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Ma

Blu Ray

  • Score
    79
    from 4 reviewers
    Review Date:
  • Ma intrigues with its deep horror, Octavia shines; Blu-ray impresses.

    Ma Blu-ray Front Cover

    Disc Release Date:

  • Video
    87
  • Ma's Blu-ray delivers a solid 1080p image with great detail and color, despite slight noise in low light and lighter blacks. The encoding captures the movie's mood and aesthetics well.

  • Audio
    87
  • Ma's DTS-HD MA 5.1 audio captivates with crystal-clear dialogue and dynamic soundscapes, from subtle horror to explosive party scenes, enhancing immersion.

  • Extra
    68
  • Ma's release includes an embossed slipcover, a DVD, digital copy, and extras: Alternate Ending, Deleted Scenes, 'Creating Sue Ann', 'Party At Ma's', and Trailer, with mixed reviews on feature depth.

  • Movie
    76
  • Octavia Spencer delivers a compelling performance in 'Ma,' blending horror with a twisted tale of revenge and emotional scars, making it an unforgettable film.

    Video: 87

    The Blu-ray presentation of "Ma" aims to deliver a quality viewing experience by leveraging its digital shoot and 2K Digital Intermediate (DI) source, resulting in a commendable 1080p transfer with an aspect ratio of 2.39:1. The visual clarity and detail throughout the film are immediately noticeable, from the nuanced expressions and textures in Octavia Spencer's varied costumes to the meticulously designed sets that reflect her character's journey and the film's eerie atmosphere. The MPEG-4 AVC encoding on a BD-50 layer disc ensures that both the minutiae of facial features, clothing, and the environment, as well as the broader strokes of production design, are captured with precision, making for an engaging visual narrative. The color palette, dominated by grey and brown tones with bursts of vibrant primaries, especially in scenes of blood which are rendered in striking crimson, compliments the early fall setting and thematic elements of the movie.

    Despite the generally solid video quality, there are areas where improvements could enhance the viewer’s experience. The choice not to release "Ma" on 4K Ultra-HD Blu-ray is curious, given the movie's dark aesthetic; this format could potentially offer richer blacks and more detailed dark scenes. As it stands, black levels tend towards the lighter, grayer side, occasionally resulting in slightly washed-out or less impactful visuals, which slightly detracts from what could be a more immersive experience. Nonetheless, the depth of field is commendably handled, with interior scenes showing a layered arrangement that imbues the picture with a sense of dimensionality. Movements remain natural and free from distortion, preserving the film's intended pacing and tension.

    Color reproduction shows a slight washout, except in sequences featuring more vivid elements like fire or blood, which pop with more intensity. Skin tones appear slightly cool and faded, yet maintain enough clarity to reveal detailed expressions and effects, contributing to the overall character portrayal. Despite these criticisms, the Blu-ray presentation is clean of noise or artifacts, ensuring a pleasant viewing experience. Overall, while there are missed opportunities to elevate "Ma's" home viewing to greater heights with advanced formats, this Blu-ray release offers a robust visualization that supports the film's narrative and aesthetic ambitions.

    Audio: 87

    The Blu Ray's audio presentation of "Ma" showcases an impressive English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack that captures the audience's attention right from the beginning. With a richly defined lossless audio track, the opening scenes' musical details are spread around the stage, offering an engaging audio experience. The environmental sounds in the school hallway and casino are subtly enveloped around the listener, adding depth to the scenes. The dynamic range is especially notable in Ma's basement parties, where the sound mix seamlessly transitions between loud, immersive party music and the creepy, quiet tension of the more sinister basement scenes. The audio maintains a good balance among left, right, and center channels, ensuring dialogue clarity throughout. Additionally, the soundtrack includes Spanish and French 5.1 DTS mixes, with optional subtitles in English for the hard of hearing, Spanish, and French, catering to a broader audience.

    The film's soundscape is expertly crafted to support its shifts from atmospheric tension to high-energy sequences. As the narrative progresses, the rear and side channels become more active, contributing to an immersive surround sound experience that complements the party scenes' liveliness and the intensity of the climax's engulfing flames and explosions. The soundtrack's dynamics, including the judicious use of low frequency extension (LFE), elevate moments of sudden horror, making them more impactful. Gregory Tripi's scoring enhances the mood, and sound effects are strategically used to fill out scenes without overwhelming them.

    Dialogue remains a strong point throughout the audio presentation, with clear and well-prioritized delivery from the front-center channel. Vocals are crisp, with attention to detail that brings out the nuances in each character's voice, adding to the overall narrative immersion. The mix's playful design cleverly uses volume variations to amplify the horror elements, creating an engaging listening experience that may have listeners adjusting their volume in anticipation of sudden loud moments. The surround sound presentation adds depth with environmental sounds and off-screen activities, enriching the film's atmosphere and drawing the audience deeper into Ma's twisted world.

    Extra: 68

    The Blu Ray extras for "Ma" present a fairly standard package that caters more to casual fans than hardcore cinephiles. Comprising an alternate ending, a healthy dose of deleted scenes totaling over 11 minutes, and a couple of short featurettes, the content provides some additional insights into the making of the film and its unique story angles. Especially notable are the alternate ending and the extensive deleted scenes which offer an intriguing glimpse into what could have been. However, the featurettes, "Creating Sue Ann" and "Party At Ma's," though brief, shed light on the character development and film's horror aspects. Included with the purchase are a DVD copy and a digital copy via Movies Anywhere, enhanced by an embossed slipcover for collectors. Despite its attempt at depth, the extras mostly skim the surface, leaving a desire for more substantive exploration of the film's themes and production challenges.

    Extras included in this disc:

    • Alternate Ending: A divergent conclusion to the story.
    • Deleted Scenes: A collection of scenes not included in the theatrical version.
    • Creating Sue Ann: Insights into the character Sue Ann and her portrayal.
    • Party At Ma's: Highlights from filming, focusing on horror elements and direction.
    • Ma Theatrical Trailer: Promotional trailer for the film.

    Movie: 76

    In Tate Taylor's psychological horror "Ma," Octavia Spencer delivers a compellingly complex performance as Sue Ann, a woman burdened by the memories and traumas of her past, manifesting in a dangerous blend of maternal kindness and deadly intent. The movie encapsulates a journey into the darkness that lies beneath a welcoming facade, gradually peeling back layers to reveal an unsettling reality. It diverges from conventional horror, steeping its terrors not in overt scares but in the psychological unraveling of its main character, offering audiences a narrative that is as intriguing as it is unnerving.

    The move to a small Ohio town marks the beginning of a seemingly innocent adventure for Erica (Juliette Lewis) and her daughter Maggie (Diana Silvers), but their encounter with Sue Ann leads them into a spiral of events that showcase Spencer's ability to navigate between warm generosity and a chilling sinister nature. Her transformation from the cordial Sue Ann to 'Ma' enables a suspenseful exploration of themes related to belonging, rejection, and the dire consequences of past actions resurfacing in the present. Despite some tonal inconsistencies and a plot that occasionally wrestles with its pacing, Spencer's performance anchors the film, turning it into a compelling watch that cleverly subverts typical genre expectations.

    "Ma" stands out for its psychological depth and character-driven approach, offering more than just the thrill of horror but probing into the why and how of Sue Ann's transition from friend to foe. While some elements may lean towards the predictable, the film's deliberate build-up and payoff, combined with notable performances, especially Spencer's, craft a narrative that is not only engaging but also a testament to the complexities of human nature and the dark corridors of vengeance.

    Total: 79

    Ma," directed by Tate Taylor and starring Octavia Spencer in a role far removed from their previous collaboration on "The Help," presents a thrilling divergence into psychological horror. It stands out by thoroughly exploring its lead character's complex emotional landscape, stemming from a single, deeply humiliating moment. This approach redefines the Horror genre, offering an involved narrative that delves into interior anguish eager for release. Universal's Blu-ray edition of the film does justice to this intricate story with its superb video and audio quality, accompanied by a modest yet satisfying selection of extras, making it a commendable addition to any collection.

    Octavia Spencer's portrayal of Sue Ann, or "Ma," is both captivating and unsettling, marking a significant departure from her usual roles. Her enthusiasm for the part—driven by a character arc that promised survival beyond the first act—and the chemistry with her young co-stars, combined with Taylor's direction aimed at universal relatability, elevate the film’s emotional impact. Despite its compelling moments and strong performances, the film suffers from a palpable imbalance, struggling to harmonize its thoughtful ambitions with the genre's conventional thrills. This discordance results in a viewing experience that, while buoyed by Spencer's formidable presence, may leave audiences wanting in aspects of cohesion and depth.

    In conclusion, "Ma" is an ambitious film that garners attention for its psychological depth and Octavia Spencer's standout performance. The Blu-ray release underpins the cinematic experience with high-quality audiovisuals and an assortment of additional content that enriches the viewing. While the movie might not achieve universal acclaim, its strengths make it deserving of attention, particularly for those intrigued by genre films that aspire to explore beyond surface-level horror. As such, it warrants a recommendation for rental or purchase, especially at a discounted price point, providing a unique blend of psychological intrigue and traditional scares.