(2011/Warner Blu-ray + DVD + Ultraviolet Copy)
B+/B Sound: B+/B Extras: C Film: B
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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