The Ides of March comes to Region A-locked US Blu-ray with a stunning 1080p High Definition video presentation that renders the movie in its original theatrical aspect ratio of 2.4:1 widescreen. It’s a very faithful and eminently reference quality rendition which promotes excellent detail, superior depth and lovingly authentic colours. Only the utmost clarity comes across, throughout the film, the detail never wavering and neither offering even the slightest bit of softness, nor displaying even a hint of digital manipulation: DNR, edge enhancement or digital defects. The colour scheme is superbly presented, with rich tones across the spectrum, from the red and yellows of the campaign artwork to the deep blues of the clothing and the rich, solid blacks that allow for excellent shadowing. It’s excellent in every way and easily makes for a demo-quality rendition with absolutely no criticism from me. Spectacular.
On the aural front, the accompanying DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix is almost as good, an excellent representation of the material in every way, perhaps only let down marginally by the fact that there simply isn’t enough on offer to allow this to be a perfect-10 presentation. Aside from the inherent limitations of a politically-focussed production, the track is otherwise top notch, with the all-important dialogue – it is, after all, most certainly a dialogue-driven affair – coming across clearly and coherently throughout, whether it’s in the speeches, or the behind the scenes machinations (even Phillip Seymour Hoffman’s railing against Ryan Gosling behind the furore of the political debate comes across clearly), presented largely across the frontal array. The effects are almost entirely atmospheric – there are no gunshots, car crashes or other traditionally bombastic moments to punctuate this drama, instead the focus is upon the smaller ambient nuances, and, in this respect, the sound design is spot on, allowing your living room to turn into a campaign office, a bustling press conference or a quiet gym-hall discussion as and when needed. The score seems also perfectly suited to the material and offers up yet more for the surrounds to play around and whilst there’s no overt LFE action, the bass channel offers up some welcome support and gives the film’s soundtrack a deep and resonant undercurrent. Inherently limited, there’s still no denying that this mix presents The Ides of March in the absolute best possible way.
This release, whilst not absolutely packed, comes with a nice selection of welcome and sometimes worthy extras that should please most fans.
Director/Writer/Producer/Actor George Clooney partners up with Writer/Producer Grant Heslov to provide a decent enough aural accompaniment which is steady-paced and provides some interesting details into the production, from its inception, through to the actual filming. They talk about adapting the play, choosing the locations, the filming style, the scoring, the cast and the performances, just about covering every base in the production. Perhaps not the most exciting track, or the most revealing, it’s still a solid offering for those interested in learning more about this film, with plenty of nods towards the more technical side of things and several notes towards the scenes cut from the film (which we shamefully don't get to see) as well as a frequenty undercurrent of joviality.
Developing the Campaign: The Origin of The Ides of March takes 7 minutes to further explore the inception of this production, from its origins as a stage play to the end result which takes the play one step further, also noting the references to current events which helped shape the story. With the play's original writer on-board (he reveals that most of the play came from his real-life experiences on the Dean Campaign) and the co-writers, Clooney and Heslov, themselves on hand as well this is an interesting accompaniment. For those who want further insight into the film’s end, they also discuss the film’s title.
Believe: George Clooney is a solid 6 minute Featurette dedicated to the multi-talented auteur himself, with his cast and crew reflecting on his abilities on both sides of the camera, and with the man himself on hand to talk about how much he puts into his directorial efforts and how difficult it is juggling the many facets of such an enterprise.
On the Campaign: The Cast of The Ides of March takes a little less than 6 minutes to focus on the supporting cast and the characters that they bring to life here, with input from all the key players: Hoffman, Gosling, Clooney, Giamatti and Wood.
What Does a Political Consultant Do? is a final 7 minute Featurette which has political consultant Stuart Stevens on hand to discuss the authenticity of the portrayal of the political campaign managers and consultants in the film, illustrated with examples from the film itself.
The disc is rounded off by a selection of Preview Trailers, including one for the 2011 Film of the Year: Drive.
Whilst it is a perfectly valid political exposé, it’s just a shame that The Ides of March doesn’t really say anything that we don’t already know. Watch it for the great performances, and the competent, often stylish direction by Clooney; watch it to see further evidence of Gosling’s potential (even if he’s been miscast here), and watch it if you know nothing about the US political system. It's not a great movie - it's arguably too predictably cynical for that - but it's still a perfectly watchable drama.
On Region A-locked US Blu-ray we get excellent video and audio as well as a solid selection of extras that covers all the bases. Fans of the film should have no reservations about picking this up, and newcomers who are interested in this politically-themed drama should definitely at least give it a rental. It could have been better, but it’s still a solid watch.
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