The Necessary Death of Charlie Countryman Blu-ray Review
A great picture and sound can't help this film find its plot
The Necessary Death of Charlie Countryman Film Review
The Necessary Death of Charlie Countryman is like a more violent version of the film Euro Trip, with all the usual cliches and prejudices when it comes to how Americans view Europe.The majority of the film takes place in Bucharest and it certainly isn't an advert the Romanian capital, with Charlie surrounded by dodgy Europeans from the moment he gets on the plane. The reason he's flying to Bucharest is because he's told to by his dead mother, although there's a running joke that he'd be better off visiting the much safer and nicer Budapest. Quite why Charlie can see his dead mother and others is never really explained - is it a hallucination or is he really interacting with the dead? It makes the film seem more like a grown-up version of The Sixth Sense, which one character in the movie even points out. However the film that The Necessary Death of Charlie Countryman most wants to be is True Romance, with its central love story, dangerous characters and excessive violence.
The film fails of course because writer Matt Drake is no Quentin Tarantino and director Fredrik Bond is no Tony Scott. However the film is at least well made, with some attractive digital photography and an interesting if rather tonally unbalanced cast. And that is ultimately why the film fails because it just doesn't know what it wants to be - flipping between love story and thriller, whilst throwing in comedy and magic-realism along the way. Although the performances are actually quite good, they can't save the film from its own schizophrenic tone. The result is unrewarding and by the time you reach the obvious denouement, you're left wondering what was the point. You'll also end up crossing Bucharest of your list of possible holiday destinations.
Blu-ray Picture QualityThe Blu-ray release of The Necessary Death of Charlie Countryman uses a 1080p/24 encode in the AVC codec that retains the film's 2.35:1 theatrical aspect ratio. The film was shot digitally and the disc transfer perfectly replicates the cinematographer's intention. There is almost no banding except in a couple of fades and no signs of edge enhancement or any other digital artefacts.
The film's digital photography is perfectly rendered by a near reference picture.
There is an exceptional level of detail and every pore and hair on Shia La Beouf's face is readily evident, as are all the details of Bucharest both during the day and at night. The colours are natural, except where the filmmakers are deliberately playing with the palette, and the regular splashes of blood are equally as realistic. The black levels are also excellent, helping to make the numerous night time scenes highly effective.
Blu-ray Sound QualityThe disc includes a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1-channel soundtrack and whilst it isn't the flashiest of mixes it does what it needs to do to draw you into the film's world. There's a decent sense of surround envelopment, with the rear speakers helping to create a realistic environment. This immerses you in the seedy underworld of Bucharest and helps create a feeling of dislocation at times. A scene where Charlie takes ecstacy is particular effective, with the images and audio working together to disorientate both the characters and the viewer.
Whilst not the flashiest of soundtracks, it does the job of drawing you into Charlie's world.
The musical score is well reproduced, opening up the front soundstage, whilst the mix effectively uses all three front channels. Dialogue remains clear and focused on the centre speaker and, when used, effects are steered precisely around the room. The dynamic range is also excellent, allowing gunshots to have a suitable degree of impact. The LFE is only used sparingly but that means when bass is introduced it has the required effect, essentially underpinning the action but not drawing attention to itself, except where necessary such as a scene in strip club.
Blu-ray ExtrasBehind the Scenes (20:27) - There is only one feature on the Blu-ray of The Necessary Death of Charlie Countryman, a short 'making of' documentary that features interviews with all the main cast and crew. As is usually the case with these promotional pieces, everyone is very enthusiastic about the film, even if the finished result isn't as good as they make out. They often name-check True Romance as an influence but in doing so, they merely remind you how good that film actually was.
The Necessary Death of Charlie Countryman Blu-ray VerdictAs a film The Necessary Dearth of Charlie Countryman wants to emulate the success of True Romance, with it star-crossed lovers, dangerous characters and action. However with its cliches and prejudices about Europe, it comes across more like a violent version of the 2004 movie Euro Trip. The film suffers from trying to be too many different things at once and the result is a somewhat schizophrenic tone. The eclectic cast doesn't help and by the time you reach the end, you're left thinking it wasn't worth the journey.
Great picture and sound can't save the film from its own schizophrenic tone.
The Blu-ray release boasts an excellent picture, with a great transfer that perfectly renders the film's digital photography. There are no artefacts or banding, no edge enhancement, natural colours and deep blacks. The audio is also very good and whilst not as showy as some soundtracks, it does manage to immerse you in both Bucharest and Charlie's world. There is only one extra, a 'making of' featurette which is fairly lightweight but does include interviews with the main cast and crew. However, ultimately the great picture and sound on the Blu-ray can't save The Necessary Death of Charlie Countryman from its own failings.
You can buy The Necessary Death of Charlie Countryman on Blu-ray here
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