I, Tonya (Blu-ray Review)

I Tonya Blu-ray ReviewI, Tonya was a film I was dying to see ever since it was first announced.  It killed me to see fellow Californians have access to it nearly a month before myself in crappy Austin, TX.  I was drawn to this movie not only because of my affinity for Margot Robbie as the mischievous Harley Quinn in Suicide Squad, but because I lived during this media-crazy time period.  I remember this news story unfolding as vividly as the OJ Simpson Ford Bronco chase that replaced it in the eyes of the media.  On top of that I dug the overall vibe of the trailers and the gangster-documentary narrative way this one is ultimately told.  It feels the lovechild of a smart gangster movie meets the world of ladies figure skating.  What’s not to like?  Margot Robbie is exceptionally cast here as Tonya Harding, but it’s Allison Janney who steals the show as her mother.  Despite the bleak incident this movie revolves around you can really have a lot of fun with this story and cast.  Let’s talk about it some more down below.

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I guess you would bill I, Tonya as a biographical black comedy film.  Hopefully that makes sense to you.  It’s directed by Craig Gillespie and written by Steven Rogers.  It nonetheless and her connection or lack of to the 1994 attack on her Olympic rival Nancy Kerrigan.  Margot Robbie, who also co-produces this gem, stars as Harding while Sebastian Stan plays her husband and Allison Janney portrays her hysterical (funny to watch that is) mom, LaVona Fay Golden.  Julianne Nicholson, Caitlin Carver and Bobby Cannavale provide some star power here too.  The film also features interviews with the main characters throughout in a mockumentary modern day setting/fashion as well as Deadpool-like breaking of that dreaded fourth wall.  So as you can already dissect, it’s quite an interesting watch to say the least.  That’s the plot too!  The way it’s told through this mockumentary style filming style, which includes interviews and time period flashes is simply an interesting way to experience the story unfold.

In all seriousness though I, Tonya was ultimately a smashing success in my opinion.  It received positive reviews, with Oscar nominations for Robbie and Janney’s performances at the 90th Academy Awards, and has maned to gross $33.5 million against an $11 million budget.  I’d chalk that up as a winner.  Speaking of Janney too she has already won awards as best Actress in a Supporting Role at the 75th Golden Globes, 24th Screen Actor Guild Awards and 71st British Academy Film Awards.  It’s ashamed Robbie can’t home something, but there’s another “lady” in Lady Bird biding for attention there.  Don’t worry she’ll get her last laugh as Harley again in Suicide Squad 2 (I’m being partially facetious).  Ha!  It is too bad Margot is not getting more attention to the way she transforms onscreen for this role.  It was even more impressive watching her a second time in my viewing for this review.  She deserves awards too!  Equal rights!  Ha ha, but seriously.  This one is filled with AMAZING performances everywhere you look including an exceptional soundtrack, killer cinematography and shots and surprising some great VFX (read about it down in the extras).

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Now we all sort of know what this movie is all about, but what I was the most curious about, especially after seeing it, was how did this get made.  I had to do some research on that.  Supposedly screenwriter Steven Rogers was inspired to write the film after watching a documentary about ice skating which so happened to mention the woman of the hour here, Tonya Harding.  Rogers then went on to arrange interviews with both Harding and her ex-husband Jeff Gillooly.  Coincidentally, they both remembered the events regarding the 1994 attack on Nancy Kerrigan differently.  Rogers declared: “Well, that’s my way in: to put everyone’s point of view out there, and then let the audience decide.”  Now the next tidbit of information is what I find most shocking.  Margot Robbie, who plays Harding, did not realize the screenplay was based on a real event until after she finished reading it.  This is where it hits me though and I feel really old.  Margot would have only been 4 years old when these actual events took place.  Wow!

Prior to filming Robbie met with Harding.  I would have loved to be a fly on the wall in that meeting.  Robbie also trained for four months in figure skating.  I do have to commend her for the performances on the ice she was able to convincingly pull off.   Of course she had stunt doubles, but I digress.  Rumor also has it that throughout the shoot, Robbie suffered from a herniated disc in her neck, and had regular MRIs to ensure it was safe for her to continue filming skating scenes.  Incredible, huh?  I think so and I admire her level of dedication to the role/project.  As a Vegas Golden Knights fan we have a chant we usher during home games.  I’ll adapt ever so slightly here with the following: “Go Margot go!”

I guess what spoke to me other than the performances and laughs spawned as a result throughout is really the working-class girl angle.  Here you see someone so driven to overcome the poverty she was born into by challenging herself to probably fit into something she’s really not in the “ladylike” sport of women’s figure skating.  She had no money for lessons, outfits, etc., but she made it work.  That’s called pursuing your dreams and I can definitely commiserate with her plight in all of this. Though Harding may have been the first American woman to complete a triple axel in competition, her legacy is forever defined by her association with the infamous attack on fellow Olympic competitor Nancy Kerrigan.  That’s the crux of things here and whether these incredible true events are accurate or not on the screen here it’s definitely a lot of fun taking in all the different sides of the story.  So while there’s a lot of tragedy unfolding onscreen I, Tonya is nothing but rousing triumph in my opinion where it counts…in the storytelling department.  It was even better my second viewing.  Can’t wait to watch it again!  And if things are somewhat true here, I also have a much better relationship now with Harding too.  Nonetheless, it’s all quite interesting.

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  • Encoding: AVC MPEG-4
  • Layers: BD-50
  • Resolution: 1080p
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1
  • Clarity/Detail: This one is not supposed to look like a million bucks.  Although it’s shot on the ARRI Alexa 65 and 35mm it’s designed to look rough due to the interview and mockumentary narrative style its told from.  However, with that being said there’s still plenty to love about this one from the many closeups revealing bumps, bruises, stubble, stray hairs, moles and whatnot to the textures.  I’m all about the textures in this period piece.  Whether you’re talking furs and flannel in clothing to carpet and cinder block walls in interior this one is not shot on screen accuracy in the clarity/detail department.
  • Depth: There are plenty of moments on the ice where depth of field wins you over despite some of the rough footage.  There are also shots on the streets and suburban landscapes that stand out, but it’s mostly due to the helping hand given by the three-dimensionality of the foreground characters onscreen.
  • Black Levels: Things are deep and inky throughout this presentation.  I don’t want to explore any signs of crushing only because the source quality or appearance of this one again shouldn’t be graded in such a manner.
  • Color Reproduction: The colors are all over the place here, but mostly bright and vibrant like the pink jeans Robbie dons in shots.
  • Flesh Tones: The skin tones are accurate and natural throughout, but also hot and warm at other times.  It really depends on the quality of the video onscreen and whether or not it’s overblown.
  • Noise/Artifacts: There’s a layer of grain throughout, and for this peeps that expect a perfect presentation I warn you now.  This one is intentionally made to look like it takes place in the 80s/90s.  Get over it!

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  • Audio Format(s): English DTS-HD MA 5.1 (even though Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround is listed on the rear cover art), English Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo
  • Subtitles: English SDH
  • Dynamics: As you can see from the lack of options up above the audio presentation is nothing fancy here at all.  However, I will say this.  I, Tonya really hits you hard, grabs your undivided attention and despite not much going on effect-wise in the rear channels there’s a very full and heavy presence to everything here.  That is mostly due in part to the exceptional score and rocking soundtrack present pretty much throughout every sequence here.  This one will rock you in a good way.  Best of all because it’s a drama no dialogue ever gets lost in the shuffle either.  You have to love that.
  • Low Frequency Extension: The LFE channel pulverizes and pumps out the jams here thanks to the killer, rocking soundtrack this film possesses.  Of course you do have moments where the LFE opens too like knocks, punches, thuds, mirror breaks and even a shotgun/handgun blast or two.  Boom!
  • Surround Sound Presentation: The rears didn’t have much as far as effects in them, but what they did have was a sense of fullness thanks in part to the score and the killer, pumping soundtrack.  Of course the rears do have their moments too with crowds cheering, announcer voices and more.
  • Dialogue Reproduction: Dialog is clear, loud and intelligent throughout.  I really have no problems hearing any spoken words here, even whimpers.

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Universal Pictures Home Entertainment’s I, Tonya comes packed with more than 40 minutes of exclusive bonus content, deleted scenes and in-depth featurettes taking viewers behind the scenes of the film and its captivating story.  The Digital HD code also syncs up through Movies Anywhere to provide viewers with their choice of where they wish to watch their content from.  That’s nice!  Now let’s take a closer look at everything you’ll find in the way of extras housed on the Blu-ray Disc.

  • Deleted Scenes (HD, 17:25) – There are a total of five lengthy deleted scenes here: Chicken Dinner, Conspiracy, Bar, Braggart and Sawyer Interview.  For your convenience there’s a Play All option here.
  • All Sixes: The Perfect Performances of I, Tonya (HD, 3:44) – This one is all about the characters with the actors describing their characters’ motivations and the unexpected satisfaction of the story itself.
  • Irony Free, Totally True: The Story Behind I, Tonya (HD, 3:39) – This one is all about the salacious story and its cautionary tale.  One thing is for sure that Margot Robbie thought this was the best script she ever read.
  • Working with Director Craig Gillespie (HD, 2:28) – The cast and actors talk about how much they loved working with Craig.  Craig also talks about how much he loved the script written by Rogers too.
  • The Visual Effects of I, Tonya (HD, 4:28) – This one explores yes the VFX of the film in regards to building stadiums, facial effects on Margot and more.  Wow, huh?!  It was interesting to see the face replacements they used during the stunt shots.  They even did a full CG 3D head replacement.  Amazing!
  • VFX: Anatomy of the Triple Axel (HD, 1:58) – This one shows you actual filming sequences and what they look like afterwards complete with the orange dots on the stunt skater’s face pulling off the Triple Axel.
  • Feature Commentary with Director Craig Gillespie (HD) – Yes!  There’s a feature commentary track here with Director Craig Gillespie!  He’s pretty descriptive of everything you’ll find onscreen, but there are lulls.  However, for the fans there’s no other place you need to be then listening here.  It’s all the information you require on this exceptional film.  It was interesting to hear how he edits and cuts as he shoots, music and all.  He even points out where face replacements happen.  Score!
  • Theatrical Trailers (HD, 5:42) – There are a total of three trailers here with a Play All option, Teaser, Trailer-Green Band and the infamous Trailer – Red Band.

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So there you have it.  What do you think?  Sure it’s a tragedy, but this one is also very much a comedy, albeit a dark one that you can really lace your skates up with and have fun doing so.  I don’t know.  Maybe I’m a sick person.  I don’t get off on the tragedy of others, but there’s just something about the entertaining way this story is crafted and told that has me singing many songs of praise and high hymns for.  The jury is out.  Did she do it or didn’t she?  Find out for yourself in I, Tonya, which comes highly recommended from me with a lot of leg in replay value.  My only complaint is where’s the 4K Ultra HD version?  Oh well!  Stay safe from people attacking you with batons and enjoy!


I, Tonya

Skates Up A Dramatic, Good Time on

Blu-ray and DVD March 13th




I, Tonya


Owner/Writer/Reviewer/Editor, Dreamer, Producer, Agent of Love, Film Lover, Writer of Screenplays and a Devoted Apostle to all things Ford Mustangs (the real ones with V8's!). Some of my favorite films include FIGHT CLUB, MOULIN ROUGE, THE DARK KNIGHT, STAR WARS alongside television shows such as SEINFELD, 24, SANFORD & SON and even the often loathed in the geek community BIG BANG THEORY. Outside of my three lives I live I also enjoy spending time with my girlfriend and our three girls (of the furry kind).

1 Response to “I, Tonya (Blu-ray Review)”

  1. Ulises

    Absolutely loved this film pal, spot on review!