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· Registered
1,546 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
State of Play Blu-ray Review

Starring: Russell Crowe, Ben Affleck, Rachel McAdams, Jason Bateman, Helen Mirren, Robin Wright Penn
Directed By: Kevin Macdonald
Studio: Universal Studios
Runtime: 128 minutes
Rating: PG-13
Blu-ray Release Date: September 1, 2009

State of Play opens with two mysteriously motivated deaths - A thief carrying a metallic briefcase is murdered for the contents that he stole and a woman shown standing at the edges of a subway station right before she kills herself. The woman in the subway turns out to be someone of importance. She is an assistant to Congressman Stephen Collins (Affleck), named Sonia Baker, who was the lead researcher in a big investigation of a company named PointCorp. Seasoned journalist for The Globe, Cal McAffree (Crowe), is assigned to look into the thief’s murder to find a possible story, while online columnist for The Globe, Della Frye (McAdams), is put on the Sonia Baker story. McAffrey and Frye set out individually to cover their assignments only to find their stories are linked to one another. As the two search for information, Frye and McAffrey find more and more bits of information lead back to one another’s stories and McAffrey suspects that all of it is part of a bigger conspiracy.

Digging deeper McAffrey also senses that Collins’ assistant’s death, which originally was thought to be a suicide, was a result of foul play linked closely to PointCorp and seeks to build his affirmations that this death and the thief’s murder all point to a major political conspiracy. Meanwhile, Collins finds himself in an incriminating predicament when his affair with Ms. Baker is revealed to the public at which point he turns to his old college friend, McAffrey for comfort and advice.

While McAffrey continues unravel this possible bombshell story for his company he finds himself torn between helping his friend, Collins, and pursuing the story of his career. As McAffrey and Frye envelop themselves more in the story the importance of revealing it publicly becomes even more critical as pieces begin to fall into place. The two of them rush to meet their company’s deadline to find facts about the story in order to print the entire story.

Director Kevin Macdonald takes us for a ride on this turn-after-turn political mystery which keeps you wondering, “Who’s really behind this?” all the way to the end.

State of Play is rated PG-13 for some violence, language including sexual references, and brief drug content.

State of Play is presented in a 2.39:1 aspect ratio with a solid video transfer. The color palette is relatively muted and many of the sequences take place in darker situations. Black levels remained rich throughout those darker sequences and retained plenty of detail. Overall resolution is impressive especially in close up shots, but is not limited to just close up shots. The film occasionally shows some film grain, but never did it get to the point of distraction. Contrast stayed solid throughout, even in lower light situations. The film maintains a solid video transfer, however I never found myself overly impressed at any particular moment with the transfer.

This film is treated to a 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track that is mostly dialog driven, but there are occasional action sequences that do make use of the lossless audio codec. During those action sequences the sound is immersive with gunshots echoing throughout the sound stage. Low frequencies lent themselves to the action sequences nicely. What I found more surprising were moments of low frequencies outside of the action sequences like in support of helicopter flyovers. Surround usage is left mostly to ambient noises from the busy city or inside the newspaper building. The music lends nicely to the mood of the film sequences as well. Dialog for the most part was audible, however I found a couple of occasions that conversations were harder to hear. There weren’t many of those, but it’s worth mentioning.

There is a featurette: “The Making of ‘State of Play’” with a runtime of 19 minutes and two deleted scenes. There is also Universal Studios renowned U-Control, which only has two options, “Picture in Picture” and “Washington D.C. Locations.” Picture in Picture just has some videos of location shoots, on-set footage and various comments from cast and crewmembers as well as some still shots from production. Washington D.C. Locations uses Google Earth to show actual movie shoot locations and trivia about specific landmarks in Washington D.C.

As far political thrillers, this one is pretty good. There does seem to be a lot of praise around this film, and while I enjoyed it, I can’t say that I agreed entirely with all the praise I heard. While it started off intriguing enough it seemed to slow down to me and while the premise of the story was pretty good, the execution really felt somewhat lacking to me. As the story unfolded I found that I didn’t care that much about the characters involved enough to make this an involving movie. The video and audio aspects are both solid and lend to the movie as a whole, as well.

· Registered
1,546 Posts
Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Sonnie, I am kind of in the same boat. As I mentioned, I thought it was pretty good, but it wasn't as good as other people have mentioned. Likely a one-time viewing for me, too.

· Senior Shackster
791 Posts
I just screened it and was disappointed. While Russell Crowe was good the rest of
the players were miscast, especially Affleck. For a political thriller to work you have to
believe that the person playing a politician could get elected. Affleck is so wooden
and bland it's impossible to believe anyone would've voted for him, especially since
he's supposed to be a passionate activist. Having a temper tantrum half way through
wasn't enough to convince me he had a volatile temper either. Why is a British woman
running an American newspaper? That needed to be explained also.

When I took a screenwriting course at NYU in the seventies, the instructor told
the students that in a movie you can get away with virtually anything as long
as it is properly set up in advance. The plot twist at the end comes out of no
where and wasn't done convincingly. There's no way a 'do gooder' politician
would hire a mentally deranged war veteran to keep his mistress in line much less
do nothing while he went on a killing rampage. And even if the writer and
director wanted to make that the major plot twist, they needed to develop that
war veteran character so it seemed to be a logical climax to the complicated narrative.

The best conspiracy thrillers make the audience say "Ah...so that's what really
happened" while suspending their disbelief. Not "Huh?" and make you use your
remote to go back to the earlier parts of the movie to see what's going on. Bad
screenwriting and casting ruined this movie for me.

· Plain ole user
11,205 Posts

I have not seen the movie but isn't "huh" often the response to foibles of real life politicians. Perhaps film making has evloved beyond the notions of script writing in your class. Have we not seen many wooden dead-heads get elected, and do-gooders who end up in deep trouble trying to cover up mistakes made out of their own arrogance and view that the righteous thing to do is to protect their position in government?

I am not a fan of Ben Affleck, per say, but it does not seem so implausible to me.

· Senior Shackster
791 Posts
You have a point but most politicians are skilled 'actors' even if they
lack other qualities like leadership, intelligence and fiscal responsibility.

Affleck isn't supposed to be a mere political hack but an 'activist' uncovering
some dark conspiracy. He looks like he's about to fall asleep standing up for
most of the movie. Very out of it and 'affleckted'. He had no chemistry
with the other performers.
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