Lion Blu-ray Review
Hole in the heart
Lion is an incredibly powerful - but incredibly painful - emotional voyage, that's familiar but still unmissable, and only for those with strong hearts.Director Gareth Davis's directorial debut Lion packs a tremendous emotional punch, charting a dual tale of loss and - decades later - rediscovery, as Dev Patel's Saroo decides to trace back to the harrowing time when he got lost as a child in India and his whole life changed forever. Along the way, your heart will break as you watch the young Saroo lose what little he had, and you'll cheer for the power of modern technology, without which the older Saroo would never be able to put together the pieces of his childhood life that he's been missing all these years. Based on the biographical book A Long Way Home (by Saroo himself), Davis delivers a very impressive debut that does its best to avoid being too overtly contrived in its quest to tug on your heartstrings, telling a very familiar tale imbued with a rich new flavour.A deceptively visceral experience, Lion is a strong piece of dramatic filmmaking, capturing the hopelessness of Saroo's plight in the impossibly vast environment he gets lost in, and keenly juxtaposing it with the hope found in his increasingly rewarding (although not devoid of heartbreak) adult quest. Channeling the essence of both into the damaged protagonist is Dev Patel, whose inner yearning for self-discovery and fixing such a devastating childhood trauma are worn behind his sorrowful eyes at every stage. It's a powerhouse performance, although again, arguably deceptively so, without the usual grandstanding required to generate this kind of emotional resonance. Although somewhat predictable and ultimately bordering on emotionally manipulative come the finale, this is still an unmissable voyage.
Picture QualityLion reaches UK shores on a Region B-locked Blu-ray courtesy of Entertainment In Video, who deliver it with a 1080p/AVC-encoded High Definition video presentation, framed in the movie's original theatrical aspect ratio of 2.40:1 widescreen.
Although not without its beautiful moments, overall this is a frequently average image that has a surprising number of flaws peppered across its duration. It's solid, and detail remains quite pleasing, with some nice touches, and finer observations, particularly on facial close-ups, but its nothing standout, with the source material failing to ignite your visual sensibilities.
The source material fails to ignite your visual sensibilities
The colour scheme is also limited by the material - and initially the setting (although this eventually changes to a far more vibrant environment) - with greys and browns dominating the frequently dreary palette, but blacks are reasonably strong. It's a flawed image though, clearly at the source, with hints of banding evident and even some varying levels of noise, all of which really shouldn't be present on such a recent production. Still solid, at times very good, it's these defects that bring it down.
Sound QualityThe accompanying DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track is far more impressive and engaging, lapping up environmental noises and delivering decent atmospherics; giving the dialogue priority where necessary; and further plucking at your heart strings with a resonant score.
The soundtrack boasts a surprising punch
The track boasts a surprising punch, whether in the packed streets of India, with some bustling crowds really engulfing you in your living room, or in a thumping nightclub sequence where the beats will shake your sofa. The surrounds get some exceptional use, considering the material, and the LFE throbs far more than you would have expected.
Dialogue remains firmly prioritised across the frontal array, whilst the score gives the surrounds yet more to do, rounding out a demo track that's just shy of reference.
ExtrasA series of five Featurettes - looking behind the author, the performances of Dev Patel and Nicole Kidman, the director and the music - make the meat of the extra material, offering up 20 minutes of background into the production, replete with lots of cast and crew snippets and behind the scenes clips. There's also a Sia Music Video, Never Give Up.
Blu-ray VerdictAlthough somewhat predictable and ultimately bordering on emotionally manipulative come the finale, this is still an unmissable voyage
The Region B-locked UK Blu-ray release delivers solid although flawed video but great audio, as well as a few nice Featurette-based extras, leaving this a decent enough release for fans, and a recommended rental at least to check out this impressive film.
Suggested retail price when reviewed: £17.99
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