The Big Short (Blu-ray Review)

the big short coverAdam McKay, the director of Anchorman and Step Brothers, has now won an Oscar for making a film that works tremendously well as a scathingly funny indictment of America’s most recent financial crisis. Here is a movie that eschews proper characters arcs in favor of being a terrifying lecture about how things went so wrong in the form of a greatly entertaining film. With an all-star cast and plenty to say, The Big Short is a big winner. Now learn how the Blu-ray stacks up.




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One of the many goals in this film is to make sure the viewer gets what is going on and all the technical jargon. The main thing to understand is how this film follows several key players who bet against the housing market and profited from the 2008 market crash. There is something to be said for that kind of cynicism winning out for those who caught on, but the film is more interested in showing why this happened.

Those we follow include Dr. Michael Burry (Christian Bale), an ex-neurologist-turned-hedge fund manager who predicted the crisis. Ryan Gosling is Jared Vennett, a bank trader trying to sell this prediction to others. Steve Carell brilliantly plays Mark Baum, the outspoken money manager who goes along with this betting plan. Brad Pitt steps in as Ben Rickert, a former manager who helps the founders of Cornwall Capital build their hedge fund to much greater heights.

Some of these actors are playing real people; others are playing fictional versions of those involved. Carell and Bale are the only two actors who really have a chance to go deep with their characters. This matters little, as McKay is having far too much fun showing how everything became a disaster by turning Michael Lewis’ novel into an educational roller coaster.

This is not to say The Big Short has the final word on what is right, wrong, true or false, but it presents a lot of information and exposition in a way that is funny to alarming degrees. McKay does not have the answers nor does he pretend to, but he is very happy to poke at what is wrong. It works incredibly well, as McKay has done plenty to prepare himself for a film like this.

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Were any viewer to look back at McKay’s filmography, which consists of broad, absurdist Will Ferrell comedies, there is actually a lot of thematically interesting material to discern. Both Anchorman films satirize the evolution of news and workplace politics while The Other Guys has much of what The Big Short is saying spelled out in its ending credits.

Whatever it was that led to McKay breaking away from his ridiculous comedies, it has paid off by affording him a great cast and a film that crackles with energy. It may be a real boy’s club (no representation of analyst Meredith Whitney is especially curious), but each actor gets the rhythms of this film and delivers. It also helps to view this film as a counter to much of the deplorable behavior found in The Wolf of Wall Street, which was great for different reasons.

There may be some curiosity as to how a film featuring bankers and traders as the protagonists, where the deliberation of numbers serves as action sequences can be entertaining, but this film makes it work. Between the sarcastic narration and moments that allow the cast to see just how messed up the system is, The Big Short does more than enough to accomplish its goal.

The film is wildly entertaining and would be one to heartily look back and smile upon, were the information presented not so shockingly accurate. Fortunately, there is humor abound during this great ride.


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Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1

Clarity/Detail: The Big Short is a slick film and it looks great on Blu-ray. The detail work is quite impressive, as you get a great feel for the variety of locations visited throughout the film. The image clarity is great here, as you easily find wonderful quality in all the offices and buildings where key scenes take place.

Depth: Many scenes find multiple characters interacting in interesting spaces and the level of depth is always well handled.

Black Levels: Black levels hold true throughout.

Color Reproduction: Colors play quite well here. The film is somewhat drab in overall presentation, but there is a lot of room for bright moments that really pop thanks to some events in the story and certain costumes.

Flesh Tones: Facial textures are strong throughout, with ample opportunity to observe certain characters in close-up.

Noise/Artifacts: None.



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Audio Format(s): English DTS: X, French, Spanish, Portuguese 5.1 Dolby Digital, English DTS Headphone: X

Subtitles: English, English SDH, French, Spanish, Portuguese

Dynamics: DTS: X? Leave it to Paramount to go all out on their audio for one of their biggest prestige flicks in sometime. This lossless track functions like an upgraded 7.1 track and man does it put a lot of highlights on how strong the soundtrack and sound design is in the film. It is all great, as we get one hell of an audio presentation. Here’s a film that is based entirely around dialogue, but the aggressive direction really brings out what you want in a great sound system.

Low Frequency Extension: Christian Bale’s drumming abilities really do a number on the LFE channel.

Surround Sound Presentation: All the channels are utilized to great effect. The dialogue is center focused, but the life of these characters leads to so much in the way of interesting audio moments that you can admire how great balance between channels plays for this film.

Dialogue Reproduction: Lots of shouting and it sounds grand.



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I am honestly shocked that this is the film Adam McKay decided not to do a commentary track for and that is a shame, as I love hearing his thoughts on filmmaking, let alone on something important like the topics presented in this film. Still, we get some solid featurettes.

Features Include:

  • Deleted Scenes (HD)
  • In The Trenches: Casting (HD, 15:51) – A look at the main characters.
  • The Big Leap: Adam McKay (HD, 11:31) – A look at director Adam McKay’s turn to making a film like this.
  • Unlikely Heroes: The Characters of The Big Short (HD, 11:28) – A look at who these characters really were.
  • The House of Cards: The Rise of the Fall (HD: 14:01) – Further insight into the market collapse.
  • Getting Real: Recreating an Era (HD, 11:13) – A look at the making of the film from a production design standpoint and the editing process.
  • DVD Copy of the Film
  • Digital HD Copy of the Film – iTunes and UltraViolet


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The Big Short has gotten some flak for being a male-driven lecture that offers little in the way of true substance, but I disagree. I was fascinated by the approach to making this film, regardless of the mostly male cast and attitude that comes from McKay’s past sensibilities. I enjoyed the presentation of this film and was consistently entertained, even as things got darker (and scarier). The Blu-ray is a terrific example of how to do justice to films that are not heavy on action, as the technical presentation is nearly flawless and the handful of extras are strong as well. This is a fine film for adults to check out if you have not done so already.

Order Your Copy Here:

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Writer/Reviewer, Film Lover, Podcaster, Gamer, Comic Reader, Disc Golfer & a Lefty. There are too many films, TV, books, etc. for me to list as favorites, but I can assure that the amount film knowledge within my noggin is ridiculous, though I am always open to learning more. You can follow me on Twitter @AaronsPS4, see what else I am up to at TheCodeIsZeek.com & check out my podcast, Out Now with Aaron and Abe, on iTunes.

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