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Memento Blu-ray Review

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by Mark Botwright Apr 30, 2009 at 12:00 AM

  • Movies review

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    Memento Blu-ray Review
    SRP: £17.95

    Picture

    With Memento being one of the earlier titles released on the Blu-ray format, it utilises the now slightly outdated MPEG-2 codec. The image still has a resolution of 1080p though and is framed with a theatrically correct 2.35:1 aspect ratio.



    Even with a codec that one would not normally now associate with the heights of Blu-ray images, it is note worthy that the image, right from the outset, presents us with a level of detail that is clearly above that of the DVD iterations of the film. Both foreground and background contain features that are resoundingly crisper than they were in standard definition. The problems arise when one looks into the consistency of these instances though. At one point it may appear to be a visual presentation that stands up to the likes of more recently released, crisp high definition discs, the next, the image appears to soften somewhat.



    The other blight that is holding back this feature is that of digital noise. It is there to see and, like the softness that creeps insipidly into the image, can seemingly come and go as it wishes intermittently. Some colours pick it out better than others and where there is a heavy block shade for one's eye to settle on it is most evident. It is not among the worst that the format has thrown up, but its presence in any form, however minor, is still a pity.



    The colours on display lean towards a more muted approach; a product of artistic intention more than anything else, as the occasional strong hue raises its head when the situation dictates. Skin tones are generally good with just the slightest blush of rosiness flushing a character's cheeks here and there. Overall it's a pretty solid outing considering the early release of the film and the low budget of the original material. It doesn't have a great sense of a three dimensional world, but then this film was meant to be placed closer to the traditional noir genre and as such was always likely to lean towards a somewhat flatter image.



    Inconsistencies hold the presentation back from really flourishing, but this is still the best the material has looked on a home format and the resulting image is far from being hamstrung by the flaws that creep into the mix.
    Memento Picture

    Sound

    The two audio options on this disc are that of either uncompressed PCM 5.1 or standard Dolby Digital 5.1. Perhaps understandably I chose to focus on the former of these choices.



    For a film of this nature the paramount concern is always likely to be that of clarity of dialogue. The multiple twists and turns and subtle references that the viewer is intended to pick up on should not be lost in the mire. Thankfully the centre channel is always crisp in its presentation of voices and aids the viewer capably. Leonard's internal monologue has slightly more bass than the general chit chat of character interplay. This throatier, drier sound has a resonance that places us firmly in his head, outside the regular soundscape.



    With so much emphasis being placed on dialogue, there is a tendency for things to feel rather flat in places. There isn't any great push towards moments of steerage or panning and for the most part the rears are fairly underused, though they do come into play occasionally for key moments. When dramatic effect is necessary there is a sharpness and taut nature to the ensuing punch of audio, but again this is still squarely a front heavy effect.



    The area in which your speakers will shine is in the reproduction of the score. This swirls and gently suffuses into the viewing area, giving the rears something to do. It is a subtle orchestration that doesn't grab the audience so much as slowly creep under the skin with its various sounds indicating the workings of Leonard's mind. The high frequency noises within are some of the finer elements of the mix and show a finesse and restraint that allows the dialogue room to breath yet keeps the score tight and precise.



    The mix basically does all that it is allowed to do, with the occasional glimpses of vigour falling behind what is essentially a flat, though clear, soundstage of centre and front speakers.
    Memento Sound

    Extras

    Director's Commentary by Christopher Nolan

    An extra that in my view should be a pre-requisite for any Blu-ray whose director is still alive. Here Nolan gives us an insight into all aspects of production and story. He keeps the pace at a pleasant speed and speaks clearly, avoiding the waffling of many a commentary. It can be a little dry for those who look for the interplay of various people on such tracks but it is never less than informative which is surely what such features are intended for?



    Anatomy of a Scene Featurette - 25:16

    Originally from the Sundance Channel, this 25 minute featurette previously appeared on the Limited Edition of the DVD. The standard array of talking heads populated by cast and crew join us to discuss various aspects of the production. There are numerous shots from the filming as well as clips of the finished piece. It may be fairly run of the mill in the way in which it is executed, but the quality of this featurette is still fairly high and stands as one of the better examples of the sort.
    Memento Extras

    Verdict

    Memento is fast approaching nearly ten years old and still there has been little in the way of films in the interim years that have surpassed it for sheer ingenuity of structure or intelligence of themes explored. The nature of culpability, being and motivation all fall under the microscope of cinematic story-telling and find themselves woven within a pattern of vengeance, bloodshed and overwhelming paranoia.



    It is presented on Blu-ray with an image and sound quality that, though below the current standards and utilising an outdated codec for the format, produces an experience that is beyond that currently available from DVD. The one area in which it falters in comparison to its standard definition brethren is that of extra content. Previous editions came with numerous features such as the ability to watch the film in a straight forward chronological order. Though perhaps defeating the purpose of the way in which the narrative is distorted, this allowed for not only those who were unable to understand the complexities in its previous state, but also for those interested in seeing how much of an impact the inventive structure gave the finished article. At least the commentary is still there which is one of the more accomplished and erudite examples though some may find it a touch dry, being that many of the insights are focused on the production rather than the twists in the story.



    Overall, a package that still ranks as the best this has looked and sounded in terms of detail and reproduction of source material. The lack of features that have appeared before may put some off but given its cut price I fail to see anything that would deter me from adding such a modern classic and early indication of Nolan's promise into my collection.

    The Rundown

    Movie

    9

    Picture Quality

    6

    Sound Quality

    6

    Extras

    5

    Overall

    7

    7
    AVForumsSCORE
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