Overly complicated, overly messy, but still a slick, stylish slice of dark entertainment
The Counsellor Blu-ray Review
Traditionally dark, bleak and relentlessly oppressive Cormac McCarthy, as seen through the lens of stylish filmmaking perfectionist Ridley Scott.It’s hard to like any of Cormac McCarthy’s works. Admire? Sure. Appreciate? Yes. But like? They’re often just too relentless. No Country For Old Men manages to ride the line between being powerful and remorselessly lacking in gratification, where The Road falls down on the latter, driving straight into the bleak abyss head-first. Rather than being based on one of his novels, McCarthy actually wrote the screenplay for The Counsellor himself, and unfortunately this is where some of its biggest flaws emanate from. The story is convoluted; the dialogue is heavy and oftentimes impenetrable; and the characterisations are insubstantial.That said, the all-star cast do their best to draw you into the murky world of drug cartels, and director Ridley Scott hovers over the whole situation displaying his usual consummate professionalism, leaving us with a film that is undeniably compelling – and positively thrilling in several instances – even if most viewers will agree that it simply should have been so much more. Certainly the Extended Cut – running a substantial 20 minutes longer than the Theatrical Cut – only further exacerbates the wordy dialogue scenario, but it also reinforces one of the few things that McCarthy’s script gets right: the full-circle commentary on consequences, ramifications and the choices we make, arguably making the longer sitting worth it.
If you loved No Country for Old Men – which is wholly justifiable – and appreciated The Road – which is arguably less understandable – then you may end up rating McCarthy’s screenplay debut. There’s certainly plenty to admire, it’s just that movies (with little reward) shouldn’t really be this hard to get through. Overworked, overcooked and overly complicated, it is also immaculate and impressively-constructed; compelling, and ultimately quite thrilling.
What is The Counsellor Blu-ray Picture Quality
The Counsellor presents its case on UK Region Free Blu-ray complete with an excellent 1080p/AVC-encoded video presentation in the movie’s original theatrical aspect ratio of 2.4:1 widescreen. A typical Ridley Scott feature, the colour grading speaks to his style right from the get-go, with dominant green hues and tweaked contrast and saturation shifting the look into pure Scott territory.
Detail is resoundingly impressive – thanks to the Red Epic cinematography – with some truly stunning shots, bringing in superb close-ups, excellent skin detail, fine object work, clothing weaves and background textures. All of this with no signs of any digital defects – no overt or excessive DNR application, no edge enhancement and no signs of any banding, blocking or other artefacts.
Outstanding video presentation kick-starts what looks to be a fantastic disc.
The colour scheme, as aforementioned, is skewed towards that familiar green undertone, but the grading does not prevent the skin tones from still coming through rich and healthy; the settings and setpieces brimming with vibrant colours and vivid elements. Black levels are strong, although two or three short sequences don’t quite retain a consistent level of shadow detail – including one where Cruz answers her phone in the shadows, and one where Fassbender discusses diamonds – and they’re probably just enough to knock this off what would otherwise have been perfect 10 score.
What is The Counsellor Blu-ray Sound Quality
The accompanying DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track is an equally impressive beast, augmenting the proceedings at every turn, engaging you with subtle inflection, well-chosen scoring and excellent effects coverage. Dialogue comes across clearly and coherently throughout, despite the myriad accents and syrupy-thick dialogue, dominating the fronts and centre channels wherever necessary.
Excellent audio maintains the high standards set by the video.
Effects are myriad, playing across the surrounds, creating strong, immersive environments which accurately reflect the various settings. Gunshots ring out with power and potency, and the latter-end confrontations are steeped in aural tension. The score is particularly noteworthy, and eclectic blend of different tunes, often diagetically introduced into the proceedings. All the while the LFE channel is on hand to provide hearty accompaniment.
The Counsellor Blu-ray Extras
Aside from boasting two different cuts of the film – on separate discs – we get a couple of excellent extras features, one of them, a sort-of alternative PiP equivalent, utterly all-encompassing and comprehensive in its dissection of the making of this film.
Matching up to the US counterpart we get a superb package that sports both cuts as well as a fantastic Commentary/Featurette combo feature.
The first disc sports the Theatrical Cut, running just shy of 2 hours long, as well as a number of interesting viral features – basically three short films – totalling an extra 7 minutes and boasting a number of familiar faces, and not just the key players from the film. There’s also the Theatrical Trailer.
The second disc gives us the superior Extended Cut, which is about 20 minutes longer, but also sports the fantastic extra feature, Truth of the Situation: Making the Counsellor, which is deceptively understated, but actually amounts to a feature-length supplemental longer than the film itself, providing a combination of a Director’s Commentary and a whopping 13 Featurettes which are dipped in and out of via seamless branching during the playback of the film. For anybody interested in the background to this production, this is a stunning extra feature, one of the best that I’ve ever seen.
Is The Counsellor Blu-ray Worth buyingThe Counsellor is a dark, moody and relentlessly oppressive feature – as you might only expect from the writer behind No Country for Old Men and The Road and from an author as stylish as Ridley Scott. It is overworked, overcooked and overly complicated, but it is also immaculate and impressively-constructed, compelling, thrilling and undeniably entertaining.
On Region Free UK Blu-ray, this 2-disc package is fantastic, sporting both cuts of the main film, excellent video and audio and a remarkably impressive extra feature that provides a kind-of all-in-one, utterly comprehensive, supplemental. For fans of the film, it comes highly recommended. For those who are intrigued, it would not be a disappointing blind buy, but only if you find that you appreciated the likes of The Road and No Country for Old Men.
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