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SPECIFICATIONS
  • 2.35:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
  • English DTS-HD 5.1 Surround
  • English subtitles
  • 1 Disc
FEATURES
  • Audio commentary by Anderson
  • With the Filmmaker: Portraits by Albert Maysles, featuring Anderson
  • Interviews with and behind-the-scenes footage of actors Gene Hackman, Anjelica Huston, Ben Stiller, Gwyneth Paltrow, Luke Wilson, Owen Wilson, Bill Murray, and Danny Glover
  • Outtakes
  • The Peter Bradley Show, featuring interviews with additional cast members
  • Scrapbook featuring young Richie's murals and paintings, still photographs by set photographer James Hamilton, book and magazine covers, and storyboards
  • Studio 360 radio segment on painter Miguel Calderůn, along with examples of his work
  • Trailers

The Royal Tenenbaums

Blu-ray
Reviewed by: Chris Galloway

Directed By: Wes Anderson
Starring: Gene Hackman, Anjelica Huston, Ben Stiller, Gwyneth Paltrow, Luke Wilson, Owen Wilson, Bill Murray, Seymour Cassel, Deepak Pallana, Alec Baldwin
2001 | 110 Minutes | Licensor: Buena Vista Home Entertainment

Release Information
Blu-ray | MSRP: $39.95 | Series: The Criterion Collection | Edition: #157
RLJ Entertainment

Release Date: August 14, 2012
Review Date: August 7, 2012

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SYNOPSIS

Royal Tenenbaum (Gene Hackman) and his wife, Etheline (Anjelica Huston) had three children-Chas, Margot, and Richie-and then they separated. Chas (Ben Stiller) started buying real estate in his early teens and seemed to have an almost preternatural understanding of international finance. Margot (Gwyneth Paltrow) was a playwright and received a Braverman Grant of $50,000 in the ninth grade. Richie (Luke Wilson) was a junior champion tennis player and won the U.S. Nationals three years in a row. Virtually all memory of the brilliance of the young Tenenbaums was subsequently erased by two decades of betrayal, failure, and disaster. The Royal Tenenbaums is a hilarious, touching, and brilliantly stylized study of melancholy and redemption from Wes Anderson.

Forum members rate this film 8/10

 

Discuss the film and Blu-ray here   


PICTURE

Wes Andersonís The Royal Tenenbaums gets a much needed upgrade on Blu-ray from Criterion, who present the film in a new 1080p/24hz high-definition digital transfer in its original aspect ratio of about 2.40:1 on a dual-layer disc.

I recalled that the original DVDís transfer, from 2002, was problematic, and in the review for the DVD I wasnít terribly impressed with it but I donít think I was overly harsh. Yet revisiting it again recently I was horrified by the level of compression noise in it; itís far, far worse than I originally remembered. Iím pretty sure Disney had more of hand on that transfer, since the disc was essentially a Disney release put together by Criterionís team. This possibly explains why itís such a dud whereas most of Criterionís other SD transfers for newer films usually looked remarkable, even ten years ago.

I feared Criterion might just deliver a high-def version of that transfer for this Blu-ray but I donít think thatís the case as this high-definition transfer looks far too good to have been the basis for the previous DVDís. Criterionís Blu-ray edition delivers a far more film like and cleaner look, the compression noise that plagued the previous DVD now gone. Fine film grain remains but is never heavy and looks natural for the most part. The image is sharp with crisp, fine details, even the fine cross patterns on the wedding tuxes at the end coming through crystal clear. The film has a warmer palette, which leads to yellowish skin tones but Iím pretty sure this is how the film is supposed to look. Colours are bright and vivid, with reds especially impressive, and the blues, specifically Danny Gloverís blazer, looking rich and deep. Black levels are also solid. Thereís some scenes where blooming can occur but I also feel this is how the film is intended to look.

I noticed some shimmering in tighter patterns but itís a minor concern and only occurs a few times. Otherwise the transfer is clean, and the source print looks to be in better shape than what the DVD presented and I donít recall a single blemish.

In all itís a drastic improvement over the previous DVD and for all those horrified by what theyíre seeing in that editionís transfer they'll want to look into this Blu-ray as the video improvement is worth the upgrade alone.

9/10

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AUDIO

The film receives an upgraded DTS-HD MA 5.1 surround track. The track still remains front heavy with most dialogue and sound effects coming from those three speakers, but there are some noticeable effects in the rears and when the filmís great soundtrack kicks in it fills the environment naturally. When it comes to sound I admittedly have trouble discerning big differences between tracks sometimes but with this track I was able to detect a vast improvement over the old DVDís DTS and Dolby Digital tracks. This track is far sharper and there are more subtle effects here, along with bits in the music, which I didnít notice in either of the DVDís tracks. Dialogue is crisp, the music is loud and crystal clear, and it makes decent use of bass. The film doesnít call for a robust track, but I was actually quite impressed with what Criterion has given us here.

8/10

SUPPLEMENTS

Most of everything has made it over from the Criterion DVD, though a couple of things didnít.

Again the supplements begin with an audio commentary by Wes Anderson. It is a decent and informative commentary from the director, though I wish that we maybe got a little less Wes and maybe had some cast members thrown in there, or at least writing partner Owen Wilson, who did participate on the Rushmore commentary. Still Anderson offers quite a bit of information on the background of the film (The Magnificent Ambersons being a key influence not all that surprisingly,) how it came to be, points out friends/family, and offers some anecdotes from the set. I found it interesting enough and do recommend fans of the film or Anderson to give it a listen but I find I prefer his commentaries much more when others are sharing the work.

The remaining supplements are found under the ďSupplementsĒ section. The big one would be the roughly 27-minute documentary on the making of the film, called With the Filmmaker by Albert Maysles. It offers only a little insight into the making of the film, including Anderson's handling of the actors (and the use of the falcon in the movie), work on the design and his other duties as the camera follows him around. Itís not your typical making-of, sort of hanging back and never getting up close. Itís decent but I think I prefer the similar documentary found on the later release for The Life Aquatic.

The interviews with the actors in a separate section offers more compelling stuff. It gives interviews with Gene Hackman, Anjelica Huston, Ben Stiller, Gwyneth Paltrow, Luke Wilson, Owen Wilson, Bill Murray and Danny Glover. All together they run about 27 minutes. Each actor gives a brief synopsis on their characters and why they did the movie. It's not your typical "everyone is so great!" material you might be used to. This is actual insight, not always positive. I'm surprised to hear Hackman almost turned down the role, only because it was pretty much tailored for him (which he hates). Stillerís interview is also surprisingly insightful. All good stuff.

2 deleted scenes are also included. The first one is very funny, but was cut to make Eli Cash a loner, as the scene shows his family (Rushmore's Olivia Williams appears in the scene) and the second is an extra scene between Anjelica Huston and Danny Glover. In total they run about 2 minutes.

The Peter Bradley Show is a joke supplement, based on a character who briefly appears in the film. This 26-minute send up of The Charlie Rose Show (which was an extra on the Rushmore DVD) is a rather funny bit, having Peter Bradley interview the lesser known actors from the film, including Stephan Dignan, Sanjay Matthew, Kumar Pallana, Dipak Pallana, and Brian Tenenbaum. I found it very funny, as Bradley (played by actor Larry Pine) is, to put it bluntly, an idiot. It's an amusing and clever little addition to the set.

The section labeled Scrapbook presents a number of galleries. We get a large collection of stills taken on the set followed by a section about painter Miguel Calderůn, who painted the paintings that appear in Eliís apartment. There is an audio segment found here from a radio show called Studio 360, which is a 4-minute piece that goes over his work and even presents interviews with the artist. There is also a stills gallery presenting the work from the series that appears in the film. We also get a few storyboards and excerpts from the script, as well as photos of Richie Tenenbaumís various paintings of Margot and the murals that are spread across his room. It then concludes with a still gallery of all of the book and magazine covers that appear in the film.

Unlike the still gallery on Criterionís Blu-ray for Rushmore, and many of the galleries in Criterionís Blu-ray upgrades sadly, it appears all of the photos have made it here from the DVD. The only thing that didnít make it is close-ups of Calderůnís paintings. But thatís not a serious concern since all of the photos and stills are presented in high-definition, so clarity is much better. This is best displayed in the stills of the script, which can be hard to make out and come off blurry in the DVDís gallery, but are all crisp and clean here.

The disc then comes with the same two theatrical trailers, presented one after the other as before.

The release also comes with the same two inserts that came with the DVD, one featuring a lengthy but excellent essay on the film by Kent Jones. The other insert features a note by Anderson and what look like designs for the Tenenbaumís houseís various rooms. It looks like this insert has everything from the old insert but it is laid out a little differently to accommodate the smaller scale of the Blu-ray case.

Sadly none of the Easter Eggs from the DVD have made it over. This is a shame because there were a few rather humourous bloopers and behind-the-scene moments presented. Also missing is Ben Stillerís introduction to the supplements. Iím disappointed these didnít make it but at least all of the main supplements made it over.

In all theyíre a strong set of supplements, though, like how I felt with Rushmore, it would have been great if we could have received some sort of retrospective from everyone involved or maybe a critical slant ten years after the filmís release. But for fans of the film and Anderson theyíre a decent set.

7/10

CLOSING

Unfortunately this new Blu-ray edition offers no upgrade to the supplements. In fact you lose all of the Easter Eggs from the previous DVD. But this edition comes with a high recommendation just for the video and audio upgrade, both of which offer nice and noticeable upgrades, the video specifically.


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