Concussion (Blu-ray Review)

ConcussionBased on an incredible true story, the critically-acclaimed drama  CONCUSSION will be available from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment (SPHE) on Digital Mar. 15 and on Blu-ray, DVD and next-generation 4K Ultra HD Mar. 29. Two-time Academy Award® nominee Will Smith (Best Actor: Ali, 2001; The Pursuit of Happyness, 2006) stars as Dr. Bennet Omalu, a Nigerian immigrant and forensic neuropathologist who diagnoses a new brain disease and its link to concussion-related injuries in football players. CONCUSSION also stars Academy Award nominee Alec Baldwin (Best Supporting Actor, The Cooler, 2003), Gugu Mbatha-Raw (Beyond the Lights), Arliss Howard (Full Metal Jacket), Paul Reiser (Whiplash), Luke Wilson (The Royal Tenenbaums), Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje (The Bourne Identity), with David Morse (The Green Mile) and Academy Award nominee Albert Brooks (Best Supporting Actor, Broadcast News, 1987).

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Film Dex-1Dex-1Dex-1Dex-1Dexter-_5

Based on the incredible true David vs. Goliath story of American immigrant Dr. Bennet Omalu, the brilliant forensic neuropathologist who made the first discovery of CTE, a football-related brain trauma, in a pro player and fought for the truth to be known. Omalu’s emotional quest puts him at dangerous odds with one of the most powerful – and beloved – institutions in the world.

Damn, I feel dirty for cheering on and being so dedicated to my fandom for the sport of football, primarily the National Football League.  In addition to informing us on one of the biggest and most important subjects challenging the beloved and worshiped sport, it exposes a lot of the ignorance, shady practices and downright despicable things the league has done to push CTE in the distance and keep business moving as usual.  It also shows the absolute awful things they had done to a few individuals just trying to show them and the world the truth and help to find a solution.

Now, we all know what Jada Pinkett-Smith thought about her husband’s performance in this film.  Its a good and solid performance worthy of a nomination, sure.  Will Smith sinks into the role and you never once feel like you’re watching him, but the embodiment of the character which is always where the top performances come from.  However, among the people who were nominated and could have been nominated, the performance is kind of “among the pack” but definitely not surefire winner or even a contender for the top prize.  And, Smith is strong enough a performer that I feel he’ll still have more opportunities down the line.

What’s awesome are the incredibly strong supporting performances that surround Smith in the film.  Albert Brooks is always a joy and is terrific here.  Yes, he turns in a “This is what you get when you cast Albert Brooks” type performance, but he’s got a charm to him here with it that just makes you love the guy.  David Morse turns in a brief but powerful performance as well.  Its the best of the tortured athletes in the film as none of the rest really amount to the power and believability of his.  The others can kind of feel hokey and a cartoonish, but not all that can be on the actor some of it is the script and the editing during those times as well.  Not to be forgotten, Alec Baldwin turns in his best dramatic work in a good number of years.  Honestly, he really should have been considered for a Best Supporting Actor nomination for his turn here.

Concussion is a film that may be a bit static in its direction and production, but its message is very important and needs to be spread.  Its enhanced by very strong performances from its cast.  Its done its job.  I’m a fan of the NFL, and I feel dirty for being such a big fan and never taking the time to truly look into more information of CTEs.  Going forward, watching the game is going to have a bit of a taint to it and its hard to know just how I’ll feel.  Its almost the modern equivalent of watching gladiators fight to the death in days of Rome.  Football is a powerful, moving game game that brings people together, but it also has a big powerful and damning problem at its core with CTEs.  Its absolutely horrifying what has happened to these athletes.  And while preventative measures are a part of the game now, they are still far from a solution.  Some may watch the film and go back to normal, or have some sort of ignorant denial, but hopefully many will see it and take this to heart.

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Video Dex-1Dex-1Dex-1Dex-1Dex-1

Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1

Clarity/Detail:  Concussion not only brings a clear look on the subject of CTEs, it has an equally clear and dynamic picture.  This is a top of the line presentation that is richly detailed.  It has a very cinematically enhanced look in terms of its look and colors, but its strong enough to feel you’re looking through a glass pane.

Depth:  Features  a very good, well-spaced image.  Objects and people look free and move smoothly through their environments.  Detail on background imagery is impressive when focus allows for it.

Black Levels:  Blacks are deep and inky.  No crushing present at all and detail on similar colored things like hair, clothing and surfaces keep their texture.

Color Reproduction:  The film is one of suits and lifelike office buildings promoting rich browns and grays.  When you get instances of color like reds and yellows, they come through with good effect.

Flesh Tones:  Skin tones are very natural with some sequence erring on the side of being a bit cooler.  Facial detail is outstanding, with stubble, pores, make-up, lip texture and freckles/blemishes coming through with incredibly clarity.

Noise/Artifacts:  Clean

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Audio Dex-1Dex-1Dex-1Dex-1Dex-1

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

Subtitles: English, English SDH, French, Spanish

Dynamics:  Concussion brings forth a very rich, delicate, lifelike sound to its 5.1 presentation.  The film has effective use of sounds for evoking effect that resonate well through the mix.  It has a free sounding balanced effort that has standout vocals with realistic sound effects and an everpresent but not overbearing score.

Low Frequency Extension:  Score hits, doors closing hard, engines and feet clip clopping are some of the bits captured in a role playing (but strong) performance by the subwoofer.

Surround Sound Presentation:  While it may be primarily ambiance coming from the rear speakers, its good environmental stuff that truly builds a 360 degree feeling.  Front speakers have precise placement in volume and accurately capture movement.

Dialogue Reproduction:  Dialogue is rich, full and crisp.  Every breath, every bit of diction is captured here in this track.

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Extras Dex-1Dex-1Dex-1Dexter-0Dexter-0

Concussion comes with an UltraViolet Digital Copy of the film.

Audio Commentary

  • With Director Peter Landesman

Deleted Scenes (HD, 12:52) 

Inside The True Story (HD, 11:10) – Will Smith talks briefly about what made him want to to do the film, but the bulk of this is swift telling of what really happened with the actual people who the movie is based on.

Crafting Concussion (HD, 12:55) – A nice little making of for the film with interviews from producers, the director, Will Smith, Ridley Scott and more.

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Summary Dex-1Dex-1Dex-1Dex-1Dexter-_5

For those who are big fans of sport of football, Concussion will prove to be a tough, but educational watch about such a beloved American spectacle.  Most have heard about concussions and are familiar with the NFL side of things, but don’t really know just how big of a deal this actually is.  Its an important story, and easily digestible in this film if you don’t feel like reading up.  This Blu-ray comes with top of the line audio and video presentations.  Not a whole lot in the extras department, but what is provided is very worthwhile and not at all too time consuming.  Its a solid recommend, and a definite rental at the very least.  Concussion will also be available on 4K UltraHD, and I think its the first film to debut on the format following its theatrical run.


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