- Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
- Video Codec: AVC/MPEG-4
- Resolution: 108op/24
- Audio Codec: English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, English Dolby Digital 5.1, French Dolby Digital 5.1
- Region: A
- Rating: PG-13
- Discs: 1
- Studio: 20th Century Fox
- Blu-ray Release Date: June 8, 2010
- List Price: $24.99
Click thumbnails for high-resolution 1920X1080p screen captures
(Screen captures are lightly compressed with lossy JPEG thus are meant as a general representation of the content and do not fully reveal the capabilities of the Blu-ray format)
Arriving late to the magical ball and with a little less money to spare, 2006’s The Illusionist played like a companion piece to the bigger-budgeted and similarly themed The Prestige. The Illusionist, however, has a gentler, artier feel than The Prestige’s more in-your-face sleight of hand mystery, but at its core it is no more than an age old romance that is sugary sweet, but never too saccharine.
Set in early-twentieth century Vienna, The Illusionist stars Edward Norton as the illusionist Eisenheim, returned after many years away to reclaim his childhood love, a woman far above his social class, Sophie (Jessica Biel). Unfortunately for Eisenheim, his love is now engaged to the Crown Prince Leopold (Rufus Sewell) who will not stand for his prized possession being stolen away by a mere magician. Investigating the relationship between Eisenheim and Sophie is Inspector Uhi (Paul Giamatti), who plays up his working class roots, but is always aware that the Crown Prince is the one pulling the chain.
What ensues is an intricate murder mystery and love triangle involving Sophie, the Crown Prince, and Eisenheim, with Uhi leading the charge for all parties, and a beautiful tale spun by writer/director Neil Burger that effortlessly weaves fantasy, eye-popping visual aesthetics, romance, and mystery into an “arthouse” style film that passes by quickly.
The Illusionist does suffer at times from a bit of the mundane. None of the romance or mystery here is new and at times it is a little too smart for its own good, but the acting from the core group is brilliant all around, even from Biel, but especially Giamatti, which makes this one a winner. It edges out the bolder but less quirky The Prestige on charm alone.
The film appears in a 1.78:1 AVC/MPEG-4 AVC/MPEG-4 encoding that looks incredibly clean, detailed and film-like. The hyper-realistic palette and almost, sepia toned feel are brought forth effortlessly. Flesh tones, due to artistic intent, aren’t quite natural, and there are some instances of black crush that do not harm overall detail in the moody piece very much.
The English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 soundtrack is subtle, but appropriate with a lush sounding orchestral score, beautiful ambient sound effects and appropriate use of more discrete sounds in the surround channels when necessary. Dialogue is clean and full without any signs of clipping.
There are no supplements contained on the Blu-ray itself, but The Illusionist does come bundled with a standard definition DVD of the film, which contains an audio commentary by writer/director Neil Burger a “making of ” featurette, and a featurette with Jessica Biel.
The Definitive Word
The Illusionist is a charming film of both wit and magic. Despite the barebones Blu-ray, this is a strong high definition release from 20th Century Fox and comes recommended. It should make for a pleasant afternoon of viewing any day of the week.
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