Shailene Woodle gets sick in the Blu-ray release of The Fault in Our Stars
The Fault in Our Stars Movie Review
Painting a touching and original portrait of young love is hard enough to achieve these days, but balancing it against a backdrop of slow-burning death-by-cancer is surely nearly impossible.Not for the creators of The Fault in Our Stars. Whilst still ultimately striking many of the same familiar notes that just about every romcom these days has to offer – that same well-trodden, cliché-ridden formula – the sheet music is distinctly different this time around. We are immediately introduced to the ticking time-bomb that is the protagonist, Shailene Woodley’s Hazel Grace Lancaster, who has managed to prolong her cancer-ridden life thanks to some experimental treatments, but who doesn’t quite know how to live a life that she knows is likely to be cut tragically short with little notice. She meets Augustus Waters at a cancer group; he’s 12 months’ clear, but it cost him a leg in the process. And he’s immediately smitten by Hazel, seeing past her oxygen tank and doomed, protective outlook, and determined to inject some fun back into her life.Director Josh Boone’s adaptation of Author John Green’s novel (Green himself was reportedly very involved in the making of the film) certainly doesn’t hold back in terms of its emotional exploitation; skipping plucking on the heart-strings and aiming to pull your beating heart right out of your chest. Yet for all the heavy-handed tactics that, in any other film, would be written-off as sickly-sweet, The Fault in Our Stars manages to retain the sense of genuine tragedy and palpable loss. It’s not just playing you, it’s actually kind-of telling you how it is. Teens dealing with death – often their own – is going to be something raw and emotional and heavy-handed. You can’t reason with cancer, and the philosophical quests that the duo go on here (assisted by a painfully good cameo by Willem Dafoe) reveal surprisingly thoughtful insight into mortality, giving you something to think about long after the credits have rolled.
The Fault in Our Stars Blu-ray Picture QualityThe Fault in Our Stars hits UK shores complete with a frequently impressive 1080p/AVC-encoded High Definition video presentation framed in the movie’s original theatrical aspect ratio of 1.85:1 widescreen. A digitally-shot feature, it boasts some standout picture-postcard images which showcase fine detail and strong texturing, with close-ups revealing the tiniest of flourishes, revelling in nuances; skin textures, clothing weaves and background touches all getting resoundingly good treatment.
There’s little fault in this video presentation, which is a largely excellent affair.
The colour scheme is naturally warm and authentic, with some more vibrant, vivid primaries, but a dominance of setting-based colours and realistic skin tones; with the spread of cancer frequently robbing the skin of a healthy pallor. Black levels are strong and deep and particularly impress during the shots of a starry sky, and the image promotes a faithful representation of the material with few frustrating side-effects. Indeed, beyond a hint of softness in a couple of sequences, there seems very little indeed to complain about.
The Fault in Our Stars Blu-ray Sound QualityThe accompanying audio track is a surprisingly nuanced affair which, whilst far from bombastic, still trades in an excellent selection of song tracks and a strong observation of surround activity. An expectedly dialogue-driven affair, the words spoken – both as narration and dialogue – get keen, clear and coherent presentation throughout, largely dominating the fronts and centre channels for the majority of the proceedings.
A surprisingly well-nuanced offering, there’s an unusual amount of surround activity, particularly for a dialogue-driven feature.
Effects are almost entirely atmospheric; car engines and traffic noises; bustling crowds and background chatter; beeping, echoing hospital wards; thrumming MRI machines – and yet they are all given keen observation, with the tiniest of elements taking its rightful place in the proceedings. The slamming of a car door hits you from the rear right, whilst a mobile phone rings out from your front left. It’s clever sound design, particularly from a film you didn’t really expect this much trouble to be taken over.
Of course the best element of the material is the score, which relies of a dense population of modern song tracks to drive the proceedings. They’re well-chosen, frequently great tracks, and they allow for a warm accompaniment that engages and disseminates across your array. Whilst not quite lively enough to demonstrate reference qualities, it is arguably still a demo example within the genre.
The Fault in Our Stars Blu-ray ExtrasThe UK release comes packed with the same extensive set of comprehensive features available on the US release – starting with both the Theatrical and marginally longer Extended Cuts. There’s also an Audio Commentary by the Director Josh Boone and the Author John Green (slightly different variations are available on both cuts); 8 minutes of Deleted Scenes with optional commentary by the duo; an 8-minute Interview segment called The Stars Align; a trio of mini-Featurettes – the 4-minute The Scribe On Set; a minute-long Our Little Infinity; and a 3-minute The Music Behind Our Stars. The disc is rounded off by a Stills Gallery and a Theatrical Trailer, as well as a UV code. Labelled as a 'Little Infinities Edition' it also comes with a few postcards.
The Fault in Our Stars Blu-ray VerdictAlthough there’s no denying that The Fault in Our Stars owes a debt to the classic Love Story, its updating of the material for a modern generation is commendable, giving us strong performances (which is a welcome relief after Woodley’s standout contribution to The Descendants was derailed by her wooden involvement in Divergent) and a worthy subject-matter which will likely elicit an emotional response through genuine tragedy, rather than manufactured circumstance.
Far from a perfect gem, it sparkles with promise and there’s much to recommend about a film which could easily be written off as just another teen romcom.
This UK Region Free Blu-ray boasts the same excellent video and audio that adorned the US counterpart, as well as all of the same extra features – including both cuts and all of the accoutrements. Fans should consider this a must-have, but those who haven’t seen it should reconsider any preconceptions they might have about the movie. It comes recommended.
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