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Hachi: A Dog's Tale(2009)
This heartwarming true story is an U.S. adaptation of a Japanese tale about a loyal dog named Hachiko. This very special friend would accompany his master to the train station every day and return each afternoon to greet him after work. Sadly his master departs one day, passes away and never returns to the station. Hachiko faithfully returns to the same spot at the station the very next day, and every day for the next nine years to wait for his beloved master. During his daily visits, Hachiko touches the lives of many who work near and commute through the town square. He teaches the local people love, compassion and above all unyielding loyalty. Today, a bronze statue of Hachiko sits in his waiting spot outside the Shibuya station in Japan as a permanent reminder of his devotion and love.
For more about Hachi: A Dog's Tale and the Hachi: A Dog's Tale Blu-ray release, see Hachi: A Dog's Tale Blu-ray Review published by Martin Liebman on April 9, 2010 where this Blu-ray release scored 3.0 out of 5.
Starring: Richard Gere, Joan Allen, Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa, Sarah Roemer, Jason Alexander, Erick Avari
Director: Lasse Hallström
» See full cast & crew
Hachi: A Dog's Tale Blu-ray Review
This heartwarming tale comes to Blu-ray as a middle-of-the-road package.
Reviewed by Martin Liebman, April 9, 2010
Whether you found him, or he found you, who's to say. It was meant to be.
The world can be, and often is, a cruel place; death, pain, suffering, hardship, fear, and any number of maladies intrude into the daily routine and often come to define the larger moments in life that shape the course of human events both on sweeping and personal scales. Tragedy, in one form or another, is inevitable, but it's what one does to counter the bad -- by introducing as much good, joy, ease, comfort, and happiness as possible into the equation -- that helps add balance to the difficulties that unexpectedly arise and bring on a hurt that lingers, fades with time, but never quite goes away. Regardless of the means, the way, the outlet, life requires something that brings joy, no matter how large or small, how lasting or fleeting, to cement in the mind a memory that can ultimately counter those things that would threaten to tear apart a man's soul. Hachi: A Dog's Story delivers a sweet and timeless tale of friendship that knows only the limits of absolute joy, devotion, and dedication, all of which overcome the inevitable losses and hardships that mark the journey that is life. It's a story that reflects life itself, that brings with it the good and the bad, never shying away from focusing on those life-changing moments that are for both the better and the worse, the picture an emotionally difficult but ultimately rewarding experience that simply tells the story of dedication, honesty, integrity, and remembrance through both the triumphs and the tragedies that life has to offer.
Music Professor Parker Wilson (Richard Gere, First Knight) takes the train to and from work everyday. One evening outside the train station, he finds a small puppy that had been sent to the United States from Japan that has managed to work its way loose from its crate. Parker takes it in, but not before asking his friend and station manager Carl (Jason Alexander, Pretty Woman) if he knows to whom the dog belongs. Parker brings the animal home, much to the chagrin of his wife Cate (Joan Allen, Death Race), whose disappointment towards Parker and aggravation over the animal's presence is only reinforced when it destroys a work project that had taken her months to complete. Parker, try as he may, cannot find out where the dog belongs, and when Cate eventually comes to learn of the unbreakable bond he's formed with the dog that's come to be known as "Hachi," she relents and allows him to keep the animal in their back yard. Hachi manages to time and again break free of the confinements of the fenced-in yard and follows Parker to the train station everyday, where he also eagerly awaits his master's return later that evening. Theirs is a personal bond that only the most powerful force in the universe could threaten to bend, but never truly break.
Though a feel-good, G-rated picture, Hachi does present viewers with a highly emotional story that inevitably comes as part of the package with these sorts of movies. There's nothing offensive in the film, no violence, no language, and no sexuality other than a few embraces shared between a married couple, but children -- and even many adults -- may still find the picture's themes not a challenge to grasp but rather difficult to accept at an emotional level. Hachi is a movie that takes tragedy and turns it into a message of perseverance and loyalty, showing that it's the heart and soul that matters even beyond the physical realm. The picture is ultimately one of great loss and sorrow, but as it in life, it's the pain, the absence, the longing that's displayed in the film that truly serves to reinforce all that was -- and still is -- good about those loved ones both here and long since departed. There's an honesty to the picture that goes hand-in-hand with its emotional currents. This is wholesome and heartwarming stuff, even through the more emotionally challenging moments that come in the film's third act that will leave anyone with a connection to animals, the memory of a lost loved one, or simply those with a big heart in tears, and that's all right. Hachi doesn't poke and prod and manipulate when it comes to its emotional center; the simple story and the way it's delicately constructed up through, and including, the final act seems as true and honest as the real-life story on which the movie is based, and it's sure to touch even the most staunch of naysayers and the harshest critics of emotionally-charged cinema.
Technically, Hachi comes in a very basic three-act structure and, even for those not particularly in-the-know as to what the movie or the real-life story behind it is all about, the major plot development that ends the second act and begins the third really doesn't come as much of a surprise. Hachi, however, isn't about shrouding its plot in mystery or slowly revealing ideas and themes as the picture moves along. It's consistently about the bonds of loyalty and friendship, about the importance of love and respect that don't just make man and beast inseparable, but that demonstrate that life is about more than just the moment. Indeed, it's about the collective whole, the good and the bad both, that shapes those qualities of loyalty, friendship, love, and respect that define both man and beast alike at the very deepest parts of the heart and soul that serve as the center for all that makes someone or something more than the sum of their physical stature. Most important to the movie, both Richard Gere and the Akitas dogs that play Hachi manage to capture the spirit of the story wonderfully. Gere shows a genuine affection for the part and the animal; his performance is consistently touching and real in feel, the bond he shares with Hachi instantly recognizable as authentic and heartfelt. Additionally, Hachi not only looks good but the filmmakers and animal trainers have done a remarkable job in ensuring that the bond between man and animal is fully realized on the dog's end, too. The introduction of a secondary character -- Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa's Ken Fujiyoshi -- helps both Parker and the audience come to know the dog by Ken's serving as something of a mouthpiece for its personality traits, viewers thereby better capable of appreciating the various elements of the story that are shaped by the dog's psychological makeup.
Hachi: A Dog's Tale Blu-ray, Video Quality
Viewers will embrace this quality 1080p, 1.85:1-framed transfer from Sony. Hachi: A Dog's Tale was shot on video, and it has that slightly flat and smooth look that's easily distinguishable from film stock, but detail and coloring don't suffer as a result. In fact, detail is often exceptionally rendered; viewers will note just about every line of wood grain and several nicks on the wooden crate that carries a young Hachi from Japan to the United States. Additionally convincing is the dog's fur as seen in close-up shots, while many exterior locations -- particularly around the Wilson home and the train station -- feature strong levels of fine detail in everyday objects such as bricks, fence posts, dirt, and leaves. Colors, too, are handsomely rendered, whether Hachi's golden fur, the various green leaves and grasses seen around the Wilson's home, or the rust-colored bricks around the train station. Unfortunately, there's no escaping what is often a somewhat flat appearance; while faces aren't textureless, the picture's digital nature sometimes lend to them a dull, lifeless tone. Black levels are mostly solid and accurate but can, on occasion, appear somewhat washed out, while flesh tones can yield a slightly rosy tint. The image is meticulously clean, sporting very little noise, but it does feature an instance of distracting aliasing as Parker speaks with an animal control officer early in the film. Nevertheless, the plusses of the transfer far outweigh the minuses; this is a mostly handsome transfer that is not without its flaws but it should satisfy most viewers, even when it isn't as phenomenal in some place as it is in others.
Hachi: A Dog's Tale Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Hachi: A Dog's Tale barks out a decent DTS-HD MA 5.1 lossless soundtrack. While not a minimalist listen, the various effects heard throughout are more supportive in nature than aggressive, but the track's reserved posture reinforces the quality, style, and themes of the movie nicely. Sound effects aren't consistently immersive, with the front channels handling the bulk of the material, but the back speakers do find themselves engaged on occasion. Gusty winds seem to blow through the soundstage with a good deal of precision and realism in chapter four, accompanied by a boom of thunder that adds a bit of spice and heft to an otherwise limited track. An outdoor scene in chapter six makes for what is perhaps the track's most impressive element as the pleasant and relaxing sounds of singing birds seem to emanate all around the soundstage, making for a most convincing environmental effect. The track's light, piano-heavy, and somewhat repetitive score enjoys a good deal of clarity, and dialogue reproduction is solid and crisp from beginning to end. Overall, Hachi features a solid but hardly invigorating lossless soundtrack; it gets the job done and perfectly suits a movie that's about emotion and not explosions and excess bass.
Hachi: A Dog's Tale Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Hachi: A Dog's Tale whimpers onto Blu-ray with only one extra of substance. A Bond of Loyalty: The Making of 'Hachi: A Dog's Tale' (1080i, 17:50) proves a capable making-of piece that touches on the themes of the story, Richard Gere's attraction to the project, the other cast and crew members' impressions of Gere's personality and work on the film, the performances of the supporting cast, the effort of Director Lasse Hallström, the personality of the Akita Inu dog, the process of training those that worked on the film, the quality of the story, and its lasting impressions. Also included is BD-Live functionality; Sony's MovieIQ connectivity; and 1080p trailers for Open Season 3, Planet 51 , Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs, Open Season 2, The Water Horse: Legend of the Deep, and Facing the Giants.
Hachi: A Dog's Tale Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Hachi: A Dog's Tale is a touching Family Drama that's not always easy to watch for its elements that are at once both heartbreaking and heartwarming, but it proves a strong picture for its message on the importance of friendship, loyalty, and love, and the long-lasting bond that can form when a relationship is built on faith, integrity, honesty, and devotion. Hachi isn't the most structurally impressive picture; it's basic in nature but allows for the various themes to shine through all the brighter, while Richard Gere turns in one of the most moving and genuine performances of his career. Young children might not fully understand the picture beyond what its basic premise has to offer, but Hachi proves a treasure trove of emotionally satisfying elements, even if it's nearly impossible to get through the movie without shedding plenty of tears. Sony's Blu-ray release of Hachi is unfortunately lacking a more substantial supplemental section, but the video and audio presentations hold up well, despite a few blemishes. Hachi is a must-see film, and the Blu-ray disc makes for a fine rental and perhaps even a purchase at the right price. Either way, it comes recommended.
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Hachi: A Dog's Tale Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Hachi: A Dog's Tale Blu-ray - December 14, 2009
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment has announced a movie for Blu-ray before it even opens in theaters: 'Hachi: A Dog's Tale', in theaters from December 18, is set for Blu-ray release on March 9, 2010. This family drama about a college professor who takes in an abandoned ...
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