The Zookeeper's Wife Blu-ray Review
World War Zoo
The Zookeeper's Wife brims with hope in the face of horrific adversity, telling a story we've heard dozens of times before, but telling it well.The Zabinskis are a young Polish couple who run a zoo in Warsaw, caring for the myriad animals there, and attracting the attention of a visiting German zoologist who takes a shine to Mrs Zabinski. When World War II erupts, and Poland is invaded, the Zabinskis find their world turned upside down, initially helpless to protect the people and animals around them, but eventually finding the strength to make a difference. Based on the non-fiction book written using Antonia Zabinskis' unpublished diary, The Zookeeper's Wife is a powerful true tale.Of course the ground has been covered many, many times before - most distinctly in Schindler's List - but that doesn't prevent this from being a solid, competent and eminently well-made production, which offers an unusual backdrop to the tried-and-tested tale of hope, survival and sacrifice. Jessica Chastain enjoys being more reserved than she's used to, excelling as the wife, whilst Daniel Bruhl gets yet another dastardly German villain role, and Whale Rider's acclaimed director Niki Caro puts together a strong feature despite the unavoidable familiarity.
Picture QualityThe Zookeeper's Wife washes up on UK shores complete with a Region Free Blu-ray disc courtesy of Universal, who deliver the film with a reasonably strong 1080p/AVC-encoded rendition of the digitally-shot video, presented in the movie's original theatrical aspect ratio of 2.40:1 widescreen.
Generally a very good visual presentation
Detail is generally very good indeed, picking up on finer skin touches, clothing weaves and background flourishes, and differentiating between the pre- and post-bombing environments. The colour scheme is well-represented, with natural tones and streaks of more vibrant, vivid colours, all somewhat tempered to suit the slightly more faded period style. Unfortunately, likely as a side effect of servicing this desired look, there is a hint of softness around the edges, and more than a hint of noise attempting to provide makeshift texture in the place of natural grain, but somewhat struggling to remain consistent. It's generally an otherwise very good presentation but for these slightly disappointing features.
Sound QualityThe accompanying DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track offers a much more consistently impressive presentation with fewer reservations, delivering dialogue, effects and score with accuracy and aplomb.
A highly impressive audio presentation
Dialogue is given precedence across the frontal array, whilst effects mostly pick up on the environmental features, focusing on the ambience and on crafting a natural, organic atmosphere for the piece, complete with all the myriad animal noises commensurate to the zoo. Then the bombs start dropping and the LFE channel delivers them right into your living room, with the encroaching war allowing for a much more potent, punchy sonic offering which fully utilises the array and comes as suitably shocking given the relative peace that has gone before. It's a surprisingly good audio track which more than services the movie's needs.
ExtrasWe get a trio of supplements in the extras department, with a short but reasonably comprehensive Making Of Featurette that covers all the bases, as well as a brief look at the real Zabinski family, and a slew of short Deleted Scenes.
Blu-ray VerdictThe ground has been covered before but that doesn't prevent this from being a well-made production
Universal's Region Free UK Blu-ray release of The Zookeeper's Wife offers up strong video and audio, and a smattering of extra features, leaving this a must-have for fans, and a thoughtful rental for those who appreciate films of this nature.
Suggested retail price when reviewed: £14.99
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