Adaptation – Shout Select (Blu-ray Review)

Adaptation was a big deal in 2002, following the well lauded Being John Malkovich. The Spike Jonze and Charlie Kaufman combination went to bat again. Though it wasn’t nominated for Best Picture or Director, it had a good presence in major categories with Best Adapted Screenplay (Charlie Kaufman), Best Actor (Nicolas Cage) and Best Supporting Actress (Meryl Streep) nominations. Chris Cooper took home the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor for this movie. Shout Select is adding the film to their line. No, its not getting a collector’s edition or even a new transfer. They are, however, bringing back some old features that didn’t make the original Blu-ray (From the DVD) and adding an image gallery for the film. You can pre-order this edition by using the paid Amazon Associates link following the review. Shout! Factory has Adaptation slated for release on October 27th.



Nicolas Cage is Charlie Kaufman, a confused L.A. screenwriter overwhelmed by feelings of inadequacy, sexual frustration, self-loathing, and by the screenwriting ambitions of his freeloading twin brother Donald (Nicolas Cage). While struggling to adapt “The Orchid Thief,” by Susan Orlean (Meryl Streep), Kaufman’s life spins from pathetic to bizarre. The lives of Kaufman, Orlean’s book, become strangely intertwined as each one’s search for passion collides with the others’.

Originality is a tough cookie in today’s Hollywood landscape, but the likes of Charlie Kaufman and Spike Jonze make it look easy still to this day. Kaufman’s style tends to not fear twisting and playing with reality. A writer that truly allows ideas to go from his head to the paper unfiltered. His fearless exploration is one that nobody can really duplicate. For better, for worse, its all commendable, respectable and utterly fascinating to watch.

Adaptation was the follow up of he and Spike Jonze to another wild one in Being John Malkovich. This one transcends and picks up from that branch by being a fictionalized version of him following that movie up. As much madness as it sounds, its really intricate and touching and surprisingly adventuresome. The film features plenty of awkwardness and unpredictable character motivations as well as surprising plot turns.

In addition, who doesn’t love a movie with two Nicolas Cages? He plays Kaufman and fictional brother. And he’s absolutely terrific, knowing the material and never going overboard or beyond where the material needs to be. He’s joined by great performances by Meryl Streep and Chris Cooper (In what retroactively feels like some sort of Tiger King nod), whose character share in a very unique and somewhat charming screen romance. Many fun side characters shine too with Tilda Swinton, Ron Livingston and Judy Greer having some fun roles.

Adaptation is flat out terrific and fun that you’re not going to find anywhere else. Its interesting in a variety of aspects, too. The film includes some of that movies about making movies charm while at the same time sneakily becoming a thriller. All the while, there are good laughs and a silly attitude turning most corners. The unique feel is welcome and this is a movie that should still be check out and celebrated, though I feel with time passing its been less so. Good on Shout Factory bringing it back into the conversation for a moment!


Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1

Layers: BD-50

Clarity/DetailAdaptation arrives on Blu-ray for the second time. With no information provided, it can be assumed that this transfer is the same of the original 2012 Blu-ray release. And that’s good as that image is quite pristine with great details and depth. There’s a nice layer of grain that really helps keep it looking cinematic and flourishing in detail and definition.

Depth:  Depth of field is quite terrific in this image thanks to the grain staying intact. Characters float freely throughout their environments with good space and pushback in both interiors and exteriors. Movements are cinematic and natural. No issues occur with any motion distortions from rapid movements.

Black Levels:  Blacks are deep and close to natural with really great usage of shadows and night lit sequences. Grain is a little heavier in the dark, but its a miniscule difference. No crushing.

Color Reproduction:  This isn’t a bright, poppy film, its more street level realistic akin to a film of the 1970s. The palette is quite full and well saturated though. There’s a nice realism to the colors on display.

Flesh Tones:  Skin tones are natural and find consistency from start to finish of the film. Facial features and textures are quite clear from any given distance with veins, blemishes, wrinkles, stubble, oil and more showing right through.

Noise/Artifacts: Clean.


Audio Format(s): English 5.1 DTS-HD MA, English 2.0 Stereo DTS-HD MA

Subtitles: English

Dynamics: Adaptation isn’t one that demands a 5.1 track, but its a really nice sounding one nonetheless. I’m guessing its the same track found on the original Blu-ray. It has some really good ambiance to it and a swell balance of effect, vocals and score that really all feel free and floaty. There are big moments for a deeper, more engaged action experience and when called up, it delivers.

Height: N/A

Low Frequency Extension:  The subwoofer hits plenty good when things like car crashes, gunshots, doors slam, engines rev up and more happen.

Surround Sound Presentation:  This is amore front based track, but it does add plenty in the rear with the ambient noises, especially out in the wild with insect sounds. And when a couple of car crashes occur in the film it really bumps it in giving you a full surrounding experience.

Dialogue Reproduction: Vocals are clear and crisp.


Adaptation comes with a reversible cover featuring the original poster art.

Original Featurette (SD, 2:03) – A very brief behind the scenes featurette that offers some, but not much.

Image Gallery (HD, 1:51)

Theatrical Trailer (SD, 2:33)


Charlie Kaufman and Spike Jonze collaborations are always amusing, always worth your while. And Adaptation is a top tier exploration. Shout Select brings it to Blu-ray for a second time with the same performance as before, but now with a couple new (old) features put back on. There is also a slip cover with new art if that fancies you. I’m not sure if you have it already that this is a big upgrade, but if you don’t own it, this would be the one to get.

This is a paid Amazon Associates link


Brandon is the host, producer, writer and editor of The Brandon Peters Show (thebrandonpetersshow.com). He is also the Moderator/MC of the Live Podcast Stage and on the Podcast Awards Committee for PopCon (popcon.us). In the past 10 years at Why So Blu, Brandon has amassed over 1,500 reviews of 4K, Blu-ray and DVD titles.

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