and some exclusive content which I never signed up to examine. On the whole though this is a bit of a let down really and the poor cousin of this disc as a whole. The Coens have so much to say in their movies that I yearn for a good commentary track from them; but there's not one anywhere to be found here. One which had input from Clooney and or McDormand would have been a more than enjoyable listen I feel. Equally there could have been more said on the production, the writing and connections back to their earlier features. A lost opportunity I feel.
    Burn After Reading Extras


    Burn After Reading is yet another decent film which the Coen brothers have added to their repertoire. What we have is off the wall writing, excellent casting and superb performances from the players they have chosen to fill these particular roles. The plot itself is typical Coen, like many of their other films, occurs during the middle act of someone's life; sometimes there seems to be no start nor end as such, just a brief glimpse into that period in their lives.

    Technically the audio is good and the video is stylised and acceptable. They will not be to everyone's taste but both provide what they need to if not necessarily being real demo stuff. Don't let the final score put you off though because this is only brought down with what I felt were a definite lack of a decent set of extras.

    There's only a few directors these days that I would watch blind and the Coen brothers have to be top of that list for me right now. I have always enjoyed their films and they have never let me down. They continue to produce entertaining, humourous movies which never fail to impress. This is yet another to add to that list and one which I can definitely recommend you buy and add to your Coen collection.

    Burn After Reading Verdict

    Suggested retail price when reviewed: £24.99

    The Rundown



    Picture Quality


    Sound Quality






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