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Malcolm X Blu-ray Book 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 Dolby Digital 2.0, Italian Dolby Digital 2.0, Spanish Dolby Digital 2.0
  • Subtitles: English SDH, Danish, Finnish, French, Italian SDH, Norwegian, Portuguese, Spanish, Swedish
  • Region: ABC (Region-Free)
  • Rating: R
  • Run Time: 202 Mins.
  • Discs: 2 (1 x Blu-ray + 1 x DVD)
  • Studio: Warner Home Video
  • Blu-ray Release Date: January 31, 2012
  • List Price: $34.99

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Malcolm X - Widescreen

Purchase Malcolm X on Blu-ray at CD Universe

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Overall
[Rating:4/5]
The Film
[Rating:4.5/5]
Video Quality
[Rating:4/5]
Audio Quality
[Rating:3.5/5]
Supplemental Materials
[Rating:4/5]

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:4.5/5]

On the 20th anniversary of director Spike Lee’s (TV’s If God Is Willing and da Creek Don’t Rise; Do the Right Thing) Malcolm X, the epic biopic about the controversial black American Nationalist arrives on Blu-ray in a deluxe Blu-ray Book package from Warner Home Video.

This 1992 film had a long journey to the screen, originally intended as a project for director Norman Jewison, Spike Lee declared his wishes to direct the film. The feeling being that a film of such a controversial and influential historical black figure should be handled by someone who would be more sympathetic to the subject matter (read: someone black). After a meeting between Jewison, Lee, and Warner Brothers, Jewison voluntarily stepped down and Spike Lee was installed as the director at an initial budget of around $30 million. This was way under what Lee already knew it was going to cost him, his intent being to travel on location to Mecca, the Southern United States, Boston, New York, and so forth.

Tensions between Warner, Spike Lee, and a bond holding company would arise until finally production was halted by the bond company causing Lee to reach out to prominent members of the black community to donate to the film’s production so the film could be completed in the way he envisioned it. Bill Cosby, Oprah Winfrey, Tracy Chapman, Prince, Michael Jordan, and Magic Johnson are just a few of the people who came to the film’s rescue. The bond holding company was later removed from the equation by Warner and the film was completed by Lee, clocking in at a healthy 202 minutes long.

Taken from The Autobiography of Malcolm X (as told to Alex Haley), the film chronicles the life of Malcolm X (Denzel Washington), from his life as a little boy, born Malcolm Little, when his father, a prominent minister was killed by the Klu Klux Klan. Becoming a gangster on the streets of New York, strung out on drugs and involved with white women, Malcolm would eventually make his way to Boston where he’d eventually get arrested and sent to prison. Converting to Islam in prison, upon his release he would join The Nation of Islam, the radically Black Nationalist movement led by Elijah Muhammad and become the movement’s most prominent preacher, but a trip to Mecca would find X changing, softening his position on race, splitting with The Nation of Islam.  He would become embroiled in a heated conflict with his former “brothers” from The Nation of Islam that would only end upon his assassination that is still the subject of many conspiracy theories to this day.

Malcolm X is absolutely elevated to supreme heights by Denzel Washington’s Oscar-nominated performance. Although Washington’s facial structure and skin tone are completely different from Malcolm X’s, the way he captures his voice, mannerisms and style of dress have him personifying X in such a way that one truly believes one is watching the man on screen. Spike Lee pulls out all the tools from his filmmaker’s bag to sculpt Malcolm X into an enlightening journey, despite its length.

Video Quality

[Rating:4/5]

Malcolm X looks rather good for a film that is now twenty-years-old. The transfer looks quite clean with little source damage. There is strong foreground detail with medium to strong detail extension into the background. The grain is still present, although at times it doesn’t always look as natural as it could and the image can tend to soften a bit too much. Color saturation is strong, with nice vibrancy most of the time, and there is a good amount of overall contrast.

Audio Quality

[Rating:3.5/5]

A decently spruced up soundtrack appears in a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 (48kHz/16-bit) mix, which includes a good bit of ambience that opens up the soundstage rather nicely. It particularly works well during the sermon scenes or the early jazz performance scenes. There isn’t much low frequency extension, but there is clean dialogue, which is the main thing to look for in a film like this.

Supplemental Materials

[Rating:4/5]

A full bounty of extras accompanies the feature film, including audio commentaries, deleted scenes, the deluxe Blu-ray Book packaging and bonus 1972 feature-length documentary Malcolm X on DVD.

The supplements:

  • Commentary by Spike Lee, Ernest Dickerson, Barry Alexander Brown, and Ruth Carter
  • By Any Means Necessary: The Making of Malcolm X (1.78:1; SD; 00:30:28) – This featurette lays out the problems of bringing this film to the big screen, from the financial difficulties and problems with the studio.
  • Deleted Scenes with Introduction by Spike Lee:
    • Malcolm and Shorty Watch Cagney and Bogie
    • Sophia and Peg Case a House
    • The First Colored President of the United States?
    • The Evils of Pork
    • The Pleasures if an Ice Cream Soda
    • Malcolm Teaches Benjamin Discipline
    • The Sphinx Nose, The Sphinx Lips
    • Malcolm Must Return to America
    • A Second Chance to Answer the Question
  • Theatrical Trailer (1.78:1; SD)
  • Blu-ray Book – The deluxe Blu-ray Book packaging contains glossy production photos of the film, essays, bios, and other film trivia.
  • DVD – This bonus DVD contains the 1972 feature-length documentary Malcolm X.

The Definitive Word

Overall:

[Rating:4/5]

One of the best and most important biopics to be made in the past twenty years without a doubt, Malcolm X‘s rocky road to the big screen was worth every bit of investment and Warner’s Blu-ray Book is a good investment as well.

Additional Screen Captures

[amazon-product]B0045D3N3O[/amazon-product]

BestBuy.com
Malcolm X - Widescreen

Purchase Malcolm X on Blu-ray at CD Universe

Shop for More Blu-ray Titles at Amazon.com

Overall
[Rating:4/5]
The Film
[Rating:4.5/5]
Video Quality
[Rating:4/5]
Audio Quality
[Rating:3.5/5]
Supplemental Materials
[Rating:4/5]

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