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Biutiful Blu-ray Review

  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Video Codec: AVC/MPEG-4
  • Resolution: 1080p/24
  • Audio Codec: English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
  • Subtitles: English, English SDH, Spanish
  • Region: A (Region-Locked)
  • Rating: R
  • Discs: 1
  • Studio: Lionsgate
  • Blu-ray Release Date: May 31, 2011
  • List Price: $39.99

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BestBuy.com:
Biutiful - Widescreen Subtitle AC3 Dolby Dts

Purchase Biutiful on Blu-ray at CD Universe

Shop for more Blu-ray titles at Amazon.com

Overall
[Rating:4/5]
The Film
[Rating:5/5]

Video Quality
[Rating:4/5]

Audio Quality
[Rating:3.5/5]

Supplemental Materials
[Rating:2.5/5]

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)

Editor’s Note: Portions of this review not related to this release were previously published as our Biutiful [UK Release] Blu-ray Review. All screen captures were taken from their respective releases.

The Film

[Rating:5/5]

Mexican director Alejandro González Iñárritu’s (Babel; 21 Grams) latest masterpiece is the Oscar-nominated (Best Foreign-Language Film) Biutiful. It’s a stunning and complex drama that takes a look at life, death and personal redemption.

Biutful stars the brilliant actor Javier Bardem (No Country for Old Men; Vicky Cristina Barcelona) as Uxbal, a man with the connection the afterworld, who is struggling to take care of his two young children and come to terms with a terminal illness that is soon going to take his life. With an underground criminal empire that he oversees along with his older brother Tito (Eduard Fernández), Uxbal traffics in pirated goods, illegal African immigrants, and low-paid Chinese workers, but he has had an epiphany. It leads him to reconsider his position in life and how he treats the people he deals with. He’s even begun to try to save the relationship with with his ex-wife Marambra (Maricel Álvarez), despite all her problems with alcohol and bi-polar disorder. It’s a life in disarray, for Uxbal and everyone around him, but he has begun to try to redeem what he can before he departs this mortal plain.

Iñárritu superbly interconnects many different subplots in a screenplay that is also filled with layers of symbolism. The cinematography is beautiful as well, no pun intended; an absolute wonder of intricate shading and the grit of the hard life. Bardem drives the drama with an intense yet reserved performance, but acknowledgement must also go to Maricel Álvarez whose performance truly evokes a woman on the brink of sanity. This is marvelous stuff indeed, and quite possibly Iñárritu’s most refined work to date.

Video Quality

[Rating:4/5]

I previously reviewed the UK release of Biutiful from Optimum releasing and this Lionsgate release looks identical to my eyes. They both share a 1.85:1 1080p AVC transfer, have a strong presence of grain with inky blacks, great shadow details, and rich midtones. There’s a good amount of detail and a very cinematic presence here as well. Grain levels, as with the Optimum release are a bit inconsistent, but it’s a strong, clean, transfer overall.

Audio Quality

[Rating:3.5/5]

The single option provided from Lionsgate is a Spanish DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix. It is identical in every way to the same 5.1 mix present on the Optimum releasing. Absent is the 2.0 PCM mix from the UK release. What Lionsgate offers instead are English SDH, Spanish, and English subtitles, versus the English-only subtitles on the UK version.

The soundtrack provides clean dialogue and a good bit of atmospherics as well as very extended low frequencies that are sometimes a bit too boomy when the score kicks in. Surround channels are a little too silent and dynamics a bit too wide given the material at hand.

Supplemental Materials

[Rating:2.5/5]

The supplements consist of a “making of” from the director’s personal video diaries and interviews from the stars that are very complimentary in nature. Everything here is identical to what was on the Optimum release in the UK except the Theatrical Trailer.

The supplements provided with this release are:

  • Behind Biutiful: Director’s Flip Notes (1.33:1; 1080p/24; 0:21.42) – The personally recorded rehearsals and intimate moments from director Alejandro González Iñárritu’s video and audio diary notes from the pre-production and production of the film.
  • Javier Bardem Interview – The actor explores the motivations of the character he plays in the film and discusses working with director Iñárritu.
  • Maricel Álvarez Interview – The actress who plays “Marambra” talks about her role and working with Javier Bardem.
  • Eduard Fernández Interview – Fernández (“Tito”) examines his role in the film while discussing working alongside his fellow actors under the direction of Alejandro González Iñárritu.
  • Biutiful Crew (1.78:1; 1080p/24; 0:04.02) – A silly look behind-the-scenes at the hardworking crew of Biutiful.
  • Theatrical Trailer (1080p/24)

The Definitive Word

Overall:

[Rating:4/5]

Biutiful is a masterful look into the human condition; a prayer for redemption from our personal demons. It’s layered drama is filled with complexity and wonderful performances making it a definite must-see film on Blu-ray. Highly recommended.

Additional Screen Captures


[amazon-product]B0041KKYFG[/amazon-product]

BestBuy.com:
Biutiful - Widescreen Subtitle AC3 Dolby Dts

Purchase Biutiful on Blu-ray at CD Universe

Shop for more Blu-ray titles at Amazon.com

Overall
[Rating:4/5]
The Film
[Rating:5/5]

Video Quality
[Rating:4/5]

Audio Quality
[Rating:3.5/5]

Supplemental Materials
[Rating:2.5/5]

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