Insane, star-studded, hilarious and... fullscreen??
The Grand Budapest Hotel Blu-ray Review
Delicious and delightful; wild and wicked, Wes Anderson’s The Grand Budapest Hotel makes for a stunning new entry to the filmmaker’s unreservedly colourful filmography.Describing – and indeed reviewing – a Wes Anderson film is a tough ask. And imparting what it would be like to watch your very first Anderson film is nigh on impossible, like describing what your first skydive would be like. Or your first skydive on acid. Suffice to say that The Grand Budapest Hotel is a prime example of both Anderson’s stunning skills and the breadth of his talent. It tears across the decades – and the landscape – at a breakneck pace, cartwheeling away with perfectly-orchestrated whimsy; stopping only for some occasionally quite dark revelations and adult surprises. Along the way, all of Anderson’s closest collaborators return - with Bill Murray making this his seventh appearance in an Anderson feature – for a variety of colourful characterisations.Adrian Brody and Willem Dafoe try and turn up the threat; Harvey Keitel has a wild time in Maximum Security; Edward Norton goes for hapless and sympathetic; and Tilda Swinton is barely recognisable under all the makeup. But this is Ralph Fiennes’ baby. Playing the concierge Gustave with above-and-beyond dedication, immaculate tailoring and manners, and a frenetic manner that borders on insanity, Fiennes delivers a tour-de-force performance, complete with impeccable timing and sublime comic wit. One of the best films of the year, The Grand Budapest Hotel is yet another masterwork from the director. But don’t be afraid to dislike this – or any other films from him – they are an undeniable acquired taste. Just be ashamed of saying that you never gave them a chance; that you never explored the wonderful world of Wes Anderson.
What is The Grand Budapest Hotel Blu-ray Picture QualityThe Grand Budapest Hotel hits UK Region Free Blu-ray complete with a 1080p/AVC-encoded High Definition video presentation which effortlessly embraces the myriad shifting aspect ratios used to bring this colourful tale to life, with the very unconventional 1.37:1 being used for the majority of the proceedings, but everything from 2.4:1 to a fish-eyed lens being implemented to accentuate the various timelines, flashbacks and tales-within-tales that unfold. Although the shifting ratios do become marginally more distracting in the home forum, that does not take away from the presentation’s positives.
Anderson’s live-action-comic-book-style feature looks thoroughly impressive in all its HD glory.
Detail is excellent throughout, allowing us a pristine, picture-perfect look at the playful proceedings, with stunning skin textures, clothing weaves, background flourishes and fine object observation. Clarity resounds, with no signs of overt edge enhancement, excessive DNR application, nor any other digital defects like banding, blocking or general artefacting. The colour scheme is expectedly broad and vibrant, popping with strong primaries, despite the accented colour grading which frequently gives the whole film a purple-red tinge. Black levels are strong and deep, and round out what is basically a stunning video presentation, easily demo quality and almost nudging into reference perfection territory too.
What is The Grand Budapest Hotel Blu-ray Sound QualityThe accompanying DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track favours precision over punch, but is no less impressive for it, promoting the proficient sound design with majesty and grace. Although there are only a few outbreaks of ‘traditional’ bombast, this is still an Anderson film, and so it is packed to the brim with energetic, frenetic flourishes as it rattles along at a manic, breakneck pace.
The lossless audio engulfs you in an aurally colourful soundscape which is every bit as resplendent as the video.
Dialogue comes across clearly and coherently throughout, rising above the rest of the proceedings no matter how crazy things get, and dominating the fronts and centre channels where appropriate. Effects are broad and expansive, with superior atmospherics and directionality, utilising the surrounds superbly to engulf you in the engaging affair. The score further drives the piece – often yet another high point of Anderson’s works, and this being no exception – and, all in all, this is an excellent presentation.
The Grand Budapest Hotel Blu-ray ExtrasAlthough nowhere near as impressive as the Blu-ray packages for some of his films (mainly thanks to Criterion), Anderson’s latest sports and nice – and expectedly atypical – bank of supplements, including Bill Murray Tours the Town, which is literally what it says; a trio of short in-character Vignettes: Kunstmuseum Zubrowka Lecture; The Society of the Crossed Keys; and Mendl’s Secret Recipe – as well as a trio of Promotional Featurettes covering The Making of The Grand Budapest Hotel; Cast; and Wes Anderson. The disc is rounded off by a Stills Gallery and Trailers.
Is The Grand Budapest Hotel Blu-ray Worth BuyingHigh points of the director’s filmography certainly include one of Gene Hackman’s last great movies, The Royal Tenenbaums, and an animated, Clooney-starring, adaptation of the Roald Dahl tale, The Fantastic Mr. Fox, like you’ve never seen it before; but one of my personal favourites is his Bill Murray-centric The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, which is like Moby Dick adapted in the style of The Beatles’ Yellow Submarine.
The Grand Budapest Hotel offers up a wild and exuberant ride which is both unique and quintessentially borne from the brain of Wes Anderson.
This Region Free UK release sports stunning video and audio as well as a decent selection of extras – although perhaps not quite up to the usual standard of features for Blu-rays of Anderson’s movies – making this a must-have purchase for fans of the film, or of the filmmaker. Those who haven’t yet dabbled in this madcap world should test the waters with any one of the titles mentioned above, after which it may just be a matter of adding them all to your collection.
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