The Adjustment Bureau Blu-ray Review
The Adjustment Bureau comes to Region Free UK Blu-ray complete with a 1080p High Definition video rendition in the movie’s original theatrical aspect ratio of 1.85:1 widescreen. Detail is excellent throughout, the movie immediately kicking off with some stunningly deep, strong contrast montage shots that showcase all of the best elements of the video transfer on the whole – absolute clarity, excellent fine object detail, vivid colour presentation and absolutely superb blacks. Edge enhancement and DNR are non-existent; softness is never an issue, and grain is evident but only in a fine film which pervades the piece and gives it a suitably cinematic edge. As stated, colours are superbly represented, with some vibrant reds and blues – mostly campaign-related (apart from that dress) – and great blacks at the low end of the spectrum, making for fantastic shadowing and brilliant night sequences. Sure, many sequences have been given a blue hue filter – mainly those involving the Bureau themselves – but this is clearly wholly intentional; and it’s not prevalent throughout anyway, never preventing stronger, more vibrant tones from shining through. A little 3D-pop rounds off a clearly demo quality video presentation, which is a baby-step shy of a perfect 10.
Equally impressive is the accompanying DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track, which creates a wholeheartedly immersive atmosphere that draws you into the drama right from the get-go. Dialogue is, of course, prioritised whenever necessary, generally emanating from across the fronts and centre channels. Effects are often ambient, and are keenly observed across the board – whether the bustling campaign crowds and traffic noises, or the louder moments which generally involve travelling through the Bureau’s mysterious ‘doors’ or the frenetic chases around the City. We even get some LFE action, rumbling around in the background, and bringing some depth to the proceedings. The score is largely perfectly chosen to accompany the material, and certainly gives the surrounds plenty to do whenever effects are not a mainstay – and yet it remains far from intrusive, perfectly suiting the on-screen romance as much as the more chase-orientated sequences. Overall this is another great, easily demo-quality presentation.
Although this isn’t the alternative Triple Play Edition, all we are basically missing from that release is the DVD and Digital Copy, largely superfluous for those who are a) already Blu-ray capable and b) not wholly interested in watching their High Def movie on a tiny, lower-res portable media device. All of the accompanying extras are the same across releases, and, more importantly, the same as across the pond.
Feature Commentary with Writer/Director George Nolfi brings us some background into the production, the script, the cast, the performances and the movie’s themes – but, unfortunately, is almost completely lacking in any kind of direction. Nolfi’s delivery is borderline monotone, a dry, dour affair which suffers because he largely flips between offering background information into exactly what is taking place on-screen, and just random anecdotal titbits that just ‘come to him’ as the movie plays out. This can be somewhat frustrating, as he never talks at length on any particular subject and flits around far too much – the end result brimming with semi-interesting factoids, but presented in a fashion that is really quite difficult to absorb.
Leaping Through New York spends 8 minutes focussing on the location shoot in New York, the key landmarks they utilised and the pros and cons of shooting in such a famous place with so many prominent, well-known buildings.
Destined To Be has Emily Blunt and Matt Damon take five minutes out to discuss their core love story, the relationship between their characters and what they brought to the table – i.e. arguably, and probably unexpectedly, the most important element of the film.
Becoming Elise spends 7 minutes just with Blunt, looking at what she had to went through to bring the dancing side of her character to life – although clearly not even comparable to the rigorous lengths that Natalie Portman undertook for Black Swan, it’s still nice to see an actress put her all into rounding out the specific nuances of a character.
Deleted and Extended Scenes amount to 5 minutes of extra footage, split across 5 scenes, none of which are really worth your time, and none of which even hint at the alternative ending which was re-shot presumably after bad test audience reactions. Instead, we get a couple of insignificant moments with a minor sub-character (played by Lost’s Daniel Dae-Kim), which were rightfully ripped out of the proceedings because they were utterly superfluous, as well as a prolonged dance sequence with Emily Blunt which isn’t actually all that impressive – and only reinforces the old ‘less is more’ adage, as the sequence in the main feature certainly made her look like a surprisingly good dancer, where this extended moment just highlights the fact that she’s an actress first, pretending to be a dancer.
The Labyrinth of Doors: Interactive map of New York offers up the option to go to various locations in New York City, depicted in a top-down grid fashion, but then zoomed-in upon in pleasantly rendered 3D to show more detailed looks at the specific locations. Each selectable location offers up either a brief clip taken straight from the relevant part of the movie, or a short behind the scenes segment relating to that part. Whilst not quite as satisfying as it is flashy, this is still a fair bit better than your usual ‘interactive’ features.
Great premise. Great chemistry. But misleading advertising, a tempered audience-friendly romantic narrative and a thoroughly anticlimactic payoff leaves The Adjustment Bureau pretty far from being 2011’s answer to Inception. Taking the potential from a great Phillip K. Dick short story, the movie squanders its opportunity for deeper theological undercurrents, playing it safe and, despite its original ideas, ending up sitting squarely in cliché territory. With few thrills, and even less action, it’s pure rom-com all the way, just dressed up with a sci-fi twist. But this is one of the areas it doesn’t do so bad in – the chemistry between the two leads sparking a convincing romantic thread; and the natural charm and wit of both of them also allowing the audience a chuckle while they’re waiting, in vain, for some thrills. Don’t be fooled by the superior premise, go into it with open eyes, and expect a fairly lightweight sci-fi romance, with a good sense of humour. That way you won’t be disappointed.
Revisiting it on Blu-ray has been a pleasant surprise – not least because I knew exactly what to expect. This UK release boasts the same excellent video and audio as the US equivalent, and all the same reasonably good extras that are on all the different versions available. Personally, this single-disc edition is definitely the way to go – I find the DVD and Digital Copy to be really quite pointless for the most part, so if you’re not too bothered about losing, then just grab this cheaper release which comes with the same excellent presentation and selection of extras, only without the same hefty price tag. In terms of blind buy value, it’s difficult to ascertain whether or not this is worth just dipping into – on the face of it, it’s only worth a rental, but the chemistry between the leads does truly elevate the movie, and, if you're happy with great romance in what's otherwise little more than a fluffy wannabe sci-fi thriller, then you could do a whole lot worse than picking up The Adjustment Bureau.
Suggested retail price when reviewed: £17.99
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