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Blu Ray

  • Score
    from 2 reviewers
    Review Date:
  • 'W.,' a nuanced take on Bush by Stone, intrigues but polarizes, with top-notch production values.

    W. Blu-ray Front Cover

    Disc Release Date:

  • Video
  • W.'s Blu-ray preserves its indie, grainy aesthetics with muted yet vivid colors, maintaining the intended natural look and feel without unwanted anomalies, accurately reflecting its theatrical quality.

  • Audio
  • W.'s Blu-ray audio, with DTS HD-Master Audio treatment, excels in clear dialogue and a modest stereo soundstage, lacking in dynamic surround sound but maintains a high-quality, favorable impression.

  • Extra
  • W. Blu-ray extras feature Oliver Stone's balanced commentary, in-depth documentaries critiquing Bush's presidency, a behind-the-scenes look, and extra scenes; a mix that pleases fans and critics alike.

  • Movie
  • W. delivers a nuanced, even-handed portrayal of George W. Bush's life and presidency, challenging stereotypes and inviting viewers to reassess their perceptions, amidst technical Blu-ray details highlighting typical Lionsgate packaging quirks.

    Video: 70

    The Blu-ray presentation of "W." offers a polarizing yet faithful representation of Oliver Stone’s cinematic vision, with the technical delivery balancing on the edge of a budget-conscious production and Lionsgate's dedication to quality. Despite being tied to a relatively modest budget, the film avoids looking cheap, eschewing the gloss and stylization found in Stone’s earlier presidential works for a grittier, more indie film aesthetic. The 1080p AVC MPEG-4 transfer retains this intention perfectly across its 2.35:1 aspect ratio, presenting Phedon Papmichael's quasi-documentary cinematography with the authenticity it demands. Colors on this Blu-ray are purposefully muted, corresponding accurately with the film’s narrative shifts, while contrast levels and detail definition hover around the average mark - a deliberate choice that reinforces the director's intent without succumbing to the temptation of artificial enhancement.

    Visually, "W." on Blu-ray does not strive for the peak of high-definition clarity but instead aims for an accurate replication of its theatrical experience. Lionsgate has managed to strike a commendable balance in presenting the film's contrasty photography with commendable black levels and satisfactory shadow detail, embedding a modest yet significant texture of film grain. This approach preserves the naturalistic ambiance of the film without resorting to undue filtering or suffering from common digital maladies like edge enhancement or compression artifacts. Moreover, scenes intentionally designed to mimic low-res video, blending actors with historical footage, are distinct in their intended lower quality, ensuring that these creative choices are appreciated as part of the film’s storytelling fabric.

    Thus, the Blu-ray release of "W." stands out as a testament to Lionsgate's often variable but here commendable commitment to quality. It skillfully captures the film's intended visual narrative, from its nuanced color palette to the gritty authenticity imbued by its film grain, all while maintaining a high standard of video presentation. It exemplifies how a Blu-ray can honor a film's original aesthetic and directorial choices without succumbing to overzealous digital manipulation, making it a recommended addition for both enthusiasts of Oliver Stone's filmography and those seeking a meticulous home cinema experience.

    Audio: 65

    The audio presentation of "W." on Blu-ray, encoded with DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1, predominantly showcases a dialogue-driven experience, which is both clear and distinctly conveyed throughout the runtime. The lack of substantial surround sound activity does not detract from the overall quality of the audio track, as the dialogue remains the focal point and is rendered with precision and clarity, ensuring that every word is comprehensible without any sharpness or distortion. The film’s score, crafted by Paul Cantelon, is tastefully dispersed across the front channels, creating a subtle yet effective stereo soundstage that accentuates the film's narrative without overwhelming it.

    While one might enter with expectations of an audibly dynamic experience, "W." remains steadfast in its commitment to authenticity and subtlety in sound. The soundtrack carefully balances warmth and fidelity, particularly evident in musical segments, although it maintains a low-profile ambiance that complements the film's predominantly conversational scenes. Occasional uses of rear-fill audio enhancements slightly broaden the soundstage, introducing a modest depth to the otherwise front-focused audio mix. These elements, although sparingly utilized, contribute to a more immersive listening experience without disrupting the film's consistent tonal range.

    In essence, Lionsgate's treatment of "W." with the full lossless DTS HD-Master Audio ensures a high-fidelity audio experience that honors the film’s original sound design. While the absence of robust surround effects might underwhelm those anticipating a more enveloping audio showcase, the meticulous attention to dialogue clarity and the gentle incorporation of music and minimal ambient effects result in a sound presentation that, while understated, is technically proficient and entirely befitting of the film’s narrative style.

    Extra: 52

    The Blu-ray extras for "W." offer a compact yet insightful package that compliments the controversial tone of Oliver Stone's cinematic portrayal of George W. Bush's presidency. Oliver Stone's audio commentary stands out, providing an in-depth look at his filmmaking process and the motivations behind his restrained critique of Bush in the film itself. The "Dangerous Dynasty: The Bush Presidency" featurette expands on Stone's perspectives, with interviews from left-leaning historians and editorialists who do not shy away from critiquing the conservative era, reflecting Stone’s political leanings without his direct on-camera presence. "No Stranger to Controversy: Oliver Stone's George W. Bush" offers a glimpse behind the scenes, albeit more of a promotional piece, it still manages to include informative anecdotes from cast and crew. The inclusion of deleted scenes and a comprehensive "Filmmakers' Research and Annotation Guide" further enriches the extras, providing audiences with a deeper understanding of the film's basis in reality versus fictionalization, demonstrating a blend of filmmaking craft and political commentary.

    Extras included in this disc:

    • Audio Commentary with Director Oliver Stone: In-depth directorial insights on the film’s production and narrative choices.
    • Dangerous Dynasty: The Bush Presidency: A critical documentary featuring political experts discussing George W. Bush's administration.
    • No Stranger to Controversy: Oliver Stone's George W. Bush: A behind-the-scenes look at the making of "W." with interviews from cast and crew.
    • Deleted Scenes: Additional scenes not included in the final film.
    • Filmmakers' Research and Annotation Guide: A collection of 83 text documents detailing factual accuracy and creative licenses in the film.
    • Theatrical Trailer: The official HD trailer of "W.

    Movie: 65

    Oliver Stone's "W.," a biopic focusing on George W. Bush, defies expectations on multiple fronts, presenting an even-handed portrayal that neither vilifies nor sanctifies its subject. Throughout his career, Stone has courted controversy with his politically charged filmmaking, leading many to preemptively dismiss "W." as a polemic. However, the film emerges as a nuanced character study, exploring the personal and political transformations of Bush, played with remarkable fidelity by Josh Brolin. Brolin’s performance is central to the film's impact, capturing Bush’s mannerisms and speech patterns with an authenticity that transcends mere imitation. The supporting cast, including Elizabeth Banks as Laura Bush and Thandie Newton as Condoleezza Rice, contribute significantly to the film’s portrayal of Bush's life and presidency, though Newton's portrayal verges on caricature.

    Stone's narrative structure, shifting between Bush's early struggles and his contentious presidency, eschews a linear recounting of events in favor of a thematic exploration of Bush’s motivations and flaws. The director’s decision to focus on public-record information rather than speculation results in a film that, while dramatically cohesive, leaves notable gaps in its account of Bush's life. This approach has led to criticism that "W." may not fully engage with its subject’s complexity, particularly regarding the more secretive aspects of Bush’s administration. Despite these omissions, "W." succeeds in humanizing a figure often reduced to partisan caricature, offering a perspective that challenges viewers across the political spectrum to reconsider their preconceptions.

    Interestingly, "W." comes to Blu-ray with technical and navigational quirks that neither enhance nor significantly detract from the viewing experience—indicative of the film's unexpected presentation. Lionsgate Entertainment's handling of the Blu-ray release is notable for the inclusion of numerous trailers and a somewhat cumbersome menu system. Nonetheless, the film itself stands out for its attempt to provide a balanced view of one of the most divisive figures in recent American politics, making it a must-watch for those seeking to understand George W. Bush beyond the caricatures offered by both supporters and detractors.

    Total: 67

    Oliver Stone's "W." delves into the intricate personal and presidential life of George W. Bush with a balanced hand, avoiding the trap of overt criticism or unnecessary glorification. This nuanced approach may have contributed to its mixed reception at the box office – it neither vilifies Bush to satisfy his critics nor idolizes him for his supporters, leaving a middle ground that might not meet extreme expectations. The film, however, stands out for its engaging storytelling and capacity to spark spirited discussions among viewers. Presented by Lionsgate, "W." maintains a high fidelity to its original theatrical presentation, with superb video and audio quality that respects the cinematic experience. Though supplementary material is somewhat sparse, what is included offers additional insights worthy of viewers' attention.

    The Blu-ray edition of "W." by Lionsgate showcases an excellent transfer, with both the picture quality and sound design living up to the high standards expected from high-definition releases. While the film presents an unexpectedly sympathetic view of George W. Bush, some viewers may find themselves pondering the ultimate objective of Stone's portrayal. Despite this ambiguity, the movie's compelling narrative coupled with top-notch technical presentation makes it an intriguing piece for those willing to explore a complex figure's portrayal without preconceived notions. The additional features, though few, are thoughtfully curated to complement the primary content.

    In conclusion, "W." emerges as a captivating exploration of one of America's most polarizing figures, delivered with technical excellence on Blu-ray. Oliver Stone's balanced perspective combined with Lionsgate's stellar presentation makes this release worth considering for those interested in a nuanced examination of George W. Bush's legacy, irrespective of their political bent. While the film navigates through controversial waters with a delicate hand, the Blu-ray edition excels in bringing this thought-provoking narrative to life with clarity and precision, making it recommended viewing for cinephiles and history buffs alike.