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mother! (4K UHD Blu-ray Review)

We’re currently in the middle of a heated debate about a divisive Star Wars film, but earlier in the year we had a moment with a little arthouse picture that got a wide release. Darren Aronofsky returned to more or less his roots with the very challenging and not audience friendly mother! starring Jennifer Lawrence. The film saw critical praise (Which, seemingly has gone down since its release) and audience ire. The film outright bombed, which means many of you probably didn’t even go to see it in the theaters. Well, now’s your chance to take a look at it in the comfort of your own home. And why not give the film a gander on the best possible format while you’re at it? On December 19th, this trivial film will be available on 4K Ultra-HD Blu-ray for your digestion. Order yourself a copy if you loved it or are curious from the Amazon link provided below.

Film 

A couple’s relationship is tested when uninvited guests arrive at their home, disrupting their tranquil existence. From filmmaker Darren Aronofsky (Black Swan, Requiem for a Dream), mother! stars Jennifer Lawrence, Javier Bardem, Ed Harris and Michelle Pfeiffer in this riveting psychological thriller about love, devotion and sacrifice.’.

Darren Aronofsky’s latest film feels like a return to form for him following Noah.  He goes back to his more intimate, more experimental, more challenging roots. His films are not for everyone, and mother! is not exception. Pi, Requiem For A Dream, The Fountain and I’m sure to some degree Black Swan may have thrown of a general movie goer or two. The man has made a career off of films that like them or not, are quite memorable and definitely artistic, philosophical and overall general movie discussion conversation starters. Even here at Why So Blu, many of us were at odd of over, with one person even referring anyone who like the Aronofsky’s film as a “sick, disturbing individual”.

mother! is quite an ambitious juncture for Aronofsky. Pretension isn’t anything new to his films and if that turns you off, you’re not going to be converted here. His film is a tad heavy handed, but it still works. What is best about mother! is that Aronofsky, while heavy handed at times, isn’t afraid to keep pushing his boundaries and goes to the unthinkable without hesitation. This movie is full of tension, discomfort and is uneasy to watch in a very very good way. Its a horror film that makes one squirm in their seat due to the intensity happening on screen, the ear piercing sound design and the incredibly disturbing nature of its actions. mother! really got to me in a deep, unsettling way in which there are moments I can never clear from my mind and are a gut punch just thinking about them. That is what I ask from with a true horror movie. Something “Boo! Look, a clown!” didn’t deliver to me. This one is hard to watch, hard to swallow, upsetting and disturbing. Really, its what horror is. Sure, you don’t like how it all feels, but that’s the nature of the beast.

One of my deepest wishes for this film is that Darren Aronofsky would have kept his mouth shut about what this film was actually about to him. At least for a little while. I purposefully kept away from anything regarding interviews and such for this film only to after the film see where he sat and spelled everything out (Not that one can’t grasp that from viewing it). I don’t know if its because of the backlash or the poor box office that he felt the need, but he should have given this to the people and seen what they come up with. Personally I had this whole take on it that revolved around the history and one’s relationship with social media from its early days to the present. I can still pull that from it, but the secret as to what it really is, is now out of the bag without and time for discussion. I much prefer the David Lynch Eraserhead method of just sitting back and letting it “be”.

I could talk about the performers in the film, but they are all top notch actors and you know they’re great (One of the career best from Lawrence, and seriously Michelle Pfeiffer could reprise Catwoman tomorrow). The true stars of the film are Aronofsky, the editor and director of photography here as they encase you in this pleasant beautiful house of horrors. Even if this movie wasn’t your cup of tea, you must admit that the zaniness and insantiy of the third act is quite impressive, effective and real technological achievement.  No, mother! is a film that isn’t for everyone and I’m glad we can have those things. While not for everyone, I feel like everyone should see it though and share their thoughts as to even why it didn’t work for them. I’m happy to say that to me, it was pretty great and exactly the kind of film I want from Aronofsky.

Video 

Encoding: HEVC / H.265

Resolution: 4K (2160p)

Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1

Layers: BD-66

Clarity/Detail: mother! was shot on film and mastered in 2K (VFX in 6K), so its a bit of an upconvert here. Its still quite lovely looking and very full of detail, maintaining a healthy filmic look with a nice layer of visible grain in many of the very dark sequences and some of the bright blue skies. This isn’t the prettiest looking film in its nature, but it is quite well displayed and there are some really cool moments where very dark areas meet up with some brighter spots in the same picture with really good contrast. Due to how dark the film is, this is the way to go on it, due to the nature of the blacks and their saturation and strong detail alone.

Depth:  Dimensional work has some really good, natural depth of field. A nice separation comes between the background and foreground allowing the performers to move seamlessly and cinematically through the image with no distortions present.

Black Levels: mother! is a really really dark film. Here’s where having the 4K Ultra-HD version gives you probably the most benefit. The blacks are saturated very well in this deep, dark image. Even at its blackest, you can still make out faces and different textures of objects on the screen. No information seems to be lost that wasn’t intended not to be seen. No crushing witnessed.

Color Reproduction: Colors find themselves more natural. The house in the more well lit scenes have a really beautiful take on the wallpaper, wood and lifelike looking things like the plaster, countertop or regular piece of clothing. The HDR really seems to come in play with lamps, explosions and fire.

Flesh Tones: Skin tones are natural, looking at some times a little redder/warmer due to the candle-lit scenes in the movie. Its solid throughout with no conflicting timing. Facial features like makeup, lip texture, tears, stubble, wrinkles, freckles, moles and more come through quite clearly and impressively even in the many dark scenes in the film.

Noise/Artifacts: Clean

Audio 

Audio Format(s): English Dolby Atmos (English 7.1 Dolby TrueHD Compatible), French 5.1 Dolby Digital, Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital, Portuguese 5.1 Dolby Digital, English Audio Description

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

Dynamics: mother! features some of the best sound design of the year and is translating quite well here in this awesome, booming Atmos track. You can feel the intensity coming from all around. From the quiet nature of just being at home with creaks in the wood or setting down a plate to the gunfire, shattering and overall destruction that comes later, you get a fine sense of layering, placement and inclusion. This movie is very effective because of its sound design and this Atmos track fulfills that promise.

Height: From above you can make out a lot of crowd noise, home destruction and rumbles. During the third act, the ceiling is put to much more use.

Low Frequency Extension: The subwoofer is quite the star here. Besides stomping, destruction, crashing, gunshots and explosions, there are many moments in the soundscape that just pulsate and pond and really make you feel like the Earth is crumbling down around you.

Surround Sound Presentation: All the channels here are wonderfully put together in order make the environment of this house truly make you feel an occupant. Front to back and side to side, its a real trip and you can feel what’s going on next to you or behind you. Things are quite distinct and expertly placed with good attention to movement and distance.

Dialogue Reproduction: Vocals are crisp and clear with good dynamics picking up and articulating background speak and crowd noise with precision.

Extras 

mother! comes with the Blu-ray edition and an UltraViolet digital copy of the film. Bonus materials are found on the standard Blu-ray disc.

mother! The Downward Spiral (HD, 29:51) – A pretty terrific look at making the film with interviews featuring cast and crew. You also get a look at table reads, rehearsals, effects tests and a lot of behidn the scenes footage of what brought this film to life.

The Makeup FX of mother! (HD, 6:45) – The Makeup effects designer interviews and takes you through many of the visual effects of the film including footage from his workshop and their incorporation of it into the film through behind the scenes footage.

Summary 

mother! was my type of film, one that affected me and a challenge I was willing to accept and appreciate. A horror film that still hits me well after seeing it. And no, its not for everyone. So, if you didn’t like it, that great, move on to something you do enjoy. This 4K Ultra-HD Blu-ray comes with an excellent presentation that includes a very effective Atmos track. The extras are a little light, but this movie didn’t make much money and made waves for being polarizing, so I assume Paramount was done putting money into it. For fans of the film, this is clearly the one to buy.

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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).

1 Response to “mother! (4K UHD Blu-ray Review)”


  1. Brian White

    I cannot flipping wait to rock this Atmos track on Friday! Kori will be at work 🙂