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The Royal Tenenbaums(2001)
Royal Tenenbaum and his wife Etheline had three children—Chas, Margot, and Richie—and then they separated. Chas started buying real estate in his early teens and seemed to have an almost preternatural understanding of international finance. Margot was a playwright and received a Braverman Grant of $50,000 in the ninth grade. Richie was a junior champion tennis player and won the U.S. Nationals three years in a row. Virtually all memory of the brilliance of the young Tenenbaums was subsequently erased by two decades of betrayal, failure, and disaster.
For more about The Royal Tenenbaums and the The Royal Tenenbaums Blu-ray release, see the The Royal Tenenbaums Blu-ray Review published by Dr. Svet Atanasov on August 1, 2012 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.5 out of 5.
Director: Wes Anderson
Writers: Wes Anderson, Owen Wilson
Starring: Gene Hackman, Anjelica Huston, Ben Stiller, Gwyneth Paltrow, Luke Wilson, Owen Wilson
» See full cast & crew
The Royal Tenenbaums Blu-ray Review
Reviewed by Dr. Svet Atanasov, August 1, 2012
Wes Anderson's "The Royal Tenenbaums" (2001) arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of Criterion. The supplemental features on the disc include original trailers; audio commentary with director Wes Anderson; gallery of interviews with various cast members; two deleted scenes; stills; storyboards; and episode of the Peter Bradley Show; and more. The disc also arrives with an insert with Eric Anderson's drawings of the Tenenbaum house, plus an essay by film critic Kent Jones. In English, with optional English SDH subtitles for the main feature. Region-A "locked".
The Royal Tenenbaums is without a doubt Wes Anderson's most polarizing film. It could be outrageously funny, but it could also be an enormously sad film, to the point of actually being seriously depressing. A good reason why could be the fact that there is a certain degree of sincerity in it that is missing from the director's other films.
The film tells the story of a large family that was never truly a family. The head of the family, Royal Tenenbaum (Gene Hackman), was a free spirit who one day simply packed his bags and left. His wife, Etheline (Anjelica Huston), who did not miss him much, took care of their three children. Chaz (Ben Stiller), the smartest one, became obsessed with money and quickly amassed a small fortune. Margot (Gwyneth Paltrow), who was adopted, developed a passion for writing and eventually won a prize for her school play. Richie (Luke Wilson), who loved sports, became a tennis champion.
The film opens up some years after the family fell apart. After he is kicked out of his hotel, Royal decides to go back to Etheline and resume their relationship. He is accompanied by his best friend, an elderly Indian man named Pagoda (Kumar Pallana), who years ago tried to kill him. But Etheline, who has managed to rebuild her life without Royal, is now courted by the family's former accountant, Henry (Danny Glover), who desperately wants to marry her.
Realizing that his place has been taken by another man and understanding that his grown-up kids may not want him back in their lives, Royal suddenly appears in the family house and tells everyone that he has approximately six weeks left to live because he has been diagnosed with cancer. Initially, only one of the family members believes his announcement but it proves good enough to get him a room in the house. Then, slowly but surely, the family members begin bonding, Tenenbaum style.
The Royal Tenenbaums is an eccentric film about loners who try to hide their loneliness. Most of the time they do a pretty good job, which is when the film becomes quite funny - their eccentric behavior often places them in awkward situations that tend to be funny. But when the masks these loners wear fall, the film becomes incredibly sad and depressing. There is one specific scene towards the end where Royal and Chaz finally warm up to each other that reveals how desperate for love and attention everyone is. This desperation is occasionally felt throughout the film, but only in this scene it becomes painfully obvious that the Tenenbaums are also human.
The film's greatest strength is also arguably its greatest weakness - the rapid mood swings that leave one unsure whether to feel good or bad about the main protagonists. If one has ever been as desperate as the Tenenbaums are, the film could be a fascinating experience. But if one has never been as lonely - and thus forced to be eccentric - as the Tenenbaums are, their behavior could be both puzzling and enormously frustrating.
The cast is, without exception, phenomenal. Hackman looks terrific as the old man who has finally realized that there is nothing more important in his life than his family. Pallana, who plays his best friend and has only a few lines, is also a pleasure to behold. Paltrow, Wilson, and Stiller shine throughout the film, though the latter occasionally overplays his character. Huston and Glover are also excellent together. Alec Baldwin's great narration deserves a special mention as well.
Note: In 2002, The Royal Tenenbaums was nominated for Oscar Award for Best Writing, Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen (Wes Anderson, Owen Wilson).
The Royal Tenenbaums Blu-ray, Video Quality
Presented in an aspect ratio of 2.40:1, encoded with MPEG-4 AVC and granted a 1080p transfer, Wes Anderson's The Royal Tenenbaums arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of Criterion.
The following text appears on the insert provided with this Blu-ray disc:
"Supervised by director Wes Anderson, this new digital transfer was created in 2K resolution on a DFT SCANITY film scanner from the original camera negative. Thousands of instances of dirt, debris, scratches, splices, warps, jitter, and flicker were manually removed using MTI's DRS and Pixel Farm's PFClean, while Image Systems' DVNR was used for small dirt, grain, and noise reduction.
Telecine supervisor: Wes Anderson, Lee Kline, Maria Palazzola.
Colorist: Sheri Eisenberg/Colorworks, Los Angeles."
I believe one could easily argue that this might well be one of the very best presentations a Wes Anderson film has seen to date - supervised by the American director, the high-definition transfer used for the Blu-ray release of The Royal Tenenbaums is indeed quite remarkable. Detail is exceptional, with many of the close-ups conveying outstanding depth, while clarity is as best as I believe it could be (see screencaptures #1 and 4). Contrast levels are stable from start to finish. What impresses the most, however, is the color reproduction. The crisp and lush colors are so beautiful that occasionally they actually become distracting. Viewers who project their films on large screens, in particular, should be very impressed with the prominent yellows, as color depth is indeed fantastic. There are absolutely no traces of problematic lab tinkering - post-production sharpening or denoising corrections are nowhere to be seen. There are no serious transfer-specific anomalies (perhaps there is only a whiff of extremely light banding very early into the film). There are no stability issues to report in this review either. To sum it all up, The Royal Tenenbaums looks simply beautiful on Blu-ray, clearly the best it ever has. (Note: This is a Region-A "locked" Blu-ray disc. Therefore, you must have a native Region-A or Region-Free PS3 or SA in order to access its content).
The Royal Tenenbaums Blu-ray, Audio Quality
There is only one audio track on this Blu-ray disc: English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1. For the record, Criterion have provided optional English SDH subtitles for the main feature. When turned on, they appear inside the image frame.
The following text appears on the insert provided with this Blu-ray disc:
"The original 5.1 surround soundtrack was remastered at 24-bit from the original magnetic audio tracks. Clicks, thumps, hiss, and hum were manually removed using Pro Tools HD. Crackle was attenuated using AudioCube's integrated workstation."
The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 boasts excellent dynamic amplitude. The surround channels are also intelligently used, opening up the film during specific sequences very well. Though the film does not support the type of dynamic intensity many large action productions do, occasionally the sound does reach levels that could test some audio systems (see the short car crash scene in the final third of the film). The dialog is always crisp, clean, and exceptionally easy to follow. Mark Mothersbaugh's score is also well balanced with it. There are no pops, cracks, serious distortions or audio dropouts to report in this review.
The Royal Tenenbaums Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
The Royal Tenenbaums Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
I cannot help but admire Criterion's determination to present director Wes Anderson's films as best as currently possible. I truly believe that had these films ended up with another label, they would have looked a lot different on Blu-ray. What I am trying to convey to you is that if you happen to be a fan of director Anderson's films, it will be inexcusable not to own a copy of The Royal Tenenbaums in your collection. The film looks spectacular, without a shadow of a doubt the best it ever has. RECOMMENDED.
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