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Too Big to Fail Blu-ray Review

  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
  • Video Codec: AVC/MPEG-4
  • Resolution: 1080p/24 (23.976Hz)
  • Audio Codec: English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 (48kHz/16-bit), French DTS 5.1, Spanish DTS 2.0
  • Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish
  • Subtitles Color: White
  • Region: ABC (Region-Free)
  • Rating: TV-MA
  • Run Time: 80 Mins.
  • Discs: 2 (1 x Blu-ray + 1 x DVD + Digital Copy)
  • Studio: HBO Home Entertainment
  • Blu-ray Release Date: June 12, 2012
  • List Price: $24.99

Overall
[Rating:3.5/5]
The Film
[Rating:4/5]
Video Quality
[Rating:4/5]
Audio Quality
[Rating:3.5/5]
Supplemental Materials
[Rating:2/5]

Click thumbnails for high-resolution 1920X1080p screen captures

(All TheaterByte screen captures are lightly compressed with lossy JPEG at 100% quality setting and are meant as a general representation of the content. They do not fully reveal the capabilities of the Blu-ray format)

The Film

[Rating:4/5]

If you never heard about the 2008 financial meltdown then you have been living in a bubble for the last 3 ½ years. The failure of Lehman Brothers, the collapse of AIG and the bottom falling out of the U.S. real estate market at the tail end of the George W. Bush administration caused financial ripples that led the economy into a tailspin. It’s a giant recession-sized hole (and some have even been throwing around the “d” word) that we are still trying to dig our way out of.

HBO’s Too Big to Fail, from the book by Andrew Ross Sorkin, is a documdrama that chronicles that financial crisis, with the focus on then Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson (William Hurt), himself a former Wall Street man from Goldman Sachs, and the colossal sums of taxpayer dollars the government served up to the banks to stave off a complete economic and social collapse. Taking into account the money Paulson dished out to Bear Sterns without any legislation from the congress before Lehman went under and then the ~$700 billion dished out to the rest of the banks, we’re talking sums that the average American can hardly comprehend.

The star-studded cast that also includes James Woods (Richard Fuld), Edward Asner (Warren Buffett), Paul Giamatti (Ben Bernanke), Cynthia Nixon (Michele Davis) and Tony Shaloub (John Mack) is a naked look at the inside workings of the Wall Street elite; the power brokers who control the world and subsequently our lives. It’s a peek behind the curtain at the closed door meetings in “quiet rooms,” as one presidential candidate so adroitly put it. It’s powerfully acted and somehow suspenseful even though we know what’s coming and are, in fact, still living with the fallout today.

Video Quality

[Rating:4/5]

Shot on Kodak Vision3 500T 5219 35mm film using Panavision Panaflex Millennium XL2 cameras and Panavision Primo Lenses, Too Big to Fail won’t look like a native HD production, but it does have a film-like quality that is natural and textured as one would expect from this Kodak film. The darker indoor scenes tend to look just a little soft and somewhat grainier, while the brighter scenes seem crystal clear. Overall contrast is strong, but more at a “medium” level, meaning blacks don’t quite hit an absolute inky bottom although the production does look bright; the result is that sometimes it seems like gamma might be just a tad high, but shadow detail is nicely extended.

Audio Quality

[Rating:3.5/5]

There is nothing much going on at all in this DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 (48kHz/16-bit) soundtrack. The surround channels seem deadly silent most of the time, unless you’re on the main menu. Otherwise the dialogue is clean, which is all you can ask for in a film like this.

Supplemental Materials

[Rating:2/5]

An extremely brief making-of and another production featurette are offered in HD alongside an interactive timeline of the financial crisis.

The supplements:

  • The Making of Too Big to Fail (1.78:1; 1080i/60; 00:01:47)
  • Opening the Vault on the Financial Crisis (1.78:1; 1080i/60; 00:19:07)
  • Timeline of a Crisis – An interactive timeline outlining the details of the financial crisis.
  • DVD – A DVD copy of Too Big to Fail is also provided.
  • Digital Copy – Get your digital copy anyway you like it, iTunes, Amazon, Vudu, or UltraViolet.

The Definitive Word

Overall:

[Rating:3.5/5]

A powerhouse cast delivers a powerful look into the inner workings of corporate America on the precipice of financial doom and a crisis that has defined the beginning of this decade. Too Big to Fail is must watch television. Recommended.

Additional Screen Captures

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Purchase Too Big to Fail on Blu-ray at CD Universe

Shop for more Blu-ray titles at Amazon.com

Overall
[Rating:3.5/5]
The Film
[Rating:4/5]
Video Quality
[Rating:4/5]
Audio Quality
[Rating:3.5/5]
Supplemental Materials
[Rating:2/5]

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