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Men, Women & Children (Blu-ray Review)

Men-Women-And-ChildrenAcademy Award® nominated* director Jason Reitman (Up In the Air, Juno) delivers the “powerful and provocative” (Scott Mantz, “Access Hollywood”) MEN, WOMEN & CHILDREN.  Adam Sandler (Grown Ups), Jennifer Garner (Dallas Buyers Club) and Ansel Elgort (The Fault in Our Stars) lead “an amazing ensemble cast” (Mark S. Allen, CBS/CW TV) in this film about love and human connection in the modern world.  Discover how little you know about the people you know in the film critics are calling “a movie that could change your life!  Not to be missed!” (Scott Mantz, “Access Hollywood”).  The MEN, WOMEN & CHILDREN Blu-ray includes the intriguing featurettes “Virtual Intimacy” and “Seamless Interface,” as well as deleted scenes, including a never-before-seen storyline.

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Film 

MEN, WOMEN & CHILDREN tells the story of high school teenagers and their parents who attempt to navigate their complex relationships in an era defined by social media, online exchanges, and instant gratification.  Both are marred by constant temptations and instant access.  Some dig in too much, and others prove to be much too cautious in this information age.  

Jason Reitman’s film brings about some valid questions, concern and education about the world we currently live in with all the information out there and social media lifestyles.  His film decides to take family and craft each one to fit into some sort of extreme stereotype of “internet fears” of this digital age.  There are some interesting things brought forth here, but most of the film feels like its trying to be some sort of warning call to create characters like Jennifer Garner portrays in the film (Super paranoid and unhealthily overprotective).

While the film features a rich cast, full of some really nice young actors and likeable adult performers, its hard to really get on board and side with any one of them.  The film is a rather cold movie that wants to give extreme examples and has a hard time letting the viewer in.  Yes, situations feel familiar, but its hard to get on the side or feel for any character as they will eventually do something to make you not care for them.  I guess its not totally true, as I did find the characters of Brandy and Tim to be pretty close to “rooting for” mainly by default and feeling sorry for them.

Said performers do well with what their given.  There’s just a sort of lack of energy from the script as it always wants to hit you with a downer note.  Adam Sandler, as usual in dramas, is good hear.  Dean Norris also puts in some very good work as a single father.  I’m a huge Judy Greer fan, so it was nice to see her here in a movie that sort of appreciates her talent.  JK Simmons is underutilized here to the point I think he may have only did this movie because he’s worked with Reitman before.  Many of the young actors were good too.  I think Dennis Haysbert, who has a brief cameo, is the only person in the movie who smiled much at all.

This drama features that scattered characters that eventually cross in and out of each other’s lives format.  And you feel the film is going to lead to some bigger payout, but it sort of whimpers to a finish in a “Well, yup, that’s it” kind of fashion.  For as dour and cold as the film is, it is pretty entertaining with a rather weak finish.  Its a film some might find to be a great cautionary tale or take it way too close to the vest and some are going to be like me and find it to be rather average.  But, its definitely something to see though.

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Video 

Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1

Clarity/Detail:  This is a nice, polished image.  Crisp and sharp, the transfer does face a lot of work in this film.  All of the “Dialogue windows” like facebook, web ads or messaging that shows onscreen in the film is sharp, bold, clear and incredible easy to read and visible while sharing the screen with the movie going on behind it.  It shows up and fades out quite naturally and without any sort of distortion or residue when it goes.  The live action going on itself has some well defined imagery such as clothing texture and surface detail (like grass on the football field).  While a sort of “tame” movie, its a very impressive image and what modern picture quality can look like at its best.

Black Levels:  Blacks are deep and complimentary of the image.  No real crushing, only helping to shade, sharpen or define a person or object better.

Color Reproduction:  There’s a nice varied, but natural color palette on display.  Colors are bold and stand strong without being overly vibrant.  Very natural to the touch.

Flesh Tones:  Skin is natural looking and consistent.  Details such as moles, wrinkles and blemishes stand out as if one was looking in a mirror.

Noise/Artifacts:  Nope

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Audio 

Audio Format(s): English 5.1 DTS-HD MA, French 5.1 Dolby Digital, Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital, Portuguese 5.1 Dolby Digital

Subtitles: English, English SDH, French, Spanish, Portuguese

Dynamics: The volume setting on this track I found to be a bit low compared to normal releases.  This track is pretty standard, not unremarkable or average, but there’s not much to do and it doesn’t go out of its way in terms of greatness.  There’s a good balance of effect, vocal and music throughout the film with neither stepping on the other’s toes.

Low Frequency Extension:  Some moments of work being done by the subwoofer, like punches thrown in a fight at one point.  But, the film itself doesn’t demand much power.

Surround Sound Presentation:  The usual ambiance and light scoring comes from the rear speakers.  The front speakers feature some action that is relatively accurate to what is going on onscreen.

Dialogue Reproduction:  Dialogue is crisp, clean and center focused.

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Extras 

Men, Women & Children comes with a Digital Copy of the film.

Virtual Intimacy (HD, 13:29) – Cast and crew talk about like in the social media age.  The differences in growing up when many of the adult cast members did and kids now.  It discusses the fears and uncertainties of the life and times we live in now with everything at our fingertips.

Seamless Interface (HD, 8:29) – The visual effects supervisor talks about the placement of all the social media “windows” into the film.

Deleted Scenes (HD, 9:59)

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Summary 

Men, Women & Children does provide an interesting concept as well as some valid concern of social media and today’s youth as well as adulthood in coming to learn and understand it.  However, its a little too cold in its approach, much too paranoid and finishes out with a whimper.  Don’t get me wrong though, it is pretty entertaining.  This Blu-ray features great picture quality with some decent audio.  The extras don’t cover much, but do provide interesting interviews and insight.  If you’re a fan of the film, its a good purchase.  If you’ve not seen the movie, I would strongly recommend renting it before you would purchase.

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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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