Another Earth (Blu-ray Review)

On the heels of watching Lars von Trier’s Melancholia, I was able to see Another Earth.  Apparently I am a sucker for existential sci-fi dramas that revolve around the dilemmas of the main characters as they deal with their own tragedies, along with the presence of another planet coming dangerously close to earth, because as with Melancholia, I really dug this film as well.  While there is an intriguing subject in this film that involves the existence of a duplicate world and the chance to communicate with it, most of the sci-fi-ness, like Melancholia, is pushed into the background, as the film moves at a deliberate pace and deals with the drama surrounding the lead characters.  As the first feature film from director Mike Cahill, I found Another Earth to be quite well acted and assuredly made; but the notion of thinking what my double would do, alone, managed to keep me involved with the film.  Read on to hear more about the film and it’s Blu-ray presentation.


Brit Marling stars as Rhoda, a high school student having the night of her life, as she has been accepted into MIT and is partying it up.  While driving home intoxicated, Rhoda hears reports on the radio about an approaching planet appearing in the sky.  As she turns her focus towards the sky, Rhoda crashes into another car.  As a result, Rhoda kills the wife and child of John (William Mapother).  Since she is a minor, John does not learn of Rhoda’s identity.

After serving four years in prison, Rhoda returns home, taking up a job as janitor at her high school.  The approaching planet has since gotten closer and appears to be identical to earth.  Speculations about the planet ensue, leading to a planned mission to travel to it.  An essay contest opens up, providing the chance for one earthling to travel from Earth 1 to Earth 2.  With little in mind in the way of a future, Rhoda enters the essay contest.  In the meantime, Rhoda also attempts to develop a relationship of sorts with John, but under false pretenses.

I was surprised by this film for what would probably be considered a strange reason – I thought it was a faster-paced film than I was expecting.  At least in terms of the editing and the way it was shot, which manages to incorporate an almost kinetic-like approach (at least for a focused indie drama), using some interesting camera techniques and a lot of handheld work.  Maybe I was just really in a relaxed zone and ready to take in this film, but I was pleased with how it managed to flow throughout.  Helping all of this is the fact that I found the story intriguing, even as it established a somewhat inevitable path to follow.

While curious about the concept of what someone’s other self would do, the bulk of the story revolves around the relationship between Rhoda and John, with one person knowing something crucial that involves the other.  A story like this is all about the simmering notion that the beans will have to be spilled eventually, but even in the face of inevitability, I was really fond of the work being done by these actors and how things managed to play out.  The burden of having secrets revealed did not effect my attachment to this story.

I believe both Marling and Mapother were quite good here.  Marling, who also co-wrote the film, has seemingly emerged out of nowhere to portray this young woman, faced with an incredibly unfortunate event that has basically ruined all of her ideal future plans and must now roam with a scarred but open mind in figuring out what she is left to do.  Mapother, a character actor who has had a career of playing creepy individuals more memorably than not, gets the chance to play deeply wounded, with a lost sense of hope and purpose lurking deep within him, but buried by grief.  Both of these performances, I found, were strong and kept the film, which has some otherworldly stuff going on, grounded.

On the subject of that otherworldly stuff, besides being fairly obvious representation of some of the themes present in the film, I was quite intrigued by it.  However, as much as I did enjoy pondering the ideas of another earth, I was happy with how it was pushed into the background.  While the film does deal with it when it needs to, it both does not feel like a gimmicky afterthought or as a distraction to the narrative.  By the time this subject of the film does become more important, which it majorly does in the final act of the film, the eventual resolution worked wonderfully for me.  I was especially happy in the way that the ending did not necessarily leave me with questions, but it left me with ideas that could reshape my views of what preceded it.

I feel like I have been addressing pacing in a number of reviews I have written lately.  I don’t really like to when it doesn’t seem like a problem for me.  This is an example of that, as the film remained intriguing to me throughout and I would likely not address the deliberate pace of the film instead of what I found to be an intriguing premise that managed to be different from what I was expecting.  Getting the chance to see not only big budget sci-fi spectacles, but more personal projects that have much smaller visions involving sci-fi in mind is a nice experience.  Balancing my year out with a wonderful film like Another Earth and something on the other end of the spectrum that I can appreciate equally is a rewarding experience.


Making movies is an extremely tough thing to do as it is, so it comes as no surprise that this very low budget, independent film is not completely stunning on Blu-ray.  With that said, the 1080p/AVC encode for this film makes it look about as good as it can.  A lot of soft photography is seen throughout the film, which works to be decent enough for the transfer.  It is not a film that really pops visually in terms of colors, although the image of earth 2 in the background tends to be pleasing to the eye (though I could have just been more into the film’s tone).  Textures are a mixed bag, lots of grain and the moments of different lenses/camera work tends to lead to mixed bag moments, as far as the transfer is concerned overall.  Still, issues aside, I would still say this transfer worked out to be average enough.


Fortunately the audio quality seen in the DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track fared much better as far as the Blu-ray for this film is concerned.  Again, the film may have been low budget, but that did not seem to effect the audio.  Dialogue comes across clear and the awesome score by the electronic group Fall On Your Sword is done proper justice here.  Another Earth is not a flashy film in terms of visual and audio flare, but there are a number of sound effects that run throughout the course of this film, along with the score, and even a hobby of one of the characters that requires the right kind of audio mixing to get things right.  The track on the Blu-ray accomplishes this.

Special Features: 

I was really hoping there would be a commentary, but this hope was not met.  The available extras are not terrible, but do very little to flesh out the film.  A lot of brief featurettes and a music video don’t go very far, but it is something, I guess…

Features Include:

Deleted Scenes – About ten minutes worth, each with some text description.

Music Video – “The First Time I Saw Jupiter” by Fall On Your Sword

The Science Behind Another Earth – A brief discussion about the science of the film.

Creating Another Earth – A brief discussion about making a low budget film.

Fox Movie Channel presents: Direct Effect with Mike Cahill, In Character with Brit Marling, and In Character with William Mapother – a number of brief interviews with the director and stars.

DVD copy of the film

Digital copy of the film

Final Thoughts: 

Another Earth is a movie I was truly surprised by, due to how much I was into it.  It is an independent film with a neat sci-fi idea pushed into the background to make way for an effective drama about two people who are lost.  The Blu-ray is decent at most in its overall presentation, but the film is quite solid and I did appreciate the effort the Fox Searchlight tried to bring to its release for home viewing.  Similar to a minimalistic film like Moon, which also had some great ideas, Another Earth is a solid little drama to spend some time with.

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3 Responses to “Another Earth (Blu-ray Review)”

  1. Gerard Iribe

    I’m interested.

  2. Michelle

    I find the Amazon page to be very confusing – I was about to order ‘Another Earth’ but noticed how the Amazon.com page claimed the box contained 3 disks at one part of the page and only 1 disk at another… I want the DVD not Blue-ray, but from the Amazon page I can’t be sure what’s actually going to be in the package! So – reluctantly I ordered something else. I wanted to buy ‘Another Earth’ on account of the scene where the guy plays a saw. That scene is amazing (you can hear music from the musical saw scene on the composer’s website: http://www.scottmunsonmusic.com/news/music-in-film-another-earth-soundtrack/ ).

  3. Aaron Neuwirth

    The Blu-ray is actually a 3 disc set, which contains the Blu-ray disc, a dvd copy, and a digital copy, which I listed in the special features.