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Truman Show, The Print E-mail
Monday, 22 December 2008
ImageJim Carrey is one of a rare breed.  He is comedian that captures your heart at the same time as making you laugh hysterically.  He was first noticed with his work on "In Living Color," but it was "Ace Ventura: Pet Detective" in 1994 that brought him stardom.  Immediately thereafter, he starred in "The Mask," "Dumb and Dumber," "Batman Forever," the list goes on and on.  Each was full of laughs and that is what the audience came to expect from him.  However, in 1998 Carrey made a bold move and attempted something a little different.

In "The Truman Show," Carrey shows a different side of himself, one that is much more inquisitive and full of depth.  The film is not absence from laughs caused by the actor.  However, they are not slapstick laughs like his plethora of other films.  "The Truman Show" is about a man that needs to find himself despite the numerous obstacles thrown at him.

Truman Burbank (Jim Carrey) is a 30 year-old man who has lived his entire life, from the moment of birth in front of an audience of millions.  He is the star in a reality show, controlled by a corporation and directed by Christof (Ed Harris).  Every movement around him is controlled.  Each human is an actor with distinct roles.  The scenery is one giant prop - so large it is visible from the moon.  However, one day the reappearance of his "dead father" begins to stir controversy in the man.

Truman's wife, Meryl (Laura Linney) and best friend, Marlon (Noah Emmerich) do everything to convince Truman that there is no conspiracy.  Still, Truman longs to get to Fiji, where he believes the real woman that he loves resides.  In college, Truman meets Lauren/Sylvia (Natascha McElhone) and immediately feels an attraction toward her.  However, the television show creators have other plans in mind, and introduce Meryl at every turn to try and get him to fall in love with her.  Eventually, the creators must remove Lauren from Truman's life, and boot her off the show.  Truman spends the next several years trying to find her, but to no avail. Truman is constricted to the island on which he lives because he is too afraid to travel over water, due to the tragic death of his show-father.  There is only a small majority of viewers that protest that Truman is being held captive.  However, most viewers live their lives by the show.  Several are shown over the course of the film.  Still, Truman begins to piece together the oddities that are happening all around him.  Eventually, he is able to trick the 5,000 cameras and shows' creators and escape.

The film delivers us a powerful journey.  However, it also led to the downfall of American television programming.  This film was the first foray into reality television.  I don't have to tell you how many reality shows have sired over the past decade, each and every one of them offering no real entertainment.  Still, "The Truman Show" remains the real pioneer behind the mass market of reality television.

I wouldn't be until "The Majestic" in 2001 that Jim Carrey took on a true non-comedic role.  And seemingly it has been his last.

The standard DVD release of this film was plagued by numerous transfer issues, and was simply awful.  The Blu-ray edition is much improvement, but still falls way short of good.  Like "X-Files: Fight the Future," "The Truman Show" is plagued by a bit of every problem.  There is vertical banding, which seems to disappear after the opening sequences.  There is plenty of edge enhancement and digital noise reduction.  Some artifacting appears due to each of those digital filters.  Still, there is a fair amount of grain present in the film.  The overall image is a bit soft, but there are plenty of details, mainly in the foreground.  Fleshtones vary a bit throughout the film, but nothing too noticeable.  The colors are vibrant and the biggest improvement over the standard DVD.  Black levels are deep, however, details get lost in the dark.  Shadow delineation is poor, with sequences containing either dark black or brightly light objects. 

The audio is presented in Dolby TrueHD 5.1, and is a nice upgrade from the Dolby Digital track on the regular DVD release.  There is really nothing in terms of dynamics in the soundtrack.  The LFE channel is virtually non-existent.  However, it does kick in during a couple of the music montage sequences.  Dialogue is clean and clear, however, it sometimes dips to low in volume.  There are only a handful of discrete sound effects in the rear channels.  However, the music is nicely bled into the surround channels.  The music score is nicely pronounced on the Blu-ray release, and is probably the best part of the audio track.  Other than dialogue and music there is not much else going on.  The vocal effect of Christof in the final scene is nicely done.  As he speaks form the lunar moon station down at Truman, his voice is given the god complex.  The delay and reverb extends in to the surround and creates a great surround enveloping experience.

The original DVD bonus materials have been ported over to the Blu-ray, and are presented in standard definition, except for the two theatrical trailers, which are presented in HD.  First there is a typical making-of featurette in two parts, "How's it Going to End? The Making of 'The Truman Show.'"  "Faux Finishing, The Visual Effects of 'The Truman Show'" is a featurette that discusses the set design created for Truman's world.  There are also four deleted scenes, a photo gallery and two TV spots.

"The Truman Show" is one of Carrey's spectacular films and definitely should be added to your collection.  The audio and video have their problems, but it is far improved from the standard DVD.  Stay tuned for more Jim Carrey Blu-ray releases coming soon.  For now, "Good Afternoon, Good Evening, and Good Night."

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