How I Live Now Blu-ray Review

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by Casimir Harlow Feb 10, 2014 at 10:57 AM

  • Movies review


    How I Live Now Blu-ray Review
    SRP: £19.99

    How I live Now Blu-ray Review

    Despite the misleading preview trailers, How I Live Now isn't merely yet another Twilight-style emo teen-angst love story, only this time set against a backdrop of WWIII.

    Unfortunately, however, it isn't much better than that. Director Kevin Macdonald's adaptation of Meg Rosoff's popular young adult novel probably has more in common with John "Lawless" Hillcoat's relentlessly bleak adaptation of Cormac McCarthy's equally oppressive The Road than anything that the teen-vampire-love department might have to offer. Unfortunately, in spite of the mismarketing, knowing the truth about How I Live Now is not as rewarding a revelation as you might have hoped for.
    Macdonald is no stranger to tales of survival, but his surprisingly small-scale look at a quartet of youngsters - actually, mainly two young girls - trying to survive in the aftermath of the outbreak of war is neither inspirational nor exceptional in any particular way. Sure, it's pretty far from your usual emo teen drivel, and it's considerably more brutal than most would be expecting, but it still feels like it just doesn't have much to say - and certainly nothing new to offer. Indeed, if you've seen The Road then you may well feel like this is just the lite version of a very similar story.

    At the end of the day you'll warm to the set-up, enjoy the characterisations and teen performances - particularly the reliably strong lead, Saoirse "Hanna" Ronan - and be mildly taken aback by the fury of the change-of-events, but then you'll also likely slowly lose interest on the voyage home, as things get ever more predictable, and ever more familiar. A part of me wonders whether more prominently maintaining the telepathic elements from the source book could have given this a little more original worth. As it is, we've seen it all before, and better, so whilst there's nothing particularly wrong with How I Live Now, there's nothing really to write home about it either. For dedicated Saoirse Ronan fans only, as it's really just her OCD protagonist who manages to retain your attention.

    How I live Now Blu-ray Picture Quality

    How I Live Now How I live Now Blu-ray Picture Quality
    How I Live Now arrives on Region B-locked UK Blu-ray courtesy of Entertainment One, complete with a 1080p/AVC-encoded High Definition video presentation in the movie's original theatrical aspect ratio of 1.85:1 widescreen. Detail is generally excellent. Close-ups, normally of Daisy, are staggeringly rich in detail, observing skin texture, pigmentation, freckles, blotches, and the most minute of touches during the less make-up-driven middle section of the feature; whilst clothing weaves and background nuances are evident throughout, and both mid-range and longer shots further often encroach on being picture-perfect. All this with almost no signs of digital defects; absolutely no edge enhancement, no noticeable banding or blocking (although one or two early shots do have a smattering of softness) and no excess DNR application.

    The lush open landscapes pop with presence, and are the highlight of an impressive video presentation

    The film boasts some stunning natural cinematography, and the environment pops with vibrant greens, warm, healthy skin tones, and rich browns. Black levels are strong and deep, and the darker sequences are also amongst the most rewarding, with excellent shadow detail no matter what low level of lighting the shot is afforded. Stylistically it looks identical to its theatrical presentation, and thoroughly impresses in HD.

    How I live Now Blu-ray Sound Quality

    How I Live Now How I live Now Blu-ray Sound Quality
    The audio track is arguably even more impressive, and totally immersive, coming in a DTS-HD 5.1 flavour, and proving to be probably one of the most positive elements in relation to the movie itself, possibly even deserving of a better movie to enhance! Dialogue comes across clearly and coherently throughout, and, even though it is far from a priority in this film, it still gets prioritisation across the fronts and centre channels whenever appropriate.

    Largely thanks to a sublime score, the immersive audio track stands its own alongside the visuals.
    Effects are well-represented, dynamically promoted across the array, frequently breaching the surrounds but providing exceptional use of the rears, as well as the LFE channel, which adds depth and potency to the more engaging flourishes. Fighter planes thunder over your house; military vehicles rumble around your streets; helicopters whip through your neighbourhood; assault rifles echo and reverberate around the environment and, by the end of the piece, you definitely feel like the landscape had been battle-ravaged. It's the score, though, that really trumps everything, providing a wonderfully atmospheric accompaniment to the visuals, and often drowning everything else out to great effect. Overall this is an excellent audio track, easily a high point of the disc.

    How I Live Now Blu-ray Extras

    How I Live Now How I Live Now Blu-ray Extras
    This isn't exactly the biggest release, but I'd have expected a little more than a 5-minute Featurette and a smattering of Deleted Scenes. The Making-Of is nothing more than an utterly worthless, resoundingly fluffy 5-minute EPK jobbie that feels like little more than an extended trailer. Then there's the 5 Deleted Scenes, which are mostly Extended Sequences, and are slightly variable in quality, offer generally passable, but also entirely redundant extra material, almost entirely tipped towards the pre-war part of the movie, which was probably why they were wisely excised. Rounding off the disc are a number of Preview Trailers for current and future cinema releases.

    Is How I live Now Blu-ray Worth Buying

    How I Live Now is more than just Twilight meets the apocalypse, but it's also far less than the promising ingredients might have made for, particularly if they'd made more of the telepathic angle, and the end result, for everything Saoirse Ronan invests in it, is little more than The Road-lite, bleak, enjoyable, but largely too familiar and too undercooked. This Region B-locked UK release, on the other hand, is resoundingly excellent, but for the limited extras, boasting stunning video and sublime audio. It'll no doubt improve your experience of the movie no end.

    Suggested retail price when reviewed: £19.99

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