|Big Lebowski, The (1998)|
|Written by Noah Fleming|
|Monday, 22 August 2011|
You must have been living under a rock if you have never heard of “The Big Lebowski.” From its initial releases the film became an instant cult classic. This is perhaps the Coen brothers most notable film, and certainly their funniest. And finally, the Dude has arrived on Blu-ray.
For an in-depth review of the film, visit the HD DVD review of the film here.
This Blu-ray release is presented in a Limited Edition, digibook style case. The book contains several pages in glossy color providing information on the creation and impact of the film. Trivia questions are also within the pages.
The video quality of this Blu-ray release is the same as that of its HD DVD counterpart. The image quality is quite natural with the film grain intact, yielding great textures. Colors are solid, never slipping into the overly vibrant realm. Details are not as impressive as they could be given a fresh transfer. The overall image of the film looks a bit soft. Black levels are accurate but never extend into full scale, causing a slight loss in depth perception. The contrast levels are generally decent, though the nighttime shots suffer a bit. There is no evidence of crushing. Transfer artifacts such as compression and motion artifacts are nowhere to be found. Banding is also absent. While this isn’t quite the definitive transfer it will please many fans.
The audio is presented in DTS-HD MA 5.1. This is an upgrade from the HD DVD’s Dolby Digital Plus audio track. However, the quality of the lossless audio track remains hardly distinguishable from its lossy counterpart. This is mainly due to the subdued sound design. The film is entirely front heavy. Instead of 5.1 the track could be 3.0. The surrounds are completely empty for the majority of the film. On numerous occasions I got up and put my ear right next to the surround speakers and there was nothing. Not even an inkling of some ambience. When the dream sequences kick in the surrounds get a touch of attention, but nothing that makes them worthwhile. The sound design of the film is whole-heartedly disappointing. As for the transfer, the dialogue is clean, but at times it can be a bit muffled or out of place. I suspect this has to do with the original production dialogue. The LFE channel is useless for the majority of the film. There were two instances of actual usage in the film. This audio track falls flat, but the transfer is about as good as it is going to get.
The Blu-ray release comes with many of the previously released bonus materials and a Blu-ray exclusive feature. Exclusive to the Blu-ray is a U-Control PiP track. This track offers behind the scenes interview footage, a counter which keeps track of the curse words and the number of “Dudes,” as well as a music function giving you the ability to make a playlist should you find the music of the film irresistible.
This release contains the previously seen introduction to the film. “The Dude’s Life” is a retrospective piece by various cast members. “The Dude Abides: The Big Lebowski 10 Years Later” is yet another retrospective piece. “Flying Carpets And Bowling Pin Dreams: The Dream Sequences Of The Dude” is an under five-minute feature on the most interesting aspect of the film. “Making The Big Lebowski” is a pretty standard piece. “The Lowbowski Fest: An Achiever’s Story” is an excerpt from “The Achievers,” a documentary devoted to the film for Lebowski fanatics. “Jeff Bridges Photo Book” is a nice piece that takes a look at the book of photos book together by Bridges and given to the cast once filming was completed. “Worthy Adversaries: What’s My Line” is a trivia game that allows you to attempt completion of various lines by either the Dude or Walter throughout the film. Finally, an Interactive Map takes you on a tour of the filmed locations, and the Photo Gallery contains some of Bridges’ photography. The Blu-ray set is also complete with BD-Live and pocketBLU functionality.
It goes without saying that fans will pick this one up without a second thought. Even if you are only casual film watchers, this is still a worthy title, but certainly not demo worthy material.