Thursday, December 8, 2011

Review of The Help on blu-ray

Hello Sasaki Time Movie fans! It's time for another blu-ray review! This time it is for The Help!

The Help, based off the novel by Kathryn Stockett, is about domestic servitude in early 1960s Mississippi.
Eugenia "Skeeter" Phelan (Emma Stone) is an aspiring writer yet raised with a traditional Southern upbringing. She is more independent than her socialite peers who flaunt their status. Skeeter cannot stand they way her so-called friends treat the African-American women that work for them. So she decides to expose the bigotry in her community and provide a place where the African-American housekeepers can discuss their experiences.

Clearly, convincing these women to openly discuss their lives is no easy task, but in time Skeeter bonds with Aibileen (Viola Davis) and Minny (Octavia Spencer). These two women realize that they are putting themselves at risk for telling their stories but also realize that this is the only way to bring about any kind of change. Skeeter is worried about what may happen to her but knows that these stories must be told.

What happens next, well, I don't want to give away too much else of this brilliant film. I highly recommend it and you need to watch it! Amazing performances by a strong cast fuel this powerfully uplifting film that provides us a look at a troubled and turbulent time while change is in the air. The performances, in the case of both the phenomenal Viola Davis and the overlooked Octavia Spencer, are clearly outstanding. Davis and Spencer steal scene after scene. I hope their names are remembered come Oscar time.

Video Quality:
Once again, Disney has another top-notch effort here with its beauitful1080p video transfer. Colors are beautifully saturated, skintones are lifelike, and the black levels are rich and enveloping. Close-ups are breathtaking, from every skin crease of Viola Davis' eyes to the tiniest freckles on Emma Stone's nose. All in all, The Help looks every bit as good as a recent theatrical release should, and then some.

Audio Quality:
The solid DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track provides clear, crisp, seamlessly mixed sound. The sounds of crackling radios, rustling trees, soft winds, dirt roads, and chirping insects all come to life. Dialogue is well prioritized in the center channel, and all conversations are easy to understand. Thomas Newman's music score fills the room with ease.

Special Features and Extras:

  • From Friendship to Film (HD, 23 minutes): A surprisingly engaging production documentary with producer Brunson Green, writer/director Tate Taylor, author Kathryn Stockett and several members of the cast and crew. It touches on the development of the story, the culture of Mississippi, many of The Help's real life locations, and the characters, casting and performances.
  • “Creating Minny” from “The Help - From Friendship to Film” Bonus Feature
  • In Their Own Words: A Tribute to the Maids of Mississippi (HD, 12 minutes): Taylor and actress Octavia Spencer speak with some of the women who inspired Stockett when she was writing her book.
  • “One Family” from “The Help in Their Own Words” Bonus Feature
  • Deleted Scenes (HD, 10 minutes): Taylor introduces five deleted and extended scenes, the last four of which should have been included in the final film: "A Senator's Son," "Humiliated," "Johnny's Home," "A Book About Jackson" and "Keep on Walkin."
  • Music Video (HD, 5 minutes): Mary J. Blige sings "The Living Proof."
  • BD-Live Functionality 
Final Thoughts:
The Help is definitely best viewed with a bag of popcorn and a box of Kleenexes. Some strong performances here, which I hope will garner Oscar attention for Davis and Spencer. Disney's Blu-ray features excellent video and audio, several worthwhile special features, all of which earn this blu-ray disc a solid recommendation from Sasaki Time!

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