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Safety Not Guaranteed Blu-ray Review

  • Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
  • Video Codec: AVC/MPEG-4
  • Resolution: 1080p/24 (23.976Hz)
  • Audio Codec: English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 (48kHz/24-bit)
  • Subtitles: English, English SDH
  • Subtitles Color: White
  • Region: A (Region-Locked)
  • Rating: R
  • Run Time: 86 Mins.
  • Discs: 1 (1 x Blu-ray)
  • Digital Copies: UltraViolet
  • Studio: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
  • Blu-ray Release Date: October 30, 2012
  • List Price: $35.99

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

First time director Colin Trevorrow takes the reigns for this quirky comedy drama, Safety Not Guaranteed, produced by Mark and Jay Duplass (Jeff, Who Lives at Home). Every so often a film comes along and surprises you, hitting you in unexpected ways, Safety Not Guaranteed is that film. With Aubrey Plaza (Parks and Recreation) starring, the film takes as its starting point an ad placed in the classifieds by a man looking for a partner to travel back in time with him, “bring your own weapons” it says, “safety not guaranteed.” That is when three members of a Seattle-based magazine, reporter Jeff (Jake Johnson) and his two interns Darius (Plaza) and the awkward Arnau (Karan Soni) decide to investigate it for a story. Jeff, in fact, has his own ulterior motives for wanting to go to the small town where the ad was placed – he wants to reconnect with his high school girlfriend. Arriving in the small town, the trio finds Kenneth (Mark Duplass; The League; Your Sister’s Sister) whose outward instability immediately gives them pause. Darius who has her own baggage can’t help but be drawn to Kenneth who, despite his weirdness, she immediately sees as nothing more than a lost soul, a lonely man. The story the three were looking to write becomes increasingly out of focus as their concerns for Kenneth and themselves begins to grow.

The genius of Safety Not Guaranteed is they have taken an oddball premise and turned it into a soul searching comedy. Darius, Kenneth, Jeff, and even Arnau, set out on one task – Kenneth to time travel, and the other three to write a story about the man behind the odd time-traveling ad – and instead they find themselves all in a place together where they are forced to confront their inner demons. Jeff must face the fact that he is heading toward middle age and no longer the hip young bachelor of his youth, Darius, whose mother died when she was young, must try to shake off the feeling of guilt she has had all the years and stop blaming herself, Arnau must overcome his shyness, and Kenneth, he must turn people into true believers rather than have everyone think he is mentally ill for wanting to time travel. It’s all about the journey, not the destination.

As a first time director, Trevorrow has done rather well bringing together all of these various motivations in a lighthearted way. Perhaps only Arnau is left dangling a bit, a result of the Derek Connolly screenplay failing to involve him more effectively in the overall story, perhaps. The strongest part of the film, however, is Aubrey Plaza’s breakout performance as Darius. She shows many different sides of herself here that we don’t usually get to see, effectively shedding her cynical, deadpan comedic appeal for a more vulnerable, though admittedly melancholy performance.

In the end, Safety Not Guaranteed runs through some familiar territory in unfamilar ways and by the time it gets to its rather satisfying and fantastic conclusion, you’ll either be laughing with joy or tearing up with happiness; that’s the sign of a job well down.

Video Quality

[Rating:4/5]

Safety Not Guaranteed was shot in HD with the Sony CineAlta PMW-F3 at XDCAM (4:2:2) resolution and arrives in a 1080p/24 AVC encodement from Sony. It’s a relatively solid transfer given the source, but some digital issues can be spotted from time to time, like some mild posterization in darker areas and a little harsh video noise at times. Close-ups reveal lots of textural detail, but the extension of detail rolls off around the midrange and things begin to soften in the backgrounds. Darker scenes are often rather soft and unnatural in appearance, have a slight bit of crush, and lose some detail.

Audio Quality

[Rating:4.5/5]

The English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 (48kHz/24-bit) soundtrack is rather straightforward as to be expected for such a film, but it still manages to capture a good amount of atmospherics that encapsulate you in the sounds of the Pacific Northwest and add in the occasional front to back pan of something like traffic noise and so forth. Dialogue is full and natural and lows are deeper than one would expect for such a film as well, especially during the surprise ending.

Supplemental Materials

[Rating:2/5]

A brief “making of” with the filmmakers and a comment from the real-life writer of the time-travel ad that inspired the film are all that are on offer with this rather barebones release.

The supplements:

  • A Movie Making Mission (1.78:1; 1080p/24; 00:15:16)
  • The Ad Behind the Movie (1.78:1; 1080p/24; 00:02:19)

The Definitive Word

Overall:

[Rating:4/5]

A quirky and satisfying indie comedy with strong performances and intelligent directing, Safety Not Guaranteed is a guaranteed good time for anyone who views it. It is filled with unexpected turns, likable characters, and good laughs. Recommended.

Additional Screen Captures

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Purchase Safety Not Guaranteed on Blu-ray at CD Universe

Shop for more Blu-ray titles at Amazon.com

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Purchase Safety Not Guaranteed on Blu-ray at CD Universe

Shop for more Blu-ray titles at Amazon.com

Overall
[Rating:4/5]
The Film
[Rating:4/5]
Video Quality
[Rating:4/5]
Audio Quality
[Rating:4.5/5]
Supplemental Materials
[Rating:2/5]


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