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The Help Blu-ray Review

  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Video Codec: AVC/MPEG-4
  • Resolution: 1080p/24 (23.976Hz)
  • Audio Codec: English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, English Descriptive Video Services 2.0, French, Russian, Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
  • Subtitles: English SDH, French, Russian, Spanish, Ukrainian
  • Region: ABC (Region-Free)
  • Rating: PG-13
  • Run Time: 146 Mins
  • Discs: 2 (1 x Blu-ray + 1 x DVD)
  • Studio: Touchstone Home Entertainment
  • Blu-ray Release Date: December 6, 2011
  • List Price: $39.99

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BestBuy.com:
The Help - Widescreen Dubbed Subtitle

Purchase The Help on Blu-ray at CD Universe

The Help

Shop for more Blu-ray titles at Amazon.com

Overall
[Rating:3.5/5]
The Film
[Rating:2.5/5]
Video Quality
[Rating:4.5/5]
Audio Quality
[Rating:4/5]
Supplemental Materials
[Rating:3/5]

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)

The Film

[Rating:2.5/5]

Oscar bait. There, I said it. Director Tate Taylor’s big screen adaptation of author Kathryn Stockett’s best selling novel is often entertaining, emotional, and tearjerking at just the right moments. With a heavyweight cast, including Oscar-nominated Viola Davis, Emma Stone, Octavia Spencer, Allison Janney, Sissy Spacek, and Cicely Tyson, The Help could only completely fail if its screenplay were written by someone who was totally incompetent. Thankfully, it wasn’t, and this tour through the Jim Crow south of the 1960s is laden with with the images of the sunny south, lazy afternoons, and black women worked to the bone using humor as their only escape from the oppression of segregation.

The story, which follows Eugenia ‘Skeeter’ Phelan (Stone), as she decides to tell the story of “the help” in an article for a New York magazine by first convincing one back maid, Abileen (Clark), to tell her story, often touches briefly on the truths of the times; it knows which buttons to press to cause a stir. As Skeeter and Abileen risk their lives (it was very much against the law to take up such a venture in Mississippi during that period) they build an unlikely friendship against the backdrop of the Medger Evers assassination and the much closer issue of Skeeter’s friend Hilly (Bruce Dallas Howard) becoming more adamantly segregationist.

Unfortunately, The Help never seems to rise above being a simple “tour,” if you will, of the segregated south. It portends to take on the issues of racism, but is in and of itself filled with one dimensional characters that do not grow, are merely caricatures of what we have seen many times before. Fried chicken eating, grin and take it mammies, violent redneck overlords, and the white saviors to swoop in and save the poor underclass. Of course, The Help may not be as overt as that, but that is because it is too preoccupied with dancing around the edges of the topic rather than diving right in, therefore it remains a sugar coated semi-reality of a bygone era.

Video Quality

[Rating:4.5/5]

The Help looks truly superb on Blu-ray in this AVC/MPEG-4 encodement from Touchstone. The source is absolutely immaculate with very little grain apparent. Detail is strong and extends well into the backgrounds. There is only the slightest bit of softness that crops up every so often that isn’t necessarily a byproduct of the transfer or compression. There’s good contrast with natural, vivid colors and spot on flesh tones. Dark scenes have nuanced shadow details with little crush and only slightly increased grain levels.

Audio Quality

[Rating:4/5]

The DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack is expectedly front-heavy and dialogue driven, but it offers clean dialogue with subtle atmospheric sound effects in the surround channels. The surrounds do occasionally liven up a tad, such as during the film’s tornado scene where they fill with the sounds of rain and wind, but mostly they are rather quiet. Dynamic range is limited, but natural for a film such as this and low frequencies are adequate.

Supplemental Materials

[Rating:3/5]

All the supplements are offered in high definition and are rather interesting in their own right, helping to truly supplement the themes explored in the film.

The supplements offered with this release are:

  • The Making of The Help: From Friendship to Film (1.78:1; 1080p/24; 00:23:25) – In this “making of” director Tate Taylor, author Kathryn Stockett, and the actors share their thoughts on how the film came together and, in regards to the author and director, what it was like growing up in Mississippi.
  • In Their Own Words: A Tribute to the Maids of Mississippi (1.78:1; 1080p/24; 00:11:51) – Real life maids from Mississippi who worked during the era of Jim Crow offer their thoughts on the film.
  • Deleted Scenes with Introductions by Director Tate Taylor (1.78:1;1080p/24):
    • A Senator’s Son
    • Humiliated
    • Johnny’s Home
    • A Book About Jackson
    • Keep on Walkin’
  • “The Living Proof” Music Video by Mary J. Blige (1.85:1; 1080p/24; Dolby Digital 5.1)
  • DVD

The Definitive Word

Overall:

[Rating:3.5/5]

Despite its flaws, The Help will no doubt appeal to those audiences who like to be spoon fed films that appear to be challenging, but aren’t really at all. I suppose, if you want the PG-13 version of Jim Crow, then The Help will have to do, and it does it pretty well.

Additional Screen Captures

[amazon-product]B005J6LKVI[/amazon-product]

BestBuy.com:
The Help - Widescreen Dubbed Subtitle

Purchase The Help on Blu-ray at CD Universe

The Help

Shop for more Blu-ray titles at Amazon.com

Overall
[Rating:3.5/5]
The Film
[Rating:2.5/5]
Video Quality
[Rating:4.5/5]
Audio Quality
[Rating:4/5]
Supplemental Materials
[Rating:3/5]

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