Magic In The Moonlight - Blu-ray Review - Home Theater Forum and Systems -

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Magic In The Moonlight - Blu-ray Review

Title: Magic in the Moonlight


HTS Overall Score:75

Woody Allen is a cultural icon in the world of film. He’s been making movies since the beginning of time (or so it seems) and still acts in many of the works that he produces (and writes as well). His movies usually end up being polar opposites of each in terms of enjoyment as well. Some of his I truly dislike and then others I will love beyond comprehension. His last major outing with “Blue Jasmine” was a work of art, with some of the finest performances I’ve seen in a very long time, and then we come to “Magic in the Moonlight”.

Woody’s trademarks that I can take to the bank are his ability to create witty and engaging dialogue and thusly create unique characters that feel like they were created specifically for you. “Magic in the moonlight is really no different as he makes a pedestrian story seem interesting with the dialogue alone. Colin Firth is an extremely educated man and has the ability to sound genteel and aloof at the drop of the hat. It’s one of the reasons he has done so well at period pieces. Even though it’s not as old as many of the period’s that he’s been involved in, we go back about 90 years to 1928, in the height of the flapper era. Colin Firth plays Stanley, a world famous magician who is known for his pragmatism and knack for rooting out fake “spiritualists” who claim that illusion is reality. His convictions are put to the test when his friend comes to him and claims to have met a woman who has stumped his ability to uncover her as a fraud. Begging Stanley to come under the guise of a businessman, they go back together in order for the world’s greatest magician to root out another fraud.

Upon meeting the so called “medium”, Sophie (Emma Stone), the two are instantly at odds and soon enough Stanley is forced to marvel at her abilities. His faith is shaken as he can’t find a single chink in her armor. Every prediction becomes truth, every technique that a fraud uses passes his litmus test, and Stanley has to come to the conclusion that he might be wrong in his assumptions. Can she actually be the real thing? The mystery itself plays out as you would expect and even has a few small twists and turns along the way. The first act of the movie had me instantly intrigued and kept me wanting more. Stanley and Sophie carry Woody Allen’s trademark dry humor. Literally pulling jokes with a deadpan face and an over the top, ludicrous performance at the same time. The humor keeps that wry corner of your mouth constantly twitching and the inclusion of the “mystery” makes you wonder what will happen next.

However, that mystery starts falling apart in the latter part of the second act when you realize that there really is nothing “mysterious” to the story. Woody Allen made the disappointing choice to go the completely clichéd romantic comedy route that seems to undermine much of what he did in the first act. He set the characters up perfectly, and his dialogue is second to none, but soon enough the viewer has to realize that he’s treading a much worn path of romantic entanglements that seem completely out of place and seem almost a clone of “My Fair Lady” is some regards and a dozen other classics at the same time. The surprises we were hoping for fade into the mist and Woody lets the rest of the third act ride on that beaten path that feels like it’s on autopilot.

That being said, the movie is not a bad movie, it’s just disappointing in the fact that there really is nothing new to the situation. It’s a standard romantic comedy with extremely witty dialogue to make it rise above mediocrity. Had it not been for the verbal magic that he can craft, Woody would have left us with a movie that would have been VERY dissatisfied and been played on the lifetime channel. WITH that dialogue I ended up enjoying the movie after I got over my disappointment at the obvious use of a typical Rom-Com scenario and ending.


Rated PG-13 for a brief suggestive comment, and smoking throughout

“Magic in the Moonlight” is presented in its theatrical aspect ratio of 2.39:1 on the Blu-ray disc and looks nothing short of spectacular. The movie itself is shot in a highly stylized and extremely bright shooting technique that gives the illusion of an almost ethereal image. Colors are heavily saturated and the brightness level has been cranked up in order to make the picture look almost “angelic”, I guess you could say. With the increased brightness I would have assumed that there would be heavy blooming, but the picture is very stable and the white levels are handled with the utmost care. Fine detail is excellent, and the first scene of the movie with the close up of the elephant demonstrates just how good the image looks. There is a light hint of softness over the entire movie that robs us of some of the finer bits of detail, but still leaves us with plenty to marvel over. The blacks stay consistently inky throughout and only once in a while show a bit of a washed out level, which is usually attributed to a smoky dance club. There are no digital anomalies to speak of, whether that be DNR or the compression artifacts with the only sign of ANY digital interference being that aforementioned layer of softness.

Sony has foregone a whole pile of audio tracks, English in lossless and a plethora of other audio tracks in lossy form to give us two fully lossless DTS-HD MA tracks in 5.1. Both the English and the French tracks are comparable with the not being given to the natural voices of the actors in English. Dialogue is perfect with bits of the environment thrown into those front speakers with pinpoint accuracy. The surrounds are a bit lacking, but once again this is a movie that has its main focus on the vocals. There are some nice ambient noises that fill in the back channels, especially during the stage performance of Stanley near the beginning and the subsequent visits to the country with Sophie. LFE is clean and tight, giving a modest low end to the films track without becoming a power house of sonic vibrations. The track is exceptionally good within the confines of the genre and will disappoint no one, in my humble opinion.


• Behind the Magic
• On the Red Carpet: Los Angeles Film Premiere
• Theatrical Trailer


I enjoyed the first half of the film immensely and still rather enjoyed the final act, even though I recognized the fact that Woody had let the film end in a rather clichéd manner. It’s sweet and whimsical, and plays to the directors strengths in regards to his employment of witty dialogue and likeable characters. It may not be his best work, it’s a fairly entertaining romantic comedy that is raised above mediocrity by the previously mentioned use of dialogue and characterization. The audio and video really won’t disappoint, even if the anemic extras do. Recommended for a rental.

Additional Information:

Starring: Colin Firth, Emma Stone, Marcia Gay Harden
Directed By: Woody Allen
Written By: Woody Allen
Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1 AVC
Audio: ENGLISH: DTS-HD MA 5.1, French DTS-HD MA 5.1
Studio: Sony
Rated: PG-13
Runtime: 98 Minutes
Blu-ray Release Date: December 16th 2014

Buy Magic in the Moonlight Blu-ray on Amazon


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