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Imperium (Blu-ray Review)

Imperium (Blu-ray Review)The marketing for Imperium was completely misleading!  They presented it as just another film about Neo-Nazi America that just HAPPENS to star Daniel Radcliffe.  This totally bums me out because I TOTALLY would’ve seen this in the theater!  Honest to god, I freaking LOVE movies about Neo-Nazis!  But more on that later.  The biggest thing that the trailers left out about this movie was the way the Government, or more specifically the FBI, perpetuates the idea that Arab extremists are the primary threat when it comes to domestic terrorism in America.  When in reality the majority of the terrorist activity that takes place in the states is actually perpetrated by white extremists.

Imperium (Blu-ray Review)

Film

Based on true events, Daniel Radcliffe stars as Nate Foster, a quiet and introverted FBI agent who is committed to exposing the masterminds behind our domestic terrorism.  He wants to make sure that the people who become involved with these terrorist groups actually pose a real threat to the safety of our nation.  He believes that amongst all the hateful screaming that there are a few members of these groups who don’t quite follow their leaders with the same zealotry that we see on TV.  That they’ve really only taken up with them out of sheer desperation and grief.  It’s at this point that he meets Angela Zamparo (Toni Collette) a higher ranking agent who despite warnings from her superiors, believes that the FBI’s domestic efforts should be focused on white supremacists groups rather than Arab extremists.  Zamparo convinces Foster to infiltrate a local Neo-Nazi gang as she has heard rumors of an impending threat.

Radcliffe gives a powerfully quiet and focused performance.  I’ve seen him in a few roles outside of the Harry Potter franchise.  But this is the first time I’ve felt like he’s truly embodied a different persona.  There are moments where I was able to totally loose myself in the film and forget his past as a child actor.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to take away from what he accomplished in those films.  But it’s the rare performer that can transcend beyond what they’re traditionally known for.  And that is exactly what Radcliffe has done here.  There are real moments of intense fear and anxiety when the supremacists start to get suspicious about Foster.  The expressions on his face when he realizes he’s an inch away from death are picture perfect!

I must confess that I have something of an obsession with Neo-Nazi films.  It’s just something about their whole concept that both fascinates and baffles me all at the same time.  The way they can look at society and the world at large and see it in such a backwards way is just incredible to behold.  Especially in the age of the internet when you have information available at the click of a button.  But I guess that just goes to show you that even with an unlimited resource like the internet, you can still surround yourself in a bubble of ignorance.  But unfortunately for us their bubble poses a real threat to the rest of the country.

One of my favorite scenes in the film is when Foster goes to a home gathering of Neo-Nazi’s only find out that aside from the swastika cupcakes, the hosts seem like regular people!  They don’t have any hateful tattoos, shaved heads or jackboots.  You could easily run into one of these folks at the grocery store and you’d never know that they were secretly preparing for an “Impending Race War”.  That nothing would make them happier then to have an entire country set aside for whites only.  They’re pleasant, polite, and most dangerous of all, they’re highly connected within law enforcement and some parts of the Government.

I had no idea that both Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols were acting on white supremacist goals and ideals.  It just goes to show you how much the media and our own Government wants to position Arab people as the only terrorists in the world.  Compared to other Neo-Nazi films this movie has a much smaller scope.  But it’s primary message and content are massive in concept.  Without giving too much away I can tell you that this film takes some surprisingly unpredictable turns.  There was a moment where I almost wrote the whole thing off as just another run of the mill “Cop Drama”.  But I could just feel that there was something deeper right around the corner.  And boy was I right!

Imperium (Blu-ray Review)

Video 
Codec: MPEG-4 AVC
Resolution: 1080p
Aspect ratio: 2.39:1
Original aspect ratio: 2.39:1
Clarity/Detail:  Crystal clear.  Particularly during the close up shots.
Depth: Excellent.  There are a couple shots that take place inside of a moving car.  Even during intense action sequences you can still clearly see what’s happening outside the car.
Black Levels:  Strong and vibrant.  Much to the dismay of the Aryan nation.
Color Reproduction:  Good.
Flesh Tones: Sharp and defined.  Again, the closeups are stand out as some of the best I’ve ever seen.
Noise/Artifacts: None.

 

Imperium (Blu-ray Review)

Audio
Audio Formats: English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
Subtitles: English, English SDH, Spanish
Dynamics: Good.  Nothing particularly outstanding in this area.  But overall they serve the film well.
Low Frequency Extension: Aside from a couple scenes there isn’t much opportunity for this feature.  But when it is utilized it’s at least enjoyable.  Nothing becomes overpowering.
Surround Sound: Moments of surround sound kick in via crowded scenes and concert.
Dialogue Reproduction: Excellent!  There are a lot of close quiet moments that could be ruined by a poor mix.  Luckily for us the Audio Engineers nailed it in this department.

Imperium (Blu-ray Review)

Extras
  • Commentary with Writer/Director Daniel Ragussis and Writer Michael German.
  • Making Imperium – The filmmakers and cast talk about the motivations behind their characters and who the film itself came together.  We also get some details from co-writer Michael German about his experiences with the FBI.  Particularity in regards to his work with white supremacists.
  • “Living Undercover” featurette – This basically continues the conversation from “Making Imperium”.  It pretty much just expands on the ideas and topics from the earlier featurette.
  • Cast/Crew Interviews – TimeTalks interviews with Writer/Director Daniel Ragussis, actors Daniel Radcliffe and Sam Tremmell and Writer Michael German
  • Imperium Trailer.
Imperium (Blu-ray Review)

Summary

This movie totally surpassed my expectations and then some!  The pacing is so perfect that you don’t even notice that it’s almost two hours long.  You can just tell that every single person in this film is committed to bringing their “A Game”.  Which makes for a tremendously immersive experience.  Oftentimes films like this can get kinda preachy and over-the-top with their message.  Not this one!  They keep things on a pretty even keel and at no point do you feel like you’re having something shoved into your face.  They really allow you to form your own perspective on the whole story.  As opposed to yelling “This is WRONG! Can’t you see that this is WRONG?!”.  But at the same time they’re not trying to sit in some neutral position in regards to racism.  They simply try to offer as many perspectives as possible, which as someone who can’t get enough Neo-Nazi stories, I found it to be very refreshing.

*

 Imperium is now available on Blu-ray and DVD!

Imperium (Blu-ray Review)

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