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The Woman in Black(2012)
Young lawyer Arthur Kipps travels to a remote village to organize a recently deceased client's papers, where he encounters the ghost of a scorned woman set on vengeance.
For more about The Woman in Black and the The Woman in Black Blu-ray release, see the The Woman in Black Blu-ray Review published by Martin Liebman on May 11, 2012 where this Blu-ray release scored 3.5 out of 5.
Starring: Daniel Radcliffe, Ciarán Hinds, Janet McTeer, Roger Allam, Sophie Stuckey, Misha Handley
Director: James Watkins
» See full cast & crew
The Woman in Black Blu-ray Review
Nothing new, nothing great, nothing bad.
Reviewed by Martin Liebman, May 11, 2012
The Woman in Black may not be "rubbish," but neither is the film a priceless jewel. Nice-looking CZ probably best describes it. Here's a movie with the spit and polish and sheen of a top cinematic venture. The movie looks undeniably great, flows well, enjoys fine acting, and tells a passably interesting story. But glance beyond the surface, take a closer look, and discover a phony, a movie with little substance and comparatively minuscule value outside of precision replication. It's just another well-made film in a sea of well-made (and, to be sure, a whole lot of not-so-well-made) films that rely on the same tactics and a smooth façade to cover over the fact that there's nothing novel about them, movies that offer paying audiences little more than a cool 90 minute escape from the heat, the realities of life, or whatever the case may be. Certainly, there's a place for such escapist entertainment, and there's a necessary market for new escapism even if it only channels the old. The Woman in Black is a perfect example of a top-of-the-line, factory-assembled escapist picture that's just different enough to warrant a watch on those days when a new recipe for the same old cinematic comfort food sounds just like the thing to hit the spot.
When three young girls suddenly leap from a tall window to their deaths, a small town is shaken to its core. Elsewhere, a young solicitor by the name of Arthur Kipps (Daniel Radcliffe) has been assigned to settle the estate of one Alice Drablow, the deceased former owner of Eel Marsh House, a country estate in the middle of a local lore centered on a "woman in black" who supposedly takes the lives of local children and, it is believed, the three girls who mysteriously leaped to their own deaths. Kipps, whose wife perished at childbirth and who now lives only with his four-year-old son and his nanny, is attempting to reclaim his life. He's on the outs at work, and his ability to complete this job to thorough and satisfactory result is all that's keeping him on the clock. On his journey, Kipps befriends a local named Samuel Daily (Ciarán Hinds) whom he comes to learn is parent to one of the many dead children around town. Legend has it that any who see the mysterious "woman in black" is bad news, and that she will in turn kill another youth. The town, having learned that Kipps has seen her, wants him out. But he must complete his assigned task no matter the price and despite local legend. But Kipps slowly comes to realize that there may be more to the story than legend, that there may truly be a terrible force at work. Kipps takes it upon himself to solve the mystery and bring peace back to the town, that is if the "woman in black" will allow him to do so.
One must wonder when audiences will finally have enough of scary movies where the main character slowly maneuvers through the cobwebs and shadows in search of the source of a strange sound. Studios must at least consider that sharp musical cues and "jump scares" are losing their effectiveness, that audiences might prefer authentic thrills and chills to manufactured terror. How long will it be until audiences tire of shadowy figures jumping in-and-out of this space-time continuum, appearing briefly for a scare and then melting back into the shadows, back into another dimension, or from wherever it is they may hail? One can only imagine how much longer the image of ghostly and ghastly children will remain a haunting picture rather than a clichéd movie crutch. Indeed, that word "cliché" gets bandied about quite a bit in filmdom, but for good reason. The Woman in Black slowly maneuvers through all of the expected PG-13 Horror contrivances with the precision of a finely-tuned Swiss watch. That doesn't make it a bad movie -- on the contrary, Director James Watkins (Eden Lake) has crafted a very stylish, very smooth, quite rhythmic, and occasionally enveloping picture -- but The Woman in Black simply never aspires to rise beyond convention, hoping to mask its routine plot with quality set dressing, a moody atmosphere, and a high profile actor in the lead role.
The Woman in Black may be a competent Thriller if one is to assign the word "competent" a definition of "a place for everything and everything in its place" as that pertains to cinema convention. The one thing that stands out, however, beyond all the recycled material and past the smoothness and sheen of the film's superficialities, is the presence of longtime Harry Potter star Daniel Radcliffe in the lead role. Certainly, the question on everyone's mind won't be the specifics of the plot -- and only those with no Horror background will be lost, anyway -- but how the star fares away from the friendly confines of the über-popular Warner Brothers franchise. Even as the film's early moments somewhat recall Jonathan Harker's visit to castle Dracula and even as Radcliffe physically resembles a tanned turn-of-the-century Edward Cullen, the highly-recognizable actor settles in and makes the role his own, nicely disappearing behind the facial hair and the into shadows, far removed from his wand-wielding days and tackling the mysteries of Marsh House with a determination to prove his value outside the walls of Hogwarts. Radcliffe's not a half-bad actor, and he handles the film's drama and action with efficiency and know-how, brining life to the physically-darkened and thematically-challenged film. With this, his first major post-Potter film in the can, it's a fair question to ask if Radcliffe is destined to become either Mark Hamill or Harrison Ford. If anything, his performance promises sometimes on the plus side for the popular actor as he makes his first major foray into what might be for him something akin to an alien world, that is the world of filmmaking out of the reach of one of the brightest lights ever to shine in Hollywood.
The Woman in Black Blu-ray, Video Quality
The Woman in Black shines on Blu-ray. This is another top-tier Sony transfer, and viewers are in for a wonderful treat of well-defined shadows and visual gloom. The image impresses from the first shot of a child's tea set. The intricate definition dazzles. The transfer captures consistently high quality film-like textures throughout. Facial and clothing details are above reproach. Worn wooden accents, well-used objects, chipped paint, and all of the shadowy background objects are true and cinematically precise. Even foggy scenes yield picture-perfect details. Not only does the image remain clear and accurate even through the haze, but there's not a single trace of banding or any sign of difficulty in reproducing a very challenging visual. Colors are drab by design. The image favors a cold, gray appearance, lessening the brilliance of red-accented clothes and green grasses. But balance remains true to filmmaker intent, and every shade appears as required of it. Skin tones are balanced and, like the color palette, accurate according to that same filmmaker intent. Blacks are generally very strong and pure, with only a handful of dark shots appearing slightly washed out. This is another straight-out-of-the-theater-perfect transfer from Sony, and it ranks amongst the finest "dark" images on Blu-ray yet.
The Woman in Black Blu-ray, Audio Quality
The Woman in Black's DTS-HD MA 5.1 lossless soundtrack fares as well as its stunning video companion. This is a smooth, clear, accurate presentation. It offers good, deep, precision bass that remains tight at the bottom and both aurally and physically effective, for instance when Kipps searches out the source of a heavy, repeating thud in the house. The track yields precise booming thunder and a realistic, heavy, and encircling sensation of a raging inferno, frighteningly placing listeners in the midst of the heat. Heavy rain drenches the stage in one or two shots, and a chorus of light country ambience, such as chirping birds, effortlessly sets the stage for the environment. Music plays with the expected smoothness and natural clarity. Dialogue, likewise, flows from the center with no discernible struggles. This is a superbly engineered, natural, and engaging track. It suits the style of movie brilliantly, and is another example of Sony's commitment to the highest Blu-ray quality.
The Woman in Black Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
The Woman in Black contains a commentary track and two featurettes.
The Woman in Black Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
The Woman in Black falls for genre convention hook, line, and sinker. But it maneuvers through all of those recycled areas with the precision of a luxury automobile, purring and making its turns on a dime. But for as well as it gets there, the destination is nothing of particular interest. The ride is fine and the scenery is pretty -- that counts for quite a bit -- but there's nothing more to the experience. But sometimes a good, fun ride is worth the nowhere destination. If the reward comes in the journey rather than the destination, The Woman in Black is a good choice for Scary Movie Night. For those looking for something unique, however, better wait for the next movie. Sony's Blu-ray release of The Woman in Black features wonderful video, fantastic audio, and a few supplements. Definitely worth a rental, and fans of the film or its style can and should buy with confidence.
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