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Category:    Home > Reviews > Drama > Biopic > Biography > Politics > History > J. Edgar (2011/Warner Blu-ray + DVD + Ultraviolet Copy)

J. Edgar (2011/Warner Blu-ray + DVD + Ultraviolet Copy)


Picture: B+/B     Sound: B+/B     Extras: C     Film: B



Acting as the head of the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) for nearly 50 years, J. Edgar Hoover was notorious.  In turn this making him a man of myth and legend.  He was concurrently feared and admired as his bizarrely effective methods were revered all over the world.  Clint Eastwood directs Leonardo DiCaprio as J. Edgar Hoover, who along with his fellow actors Judy Dench, Armie Hammer, Naomi Watts, and many more makes for an epic, jaw dropping cinematic experience.


J. Edgar follows J. Edgar Hoover through his ruthless career.  On the surface it would appear that J. Edgar had it all as his iron fist rule had him both distorting and upholding the truth.  But the life he had behind closed doors could have easily destroyed him in the blink of an eye.


What Eastwood is attempting to do with this film is paint a picture of a very complex man.  J. Edgar nurtured and refined the FBI from the time of its inception; devoting his life to his work and leaving little time for anything else.  He was a solitary, ruthless man who would stop at nothing to gain the power and admiration that he ultimately desired from the world.  J. Edgar was a lawman, an artist, and scientist; who through the use of new innovative techniques and blackmail made him one of the world’s most feared men.  He destroyed the lives and careers of men through his use of wire; it didn’t matter if you were a world leader or movie star…no one was safe.


Clint Eastwood and writer Dustin Lance Black don’t pretend that J. Edgar is the ultimate biography of a creatively complex man; but they do the best they can with a man who had an incredibly expansive career.  It was a career with much more hurt, pain, and demons than anyone knew; but due to his ambition to neutralize his enemies he garnered very little sympathy or friends.  He had his mother, a dedicated secretary, and a ‘love’ interest but little else.  His work was his life; a life that ranged from Prohibition through the Civil Rights movement, with each era having its own challenges for him to tackle, topple, and evolve to.


J. Edgar is not among the best bio-pics this reviewer has seen, but is thoroughly entertaining and unapologetically honest.  Eastwood and Black’s perseverance of honesty and truth seems right in line with the real J. Edgar Hoover as they are uncompromised in their intention to bring a man that appeared to be God to the big screen.  The story is well balanced and seems to hit key points of J. Edgar’s life, but there are a number of times that feel either rushed or dragging.  The 137 minute run time is nothing for seasoned film fans, but the casual viewer may find the biography draining.  This is especially true as Eastwood’s flashback method that he utilizes throughout the film takes a minute to get used to; making the film better on second or third viewing.  The good part about that is that the film is worth watching on multiple occasions.


The film is very well done and it is the incredible talent of Leonardo DiCaprio (amongst others) that brings the film to life and (I mean it) makes it epic.  I am astounded by the acting chops of Leo time and time again and J. Edgar is no exception.  The film is great and viewers will be pleased with what they see.


The technical features on this new Blu-ray/DVD set are amazing.  The picture is a 2.4 X 1, 1080p AVC encoded MPEG-4, Widescreen that embraces darkness, grain, and texture.  I must admit the beginning of the film is a bit too dark for its own good, but moving forward the film works itself out and we are given a beautifully balanced production.  The ‘artificially’ intended grain is a nice touch that gives the film an aged look of the era we are viewing.  The focus of the film is certainly not bright colors, but when they do appear the blues, greens, and reds pop and frame J. Edgar’s dark edgier moments nicely.  The film does have a solid crispness and clarity that makes for a pleasurable experience.  The sound is a 5.1 DTS-HD lossless Master Audio Track that utilizes the full speaker range.  Dialogue is crisp and clear throughout; being extremely important as quiet, succinct dialogue makes up most of the sound track.  There are booming, blasting moments for sure and are well presented.  The panning, atmosphere effects are grand and truly add to the film.  I would say the track was outstanding, but is not demo material as there is not much there outside of dialogue to present.


There is also a DVD and Ultraviolet Copy included with this set, both a nice addition but not nearly as impressive as the Blu-ray.  See above ratings.


The extras on J. Edgar are lacking for sure as only one exists.  The one extra is a short (18 minutes) featurette entitled “J. Edgar: The Most Powerful Man in the World.”  It is a light featurette that briefly describes Hoover’s life, something done quite well in the film already.  I would have preferred to see a lengthy documentary with old news footage or perhaps an Eastwood commentary; though I highly suspect we will see a ‘super special edition’ in the near future.



-   Michael P. Dougherty II


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