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Descendants, The (2011) Print E-mail
Tuesday, 20 March 2012
ImageSo, “The Descendants” was nominated for best picture and lost out to “The Artist.”  Barring the Academy’s choice of a film that was basically and independent, did “The Descendants” deserve the Best Picture award?  Personally, I think it beat out “The Artist” but I don’t think it is really worthy of being award the honor.  Then again, there are some other films that hold the distinguished award that shouldn’t have been made in the first place.

“The Descendants” offers us viewers a look at a family in Oahu who are dealing with loss, betrayal, growing up and facing the future.  George Clooney portrays Matt King, a real estate lawyer on the island who when the film opens is dealing with his wife’s boating accident, leaving her in a permanent coma.

Matt, essentially a workaholic, must begin to be a father to his two daughters.  Scottie is the youngest daughter and has trouble putting a filter in her brain before deciding what she is going to do.  Basically, she is a troublemaker.  Shailene Woodley portrays Alexandra, who is 17 years of age and attending a boarding school on the big island.  She is a rebellious teenager, acting more like she is in the 14-16 range.  She sneaks out, drinks beer, has a thing for the older, bad boy image, etc.  Matt brings Alexandra home to help with Scottie and family arrangements.

The film is about saying goodbye, discovering the truth and forgiveness.  All are centered around the fact that Matt’s wife had been cheating on him and he will not get the chance to confront her.  Instead he goes on a search for the man with whom she was having the affair.  This leads to some awkward moments and some family bonding.

Meanwhile, Matt is dealing with the sale a land trust.  He is the sole trustee of 25,000 acres of prime Hawaiian land.  He dozen, give or take cousins are also involved in deciding who to sale the land to.  Eventually, the land sale becomes an important part of the story in several ways. The Blu-ray contains a 2.40:1 AVC encode, which provides us with a lush view of the Hawaiian tropics.  The transfer isn’t perfect, but some of that comes from the original production.  The primary issue is the unevenness in the color saturation.  Dealing with the tropics it is hard to maintain an even skintone.  For the most part the skintones are warm and fairly natural for the environment.  However, there are a few scenes in which faces take on a sickly orange look.  This is a minor issue that only arises on a couple occasions, but I figured it was worth a note.  Aside from that, the image has solid black levels and great shadow delineation.  The image is free for any artifacting and banding is pleasantly absent.  Background details are not as sharp as they could be but the foreground detail is fairly impressive.  The image has a natural layer of grain that provides texture.  No major complaints about this transfer.

The audio track is presented in DTS-HD MA 5.1.  The audio is accurate to the source material.  While the sound design may not be all that it could be, the Blu-ray gives us a near perfect replica.  The dialogue is the primary element and is always clear and weighty.  The surround channels contain some ambience as to be expected with the ocean in nearly every sequence.  The surround ambience isn’t over powering but good enough to provide a sense of envelopment.  The surround channels lack any type of directionality due to original sound design elements.  The LFE is unimportant in this film.  The music score, full of ukuleles of course is nicely balanced.  All in all, this is an accurate audio track but won’t be remembered for anything in particular.

The Blu-ray package comes with a supplemental that looks impressive due to the number of content items, but ultimately there is no commentary of PiP track.  All the special features are about 10 minutes or less each.  There are two deleted scenes with director introductions.  “Working With Alexander” is a comment on the director.  “Everybody Loves George” is about Clooney.  “Hawaiian Style” is a basic location piece.  “The Real Descendants” briefly looks at the real landowners.  “Working With Water” discusses camera work on a boat.  “Casting” is self-explanatory.  “Waiting For The Light” is a montage of locations.  “A Conversation With George Clooney And Alexander Payne” is obvious.  Lastly, there are three music videos and a trailer.  The package also contains a DVD/Digital Copy disc.

“The Descendants” is one of the better films of the year that involves emotion and not simply blockbuster cashing-in.  Still, the film can lag at times.  The Blu-ray contains nice audio and video transfers, which will please fans of the film.  Recommended.

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