The Illusionist, Blu-ray + DVD (2006)

by | Jun 23, 2010 | DVD & Blu-ray Video Reviews | 0 comments

The Illusionist, Blu-ray + DVD (2006)

Starring: Edward Norton, Paul Giamatti, Jessica Biel, Rufus Sewell, Eddie Marsan  
Directed by: Neil Burger
Studio: Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment
Video: 1.85:1 for 16:9 1080p HD
Audio: English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1; English and French DD 5.1 Surround
Subtitles: None
Extras: (Blu-ray): None. (Standard DVD): Audio commentary with writer/director Neil Burger; “The Making of ‘The Illusionist’” featurette; “Jessica Biel on ‘The Illusionist’” featurette; theatrical trailer; previews
Length: 109 minutes
Movie Rating: ****          Video Rating: ****        Audio Rating: ***1/2

Eisenheim (Edward Norton) is an acclaimed magician who amazes audiences in turn-of-the-century Vienna.  His talent even catches the attention of Crown Prince Leopold (Rufus Sewell). When the Prince’s soon-to-be fiancée, Sophie von Teschen (Jessica Biel) is volunteered to assist Eisenheim on stage during one of his performances, they recognize each other from their childhoods.  Soon thereafter, Eisenheim and Sophie’s dormant love affair is rekindled.  As their secretive romance continues, Chief Inspector Uhl (Paul Giamatti) is ordered by Leopold to investigate Eisenheim.  Eisenheim is then forced to create his greatest illusion ever.  “The Illusionist” is a film that I had not seen despite it being originally released in 2006.  I am pleased that its release on Blu-ray gave me an opportunity to watch it because it turned out to be a very entertaining and well-crafted film.  The acting is first rate with particularly strong performances from Norton, Giamatti and Sewell, while the storyline keeps you guessing until the very end whether Eisenheim is merely a gifted magician or if he has supernatural powers.  Worthy of repeat viewings, I heartily recommend “The Illusionist”.      

The high definition video quality of this Blu-ray DVD is very good.  Images intentionally favor a softer appearance but otherwise display fine detail.  Blacks are velvety dark throughout the movie.  Colors are rendered cleanly but are stylistically muted with under-saturated hues.  Picture defect mastering is solidly done with no major flaws or compression artifacts.  The overall audio quality is also very good.  The soundtrack predominantly favors the forward channels.  Dialogue is natural sounding, always intelligible and properly-positioned in the center channel.  The surround channels see limited use in terms of both ambient sound effects but they do add depth to the Philip Glass music score.  The low frequency effects channel is subtle and tight. [That’s downright silly about the extras only being on the DVD disc – Blu-ray has a 50GB capacity! Much more room for endless extras, whether HD or not…Ed.]

– Calvin Harding Jr.

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