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Downsizing (4K UHD Blu-ray Review)

Downsizing is acclaimed director Alexander Payne’s first in four years. That last one was the absolutely terrific Nebraska. This time he pairs with Matt Damon for a quirky concept of people shrinking themselves to live in a community where they are much wealthier than they would have been at normal size.  The trailer for the film was pretty dynamite in my opinion, but I guess didn’t sell it well at all as the film completely bombed both in the United States and worldwide. With other studios, that would mean just putting it out on standard Blu-ray and being done with it, but kudos to Paramount as they’ve decided to stick with the times and put this one out on 4K Ultra-HD Blu-ray. You’ll be able to catch it since you missed it in the theater on March 20th. Amazon Pre-order link available below if you’re interested.

Film 

When scientists find a way to shrink humans to five inches tall, Paul Safranek and his wife Audrey decide to ditch their stressed out lives in order to get small and live large in a luxurious downsized community.  Filled with life-changing adventures and endless possibilities, Leisureland offers more than riches, as Paul discovers a whole new world and realizes that we are meant for something bigger.

I rather enjoyed Downsizing for a nice little bit of fun fluff. It seems to want to go somewhere bigger, but doesn’t want to go all in. Alexander Payne plays with a fun concept that feels like something we’d see from Charlie Kaufman’s wheelhouse. Though, his take on this would probably have a bit stranger. From seeing the first trailer, I wanted to check it out (Was a pretty good trailer, and setting things to Talking Heads will make me a pretty cheap sell). And while it managed to be just ok, it was a pretty darn enjoyable just ok.

In the film, we have a very nice ensemble cast that really gels. Its a great part for Matt Damon here, as Alexander Payne calls him “a schmutz”. Damon both looks and acts the part of a guy who’s never had anything work out for him and really helps to sell what the film is telling. There are also some pretty fun cameos in the film as well, like Neil Patrick Harris, Jason Sudeikis and Laura Dern. Hong Chau steals the movie once she joins up around the second hour. She has both a comedic and endearing character that seems a tough role to play, but she really nails it.

Alexander Payne’s film’s premise is an ideal in itself that gets your brain thinking and something you could easily have a discussion on what if. As a matter of fact, those discussions and all sorts of things that would come about do get address in the film. Some of the scripts shortcomings though, come in awkward lines and forcing a few things to make things move. With Matt Damon’s character of Paul Safranek, it feels like they had some different ideas where they want to go but try and brush by all of them. Some things are left half baked, undecided and some even sort of abandoned. All in all, I think the film works enough, but it could have been a bit bolder had it taken a stronger stance or focused on one of the many areas it could have with him. In the end, I’m still not completely sure what they want us to take on about it him, but yet I was still satisfied.

Downsizing is an interesting little film. Its not a bad one. It takes on some interesting topics and material, but never really feels like it fully commits to giving a full opinion on much of them. The cast here is a treat and the concept is a fun one to explore and the film ends up going somewhere I wasn’t really expecting it too and also didn’t fall into screenwriting tropes I felt were bound to happen. In the end, its nothing great, but its absolutely a solid bit of light fun to check out.

Video 

Encoding: HEVC / H.265

Resolution: 4K (2160p)

Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1

Layers: BD-66

Clarity/Detail: Downsizing was shot and finished with a 3.4K DI, so its been upscaled on its journey to 4K Ultra-HD Blu-ray. The image is pretty crisp and tight with plenty of detail to it. The image has a nice sort of comforting quality to it at times. Though its also a bit darker than its contemporary blu-ray too. Its not some fantastic or outstanding one to convince someone to convert over to the format, but this is just fine and a little upgrade from the standard Blu-ray. The noticeable differences come in the coloring on clothing, skin, grass and painted buildings.

Depth:  There are some solid depth moments when showing the scare of the film that are pretty effective in the three dimensional foreground and background push back. Movements are smooth, natural and have no real distortion issues.

Black Levels: Blacks are deep and are solidly saturated. I’ve seen a report (That had me got back and reanalyze the 4K disc) that there were major issues with the blacks here, but I don’t have the same equipment as that individual and I also am not running Dolby Vision. In my case it looked just fine for the most part. Some of the lower lit sequences in white hallways (People rushing into an open press conference, Matt Damon walking Kerri Kenney out after a date) kinda look a little on the uglier side of darkening.

Color Reproduction: Colors are strong and have a nice natural look to them. Certain thinks like pink at a birthday party and other sort of bits of clothing will pop here and there. HDR comes across with some fires and car/boat lights in the dark.

Flesh Tones: Skin tones are natural and consistent from start to finish of the film. Facial features and textures are pretty clear as day from any given distance.

Noise/Artifacts: Clean

Audio 

Audio Format(s): English 7.1 DTS-HD MA, Czech 5.1 Dolby Digital, French (Canadian) 5.1 Dolby Digital, French (Parisian) 5.1 Dolby Digital, German 5.1 Dolby Digital, Italian 5.1 Dolby Digital, Polish 5.1 Dolby Digital, Portuguese (Brazilian) 5.1 Dolby Digital, Russian 5.1 Dolby Digital, Spanish (Castilian) 5.1 Dolby Digital, Spanish (Latin American) 5.1 Dolby Digital, English Audio Description

Subtitles: English, English SDH, Arabic, Bahasa (Malaysian), Cantonese, Simplified Chinese, Mandarin, Czech, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, French (Canadian), French (Parisian), German, Greek, Hebrew, Hindi, Icelandic, Italian, Korean, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese (Brazilian), Portuguese (European), Romanian, Russian, Slovakian, Spanish (Castilian), Spanish (Latin American), Swedish, Thai, Turkish

Dynamics: The 7.1 DTS-HD MA surround sound track for Downsizing itself is set at a little downsized volume. You’ll need to turn this one up louder than your default or comfort level setting. This mix is okay, but really could have brought a bit more impact and oompf to it. The film isn’t some super action packed adventure demanding it, but it does have moments and environments that could have been more effective than they came across. Overall, it’ll do the trick, but could have been more.

Height: N/A

Low Frequency Extension: Doors shutting, loud things dropping, engines and more give a little rumble to the subwoofer.

Surround Sound Presentation: There are some fun moments here and there through storms and parties and drum circles involving all seven channels. Movements are accurately portrayed as well as distances given in the film.

Dialogue Reproduction: Vocals are clear and perfectly audible in any given situation.

Extras 

Downsizing comes with the standard Blu-ray edition and a digital copy of the film. All bonus features are found on the standard Blu-ray disc.

Working With Alexander (HD, 12:22) – Starting with Matt Damon telling the story of how he met Alexander Payne back around 1999, the cast and the crew gloat about how great it is to work with the acclaimed director and some of the crew he surrounds him with. Payne talks some about his method as well (“I’m the least experienced person on set”).

The Cast (HD, 11:30) – Pretty much the cast and crew talking about how wonderful everyone is, but also how they came up with who should play each part. There is a nice focus on the roster of people that repeatedly return to Payne’s films. The editor has a sweet comment regarding that.

A Visual Journey (HD, 14:02) – This discusses the many visuals of the film, from the Kubrick inspired medical facility to the living spaces in the film.

A Matter Of Perspective (HD, 9:06) – Here, they go over all the scale and effect work and trick photography work to realize the downsized vision.

That Smile (HD, 6:27) – Matt Damon is apparently the greatest human being on Earth to work with, and we’ve got the special feature to prove it!

A Global Concern (HD, 6:39) – The cast and crew of the film talk about the many ways to help save the environment and what little things they do to help out.

Summary 

Downsizing is a film that may have found itself served better as a PG-13 movie, as there’s nothing too overtly strong here to make it need to be R. Some of its airiness might have been taken a little better than and younger audiences probably would’ve enjoyed this concept or been more taken by its messages than an adult (Very starter level with some things). This 4K Ultra-HD presentation is an okay one. Paramount usually is pretty reliable, but here their video really isn’t going to convert anyone and the 7.1 track just gets the job done. There are a solid amount of decent extras to dig into which was welcome.

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Writer/Reviewer, lifelong obsessive film nerd. As eager to educate in the world of film as I am to learn. An avid lover of horror, schlock and trash, Brandon hosts the Cult Cinema Cavalcade podcast on the Creative Zombie Studios Network (www.cultcinemacavalcade.com) You can also find more essays on his blog Naptown Nerd (naptownnerd.blogspot.com).

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