Stone comes to US Region A-locked Blu-ray with a solid if unexceptional 1080p High Definition video presentation in the movie’s original theatrical aspect ratio of widescreen 2.4:1. Detail is generally very good throughout, whether on the integral close-ups on the faces of the three lead characters, or on the longer shots, observing Mabry and his wife sitting on the porch at their Little House on the Prairie-style home. You can really see the lines on De Niro’s faces – there’s no hiding his age here – just as much as you can observe the intricate detail of Norton’s terrible hairstyle. The rendition showcases no digital defecting, no artefacting, no edge enhancement, and negligible sporadic softness, with a nice layer of grain running throughout to give it that filmic feel. The colour scheme is often restricted by the setting – the bleak, somewhat clinical prison settings awash with drained tones, dull greys and shades of beige prevalent – but the exteriors fare better, sometimes given a nice, warm edge through the presence of a little much-needed sunlight. Black levels are strong and solid throughout and this is a good video presentation but it definitely lacks the spark and visual impact that would make it a true showcase of your equipment.
On the aural front we get a perfectly serviceable but totally unremarkable Dolby TrueHD 5.1 track which really did nothing for me whatsoever. It is indeed a dialogue-driven affair, but it is also populated by huge segments where simply nothing happens – and here the score should have really given us a little more to engage with. Still, the dialogue, from the quiet, reserved tones of De Niro’s correctional officer to the louder, more familiar classic De Niro rants, comes across clearly and coherently throughout, largely dominating the frontal array whenever it is a part of the proceedings. Effects are almost non-existent – sure, you have that pesky wasp (and several other preposterously symbolic insects throughout) and some atmospheric noises help set the scene, both in the prison and on the outside, but the surrounds feel like they are barely used, and bass is long gone. Sure, this is not the kind of material to offer up bombast and excitement, and there was never really anything much for the speakers to work with, but they could have put together a slightly more engaging offering, particularly for such a slow, broody affair.
It feels like a bit of a statement about how little anybody cared about this movie, that all they release it with is a simple, 6-minute Making Of Featurette and a few Trailers. Even the Featurette plays more like an extended Trailer, you know, one of those EPK offerings that is all fluff and zero substance. Honestly, for those that did enjoy the movie, on whatever level – whether for the ‘deep’ religious undertones, the performances of the leads or the presence of Milla Jovovich’s naked body – it’s a shame that there’s simply nothing in the way of extra material which could enhance that experience.
Robert De Niro, what has happened to you? You don’t just need a new agent, you need some kind of perspective over what audiences see in your film choices because – however it may feel in your mind – Stone is not a good movie. On any level. With lofty ideas about spirituality, sin, remorse and redemption, the filmmakers are clearly trying too hard to achieve some kind of forcefully ‘deep’, insightful work of art, without taking any time to develop the characters or give them any tangible depth of background. And the end result is just pretentious, boring and a waste of time; a film where you don’t care about any of the characters, and certainly don’t care about any twisted come-uppance that this particular God might have in store for them. If only there was some kind of punishment for making a bad movie.
On Region A-locked US Blu-ray, the release isn’t particularly enticing even for any fans who may be out there – decent video, acceptable audio but a terrible extras package means this is one for those who have seen the movie already and, for some reason unknown to man, loved it. Everybody else should consider this a bottom-of-the-pile De Niro film to watch. Seriously, the man has a terrible track record at the moment, and you’re better off leaving this particular stone unturned.
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