Invictus Blu-ray Review
'Invictus' arrives on UK Region free Blu-ray with an excellent 1080p VC-1 encoded transfer framed in the 2.40:1 aspect ratio.
The bright South African sun produces a certain look that is different from anywhere else in the world. The colours of the countryside tend to glow, yet there is a dustiness to be seen. This is all captured in Tom Stern's cinematography and thankfully it hasn't been lost in the transfer.
It does not appear to be bitingly sharp but this simply reflects the look of the film and it's most definitely not soft or fuzzy. Occasionally there is some noticeable grain to behold, but it does not interfere with the feel of the piece.
Skin tones look good, from Freeman's dark textured complexion to Damon's young 'pretty' pink visage.
In the night shots we get deep blacks and contrast is good throughout the whole film. It doesn't have a great depth to the image but we do see a significant amount of detail such as in close ups - and the rugby match footage looks great.
Overall, a very nice transfer indeed.
The audio on 'Invictus' comes in a DTS HD MA 5.1 surround flavour and it serves its purpose well. A large part of the film is dialogue led, so the mix concentrates on giving us clear, crisp voices from the front centre channel. At other times the surrounds are used to provide some atmosphere to the locations. However, where they really come alive is at the rugby matches with crowd noise and on the pitch action where you feel every contact.
The main stereo pair spring to life with the rousing score which in itself is emotive stuff. The use of the LFE is not headache inducing, but restrained although a standout moment just has to be where the Jumbo Jet flies over the Rugby stadium. You can almost feel the draught. A good mix that doesn't dilute the image projected by the visuals.
'Invictus' comes in a 2 disc set with disc 1 containing the Blu-ray of the movie while disc 2 houses the DVD version and Digital Copy. The following Extras are featured on disc 1.
- Mandela Meets Morgan (HD, 28 mins)
This featurette covers wider ground than the title suggests. It begins by showing the meeting between Morgan Freeman and Nelson Mandela so we can see how alike they are. Freeman had to watch footage of Mandela to learn his speech patterns and copy his movements. There's input from various production people as well as friends of Mandela who found Freeman's photocopy portrayal a bit spooky.
We then move on to look at Matt Damon and Francois Pienaar - and we hear of Damon's concern about playing someone who was physically much bigger than himself. We are also acquainted with of the problems involved in casting full rugby teams. This is a very nice bit of background to the film that should be of interest to most movie buffs.
- Matt Damon Plays Rugby (HD, 7 mins)
This short focuses on Matt Damon training to play rugby and feels the need to point out the differences between soccer and rugby. Basically it's an excuse to use the 'gentlemen's game played by hooligans' saying and its converse. Even Clint Eastwood became a rugby fan during the making of the film.
- 'Invictus' Music Trailer (HD, 3 mins)
As it says, this is a trailer which uses very little dialogue but is strong on the use of music. I liked it and it was good to see how it was promoted in cinemas.
- PIP feature: Vision, Courage and Honor
This is a fairly high faluting title for a pretty good picture-in-picture feature that runs inside the main feature. When activated, a small icon appears top left while a PIP frame appears bottom right containing 'talking heads'. It features interviews with most of the people involved in the film including its South African scriptwriter Anthony Peckham, director Eastwood and Morgan Freeman as well as those involved in the real life events. Very interesting to both historians and film lovers.
- The Eastwood Factor (SD, 22 mins)
This is an excerpt from a longer documentary about Clint Eastwood's years at Warner Bros., made by film historian Richard Schickel.
It's an interesting taster for the full length documentary which will be released later to coincide with Clint's 80th birthday. The premise is that they stroll around the Warner backlot as Clint recalls his work there and the film goes off to provide a mini featurette on each movie. Eastwood fans will love the doco when it comes out, but I'm not so sure about the incomplete clip.
The Clint Eastwood directed 'Invictus' arrives on UK Region free Blu-ray with an excellent 1080p VC1 encode framed in the widescreen 2.40:1 aspect ratio.
The colours of the South African landscape are accurately reproduced as is the look and feel of the country. Skin tones look great as does contrast, although grain pops up now and again in this faithful transfer to the director's intention.
The DTS HD MA 5.1 surround track gives us good, clear dialogue from the centre channel while surrounds are generally used discretely to add atmosphere but really come alive at the rugby matches. A rousing score by Clint's son Kyle and Michael Stevens lifts the heart at the right moments.
A fine brace of featurettes and a PIP track provide background information on the film that will delight movie buffs and historians alike.
Morgan Freeman's riveting performance as Nelson Mandela and Matt Damon as Captain of the Springboks, Francois Pienaar, together with a cracking script make this true life story of a nation united by sport. A must see.
Suggested retail price when reviewed: £26.99
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- Mandela Meets Morgan (HD, 28 mins)