HTS Moderator , Reviewer
Title: The Age of Adaline
HTS Overall Score:82
Haven’t we all thought about immortality? The ability to never age, to stay in a perpetual state of our peak physical abilities without ever having to suffer the ravages of old age. It seems nice on the surface, but in reality, who really wants to live forever? Like all fantasies, it is just that, a fantasy. When we give up aging, we also give up the ability to learn from and adapt to our aging bodies. To appreciate the small things in life due to our impending mortality, and to actually LIVE. It’s been theorized for hundreds, if not thousands, of years and depicted a multitude of times in movies like “Hunger”, “Bram Stoker’s Dracula”, etc etc. With every positive, there is always an equal and opposite negative reaction. For immortality in this world, you have to deal with the curse of never aging, when everything and everyone around you DOES age. Instead of being able to enjoy life with the people you love on an equal plane, you are forced to watch while they grow old and die, all the while unable to join them in their journey and the changes they undergo. “The Age of Adaline” revisits these same questions in the guise of a simple love story. One which spans two generations of a family and sets right a scientific anomaly happening 107 years ago.
We first meet Adaline (Blake Lively) living in modern day San Francisco, under the alias of Jenny. Filmed with a narrative voice over from above, “The Age of Adaline” soon lets us in on the little secret that “Jenny” was born New Year’s Day, 1908, by the name of Adaline Bowman. Adaline had a fairly normal childhood and early adulthood, marrying a young man and even having a daughter by the name of Flemming (played as an elderly woman by Ellen Burstyn), only to lose her husband during an accident during the creation of the golden gate bridge. A freak accident occurred shortly after which, according to the narrator, won’t be able to be explained until the year 2035 by the scientific community. An accident which effectively stops her from aging. It doesn’t take long before other people start to notice and raise an eyebrow at the 45 year old woman who doesn’t look a day over 29, causing Adaline to go into hiding. It seems that every 10 years she changes her identity, disappears into the sunset and starts a new life with another new name in another location. Never disclosing her identity to anyone so that she isn’t put under a microscope and viewed as an oddity, or dissected in a lab, Adaline lives a life one decade at a time, only having made the mistake of falling in love once before, until now.
7 weeks before the next change, Adaline meets a young philanthropist named Ellis (Michael Huisman) and instantly feels that spark of attraction. She knows nothing can come of it, but Ellis is persistent, and the heart wants what the heart wants. Even if you’re logical brain knows that it can’t last. Despite her own misgivings, “Jenny” gives in to Ellis’ advances, even agreeing to go up and meet his parents with him for a family get together. There Adaline comes face to face with her own past. The very same past that almost caused her to slow down and stop her running some 50 years ago.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=53329[/img]I’m a romantic sap at heart. I snuffle and cry along with the best of them during a sappy love scene and always get those warm fuzzies inside for classic romances. I knew from the minute my wife was squealing over my shoulder during previews for “The Age of Adaline” that I would be reviewing this, but was a little bit trepidatious after watching the trailer. All fears aside, I ended up liking “The Age of Adaline” quite a lot. There are some definite flaws to the story, and a few tropes thrown in that made me role my eyes (especially the narrative voiceover), but the resulting story was still sweet and gave me much consternation deciding over whether this deserved a 3.5 or 4 out of 5 score. In the end, the 3.5 won out, but be not dismayed, it was THIIIIIIIIIIIS close to being a full 4.
While the basic plot is a bit pretentious and clichéd, the performances by Blake Lively and Harrison Ford elevate it to a status it likely would not have achieved without their inclusion. Blake has always been a good actress, but never really given a lot to work with, and Ford has been coasting on fumes for the last 15 years. Huisman does a solid job as the love interest, Ellis, but ironically the whole time you’re sitting there mentally shoving him to the side and enjoying the emotional playout between Blake and Ford. Once the two come face to face and the big secret is let out of the bag (at least to the audience), the rest of the characters play second fiddle to their interactions. Almost rightfully so, the story really is about their conclusion to a decades aged romance rather than the natural progression of Ellis and “Jenny’s” romance.
While I really enjoyed most of the tale, I had a few problems with the narration. The overly pretentious, and sometimes TOO informative, narrator felt a bit rough and unpolished, almost treating the audience as if they needed a spelled out scientific explanation for everything to make this tale “grounded” in its little fantasy. It’s not a terminal flaw though, and while it certainly is mildly annoying, doesn’t take too much away from the overall enjoyment. The other flaws come mainly in the form of well-worn story techniques that really SHOULD have tanked the movie. In reality the story is NOT that original at all, but the performance of Ford and Lively kept the intensity high enough that the audience really just glosses over those little flaws as they are admiring the end result of the film. The De-aging of Harrison Ford to his 26 year old self was fascinating to watch, and even more fascinating to see HOW they did it in the special features. I am almost shocked to say it, but Harrison Ford actually gave a memorable performance, the first actual effort by the aging actor in the last 15 years or so of him just putzing around.
Rated PG-13 for a suggestive comment
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=53305[/img]Shot on digital RED cameras, “Age of Adaline” manages to look very filmic and natural, pleasing to the eye in just about every day. There’s been some extensive color grading to the film, giving it that standard yellow and blue push that seems to be all the fade for “period” dramas. The tones and colors shift over the decades, with a more natural push during the present day, and a more faded and yellow look during the early 1900’s. Detail is fantastic at all times, showcasing every line and curve in Adaline’s ageless face, and every whispery hair in Harrison Ford’s aging beard. Black levels are inky and deep, only fading a bit in some of the past sequences, showing plenty of shadow detail. I never once had an issue with clarity and while there was some digital noise in a couple of scenes, it was so minute as to be almost mistaken as film grain. Not quite a perfect video encode, “The Age of Adaline” hovers right on the edge of perfection, giving us a stunning Blu-ray to enjoy.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=53313[/img]Holy..cow.. I really do love the inclusion of these Atmos enabled Blu-rays coming to market. I can never be sure if the studios are just cherry picking the best films for the job, or whether these mixes are getting more TLC from the mixing crew, or whether the Atmos mixing does something magical to the audio track, but I really don’t care. “The Age of Adaline” comes to Blu-ray with a STELLAR Atmos experience, which translates into a phenomenal 7.1 TrueHD experience for those without one of the few Atmos enabled receivers on the market. Dialog is beautiful, with crystal clear vocal representation and wonderfully rich dynamic range. The LFE level is something I didn’t expect from a movie of this genre. It’s not constant, and it’s not pounding all the time, but there are some surprise instances that REALLY shook my walls to the core, mainly the two car accidents in the film as well as a few random moments. These little sonic shock waves dropped into the teen digits on the frequency scale and vibrates about everything in the vicinity off of their respective shelves. I want to say that the surrounds are extremely accurate, but I almost couldn’t tell. This may sound like a negative aspect at first, but let me explain. Most of the times with surround sound tracks you can pinpoint the surround activity. Hear it come up from a certain direction and acknowledge that the surrounds are being used. Here I honestly couldn’t seem to pinpoint ANYTHING. The sonic experience was just that..an experience. Audio flowed from all directions, completely immersing myself in the Adaline’s world, so much so that I felt lost and enveloped by it. Not being able to pinpoint directions was something I stopped doing after a while, just letting the 3 dimensional sound flow throughout the room, listening to the chirping birds, the crash of a car, the hustle and bustle of San Francisco, just enjoying BEING there. There's no gunfire, explosions, or huge action scenes, but Lionsgate's Dolby Atmos track shows just what the format can do with a seemingly less intense material, and thrive doing so.
• Audio Commentary with Director Lee Toland Krieger
• A Love Story for the Ages
• Style Throughout the Ages
• Discovering Young Harrison Ford: Anthony Ingruber, A YouTube Sensation
• Deleted Scenes
“The Age of Adaline” is sweet and heartwarming, despite a few funky little glitches in the writing/directing process, and does an admirable job at dealing with the “curse” of time. I was almost worried how they were going to handle the father and son in love with the same woman (and the same woman in love with each of them at a different time) factor, but I ended up loving that aspect of the whole story more than anything else. The Narration can sometimes come across a bit pretentious and unnecessary, but I enjoyed the film very much. The Atmos audio is nothing short of spectacular, and the video doesn’t exactly fall behind either, leaving me the great pleasure of giving it a solid recommendation.
Starring: Blake Lively, Harrison Ford, Michiel Huisman
Directed by: Lee Toland Krieger
Written by: J. Mills Goodloe, Salvador Paskowitz
Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1 AVC
Audio: English: Dolby Atmos (Dolby TrueHD 7.1 Core), Spanish DD 5.1
Runtime: 113 minutes
Blu-ray Release Date: September 8th 2015
Buy The Age of Adaline On Blu-ray at Amazon
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