Matilda Blu-ray Review

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A faithful, but whimsical take on Roald Dahl's novella

by Simon Crust Nov 13, 2013 at 8:26 AM

  • Movies review


    Matilda Blu-ray Review
    SRP: £19.99

    Matilda Blu-ray Review

    A young girl, who comes from an uncaring and abusive family discovers that knowledge is the key to power and develops strange telekinetic abilities, using them to exact terrible revenge on those that do wrong. No, it’s not Carrie, it’s Matilda; a six year old whose outlook on life is determined by her self-sufficiency and the nurturing relationship she develops with a school teacher who shows her that loving family units do exist and such units are the foundation for healthy development. Actor/director Danny DeVito brings together an all-star assemble, for his faithful, but whimsical take on Roald Dahl’s novella and produces a tale that tells a strong story, with a heart of morality, while being both fun and entertaining without the need for over sentimentality and schmaltz. With slapstick humour, grim menace and some genuine scares, the feature manages to interest both adults and children alike; tonight’s fantasy is Matilda.

    Matilda Blu-ray Picture Quality

    Matilda Matilda Blu-ray Picture Quality
    The disc presents a widescreen 2.40:1 (theatrical OAR 2.35:1) 1080p transfer using the AVG MPEG-4 codec and is Region Free.

    The PR material lists this as a “digitally re-mastered Blu-ray” which as far as I can tell is spin for “Blu-ray” as, whist the image is perfectly acceptable in terms of clarity and detail, it is nothing out of the ordinary and there has been little to no ‘re-mastering’ at all.

    Detail is generally very strong, skin has decent texture, especially the close up of eyes, or Trunchbull’s mottled face, clothing contains close weave (check out Woodworm’s awful ties) and backgrounds contain edges well into the distance; check out the mess in the Woodworm’s house, the schoolroom decorations or the filth of Trunchbull’s home.

    Brightness and contrast are reasonable; there is a sense of black so the chokie, for example, looks suitably dark and the night-time raid on Trunchbull’s home has good shadows. However neither are set to give the picture any real punch and depth is very shallow. Whilst the filming style is concerned too much with frame depth and outward pop, there are no instances where it even came close.

    slightly lacking contrast means that there is no sense of boldness or vibrancy

    Such a setting leads to somewhat flat colouring too, oh the colours are rich enough (again check out Woodworm’s ties) with strong primaries, but the slightly lacking contrast means that there is no sense of boldness or vibrancy; even outside scenes, such as when Trunchbull throws the girl who lands, and gathers flowers, lack any significant verve.

    Digitally there were no compression problems, artefacts, aliasing, posterization or banding; edge enhancement was not an issue either – likewise there is no apparent over-use of the DNR tool, with the image retaining a suitable film-like quality without swimming in grain. In all a very competent picture, but one that simply doesn’t have the necessary punch to stand out from the crowd.

    Matilda Blu-ray Sound Quality

    Matilda Matilda Blu-ray Sound Quality
    I listened to the English dts-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround track. Much like the picture, there is nothing intrinsically wrong with this track, it’s just that is doesn’t really distinguish itself either. Dialogue is clear and precise and emanates from the frontal array, sounds perfectly natural and is set very well within the mix to be up front and always audible. Effects have the opportunity to be all encompassing, but sadly seldom make use of all the channels, with only a few that really make any decent impact (the daytime raid on Trunchbull’s house is a prime example), although the final pelting of her by the school kids also demonstrates some nice surround work.

    Ambience is handled well enough by the surrounds and they do add a decent sense of envelopment

    Ambience is handled well enough by the surrounds and they do add a decent sense of envelopment without ever being obtrusive – or in other words never being given much to draw attention to them. The score makes decent use of the channels and perhaps contains the best stereo effects of the track. Bass is well handled grounding everything with a sense of reality, though LF effects are somewhat limited (Trunchbull’s shot-putt bouncing and rolling around her house was the best) and it never plumbs the depth of the very best examples around. In all a competent enough track that plays it safe and wastes the opportunity to be dynamically involving considering the action that the film contains.

    Matilda Blu-ray Extras

    Matilda Matilda Blu-ray  Extras

    Matilda's Movie Magic
    (16.14, SD) – Brief overview of the film’s special effects, hosted by DeVito amongst others.

    A Children's Guide to Good Manners (03.12, SD) – Ideas about ‘good manners’ using clips from the film.

    Escape to the Library (05.48, SD) – Social commentary on the under use of the modern library, or more clips to sell the film?

    My Movie About Making Matilda by Mara Wilson (06.27, SD) – Kid’s eye view of the making of a movie, interesting but ultimately as pointless as everything above.

    Afternoon Tea, a Very Magical Matilda Reunion (21.01, HD) – Perhaps the only worthwhile extra and newly filmed for this release. DeVito hosts a reunion where many of the cast and crew talk about their experiences on the film and re-enact some of the more iconic scenes on what is a very familiar and fun filled treat – amazing how much the cast have changed, and how some still look exactly the same!

    Is Matilda Blu-ray Worth Buying

    Matilda Is Matilda Blu-ray Worth Buying
    As children’s films go, Matilda hits many of the right notes. DeVito directs with an assured hand and manages to convey enough whimsy and elegance, while keeping just enough menace to maintain a strong story thrust and hold onto a decent message throughout. Dahl’s book is given the Hollywood treatment but contains all the essential elements without becoming schmaltzy or overbearing. With a cast giving their all and a very British sense of humour running throughout, Matilda remains as fresh and original as it was when released. Very enjoyable.

    With a cast giving their all and a very British sense of humour running throughout, Matilda remains as fresh and original as it was when released

    As a Blu-ray Sony have put together a very reasonable package; the set has a great picture, that is clear and bright, even if it is nothing remarkable, and the sound keeps up its end by being quite immersive if, again, nothing remarkable. The pick of the extras is the all-new re-union feature, while the others, having all been seen before, are little to write home about. It is, however, available for a very reasonable cost and your children will love you for it.

    Suggested retail price when reviewed: £19.99

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