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Title: Spotlight

Movie: :4.5stars:
Video: :4.5stars:
Audio: :4.5stars:
Extras: :1.5stars:

HTS Overall Score:85

After the horrible factual mess “Truth” was in the “journalists uncover the truth” film genre I was VERY wary of “Spotlight”. Both were based off of true events and with how they butchered the facts of “Truth” into a joke of the “truth”, my cynical assumption was that Hollywood was going to butcher the facts in the Boston priest fiasco as well. Color more than a little surprised when “Spotlight” began getting rave reviews, prompting me to look into the film history and see what was going on. It appears that the powers that be decided to get a REALLY accurate take on the whole scenario and turn it into a REALLY good movie. Not to mention there was incredible amounts of detail going into the casting of each and every character in an effort to make sure that everything was as accurate as possible.

The search for the truth has been the staple of many a journalistic film. “All the President’s Men” being one of the most prominent in the last half a century. Corruption, scandals and injustice is something that is naturally repugnant to most human beings. We have an innate sense of morality built into most of us that draws us to want to find those responsible for reprehensible acts. It makes it worse when those people who commit reprehensible acts are the very ones we are putting our trust in. Our teachers, out mentors, and to many, our spiritual guides on this earth.

Pedophilia and molestation is one of the most naturally hateful crimes in existence. There are hardened criminals in jail who have stabbed, killed, beaten and basically become scum of the earth, but when you bring a child molester around, make no mistake there is someone in that prison who is lower on the totem pole then even the famed wife beaters. It’s a sense of anger that rises from knowing that children as innocents for the most part. They don’t have the faculties or the strength to protect themselves and human nature instinctively goes into protection mode around children. When the Boston Priest scandal came about in the early 2000’s it was a HUGE deal. Pedophiles have been around for thousands of years, but when it comes from a church leader it is even more devastating. The very people you put your trust in. Men who were supposed to be above such baser instincts and instead reveled in them, exploiting the young in ways that was horrifically scarring.

The Boston Globe has a special unit of journalistic investigators. These 4 men and woman are known as the Spotlight group. Headed by Walter Robinson (Michael Keaton) and comprised of reporters, Michael Rezendes (Mark Ruffalo), Matt Carroll (Brian D’arcy James), and Sacha Pfieffer (Rachel McAdams), they work on their own time table and choose their own stories in an effort to root out the really big and important stories. Upon hearing a tip from a lawyer named Mitchell Garabedian (Stanley Tucci), Walter pushes his team to look into the story of a priest who was accused of molesting a young parishioner. Thinking they were going to find out his guilt and expose him, the team suddenly finds themselves in a web of lies and deceit that goes back decades and decades. Instead of finding a guilty priest, the Spotlight crews starts uncovering facts and incidences that show that this priest was not the only one. Not even close to the only one. Pushing deeper and deeper with the help of their new boss, Marty Baron (Liev Schreiber), the crew starts to unravel 87 priests and hundreds and HUNDREDS of victims.

Had this been a simple incident here and there the world may never have known, but the Spotlight crew’s reporting in the Boston incident revealed that there was a whole hidden secret that certain members of the Catholic hierarchy had known about this behavior for some time and were keeping it secret. This launched a nationwide investigation that revealed many more instances across the country, and in fact the world over. You might think that I’m being overly harsh on the Catholic Church here. In fact I’m not in the slightest. I have the greatest respect for many of their leaders despite the fact myself being protestant, but no matter the denomination if corruption is happening in the shadows it taints the light as well. Members of the Church have an obligation to rise above these issues and if they DO happen, they must be weeded out before one or two bad apples spoil the entire lot.

What makes “Spotlight” good is a mixture of solid storytelling, adherence to the facts and great casting. If you go and look up the original Spotlight crew from the early 2000 era, you can see that each and every cast member looks and sounds almost exactly like their real life counterpart. Mark Ruffalo looks and sounds totally different than he has in the past and going back and watching interviews with the real like Revendes you can see why. The similarities are almost uncanny. There IS a bit of a dramatic change to endear and humanize Sacha in the film. None of the cast were religious in the slightest, but they made Sacha a slightly religious character in an effort to tie her character to the event a bit better. It’s not a wild change though, as they keep just about every other fact in the case almost dead on accurate. Keaton hasn’t had a really good role in years and he completely knocks it out of the park. It’s incredibly refreshing to see an old favorite like Michael Keaton finally getting good roles and playing the part well.


Rated R for some language including sexual references

Video :4.5stars:
“Spotlight” comes to Blu-ray with a wonderfully cinematic experience. Shot 100% digitally the picture is a wonderful example of near perfect filming. Colors are warm and brilliant In the light exterior shots, showing off brilliant whites and lush green grasses of Fenway park, or the elaborate suits of the upper class Boston crowd. Interiors tend to have a more teal look to them, with hints of green added in for good measure. Light levels are naturally subdued, but there are copious amounts of little details that light up the Spotlight office. Bits of paper, beaten up filing cabinets and the little documents that litter a news journalist’s lair. Each can be seen with pin point clarity and exceptional detail. Blacks are deep and inky, showing off every little bit of shadow detail without succumbing to black crush or being washed out by unbalanced contrast levels. I never noticed any issues of major compression artifacts and in all reality, “Spotlight” is a near perfect looking encode.

Audio :4.5stars:
Despite not being a loud and aggressive track, “Spotlight” brings a very VERY impressive 5.1 DTS-HD MA track that really shines by being a well nuanced and detailed auditory experience. Dialog is never in question, giving us the vocals with a robust and lively texture to them. Ambient sounds of Boston filter through the surround channels as Sacha, Mike and the rest of the team interview people all over Boston in different environments. The honk of a car horn in the distance comes from the right rear, while the yell of a disgruntled person comes from the front soundstage. LFE is tight and controlled, adding a feeling of weight to the entire experience that is both noticeable yet unassuming. There’s the occasional crack and “pow” as something impactful happens, but mostly it’s a light layer of saturation that the bass ascribes to being rather than an attention grabber.

Extras :1.5stars:

• Uncovering the Truth: A Spotlight Team Roundtable
• "Spotlight": A Look Inside
• The State of Journalism

Overall: :4stars:

I was shocked how well “Spotlight” did in the theaters. It’s been nominated for Best Director, Best Actress (McAdams), Best Actor (Ruffalo), and Best Picture. The entertainment value of the movie is never at stake, as the film strikes a delicate balance between the monotony and boredom of the investigative practice, while counterbalancing with incredible discoveries and bombshells that drive the tension to new heights. I never once felt bored, but at the same time didn’t feel like the script was unnaturally formulating a “thriller” in an effort to keep audiences in their chairs. It’s a solid journalistic film that just simply “unfolds”. The Blu-ray itself has some incredible technical specs, with the only weak spot being a very simplistic array of extras. HIGHLY Recommended.

Additional Information:

Starring: Mark Ruffalo, Michael Keaton, Rachel McAdams
Directed by: Tom McCarthy
Written by: Tom McCarthy, Josh Singer
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 AVC
Audio: English: DTS-HD MA 5.1
Studio: Universal
Rated: R
Runtime: 129 minutes
Blu-ray Release Date: February 23rd 2016

Buy Spotlight On Blu-ray at Amazon

Recommendation: Highly Recommended

More about Mike

2,072 Posts
Thanks for the review. I never heard of this movie but will check it out. In any profession, there are very noble and just people and then there are folks who want to take advantage for power, money, etc. It is sad and unfortunately since we don't live in an Utopian and safe society, folks like these investigative reporters should be held with high regard for exposing these terrible deeds that people of power have.
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