Tyrannosaur Blu-ray Review
Tyrannosaur comes to UK Region B-locked Blu-ray complete with a solid but flawed video presentation in the movie’s original limited theatrical release of 2.4:1 widescreen. It certainly isn’t going to win any awards. Issues of banding and black crush are evident, and this would never make for demo quality material, but one has to remember the material on offer, the miniscule budget it was made for, and the fact that, while you’re watching the piece, I doubt you’ll have any time to look for video defects. This is an emotionally gripping movie right from the outset, and the bleak, gritty tone and setting will likely make you very forgiving with regards to this video presentation. Detail is still generally good for the most part, and the colour scheme is well-rendered, even if it does make you wonder whether, the further North you go, the more monochrome the world is! Black levels aren’t all that impressive and whilst the grain level is relatively stable there’s nothing really to write home about here, although there’s also nothing which will affect your enjoyment of this piece. Trust me.
On the aural front the accompanying DTS-HD Master Audio is more impressive but still far from exciting. It doesn’t do anything particularly wrong, per se, but it is simply limited by the budget and the resultant minimalistic sound design. Dialogue, which is clearly the most important element, comes across clearly and coherently throughout, largely dominating the fronts and centre channels for the majority of the proceedings. The score is quite soulful, underplaying its way through the film somewhere in the background and seldom getting involved, but for to set the tone. A few more prominent song tracks modern folk-style segments populate the piece and further give the surrounds something to do. Effects are reasonably well-observed although, again, nothing to particularly write home about. There are a few bits that do stand out, from the persistently barking dogs to the loud thuds of Joseph’s sledgehammer rage, and these do give us a hint of decent directionality. With little LFE at the low end this is not a great aural presentation, but it does work perfectly well for this production.
It should be noted that the disc rather frustratingly defaults to PCM 2.0, so be sure and change the audio before you watch the movie.
Considering how limited in scale this production was we get a surprisingly substantial set of extras which includes a commentary from Considine himself, some excised scenes, as well as the original short film which inspired this piece.
The audio commentary with writer/director Paddy Considine and producer Diarmid Scrimshaw is an honest, well-considered offering which feels like quite a personal affair. Indeed Considine makes a great deal of effort to remind us that the script had nothing to do with his family, merely people he knew in the neighbourhood, but that only hammers home the point that he clearly has strong feelings towards the subject-matter. He details the changes that he made to adapt the story from a short film into a full feature, the performances he drew out of his cast and the filmmaking process, often with the producer on-hand merely as something of a sounding-board for Considine's thoughts. Informed and informative fans of the films should definitely give this a listen.
Dog Altogether is the original 16-minute short film that inspired Tyrannosaur, an award-winning short which was written and directed by Considine and stars Peter Mullan and Olivia Colman in the same roles. Indeed it’s basically just an abbreviated version of the film, albeit with some different beats, but with many of the same themes and scenes in it nonetheless. Well worth checking out.
We also get a selection of 12 minutes worth of Deleted Scenes which make for a welcome watch just to get more from these powerful players and their excellent performances. Optional Commentary from the director further expands on their removal, noting how many of the scenes were the same as those in the Short Film (above) but which Considine felt were not as effective in the movie (like the euthanasia scene, the bit where he gazes at Hannah as he passes the shop, and sharing a pint with his deceased father).
The disc is rounded off by a Stills Gallery and the movie’s Original Theatrical Trailer.
Highly acclaimed and award-winning – it has been nominated for nearly 50 awards and has won almost half of them (although it has been shockingly unacknowledged by the Oscars, who chose instead to nominate films like Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close) – this is the theatrical directorial debut of actor/writer/director Paddy Considine (Dead Man's Shoes), who provides a painfully bleak but not-quite-without-hope look at the extreme end of working class life on a Council Estate and the fractured, abusive and abused lives of the people living therein. Driven by powerful, memorable dual performances from its two leads this an intense, sometimes uncomfortable but utterly compelling drama that stands out as the Best British Film of 2011. It's criminal that the Oscars don't recognise worthy movies like this.
On Region B-locked UK Blu-ray we get pretty average presentation, but perfectly acceptable given the kind of material we're working with, as well as a fairly comprehensive selection of extras including a commentary, some excised footage and the original award-winning short film, Dog Altogether, that this was based on. Fans of Tyrannosaur should already have this on pre-order; newcomers who enjoy the occasional bit of brutal British kitchen-sink realism should definitely make this their next blind buy; and anybody interested in seeing two of the best performances of the year should certainly push this to the top of their rental list. Highly recommended, and don't be fooled by the overall verdict, the film itself is an easy 9/10.
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