Atmospheric, unpredictable and intense
Out of the Furnace Blu-ray Review
Don't be put off by the painfully generic title, Scott Cooper's sophomore outing is a powerful blend of colourful characters, compelling performances, strong storytelling, gorgeous cinematography, and tense set-pieces.The premise that appears to have been promoted in relation to this film is about Christian Bale's deer-hunting steel factory worker trying to protect his younger brother, a returning war vet played by Casey Affleck, from the grubby hands of Woody Harrelson's nasty criminal. Between the revenge thriller vibes, a trailer and poster that appeared to promote Bale's rifle as much as anything else, and, of course, that Seagal-esque action title, it's almost understandable that some people pre-judged the production as little more than a B-movie flick with an A-list cast. However, Out of the Furnace is anything but. The characters are refined and defined not just through an air of truth and authenticity but by an almost universal theme of redemption which permeates the piece.The movie itself revels in its ensemble cast who utterly commit to these colourful, not-what-they-seem roles, delivering some of the best performances of their careers. Zoe Saldana is on surprisingly powerful form, whilst Bale easily outdoes his American Hustle contribution. Although Scott (Crazy Heart) Cooper ultimately finds it hard to avoid hitting the odd patch of familiar territory - including in the way in which he handles the denouement - he deserves serious kudos for managing to evoke fond memories of everything from The Deer Hunter to Seven, Deliverance to Raging Bull, masterpieces by anyone's standards, and yet do so without ever allowing it to feel like he is merely trading in borrowed material.
Out of the Furnace Blu-ray Picture QualityOut of the Furnace hits UK Blu-ray complete with a superior 1080p/AVC-encoded High Definition video presentation in the movie’s original theatrical aspect ratio of 2.4:1 widescreen. Despite the dark and murky material, steeped in shadows and mist, detail and clarity prevail throughout, with no signs of any digital defects, edge enhancement, excessive DNR application or the like. Fine object detail is often stunning, from skin textures to clothing weaves and background flourishes, bringing the images to life.
This excellent movie gets stellar treatment both in terms of organic video and atmospheric audio.
The colour scheme is natural and realistic, with some lush green scenery providing a vibrant backdrop in spite of the intentionally grim universe within which the drama plays out, and skin tones looking rich and healthy too. Black levels are strong and deep and allow for impressive shadow detail. Irrespective of the fact that the movie doesn’t offer up any gaudy, colourful comic-book material, it’s still demo quality in every way.
Out of the Furnace Blu-ray Sound QualityThe accompanying DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track is just as impressive, crafting a haunting environment within which the tense and dramatic events play out, bolstered by a moody score that perfectly marries up to the tone of the feature.
The excellent audio mix only further enhances the moody and atmospheric environment.
Dialogue gets clear and coherent presentation largely from across the fronts and centre channels, taking centre stage over the proceedings wherever appropriate, and in spite of the mumbling, contemplative nature of some of the very natural conversations. Effects are also very naturalistic, but that does not mean that we don’t get some stomping body blows and occasional gunshots to spark up some impressive surround presence, beyond the haunting score undertones which keep the soundscape consistently alive. The LFE channel provides welcome back-up and, overall, again though not based on boisterous bombast, this is a much more organic demo offering.
Out of the Furnace Blu-ray ExtrasStripped down to just a few unmemorable extras, this is really the only area in which the disc is a bit of a let-down. The quartet of Featurettes are largely insubstantial – Inspiration spending a brief four minutes with the main cast members talking about their personal cinematic influences; Scott Cooper offering up a further 7 minutes looking into the filmmaker; Crafting the Fight Scenes allowing 5 minutes of insight into the fight choreography; and The Music spending the longest time, 9 minutes, looking into the excellent score for the production. The disc is rounded off by the Trailer.
Is Out of the Furnace Blu-ray Worth BuyingIt's a real shame that Out of the Furnace was swept under the carpet on its theatrical release (falling under the shadow of the excellent Hunger Games: Catching Fire in the States) and suffered internationally too as a result of the Oscar-friendly American Hustle (somehow, it's hard to believe the words "Bale's best performance" when spouted about two different films in the same month).
Despite the lack of publicity, this is a stunning film which, for those who have seen it, will likely remain one of the best films of 2014.
The UK Region B-locked Blu-ray boasts excellent video and audio, hitting the trifecta and standing out irrespective of the marginally disappointing extras. It comes highly recommended as one of the best blind buy you could make this year.
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