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The Paperboy

Blu Ray

  • Score
    from 2 reviewers
    Review Date:
  • 'The Paperboy' disappoints despite stellar cast; maybe a rental for fans.

    The Paperboy Blu-ray Front Cover

    Disc Release Date:

  • Video
  • The Paperboy's Blu-ray offers an authentically gritty 1080p image from 16mm, with intended softness and variable contrast that highlights its lurid theme, despite inherent flaws.

  • Audio
  • The Dolby TrueHD 5.1 mix in 'The Paperboy' excels in ambient swamp scenes but is predominantly front-heavy, focusing on dialogue clarity with minimal use of LFE and rear channels, creating a proto-indie atmosphere.

  • Extra
  • In various featurettes (480i) totaling ~35 mins, brief and generic interviews with Daniels, cast, and crew intersperse with film snippets and unexplained BTS footage, providing superficial insights into the film's creation without fully identifying all participants.

  • Movie
  • 'The Paperboy' melds Southern Gothic and noir in a lurid, disjointed tale of crime, secrets, and dysfunctional dynamics, spotlighting deranged performances amidst a swampy, moral quagmire.

    Video: 66

    The Blu-ray presentation of "The Paperboy" by Millennium Films delivers an AVC encoded 1080p transfer in the aspect ratio of 2.40:1. Shot on Super 16, which is somewhat unusual for the modern high definition expectation, the film inherently displays a softness and a grainy texture that aligns closely with director Lee Daniels and cinematographer Roberto Schaefer’s intentions to bestow the film with a gritty, almost verité-like appearance. This choice, while deliberate, results in imagery that occasionally feels fuzzy, especially in close-ups, and suffers from an inconsistent contrast that often adds a hazy, milky veneer over scenes. Despite these characteristics suggesting a departure from conventional high definition sharpness, they work to enhance the film's lurid narrative by providing a viscerally authentic quality rather than detract from the viewing experience.

    The video quality exhibits its strength particularly in lower-lit scenes where the grain adds a layer of naturalism without overpowering the visual detail. However, the presentation struggles under brightly lit conditions - a not uncommon scenario given the film’s Florida setting - where strong lighting tends to exacerbate noise levels and obliterate finer details due to the overwhelming brightness. Such brightness not only affects the clarity of the image but also leads to whites that blaze too intensely, counterbalancing scenes where colors like deep reds, swampy earth tones, and vibrant pinks manage to boldly stand out.

    Inconsistencies persist with regards to black levels and color saturation, indicative of the challenges posed by the original 16mm source material. Blacks often appear somewhat washed out and lack depth, failing to achieve the richness one might expect in a more traditionally shot high-definition film. Despite these variances, when conditions align—the right interplay of light and scene—the transfer reveals moments of compelling solidity and vibrancy. The sporadic nature of these highs amidst the predominantly grittier visuals underscores a deliberate aesthetic choice that, while it may frustrate some viewers seeking uniform sharpness and clarity, effectively complements the film’s thematic elements and setting.

    Audio: 66

    The Dolby TrueHD 5.1 audio mix of "The Paperboy" delivers a serviceable experience that tends to focus predominantly on dialogue clarity and front-heavy sound staging, aligning with the film's intimate narrative style and proto-indie aesthetic. While the mix shines in its handling of intimate dialogue, ensuring whispered and hushed tones are easily discernible, it exhibits a restrained use of the LFE channel, only becoming notably active during heightened moments in the soundtrack. The audio mix, therefore, supports the film's narrative without offering much in the way of auditory embellishment.

    In scenes where the setting shifts to the more dynamic environments of the swamp, the TrueHD 5.1 mix demonstrates its potential for creating an immersive atmosphere with well-placed ambient sounds such as the chirping of crickets, buzzing of bugs, and calling of birds. However, these moments are fleeting, and the surround channels feel underutilized, leaving a sense of missed opportunity to fully engage the listener's auditory senses. The environmental sounds, while helping to enhance the atmosphere, could have benefited from being more pronounced to truly transport the audience into the film's setting.

    Overall, "The Paperboy's" audio presentation does a commendable job at supporting the film's dialogue-driven narrative, albeit in a manner that might be considered unremarkable when set against more aggressively mixed audio tracks. It remains largely front-heavy with occasional forays into more immersive territory during select scenes. Despite these moments of greater sonic depth, the mix does not consistently exploit its full potential, resulting in an audio experience that, while competent, leaves room for a more engaging and enveloping soundstage.

    Extra: 49

    The Blu Ray extras for "The Paperboy" offer a standard though somewhat disjointed assembly of features aimed at providing insights into the making of the film. The included featurette, utilizing a generic title, contains compressed interviews and film snippets that offer surface-level insights at best. Similarly, the Director and Cast and Crew Interviews, despite offering more raw material, are hampered by brief and often uncontextualized comments, with the lack of identification for lesser-known interviewees detracting from the experience. Additionally, the Behind the Scenes segments, one of which intriguingly opts for a silent observation of scene shootings, offer a more immersive look into the film's production process than their more verbal counterparts. Despite their limitations, these extras provide an albeit unpolished glimpse into the creative journey behind "The Paperboy."

    Extras included in this disc:

    • Featurette: Generic title with interviews and film snippets.
    • Director Interview: Lee Daniels discusses his inspiration and casting choices.
    • Cast and Crew Interviews: Extended interviews offering insights from various production members.
    • Behind the Scenes: Observational footage showcasing the filming process.

    Movie: 46

    The Paperboy," directed by Lee Daniels, unfolds in the pulsating heart of the 1960s South, infused with a Southern Gothic flair that Daniels is renowned for. This sweltering noir, featuring a cast including Matthew McConaughey, Nicole Kidman, Zac Efron, and John Cusack, plunges the viewer into a murky world of moral ambiguity. McConaughey's role as an ostensibly righteous reporter layering over his own dark secrets, set against the backdrop of Florida's sticky heat, exemplifies the film's exploration of flawed characters ensnared in a disturbing atmosphere. The narrative, told through the eyes of Macy Gray's character in a somewhat disjointed manner, teases the mind with its blend of direct storytelling and broader societal criticism. However, this ambitious melding at times feels like a gumbo filled more with confusion than coherence, as it struggles to maintain a stable tone or clear direction.

    Nicole Kidman delivers a noteworthy performance, albeit with an accent that some might find inconsistent. Her portrayal of Charlotte Bless adds a layer of tragic sensuality to the film, embodying its raw and untamed spirit. Despite its strong performances, "The Paperboy" wrestles with its identity, veering unpredictably between genres—from crime thriller to lurid melodrama, making it a perplexing viewing experience. The sweat-drenched cinematography and erratic narrative pacing further accentuate this confusion, leading to moments where the film's potential feels undercut by its own audaciousness.

    Moreover, Daniels' decision to intersperse moments of high tension with bizarre imagery and unusual editing choices adds to the film's polarizing nature. Efron's attempt to break from his teen idol image amidst this chaotic narrative landscape underscores "The Paperboy's" challenge: it ambitiously aims to critique and unravel layers of societal degradation and personal ruin but often loses itself in its execution. The end result is a movie that oscillates between moments of gripping intrigue and bewildering excess, existing as a curious artifact that might appeal more to lovers of camp and controversy than those seeking a cohesive story.

    Total: 54

    The Paperboy," despite boasting an ensemble cast featuring the likes of Nicole Kidman, Matthew McConaughey, and Zac Efron, struggles to leave a lasting impression, primarily due to its disjointed narrative and Lee Daniels' failure to weave various story elements seamlessly. While Kidman's performance has received notable attention, it is McConaughey and Efron’s unexpected depth that stands out, providing some redemption to the wandering plot. This suggests that while the film may garner interest from fans of the cast for a one-time viewing, its appeal as a collectible remains questionable.

    Moreover, the film is criticized for its failure to find a solid story footing, succumbing instead to a reliance on visuals over substance. It is described as a "sweaty mess" that fails to utilize its seasoned cast effectively, resulting in a presentation that feels both overburdened and underexplored. The Blu-ray presentation does not elevate this experience either, with audio and video quality that can only be described as average. This lackluster execution suggests that, aside from morbid curiosity or dedicated fandom, there may be little incentive to engage with this title, even as a rental.

    In conclusion, "The Paperboy" is an example of a film whose potential is marred by its execution. Despite the star-studded cast and moments of genuine performance brilliance, it ultimately falters under an unclear narrative direction and mediocre technical presentation on Blu-ray. For those intrigued by the actors involved or certain standout moments highlighted in its reception, it might warrant a cautious rental. However, for viewers seeking a cohesive and technically polished cinematic experience, it may be best to look elsewhere.