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Category:    Home > Reviews > Thriller > Drama > Michael Clayton (HD-DVD/DVD Combo Format)

Michael Clayton (HD-DVD/DVD Combo Format)


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



Note: This title has also been released in the Blu-ray format.



When Tony Gilroy’s Michael Clayton (2007) was first announced and trailers surfaced, I figured the film could be a big miss or a pleasant surprise.  It turned out to be a strong thriller with great performances all around that many then expected could be a surprise hit.  When it did only moderate business, I was among the disappointed, then came awards season and the film received new attention it absolutely deserved and started to finally get its due.


Now on home video, everyone can finally see why it gained so many strong supporters early on.  Maybe it was the title, but for whatever reason, the film is made for a big screen and its availability on HD-DVD and Blu-ray can only help high Definition in general.


George Clooney is the tile character, a troubleshooting adjuster who helps out the rich and powerful with situations they do not want to dirty their hands with.  He is damn good at what he does and that is why he gets the big bucks.  When the head of a corporation (Tom Wilkinson) looses his mind in the middle of merger talks, he is called in to help again, but in this case, knows the man well.  However, while his client has made the mistake of going off his medication, it turns out he is really suppressing a dark secret that some will kill to keep that way.


As he investigates for the case and for himself, he discovers other things he is not in the loop on are being done and they may be making the mistake of underestimating him, but desperate people will go to great lengths to do ugly things and the film just gets more and more intense.


Sydney Pollack is back playing a role somewhat similar to his work in Stanley Kubrick’s Eyes wide Shut and the underrated Tilda Swinton is the executive on the rise who has to deal with the firestorm of insanity on her end.  She rightly won an Academy Award for her impressive performance, which particularly shocked the many young, new, inexperienced critics who had never seen her in her early glory working with the great Derek Jarman.


Unlike most thrillers, which are junk and think shaking a camera for 90 minutes is thrilling, this is a mature, intelligent, substantial work of the kind we used to see all the time, but have become all too increasingly rare.  Director Gilroy also wrote the screenplay, which is very well thought out and packs a punch, but relies even less on action than his critically and commercially successful work on the Jason Bourne films.  With this success and the third Bourne film being the biggest box office winner yet, we’ll be seeing more of Bourne and definitely more of Gilroy.


Whether you are a Bourne fan or not, Michael Clayton is one of the best thrillers of the year, best films of the year and has more power and impact than you might expect.



The 1080p 2.35 X 1 digital High Definition image is very nicely rendered as compared to the 35mm release (this was shot in Super 35mm) and noticeably better than the anamorphically enhanced low-def DVD-Video side on the same disc.  Some stylizing choices by the exceptional Director of Photography Robert Elswit, A.S.C., who received the best Cinematography Academy Award for his work for the year, but on Paul Thomas Anderson’s There Will Be Blood that edged it out by simply being a more challenging shoot, hold the image back in parts fidelity wise.  However, they add to the mood of the film and serve it better than “Windex vision” a bad HD shoot might deliver.


Though the Dolby Digital Plus 5.1 on the HD side is better than the lower bitrate Dolby 5.1 on the DVD side, but the big disappointment is that this is not in Dolby TrueHD 5.1 as this is a pretty decent soundmix (including a good James Newton Howard score) for a dramatic thriller that also happens to be dialogue driven.  Maybe it was consideration for it being a Combo disc, but you are better off on the HD side in both technical cases, as it should be.  Extras include additional scenes and a fine feature length audio commentary by Director Tony Gilroy and Editor John Gilroy.


Don’t miss one of the best thrillers of the year!



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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