The Firm Blu-ray Review
The Firm comes to Region Free UK Blu-ray complete with a 1080p High Definition video presentation in the movie’s original theatrical aspect ratio of 1.78:1 widescreen. The rendition appears to be identical to that used for Paramount’s US release earlier this year, which is not such a bad thing, as that release did a fairly good job of presenting the material in the first place.
Detail is generally good throughout, the image retaining clarity on the longer shots and on the close-ups, with only a couple of middle-ground niggles that boast some minor notes of edge enhancement. DNR does not appear to be an issue, although it is clear that some has been applied – the image still having a fine sheen of suitably filmic grain to give it a nice edge, and facial textures never dropping into the realms of plastic-looking artificiality, as happens in the worst cases of DNR manhandling.
The colour scheme is, for the most part, quite reserved – perhaps to reflect the colder, bleaker Memphis settings – but interior representations are rich and authentic, with deep mahogany browns, and lavish trimmings adorning the firm itself, and exotic Cayman island locales boasting beautiful blue skies and equally impressive blue seas, as well as more healthily tanned skin tones. Black levels are reasonably strong and make for decent shadowing and overall this is a solid, at times very good, at times average, video presentation for the movie – not quite demo quality, but also far better than the movie has ever looked before.
As with the video presentation, this new UK Blu-ray release matches up to the US release from earlier this year, coming complete with a Dolby TrueHD 5.1 track which does a good job at promoting what is inherently fairly limited material. A dialogue-driven legal drama, the dialogue comes across clearly and coherently throughout, largely from across the frontal array. Effects are generally merely atmospheric, with only a few louder noises – the occasional gunshot, screeching tyres or breaking glass – peppering the track. Still, ambient observation is really quite good, with garden sprinklers, barking dogs, cocktail bar hubbub and bustling cafeterias all allowing for the creation of a decent, if disjointed, atmosphere.
What really helps (or hinders, depending whether or not you actually like it) is the score, a hit-and-miss piano-dominated effort that tinkles along throughout but really hits its stride during the more exciting moments – particularly the chases towards the end. More so than the effects on offer, and vying for joint-first-place with the dialogue, the score gives the channels a fair amount to do, although neither that nor the effects give the LFE channel any significant motivation other than allowing it to rumble infrequently in the background. It’s a well-balanced, accurate representation of the material, which probably sounds as good as you could ever expect it to sound, but is still a far cry from being a demo quality track (not that this film would ever warrant that let alone could ever achieve that).
Woefully disregarded for 'special edition' treatment on SD-DVD, the disrespect continues here with The Firm's Blu-ray release, which also mirror's the earlier US release, in that it is utterly bare bones, but for the trailers.
The film adaptation of John Grisham’s sophomore bestseller manages to efficiently cope with the sizeable source material, dealing with it in a manageably lengthy running time, remaining really quite respectful of the writer’s intentions yet also making fairly admirable, logical changes to the ending to make it even more legally thematic. Packed with an all-star cast, who provided great, memorable performances and each get their moment to shine, as well as some surprisingly tense chase sequences, it remains one of the best non-courtroom drama legal thrillers, and certainly the best Grisham adaptation.
On Region Free UK Blu-ray we get good video and decent audio, although the disc is once again disappointingly bare bones (after a series of bare bones SD-DVD releases and the bare bones US Blu-ray earlier this year). Indeed this disc appears to be identical to the US release. Fans of the film should consider this a worthy upgrade, certainly in terms of video quality, and promptly add this to their collection; those who fondly remember the movie but have not seen it for quite some time should consider revisiting this modern classic legal thriller. Recommended.
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