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Hereafter (Blu-ray Review)

Clint Eastwood and Matt Damon have re-teamed to bring us the psychological thriller-drama Hereafter.  This is Clint’s thirty fifth film as director.  The subject  matter depicted in Hereafter may offend or disturb certain individuals with the recent tragedy in Japan.  It truly is art imitating life.  Hereafter was pulled from theaters due to the sensitivity of the material there.  How does Hereafter stack up with Clint’s other dynamic body of work?  He’s been cranking them out every year or two for  the last few years.  Let’s see if Hereafter stacks up to his previous releases. 

Film 

Hereafter is the story of George (Matt Damon) who has the unusual “gift” of being able to communicate with the dead.  Not directly, but indirectly.  The dead communicate with him.  He’s had this ability since he was a kid.  During a vacation French journalist Marie (Cecile De France) suffers a devastating near-death experience in which she comes out of it with more questions than answers.  Marcus (George McLauren) is a London schoolboy who loses someone very close and important to him.  George will be the catalyst that brings all of these people together while he tries to find meaning in his own life.  Is his gift really a curse or a blessing in disguise?

If its one thing I like about Clint Eastwood is that he seems to always take a chance in every project that he chooses to direct, and Hereafter is no different.  I guess it was that time for him to direct a “supernatural” thriller.  Of course once the film was released it received mixed critical reception.  I can see why it was given it the so-so reception it got.  I’m only giving it a marginal recommendation, and not because I wanted to see more special effects, etc. The netherworld and purgatory scenes (or whatever you want to call them) are only hinted and teased at.  If you’re expecting angels or demons then you will be greatly disappointed.  It’s not that kind of supernatural film.

Hereafter is a globetrotting kind of film, because you’re taken to San Francisco, London, and France.  You’re practically a fly on the wall in almost every aspect of these people’s lives which is why we care.  I actually cared about all the characters in the film and wanted to accompany them on their respective journeys.  My problem is that the film is too short and wraps up really fast, even though it clocks in at two hours and nine minutes.  Considering it moves at such a brisk pace, it could have been twenty to thirty minutes longer, in my opinion.  I’m aware that the trailers and promotional materials sold it as a disaster film, but this is far from a disaster film.  I have a feeling that this is why it got such a subdued reception.  People were “sold” on something early on, but got something else in the end.

The other thing that I didn’t realize is that Peter Morgan wrote the script for the film.  Who is Peter Morgan?  Peter wrote The Queen,  Frost/Nixon, and The Damn United.  He’s also won a couple of Oscars.  It’s a dream-team of sorts.  The acting by everyone involved especially the young twin McLauren boys is great.  This is why it’s very frustrating, because it should have been a borderline masterpiece of a film.  In the end, the final product is just okay.

Video 

Hereafter is is presented in 1080p 2.40:1 widescreen.  Hereafter looks pretty damn good.  The image is free of artifacts, noise, edge enhancement, but due to stylistic and thematic choices offers a more diffused look to the film.  I can tell the guys in post production went in there and tweaked the settings.  The film is very dark, but not “naturally” dark.  I guess they wanted to put the viewer in the right mood, but couldn’t do it the natural way.  It’s not a bad thing, but I did notice it.  Overall the picture is above average.

Audio 

Hereafter is presented in DTS-HD MA 5.1.  This is a an almost near reference track.    The LFE is pretty amazing and very startling once you enter the scenes of “the otherside.”  The bass rocks on Hereafter. Dialogue is clear and crisp, but some of the music does tend to get a little loud, but I am aware of it being used to convey emotion, but it could have been spread out to the ambient channels just a bit.  Other than that,  audio quality on this Blu-ray is pretty good!

Special Features

They sure decided to skimp on the extras for this Blu-ray.  We get a Focus Point featurette that can be played simultaneously with the film or we can watch it separately on it’s own.  It runs about forty two minutes in length and is cut into several minute segments.  They’ve also included The Eastwood Factor: Extended Edition which chronicles Clint Eastwood and his relationship with Warner Bros.  Thirty five films later and he’s still going strong.  It’s a pretty good documentary, but  be warned that some of the films that they talk about feature spoilers.  I have not seen every single film directed by Eastwood, so I found myself fast forwarding through it, because I have not seen three quarters of the films profiled.

  • Hereafter: Focus Points (HD) — Tsunami! Recreating a Disaster, Is There Life After Death?, Clint on Casting, Delving into the Hereafter, Twin Bonding, French Speaking French, Why The White Light?, Hereafter’s Locations, “Casting” the Silent Characters, The Eastwood Experience
  • The Eastwood Factor: Extended Version (HD)
  • DVD/Digital Copy

Final Thoughts

Take what you’ve seen in the trailers with a grain of salt.  Hereafter is not a mind numbing action set piece that  was probably marketed as such.  It’s  a very interesting drama with subtle supernatural overtones.  If you go in with the proper frame of mind you will probably enjoy it more.  I enjoyed it to a certain extent, but I’m a bit on the selfish side, and wished it could have been a little longer.

Order Hereafter on Blu-ray!

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Gerard Iribe is a writer/reviewer for Why So Blu?. He has also reviewed for other sites like DVD Talk, Project-Blu, and CHUD, but Why So Blu? is where the heart is. You can follow his incoherency on Twitter: @giribe

8 Responses to “Hereafter (Blu-ray Review)”


  1. Aaron Neuwirth

    I liked this movie for the same basic reasons. It’s something different for Eastwood. I still really dislike that it got nominated for best visual effects, but the opening scene is quite well done.

  2. Gerard Iribe

    Honestly, the opening sequence just okay. I didn’t want to go into detail on that, because of what’s been going, but it’s rather average when it comes down visual fx. They still can’t seem to animate water properly. The tops of the waves look like creamy cappuccinos.

    /rant

  3. Aaron Neuwirth

    It’s not better than TRON or Scott Pilgrim, which got booted for this film, that’s for damn sure.

  4. Gerard Iribe

    I concur, Aaron. I don’t think Tron was even nominated for VFX. Ha, I still haven’t seen Scott Pilgrim yet.

  5. Aaron Neuwirth

    It wasn’t. That’s what I’m saying, Tron and Scott Pilgrim were among the last 7 films that were vying for a nomination, and Hereafter beat both of them out. The academy just loves to celebrate Eastwood.

    Haven’t seen Scott Pilgrim yet? Sounds like you need to get down here and have an Ernest-Pilgrim-athon at my place. 🙂

  6. Brian White

    I did not know it got pulled from the theaters?

  7. Aaron Neuwirth

    Well it doesn’t really fit to have it playing in Japan at this time, given that it opens with a horrible tsunami scene.

  8. Sean Ferguson

    I’ve always enjoyed Clint Eastwood’s work as an actor and as a director and this movie seemed risky for him and it sounds like it didn’t work as well as his others. I still want to see it though.