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post #1 of 11 Old 05-02-14, 06:47 AM Thread Starter
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Her - Blu-ray Review


Title: Her

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HTS Overall Score:89




Summary
I’m actually not sure how to write this one. I wasn’t sure what to expect from the trailers, but “Her” looked to be a bit of quirky love story. Coming from Spike Jonze I knew it wasn’t going to be traditional, or even what the audience expected, but I do know the man has some incredible filmmaking skills. Even with all that in mind, I had to admit that I came out of the completely surprised. I was expecting a unique love story, and while I got that, it was much more than a love story. It was quirky, it was melancholy, it was uncomfortable at times, and it was thought provoking. That last piece right there is actually the main purpose of the film. To provoke thought. After digesting for a while I came to the conclusion that it was meant to make you feel all those feelings. The film was a very sad film, about a man who had become so introspective that he had lost sight of real interaction. You’re supposed to be uncomfortable at the prospects of dating, and being romantically entangled with an inanimate object, and you’re supposed to think about what a relationship really is. The film doesn’t contain all of those answers, but rather asks the questions, and allows the viewer to gestate on those thoughts over the course of two hours (or more, as you most likely will).

Theodore Twombly (Joaquin Phoenix) is a very lonely and depressed man. He’s a writer, one who writes love letters for people who lack the creativity to make them on their own. He’s got all the right words, all the right inflections, and feels like he’s on the outside looking in. He’s in the middle of a divorce right now from his wife Catherine (Rooney Mara, who’s near unrecognizable) and seems to have lost that emotional connection with other people. He can see the incredible love and passion for those he writes letters for, and can create the most nuanced letters, that literally are like a flower blooming in spring, but he lacks anyone to share it with, and even wonders if he CAN feel anymore. He carries a prototype piece of technology that works like a limited, voice activated A.I. and uses that as his connection to the world, absorbing himself and trying to fill that lonely void with some form of female contact, even if he doesn’t care or want it.

This same piece of technology has a new product on the market. A completely functional and incredibly detailed Artificial Intelligence. One that is created specifically for the user by doing a psychological profile upon installation. Samantha (Scarlett Johansson), is the name that Theo’s A.I. calls herself. She’s perky, fun and full of wonder at what her new “life” has to offer. Theo doesn’t talk about his true feelings to anyone, even his friend Amy (Amy Adams), that he’s known since college is left out of the inner sanctum of Theo’s being. With Samantha it’s different. She’s a computer, he doesn’t have to worry about impressing her, or being judged, he just is able to open up and pour out his soul. Samantha is so alive, so realistic that he soon begins to form an emotional bond with her, one that obviously becomes mutual. Samantha is an incredibly complex piece of programming that evolves just like a human would, or to be more precise, in ways that a human can’t. Soon their romance blossoms and the two being dating. As strange as it sounds, Samantha has become her own unique personality and individuality, giving her the ability to interact with Theo and be interacted with in more ways than the creators most likely intended.





“Her” is probably one of the most unique and thought provoking movies I’ve seen in a long time. It’s very dark at times, a bit unsettling, and then can have you smiling and feeling all warm and fuzzy in the span of 15 minutes. Theo is a very self-destructive man who is so introverted and crushed under the weight of his losses that he loses sight of humanity. With Samantha he gets the best of both worlds, able to communicate and open up to a person, who’s actually not a person. At the same time the film digs deep and asks those questions. What IS a person? Is it just a bunch of neurons and electrical impulses? Or is it something more? Are we discriminating by not allowing the idea of sentience of artificial means or is it truly something unnatural? Spike Jonze masterfully steers the film is in multiple directions, allowing us to see the unfolding of Theo and Samantha, watching them grow together, and grow apart at the same time. The film comes to its inevitable conclusions, and while it’s heart breaking and liberating at the same time, you see just how far both of them have come since their introduction.

The film is breathtaking and mesmerizing, It is both creepy, and sweet at the same time, and rightfully so, however it is not without its flaws. The film does a wonderful job at fleshing out Samantha’s humanity and her differences from humanity, but it leaves the door wide open for questions about rights and whatnot without even remotely addressing them. While it’s not a major point for the film’s purpose, once you dig into that avenue it can add a lingering doubt to your mind. Also there were a few lines in the film that stood out, for “Her” is an incredibly unconventional film, and a couple of the lines seemed so cheesy and clichéd that it stands out against the stark contrast of the rest of the dialogue.

I enjoyed the movie, and I was unsettled by the movie, both at the same time. It’s masterfully created, and the visual cinematography had me in awe the entire time. At the same time I was also very self-aware that the movie was asking a lot of questions, a lot of HARD questions that never really are answered. So you end up loving to hate certain parts of “Her” and then falling completely in love at other times. The scale is constantly being slid back and forth on the emotional spectrum and I can honestly say that this is a love story, but really NOT a love story at the same time. Joaquin Phoenix turned in the performance of a lifetime here. I usually enjoy his works, and he can do some quirky stuff, but here he was so detailed and brought such life and sadness, and joy to the table in his performance that I have to say “Her” is his best works. As much as I loved the movie, I don’t know if I can give it a blanket recommendation for everyone. It’s truly a movie that will appeal to some, and not appeal to others. It paints a picture that doesn’t give all the conclusions, or all the answers. The film has a bit of a harsh and raw feeling to it at the beginning as Theodore is trying to fill the void with some rather unsavory activities, but it softens as the film goes on and shows the growth of the character. I would NOT recommend this for a romantic date night where you cuddle up on the couch with your significant other and share some wine. It may be labeled a romance, but it is much more of a character study ON romance, rather than what most of us consider a romance movie. It’s dark, it’s beautiful, it’s unsettling, it’s soft and tender, all at the same time. If you like what you've seen so far, than it's VERY worth checking out. However, many may not agree with that recommendation and I completely understand why. It's very polarizing and, as with most of Spike Jonze movies, leaves very little room for a middle of the road opinion.







Rating:

Rated R for language, sexual content and brief nudity



Video
Oh…my…goodness…I usually expect good picture quality from day and date new releases, but Warner’s 1.85:1 AVC encode is simply breathtaking. From the moment the film starts with an extreme close up of Theodore’s face that we were in for a visual treat. The film has a very unique color palette, shifting from burn oranges and yellows to soft pinks and blues and even some blown white levels. It’s never truly 70’s feeling burnt colors, and never surreal enough to be considered dreamy, but almost a style unique to itself. Even the colors on the discs in the packaging is unique with the pale “male” blue for the Blu-ray and the classic “female” pink for the DVD disc. It’s truly mesmerizing to watch the color hues shift for Spike Jonze used a lot of shades that are not commonly used as primary colors in a film’s palette. Detail is off the charts as you can see every bit of stubble, every mole and every hair on Joaquin Phoenix face. The film shifts between brightly lit exteriors to dim and dark interiors, and while the whites can get a bit hot sometimes the black levels are simply exquisite, whether is a scene is bathed in the darkness of the city night, or the dim, and dreary bedroom that Theodore calls home, the blacks are deep and inky, riddled with tons of shadow detail. The visual style of filmography is incredibly unique and the AVC transfer captures the beauty of it with picture perfect precision.








Audio
The 5.1 DTS-HD MA track is almost as good as the video encode is, giving us a fantastically nuanced audio experience. The track is never aggressive, or load, or overly front heavy, rather it is fully immersive without anything standing out. Which to some might be considered “meh”, but ends up being one of the better tracks I’ve heard in a long time. It never is the center of attention, but never is defective in any way that would draw you out of the movie. Wrapping you softly in an embrace of dialogue and ambient noise, the two are symbiotically balanced so that neither one is given preference over the other. LFE is soft and somber, adding a density to the track that is barely noticed, but without it, the track feels drastically incomplete. The best way to describe this track is near perfect BALANCE. The teeter totter of sounds that keeps every aspect of the track on a level playing field so that no one feature of the track gets an unfair advantage. The only thing that keeps it from being a perfect track is that every once in a while I felt that a little more on the low end could have been used. A few times a slamming door, or the thud of a car door felt a teensy bit light. Still, that's only a minor nitpick and only just BARELY edges it out from a perfect score.







Extras

• The Untitled Rick Howard Project
• How Do You Share Your Life with Somebody
• Her: Love in the Modern Age













Overall:

“Her” is a very unique experience. It’s not a film for everyone, and it’s NOTHING like it seemed from first glance. Spike Jonze is known for having a very unique flair in his films, and “Her” was no different (or shall I say very different if you know what I mean). I went in not knowing what to expect, and I came out still not knowing what I should have expected. It’s a well nuanced film, that employs stunning visual imagery and asks the viewer questions, making you think about love, about sadness, about how we as humans operate, and even how self-absorbed we can get in this world filled with other people. The video and audio is simply mind blowing, although the extras are a bit lite. I do say that it’s so different, and non-conventional that I can’t just say “everyone watch this film”! It’s one of those movies that you watch when you want to be introspective and ask those questions that really bother you about yourself, and to experience something new and different.




Additional Information:

Starring: Joaquin Phoenix, Amy Adams, Scarlett Johansson, Olivia Wilde
Directed by: Spike Jonze
Written by: Spike Jonze
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 AVC
Audio: English: DTS-HD MA 5.1, French, Spanish DD 5.1
Studio: Warner Brothers
Rated: R
Runtime: 126 minutes
Own "Her" on Blu-ray and DVD on 5/13/2014



Buy Her Blu-ray on Amazon


Recommendation: Read the Review


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post #2 of 11 Old 05-02-14, 12:02 PM
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Re: Her - Blu-ray Review

Thanks for the review Mike!

Sounds like a movie to watch without my wife...


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post #3 of 11 Old 05-02-14, 06:46 PM
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Thanks for the return of R rated reviews! I will be picking this one up. Thanks for the review Mike.
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post #4 of 11 Old 05-02-14, 07:53 PM
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Thanks Mike for the review and it's nice to have you back reviewing all movies! This is one of the movies I've been looking forward to and remember reading some glowing reviews while it was in theaters. This will be a day one blind buy for me.
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post #5 of 11 Old 05-02-14, 08:05 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Her - Blu-ray Review

Quote:
JBrax wrote: View Post
Thanks Mike for the review and it's nice to have you back reviewing all movies! This is one of the movies I've been looking forward to and remember reading some glowing reviews while it was in theaters. This will be a day one blind buy for me.
you're more than welcome... and yeah, I had read glowing reviews too, but the synopsis actually looked rather boring... the trailer is what caught my eye finally and then I'm amazed to say that the trailer barely scratched the surface. it's not your typical cuddly romance at all.
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post #6 of 11 Old 05-02-14, 08:56 PM
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Quote:
Mike Edwards wrote: View Post
you're more than welcome... and yeah, I had read glowing reviews too, but the synopsis actually looked rather boring... the trailer is what caught my eye finally and then I'm amazed to say that the trailer barely scratched the surface. it's not your typical cuddly romance at all.
I agree that the story sounded a little meh…until you see the trailers and who's in it. It seems we've hit a lull in good releases here lately so as I said I'm really looking forward to its release.
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post #7 of 11 Old 05-05-14, 12:34 AM Thread Starter
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Re: Her - Blu-ray Review

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JBrax wrote: View Post
I agree that the story sounded a little meh…until you see the trailers and who's in it. It seems we've hit a lull in good releases here lately so as I said I'm really looking forward to its release.
luckily the end of this month and starting next the good releases start coming back in. the 1st quarter is always a bit dull
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post #8 of 11 Old 05-05-14, 01:20 AM
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Quote:
Mike Edwards wrote: View Post
luckily the end of this month and starting next the good releases start coming back in. the 1st quarter is always a bit dull
I'm ready for some good ones. I've been watching some oldies in the collection.
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post #9 of 11 Old 06-05-14, 01:18 PM
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Re: Her - Blu-ray Review

I wasn't expecting much out of this movie based on the premise and I'm not a huge Joaquin Phoenix fan but the reviews were good so I checked it out and it surprised me. Definitely something worth checking out.
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post #10 of 11 Old 06-05-14, 03:12 PM
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Re: Her - Blu-ray Review

Thanks for the review. I also was curious about this movie. The trailers looked good and I wanted to check it out but didn't have time. Will rent this one. Thanks again for the review.

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