Strangerland (Blu-ray Review)

Strangerland Blu-ray ReviewNicole Kidman, for obvious reasons, has always reminded me of Tom Cruise.  I’m not referring to the fact that they were once married, birthed children together or even starred in the same motion pictures.  I’m referring to the apparent fact that just like Tom Cruise, Nicole Kidman (with makeup on of course) appears to suffer from that same Peter Pan syndrome of never aging.  So while the Blu-ray’s cover of Strangerland, the film’s premise and all the negative reviews didn’t help sell me on the feature, the fact that Nicole is in it and the trailer didn’t make the flick unwatchable hooked and reeled me right in.  So despite the negative reviews I come into Strangerland only knowing two things for sure.  It has some talented cast members and the theatrical trailer looked promising.  Other than that I had no idea what I was getting myself into.



Strangerland is billed as an Australia-Irish drama suspense film.  The theatrical trailer made it seem like it would be another unforgiving horror story in the Outback with a compelling family twist thrown in.  Was I right about that?  Let’s cover the basics first and then I’ll dispense my true feelings.  So where were we?  Oh yeah!  Strangerland is directed by Kim Farrant and stars Nicole, whom we already talked about above, plus Joseph Fiennes and Hugo Weaving.  The latter are two pretty impressive names so nonetheless I was still looking forward to this one.

Strangerland premiered this past January at Sundance and saw only a limited release in theaters as well as through other channels such as video on demand.  The film makes its Blu-ray debut on August 18th here courtesy of Alchemy.  Alright, so what’s Strangerland all about?  Let’s cover the plot next.

I wish the hell I could tell you what really happens in Strangerland.  However, if you really want to know, actually a lot happens.  Two kids go missing after a dust storm in Australia, but its the unravelling of the parents in the aftermath that’s the meat and potatoes here.  Like they used to poke fun of in Back to the Future, things get really “heavy” here in the drama department with the characters in Strangerland.  When it was all said and done I almost felt like the weight of the world was on my shoulders, that’s how exhausted I was from it all.  However, I still really didn’t tell you what it was all about, did I?  Oh!  Alright.  I’ll give in to your wishes.

Catherine (Nicole Kidman) and Matthew Parker (Joseph Fiennes) are doing their best to adjust to their new life in the small, remote Australian desert town of Nathgari.  They tend to keep to themselves, unwilling to get close to anyone, and for good reason.  When a massive dust storm strikes, their lives are shattered when their two teenage children, the flirtatious Lily and young Tom, disappear.  They reluctantly recruit the help of local investigator, David Rae (Hugo Weaving), and before long most of the city is helping them look via large search parties.  Suspicions are eventually cast, rumors spread and even ancient voodoo come into play.

So as the temperatures rise and the chances of survival plummet with each passing day, Catherine and Matthew find themselves pushed to the brink, as they struggle to survive the uncertainty of their children’s fate.  However, that’s just the missing kids side of the story.  The real story to me is the exposure of their family secrets, the overall impact to the parents and basically how it all implodes.  Like I said, things get very “heavy” here, maybe even a little too much for my tastes.

Strangerland, while it kept me interested, is not something I’m interested in visiting again.  There’s just nothing here to draw me back in again.  As the characters unravelled, the story eventually went virtually nowhere despite many secrets being revealed.  It’s a dud in the replay department for me.  Sorry, Nicole.  I still love you, but you do tend to get casted in some pretty dull movies.  However, don’t get me wrong.  If I had only one compliment to pay to this film, it would be this.  The performances rocked.  Nicole is at the top of her game in films like this.  Not many can touch her.  And I have nothing but love and praise for Fiennes and Weaving in their roles two.  They both birthed and inhabited incredibly strong characters throughout.

The performances and the whereabouts of the kids managed to keep me invested, but eventually the movie literally exhausted me with its artsy expose, endless psycho babble and melodramatic moments at every turn.  I did love the way the characters ended up being unpredictable, but ultimately near the end of this feature’s almost two-hour runtime, I just was left with little to no energy to care about anything anymore.  That’s a bad thing in my opinion and I reckon yours too, mates.  But in the end maybe I’ll chalk it up to Strangerland not being my proverbial cup of tea.  So now that we have that all out of the way, what do you say we see how things looked and sounded on the Blu-ray format, eh?



  • Encoding: AVC MPEG-4
  • Resolution: 1080p
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
  • Clarity/Detail: The video here is like a mixed bag of nuts.  Sometimes it’s perfect and the very next moment it’s all murky.  There was really no consistency other than you knew outside shots were going to be rendered amazingly and inside shots would vary from scene to scene.  When things were sharp you could see the pores in the character’s skin, chiseling in the mountainous terrain and concrete roads, but when they weren’t, your results vary greatly.
  • Depth: The depth of field is pretty decent here from the deep aisles in the store to the forever flowing outdoor exteriors.
  • Black Levels: Black levels were extremely generous and inky throughout.
  • Color Reproduction: Again your results vary greatly depending on whether your inside or outside in this film.  Let’s take the pharmacy where the dad works.  It looked incredible in there.  However, most of the indoor shots were dimly lit and murky in appearance.
  • Flesh Tones: The pasty white flesh tones were prevalent throughout.
  • Noise/Artifacts: There is nothing visually present in the print that will hinder the picture in any way or distract you from taking it all in.



  • Audio Format(s): English 5.1 Dolby TrueHD
  • Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish
  • Dynamics: Well there’s really not much to discuss here.  It’s a family drama.  However, things do get vivaciously loud and obnoxious during the dust storm, but for the most part this one is what it is, a drama.  That makes this one really hard to grade because you can’t say it sucks because it’s not suppose to be an action movie.  You picking up what I’m dropping?  If it helps in the discussion here, things do sound very authentically rendered throughout.
  • Low Frequency Extension: The LFE comes alive during the dust storm sequence and when the car gets swallowed in it all, but other than that don’t expect too much more in this category.
  • Surround Sound Presentation: Here’s another section where results may vary simply because it’s a drama.  The score does bleed and swirl in the rears as well as the dust storm sequence, but other than that the rear channels are reserved for light ambience while the majority of the track happens up front and center.
  • Dialogue Reproduction:  Spoken words are mostly clear and intelligible throughout.



Not that I really care or anything, but Strangerland is pretty sparse and desert-like in the extras department.  In addition to some bad looking previews there are only two lonely supplements to be found here.  They are as follows.

  • The Cast Featurette (HD, 8:23) – Mixed in with some film clips, the cast all talk about the characters in the film as well as the story and what it all means to them.
  • The Story Featurette (HD, 5:36) – Again, mixed with some film clips, the director, cast and crew all chat about the story, the impact on the parents and how their family in feature becomes fractured.



What can I say that I haven’t said already?  Given that Strangerland stars the beautiful and very talented Nicole Kidman you can bet every penny in your piggy bank that going into this film I wanted to love it to pieces.  Out of all the quotes pulled and featured on the film’s Blu-ray case the only one I can stand behind is from Andrew McArthur at The People’s Movies.  He said “Kidman is a force to be reckoned with.”  As always, she’s exceptional throughout here in Strangerland, it’s just the long, drawn out, bloated story that does me in.  If you’re curious about this one, I suggest a rental or VOD before a blind buy.  Of course if you’re a fan, you already know what to do.  Pre-order this August 18th Blu-ray release now  (shameless plug)!  Otherwise, it pays to be a stranger to Strangerland, in my opinion.  You get to live two hours of your life doing something hopefully a little more fun and hold onto your hard earned money a little longer.  Catch you next time, mates!







Strangerland Blu-ray Cover Art


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).

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