Future connections ignite in this outstanding romantic sci-fi drama
Her Blu-ray Review
Don’t let the loose overview that “it’s about a man who falls in love with his computer” put you off, Her is a striking new romantic drama from director Spike Jonze.Equal parts intimate and insightful, it offers up a wonderfully alternative look at love, relationships, self-awareness and, basically, life itself. It could so easily be charting a regular romance, following the highs and lows of a fledgling couple; fighting, against the odds – amidst both welcome support and judgmental criticism from their friends – to stick together. To make it work. Jonze’s Oscar-winning screenplay is a stunning piece of writing; a masterwork. He’s crafted a beautiful love story, about Joaquin Phoenix’s man and Scarlett Johansson’s machine (putting in arguably her best performance), which playfully mirrors relationships we all know and are familiar with, and from which the very lead character himself has just come out of. And Jonze unfolds all of this within the colourful setting of the future.It takes some serious skills to combine romance and sci-fi in such a way as to, at the end of the film, leave you equally in awe of the scope of the sci-fi concepts as you are warmed by the life-changing romance of it all. Making a film about, on the face of it, a man falling in love with his OS is a hell of a feat in and of itself, but Jonze adds in so many more layers, stewing them all together in a beautiful blend of age-old traditions and futuristic conceits; relationship paradigms and blow-your-mind existentialism. Indeed, it’s as if this were a film between a guy and a girl on a phone, not a girl in a phone, so subtle is the way that the film allows us to explore our present through a vision of the future.
Her Blu-ray Picture QualityHer comes to UK Region B-locked Blu-ray complete with a nigh-on-perfect 1080p/AVC-encoded High Definition video presentation framed in the movie’s original theatrical aspect ratio of 1.85:1 widescreen. Detail is superbly observed, with resounding clarity throughout, no signs of any softness, and thankfully also no signs of overt digital tinkering – no edge enhancement, no unruly DNR application, no banding or blocking. The image looks pristine, taking in skin textures, clothing weaves and background detail with clinical precision.
Future-perfect video adorns this sci-fi gem.
The most striking thing is the colour of the future, most obviously the workplace, but also in terms of clothing and living area. Of course there are almost no vibrant primary tones, instead we’re bombarded with pastel shades which make the future look like a hi-tech repurposed version of the 60s. Black levels are strong and deep, allowing for some rich night-set sequences. Overall this is a beautiful-looking movie.
Her Blu-ray Sound QualityThe accompanying DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track may be far from grandstanding – inherently limited by the nature of the content – but it is still no less impressive in its sheer potency and skilful precision. Dialogue is given clear and coherent presentation, largely emanating from across the fronts and centre channels, although Samantha’s in-ear words are sometimes given a more ethereal, all-around feel so that she practically gets inside your head.
Evocative and engaging, the accompanying soundtrack provides the perfect atmospheric backdrop.
Effects are almost entirely of the ambient variety, crafting a heady but perfectly future-natural environment within which the scenes can take place, offering up the same sparsely clinical feel as the visuals whilst similarly exposing the wanton loneliness with the buzz of people all ostensibly talking to themselves, and ignoring those actually present around them. The score is understated but further lends emphasis to the material as it transitions from melancholy to fun, romantic to sorrowful, never taking you out of the futuristic environment either. Surrounds are superbly utilised to create the atmosphere, and the LFE channel brought in to lend the track further weight. Perhaps not obvious demo material, Her nonetheless earns such status, and impresses thoroughly.
Her Blu-ray ExtrasA trio of Featurettes adorn the disc, although they are far from your usual fare, with a 24-minute documentary entitled The Untitled Rick Howard Project that is done almost in a Jonze style and is the complete antithesis of the usual EPK fluff, capturing the mood and feel for the production whilst ruminating on its themes. Her: Love in the Modern Age compiles a series of non-filmmaker-related interviews into a quarter-hour piece where they all discuss love in the 21st Century, as impacted upon by changes in the dominance of the sexes, sexuality, modern technology, cultural evolution, marriages and relationships in general. The disc is rounded off by an “Exclusive” Behind the Scenes piece, which appears to resemble the US How Do You Share Your Love with Somebody extra, and is a 3-minute montage of extra footage set to a conversation from the two leads.
For any other release, these Extras would have been: a standard EPK Featurette, a collection of Interviews and some Deleted Footage, but for Her – as perhaps you’d only expect – it’s very different indeed, and very welcome those differences are.
Is Her Blu-ray Worth BuyingHer may just be one of the most overlooked, atypical features of the first quarter of 2014, promoting itself in such a disarming fashion, when the reality is that Jonze and co. snuck into Awards season a genuine sci-fi contender, which marries futuristic concepts with existential conundrums; life-changing questions with a life-changing romance, and does so with grace and beauty, and innovation and insight.
You don’t just find this human/AI relationship believable, you get drawn right into it as well.
Stunning video and atmospheric audio lend further weight to this future-present exploration of relationships, love, and existence, and the unique extras, whilst not expansive, flesh out the background of the production, but do so whilst maintaining the flair of the production. Fans should consider this a must-have release, interested newcomers could do far worse than just giving this a blind buy.
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