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Category:    Home > Reviews > Drama > Fantasy > Big Fish (Blu-ray)

Big Fish (Blu-ray)


Picture: B+†††† Sound: B+†††† Extras: C-†††† Film: D



After the catastrophic remake of Planet Of The Apes, Tim Burton decided to try making a personal epic film about a father and son involving mythology and the fatherís fascinating past.His son (Billy Crudup) has always been on the outs with his father (Albert Finney, played by Ewan McGregor in early flashbacks) and they live in a small southern town.But leave it to Burton to literally have a giant catfish and any sincere attempt to deal with the father/son split is foiled by endless sentimentality and phoniness that makes this one of Burtonís largest failures, 2003ís Big Fish.


Like so many other films from major directors (Steven Spielbergís Hook, Terry Gilliamís Tideland, Oliver Stoneís Alexander) where they reach a point where they are stuck personally and creatively enough to cause all of their past cinematic distinction and sensibilities to come back in explicitly and obvious forms that are not pretty.They all then make for one of that given filmmakerís most bizarre and problematic works.


No matter who sincere or culturally rich Big Fish may be, it once again is a film that only says things the director knows.Outside of references and the obvious, then even considering the authorship of the screenwriter (John August) and original book (Daniel Wallace) is lost as the auteur takes over and tries to paint the cinematic picture intended.Despite a sometimes odd mix of casting that also includes Jessica Lange, Helena Bonham Carter, Robert Guillaume, Loudon Wainwright III, Steve Buscemi, Danny DeVito, Alison Lohman and Marion Cotillard, this never works and will become the one Burton film that truly can be called a cult film.Like all cult works, it is celebrated for all of its failures and that describes this film big time.


The 1080p 1.85 X 1 digital High Definition image was shot by Philippe Rousselot, A.F.C., A.S.C., and though this film has a consistently phony look, it looks about as good as the 35mm film print I originally saw in its original release.Detail is not bad, nor is depth or color, which is consistent, but the digital work is dated already and the look is just not that impressive overall.If the digital had looked worse, I would have lowered the rating.


The Dolby Digital 5.1 mixes are not bad, but nothing special and no match for the PCM 16-bit/48 kHz 5.1 mix, yet that still is falling short of the original Sony Dynamic Digital Sound (SDDS) 7.1 mix where five of the speakers are behind the screen.That makes this mix a bit front-heavy, but is at least well recorded.Future Blu-ray discs are supposed to support 7.1 mixes and you can bet this will be reissued with that sound mix closer to the original theatrical mix at its best.Danny Elfmanís score is prominent and nothing great, but audiophiles will not be disappointed.


The only extra is the audio commentary track by Burton, but that is all.There may be more extras in a future upgrade, whether this finally finds a large audience or not.At least it is a solid performer on Blu-ray.



-†† Nicholas Sheffo


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