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The Book Thief Blu-ray Review

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An unremarkable adaptation of an acclaimed book

by Casimir Harlow Jul 7, 2014 at 8:32 AM

  • Movies review


    The Book Thief Blu-ray Review
    SRP: £19.99

    The Book Thief Blu-ray Review

    Only adding fuel to the argument that some books simply don’t translate well to the Big Screen, The Book Thief is a thoroughly unremarkable movie which subsists on utter mediocrity.

    Although it’s far from offensive, and boasts a couple of touching moments, a couple of tense scenes, and an authentic backdrop of steady encroaching Nazi doom, the end result offers little more than an impressive child performance from young teen newcomer Sophie Nelisse, who will hopefully be able to use it as a springboard into the limelight. Beyond that, there is little of lasting worth to this piece. Certainly I’d be surprised if fans of the book – which boasted considerably greater emotional depth – were content with this flimsy, insipid adaptation which plays it safe across the board, and fails to have any lasting impact in any regard. Whether looked upon as an historically relevant drama, a young adult drama, or a decent book adaptation, the film doesn't really work
    It maintains a somewhat bland and unmemorable tone and only really, sporadically, comes to life in a few scenes involving the child stars, and in the interactions with the utterly wasted Geoffrey Rush. Perhaps the biggest mistake – aside from playing it safe across the board, and thus making a movie which likely will not appeal to anybody – was in the odd voiceover provided by Death himself, whose brief comments, literally at the beginning, middle and end of the film, feel like an add-on which the filmmakers themselves were unsure about. Unable to commit to the film, in this or any other respect, what we are left with is a lightweight piece that, at best, provides some background noise for an overlong 130 minutes.

    The Book Thief Blu-ray Picture Quality

    The Book Thief The Book Thief Blu-ray Picture Quality
    Unquestionably beautiful, The Book Thief hits Region Free UK Blu-ray with the same largely spectacular 1080p/AVC-encoded High Definition video presentation, in the movie’s original theatrical aspect ratio of 2.4:1 widescreen, that Fox delivered for its Stateside release, rendering the digital cinematography with crisp precision. Detail is impressive throughout, whether it be fine object detail, facial close-ups, skin textures, clothing weaves or background nuances, all rendered with clarity that does not come at the expense of any unruly edge enhancement, unwieldly DNR over-indulgence, or any other digital defects.

    Rich and authentic in its setting and presentation, The Book Thief at least looks the part.

    The colour scheme is limited by the period and setting, these limitations are rarely apparent on the visual front, as the frequently wintery palette still pops with crisp whites, rich browns and healthy skin tones, striking out from behind the dull greys and dirty browns common to the period and poverty of the era. Black levels are strong, rich and deep, allowing from decent but perhaps not perfect shadow detail, which may just be the only minor slight against an otherwise near-perfect presentation.

    The Book Thief Blu-ray Sound Quality

    The Book Thief The Book Thief Blu-ray Sound Quality
    The aural accompaniment is almost as impressive, coming in a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 flavour which promotes the largely subtle, atmospheric flourishes on offer, and delivers a rich and potent track intermittently peppered with punch and presence. Dialogue dominates the proceedings, backed up by a suitably refined score which echoes the sentiments of the on-screen events, with the former given free rein over the fronts and centre channels for the majority of the proceedings, and the latter bringing up the surround activity for the most part.

    Rich and atmospheric, the aural accompaniment is warm and welcoming.

    Effects are more ambient than bombastic – even when the bombs do land, the focus is more on creaking floorboards and hurried footsteps than room-shaking thunder - with only a few bouts of violence and tension breaking this pattern. Still, effects are no less impressive, and the environment positively crackles with observation of minute details and flourishes. But for a marginally subdued LFE input and perhaps a tiny little bit of restriction due to the material on offer, this would be given a higher score but, nevertheless, it does a fine job of bringing the film to life.

    The Book Thief Blu-ray Extras

    The half an hour compilation of Behind the Scenes Featurettes – A Hidden Truth: Bringing The Book Thief to Life – makes up the biggest element in the Extra Features department, bolstered by a few Deleted Scenes and a Trailer.

    Is The Book Thief Blu-ray Worth Buying

    The Book Thief Is The Book Thief Blu-ray Worth Buying
    I’m sure fans of the book would have been expecting a great deal from this adaptation, but unfortunately it simply does not deliver on any count. Lightweight and unmemorable, it will likely be looked back on with some measure of apathy, and eventually forgotten in its entirety, perhaps only brought up to lend further weight to the argument that some books simply don’t translate well to screen.

    Unexceptional but unobjectionable, The Book Thief peddles in mediocrity, and will likely disappoint most. It’s not a bad movie, but it is a bad adaptation of a far better book.

    This Region Free UK Blu-ray boasts excellent video and audio, and a couple of Extra Features, which should please anybody who enjoyed it. Those who are expecting great things from an adaptation of one of their favourite books should temper those expectations, and those who know nothing about it should still test the waters with a rental first.

    Suggested retail price when reviewed: £19.99

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