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On the Road(2012)
Brazilian director Walter Salles helms this adaptation of the iconic novel by Jack Kerouac that defined the Beat Generation. Sam Riley stars as Kerouac's self-styled protagonist, down-and-out intellectual Sal Paradise, who takes to the backroads of America with his free-spirited friend Dean Moriarty (Garrett Hedlund) in a frantic odyssey fuelled by jazz, poetry and drugs in search of the 'it' at the heart of life. Viggo Mortensen, Kristen Stewart, Kirsten Dunst and Amy Adams co-star.
For more about On the Road and the On the Road Blu-ray release, see On the Road Blu-ray Review published by Dr. Svet Atanasov on March 21, 2013 where this Blu-ray release scored 3.0 out of 5.
Starring: Kristen Stewart, Sam Riley, Amy Adams, Kirsten Dunst, Garrett Hedlund, Terrence Howard
Director: Walter Salles
» See full cast & crew
On the Road Blu-ray Review
Reviewed by Dr. Svet Atanasov, March 21, 2013
Nominated for the prestigious Palme d'Or Award at the Cannes Film Festival, Brazilian director Walter Salles' "On the Road" (2012) arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of Lionsgate Films-UK. The supplemental features on the disc include a gallery of stills from the different locations visited by Sam Riley and six deleted scenes. In English, with optional English SDH subtitles for the main feature. Region-B "locked".
Shortly after his father dies, Sal Paradise (Sam Riley, Control, Brighton Rock), a handsome young writer from New York, meets Dean Moriarty (Garrett Hedlund, Four Brothers, Death Sentence), a bisexual ex-con from Denver, who is accompanied by his 16-year-old wife Marylou (Kristen Stewart, The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 1). Feeling inspired by their desire to live life to the fullest, Sal decides to visit the couple in Denver, hoping that the journey will provide him with plenty of material for his new book.
In Denver, Sal meets Dean and his second wife, Camille (Kirsten Dunst, Spider-Man). After spending some time looking for Dean's father and enjoying the local jazz scene, the two travel to Mexico, where Sal falls seriously ill after indulging in debauched behavior. Dean leaves him behind unconscious and heads back to Denver. Sal survives and eventually returns home to New York, where he begins chronicling his adventures with Dean.
Brazilian director Walter Salles' adaptation of Jack Kerouac's legendary 1957 autobiographical novel On the Road does not impress. It is appropriately cynical, but never even remotely as engaging as the book. The film is surprisingly unfocused and lethargic, trying to find a direction to follow, but repeatedly failing.
The events chronicled in the film are seen primarily through Sal's (Kerouac's alter ego) eyes. As he moves from one location to another he attempts to explain how he feels about the men and women that enter his life and then disappear without a trace, but more often than not his narrated revelations feel like the ramblings of a young boy trying to act as an adult. During the second half of the film, quite a few of these revelations become unbearably pretentious.
The film is structured as a series of episodes, each culminating with an event that supposedly has some sort of a profound impact on Sal. But it is very difficult to tell why, as Sal never looks like a person that could be moved. He looks indifferent and unenthusiastic, often like a naive tourist who is heading somewhere just because someone else is also heading in the same direction. Needless to say, it is impossible to embrace him and care about his dilemmas.
There are notable cameos by Viggo Mortensen and Steve Buscemi. The former plays the colorful character Old Bull Lee (in real life the legendary William S. Burroughs), while the latter is an aging gay salesman looking to add some spice to his life.
The only redeeming quality of the film is the beautiful cinematography. Eric Gautier's (The Motorcycle Diaries, Into the Wild) expert lensing gives the film an appropriately handsome period look, but after awhile even the beautiful scenery loses its appeal.
Note: The version of film included on the Lionsgate Films release runs at approximately 124 minutes. According to various reports, there are at least two more versions of the film in circulation. A longer version appears to have been released in Germany by Concorde Video (140 minutes). A second, also longer version of the film was apparently also released in France by MK2 (135 minutes). At present, I do not own copies of these releases and therefore cannot offer any comments on how they differ.
On the Road Blu-ray, Video Quality
Presented in an aspect ratio of 2.40:1, encoded with MPEG-4 AVC and granted a 1080p transfer, Walter Salles' On the Road arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of Lionsgate Films-UK.
The presentation is impressive. Detail and clarity are very good. Despite the fact that different parts of the film were shot at different locations and under different conditions, image depth and fluidity are consistently pleasing. There is a wide range of well saturated but warm and natural colors. Depending on the location and lighting, there are different prominent colors - yellow, light blue, gray, etc. There are no traces of problematic lab corrections. The high-definition transfer is also free of serious compression anomalies. There is one sequence where I noticed very light banding, but its presence will not affect your viewing experience. There are no serious stability issues to report in this review. To sum it all up, the technical presentation is indeed very good, which is why I think that fans of On the Road are guaranteed to be pleased with the way the film looks in high-definition. (Note: This is a Region-B "locked" Blu-ray disc. Therefore, you must have a native Region-B or Region-Free PS3 or SA in order to access its content).
On the Road Blu-ray, Audio Quality
There is only one standard audio track on this Blu-ray disc: English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 (with some small portions of French). For the record, Lionsgate Films-UK have provided optional English SDH subtitles for the main feature. When turned on, they appear inside the image frame.
The lossless track opens the film very well in all the right places. Some of the most impressive sequences are the ones where the jazz score becomes prominent. There are some sequences where subtle nature sounds also make an impression, but surround activity is quite modest. The dialog is always clean, very crisp, and very easy to follow. Additionally, there are no pops, audio dropouts, or serious distortions to report in this review.
On the Road Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
On the Road Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
I wanted to like this film a lot, but I couldn't. It is too disjointed and too lethargic, unsure where it wants to go and how it wants to get there. Parts of it are beautiful to look at, but the main protagonists are impossible to embrace. The journey in this film has little in common with the one Jack Kerouac described in his book. RENT IT.
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On the Road Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Walter Salles' On the Road Gets UK Release Date - November 28, 2012
Lionsgate Films UK have revealed that they are planning to release on Blu-ray acclaimed Brazilian director Walter Salles' On the Road (2012), starring Garrett Hedlund, Sam Riley, Kristen Stewart, Viggo Mortensen, Steve Buscemi, and Terrence Howard. The preliminary ...
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