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Men (Blu-ray Review)

Alex Garland is one of our most interesting and hungry filmmakers working today. If he makes a movie, no matter your thoughts on the trailer or plot synopsis, you buy a ticket and you go. So far, so good. His latest, Men, came out at the start of the summer was met probably with the most mixed of his reviews and not much to brag about in box office receipts. Nonetheless, like his previous film Annihilation, perhaps people will find it or appreciate it after its too late. Lionsgate is bringing out to standard Blu-ray on August 9th. It comes only with one featurette in addition to the DVD version and digital copy. Perhaps a 4K upgrade could be in the cards down the road, but this looks to be it for now. You can order yourself a copy using the paid Amazon Associates link that follows the review down below at the bottom of this page.

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Film

In visionary filmmaker Alex Garland’s (Ex Machina, Annihilation) feverish, shape-shifting new horror film, Harper (Jessie Buckley) retreats alone to the beautiful English countryside in the aftermath of a personal tragedy, hoping to have found a place to heal. But someone or something from the surrounding woods appears to be stalking her. What begins as simmering dread becomes a fully-formed nightmare, inhabited by her darkest memories and fears.

Before the film even came out and not just based on it being “the next film from Alex Garland”, Men really stood out for me among the pack of summer films. Leading in, its trailer would be attached to plenty of big films. When it would play among other trailers that were tentpole blockbusters, the film visually looked much bigger scaled and more cinematic than any of the big guns. A simple shot of a woman approaching a dark tunnel in very green woods showcased so much bigger than some large scaled CGI battle of the next super expensive blockbuster. Simply on seeing that trailer is the kind of thing we talk about when being snobs about “cinema” against a certain tentpole worshipping crowd.

The film itself remains another interesting study and one that you’re surely to get more from and even possibly different takes on from revisits like any of Garland’s previous movies. There’s some obvious, on the nose kind of subtext going on here that I’m not sure if the landing is quite stuck or feels completely satisfactory. But what is satisfactory is that the filmmaker is brave and goes for it, probably not knowing if it will be well received on even if it was the right choice. The choice made gives us plenty to ponder and debate, as opposed to a safer or spoon fed one.

Men is a film that can also just purely work on a surface level as well. Its got plenty of things to unnerve or disturb visually from its cinematography, sound design and make-up effects. There are thrills, chases and jumps to be had here. There’s a searing sense of dread and suspense around every corner. The film is also sort of gross in its own way and one that isn’t overtly “too much” in a Rob Zombie kind of way, but goes far enough to know when to pull back and restrain because the audience obvious should get it at that point.

Alex Garland’s latest may not be his greatest, but Men is absolutely necessary to check out for not only his own catalog, but for films that have come out this year. The performances are dynamite, the location and cinematography are gorgeous, the film unsettles and gives plenty to discuss after the credits have rolled. Even if not as successful as his other works, all the stuff you want from him are here and the mental exercises and good conversation of the film will endure for you as healthy as even his best work.

Video

Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1

Layers: BD-50

Clarity/Detail: Men comes with a rather gorgeous looking transfer of a digitally shot film. It is crisp, sharp and full of detail. The film has a great scale on display that translates very well to the home video version. Great color saturation and black contrast help to provide a terrific image for Blu-ray.

Depth:  While not that large of film in terms of store told, the scale is quite big as its shot and comes across as such here with great depth of field on display on this disc. Motion is smooth and natural with no issues coming from any distortions having to do with rapid action.

Black Levels: This carries a bit of that digital black where its slightly grayed. But its consistent and works with the aesthetic. Good shadowing and no issues come from losing information in dark areas. No crushing witnessed.

Color Reproduction: Greens are the all start here with the beautiful grass and landscapes showcased in the film. Other colors have a more natural feel though yellows and reds do give a nice solid pop.

Flesh Tones: Skin tones are natural and consistent from start to finish. Facial features and textures are clear and visible from any reasonable distance in the frame.

Noise/Artifacts: Clean.

Audio

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

Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish

Dynamics: Men features a rather effective and involving 5.1 track. Sure, its the basic 5 channel experience in the era of Atmos, but this is a pretty well done an fulfilling viewing. Its very well layered with a much playfulness in its depth. The echo through the tunnel sequence is excellent. The balance is top tier and altogether you really couldn’t ask for much more aside from may the next level in terms of adding channels to the mix.

Height: N/A

Low Frequency Extension: There are some nice deep rumbles from slamming doors, crashing glass, engines rumbling and big stings from the music.

Surround Sound Presentation: This has a pretty wicked envisioned room here with interesting contributions from rear channel speakers doing more than ambiance. One of the best compliments here for the 5 channel experience is how unnerving the quietest scenes can be.

Dialogue Reproduction: Vocals are clear and crisp.

Extra

Men comes with the DVD version and a redeemable digital code.

Rebirth: The Making of Men (HD, 24:02) – A detailed look at the film’s production with interviews from the cast and crew. For only getting 1 featurette and its under 25 minutes, this is pretty good.

Summary

While Men might come in 3rd place of Alex Garland’s 3 films, its still full of all the hallmarks to love about his films and still top tier entertainment to check out at the theater (or home video now). Lionsgate brings it to Blu-ray with a pretty looking transfer as well as a very nice 5.1 track. The only extra here kinda makes it count in terms of value. This is probably a solid pick up at a discounted price and hoping for maybe a special A24 4K UHD release later one.

This is a paid Amazon Associates link

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Brandon is the host, producer, writer and editor of The Brandon Peters Show (thebrandonpetersshow.com) on the Creative Zombie Studios Network. At Why So Blu he is a Writer/Reviewer. Brandon is a lifelong obsessive film nerd. As eager to educate in the world of film as I am to learn. An avid lover of horror, schlock and trash. You can also find older essays on his blog Naptown Nerd (naptownnerd.blogspot.com).

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