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CHANGELING ($40) is a marvelous film and another example why Clint Eastwood’s work as a director will, for future generations, overshadow his contributions to the cinema as an actor. Eastwood’s direction is simplicity itself, yet displays the assuredness of a true master of the craft. In Eastwood’s capable hands, CHANGELING proves itself a powerful period film that covers each aspect of its multi-faceted story with an equal intensity. Writer J. Michael Straczynski has based his gripping screenplay on actual events that began in 1928, and the writer manages to stay close to the truth, while keeping it all very compelling. In CHANGELING, Angelina Jolie portrays Christine Collins, a single mother, whose nine-year-old son, Walter vanishes one day while she is working. The missing child is reported to the Los Angeles Police Department, and months later Christine is informed that her son has been found alive.

However, the much-publicized reunion is not what the distraught mother expects, when the L.A.P.D. presents Christine with a boy who is not her son. Immediately, Christine informs Police Captain J. J. Jones (Jeffrey Donovan) that they have returned the wrong boy, but with the reporters present, Christine is pressured into taking "Walter" home. The pressure placed on Christine is another example of the inherent corruption of the L.A.P.D., which has become a crusade for Reverend Gustav Briegleb (John Malkovich) during his radio broadcasts. As Christine gathers additional evidence of the police department’s mistake, Briegleb approaches her with the intent of publicizing her plight on the radio. With Christine becoming a greater and greater inconvenience for the L.A.P.D., Captain Jones decides to make the problem go away by having her confined to Los Angeles County Hospital's "psychopathic ward". While Jolie’s work in CHANGELING ranks as the very best I’ve seen from the actress, the film features some impressive supporting performances from a pretty terrific ensemble. The cast of CHANGELING also includes Michael Kelly, Colm Feore, John Harrington Bland, Wendy Worthington, Jason Butler Harner, Eddie Alderson, Amy Ryan and Denis O'Hare, Geoffrey Pierson.

Universal Studios Home Entertainment has made CHANGELING available on Blu-ray Disc in a 2.35:1 aspect ratio presentation that has been encoded onto the disc with the VC-1 codec. The 1080p presentation is a real beauty, which highlights Tom Stern’s impressive cinematography, which brings to life a bygone era. Image sharpness and detail are very, very good throughout, with the close-ups demonstrating an excellent level of fine detail. Even medium and longer shots come across quite well and allow one to appreciate the period costumes and sets, Additionally, the image always produces a nice level of dimensionality. Colors are somewhat muted, which is effective in conveying a different era, as well as the bleaker aspects of the story. Blacks are accurate and the whites appear crisp. Contrast and shadow detail everything one should expect from this type of motion picture. The elements from which CHANGELING are transferred appear virtually pristine. Grain is present, but maintains a nice film-like quality for the presentation.

CHANGELING is presented on Blu-ray Disc with a 5.1 channel DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack. This is a very capable sound mix, but by the very nature of the dramatic story and period setting, the sound design isn’t as aggressive as a newer movie. The forward soundstage does demonstrate strong separations that enhance a number of sequences; however, the surrounds aren’t quite as active. Fidelity is quite good, with a very nice sounding musical component, which benefits Clint Eastwood’s jazz influenced score. The bass channel keeps the effects grounded, with no cause to add significant rumble. Voices are cleanly reproduced and the dialogue maintains complete intelligibility. A French DTS 5.1 channel track has also been encoded onto the disc, as have English, French and Spanish subtitles.

Full motion video, animation and sound serve to enhance the disc's interactive menus. Through the menus, one has access to standard scene selection and set up features, as well as the supplements. HD Featurettes include: Partners In Crime: Clint Eastwood And Angelina Jolie (thirteen minutes) and The Common Thread: Angelina Jolie Becomes Christine Collins (five minutes). Universal's U-Control interface is utilized for an interactive version of the movie that provides in context picture-in-picture, pop-up supplements in relation to individual moments or sequences in the film (requires a Profile 1.1 player). CHANGELING is also BD-Live enabled (requires a Profile 2.0 player).

As I stated above CHANGELING marvelous film that benefits from the talents of director Clint Eastwood, not to mention those of actress Angelina Jolie. The Blu-ray presentation is a real beauty and cannot be faulted. Recommended.



Changeling [Blu-ray] (2008)


DVD & Blu-rayDisc reviews are Copyright © 2009 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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