HTS Moderator , Reviewer
Title: The Theory of Everything
HTS Overall Score:84
Stephen Hawking is one of the most visually striking people in the 21st century (and was so in the 20th as well). Not because of some enormous frame, or imposing nature, but because of the gentle shape of his twisted and tiny frame in that wheelchair. The distinctly synthesized voice translating his typing to speech and the utter mathematical brilliance that followed that electronic voice. “The Theory of Everything” paints a picture of Stephen Hawking, from his days at Cambridge, up through the late years of the 20th century. The paintbrush used is less of a biopic about his ideas, his antitheistic atheism, or even about the details of his life, but rather it paints a story of resolution and of one man’s struggle to overcome difficulties that 99.9% of the world thinks are insurmountable.
Our tale starts back in Cambridge College, where Stephen Hawking (Eddie Redmayne) is struggling to decide just what scientific field to go into. He’s just met Jane (Felicity Jones), a lovely young lady who, for some inexplicable reason, has fallen for the young man as much as he has for her. Finding his scientific purpose during a conference on time and space, Stephen is elated to finally know where he wants to go in life. Unfortunately this is also the time when he collapses in the middle of campus and is diagnosed with ALS, a crippling disease that will take away his motor functions, end his life early and eventually render him speechless as well. Given only two years to live, Stephen and Jane decide to push on with what little time they have together and enjoy what they can. Stephen pushes on with his doctorate and Jane keeps Stephen put together to the best of her ability.
2 years turns into decades, as the pair spawn three children, and Dr. Hawking becomes one of the most widely known physicists of our lifetime. However, Stephen and Jane’s differences slowly push them apart as Jane slowly becomes worn down with the incredible burden of caring for a physical invalid. Their live in in help, Jonathon (Charlie Cox) soon becomes a stumbling block for Jane and as the pair emotional lives turn into their own black hole, the couple starts drifting apart. Separating over a female the nurse, Jane and Dr. Hawking go their separate ways, staying friends in the process, but no more what they started out. Still plodding on, Dr. Hawking has continued to delve deeper into the concept of time and space, being named one of the greatest mathematical minds of our generation.
The biopic is much less a tale with a beginning and an end. We know much of Stephen’s life, from his humble upbringings, to his rise to fame amidst the struggles he had to endure. The story is less about his relationship issues with his late wife, or even his theories. Instead the movie puts an incredible emphasis on the ability of a human to reach inside himself and find more than what everyone expected. Stephen Hawking is an incredible example of a man given the most morbid of prognosis. Less than 2 years to live, horrible musculature issues and the seeming loss dignity. Instead of lying down and taking it, Stephen persevered with a savagery that is both inspiring and mind boggling at the same time. Most of us deal with pain in our lives, whether it be physical or emotional, but very few deal with the incredible physical debilitation that Stephen has had to deal with (and the emotional fallout). The story itself is inspiring in itself, but what really pushes the film over the edge is the acting job of Eddie Redmayne. Eddie did such an amazing job at slipping into the role of Hawking that even Hawking himself said that at times he swore it WAS him. I had heard that the actor was up for an Oscar for his portrayal of the scientist, but I didn’t understand the reason until now. The way he slipped into the role, changed his voice, his facial and bodily motions, EVERYTHING just screamed Hawking. I’ve seen videos and the resemblance in both body movements and vocal patters is simply uncanny. A lesser actor would have had a harder time and the movie would have suffered as a result, but the brilliant portrayal turned this movie from a very good movie to an even better movie.
Now, with all that being said, I did have a few problems with the movie’s pacing. The first act of the movie is incredibly tight and fluid, keeping an excellent pace and really pulling the character into the movie. The first half of the 2nd act is almost as engaging, but it’s really during the middle portion when the familial issues arise that the problems start coming into play. Jonathon and Jane’s relationship just felt stretched on forever, slowing the movie down distinctly and feeling like it lost some steam. While that relationship took up a good 30-40 minutes, some of the later life accomplishments of the scientist was glossed over, which left a small hole in the narrative as most people know it. Neither of these are a death blow to the movie, as the end result is still excellent, but those wavering’s during the center of the movie kept it from being a truly epic film that it could have been.
Stephen Hawking has achieved both legend and villain status by different people, and sometimes he is a little of both, considering. I was fully prepared for this to be a full on onslaught of anti-theism that Hawkins was known for, but thankfully that only came into play in small portions, with the film focusing on this tenacity and willingness to take on any challenge, rather than on some of his more controversial opinions. It’s mentioned in the movie, and played on a little bit, but kept surprisingly minimal, keeping the tone very genial to both sides of the fence. For whether or not we agree with some of his points, or his methods, the man is an incredible inspiration for those with physical conditions as well as probably one of the most gifted mathematical minds Cambridge has ever had the pleasure of teaching.
Rated PG-13 for some thematic elements and suggestive material
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=38602[/img]“The Theory of Everything” comes to us from Universal in its theatrical aspect ratio of 2.40:1 with an AVC encoding on Blu-ray. The movie is shot rather stylistically with a shifting from a dim blue color grading in the more somber moments, to one that is overly bright and cheery with a yellow color grading and the seemingly in-style overblown whites during other scenes. The image looks very filmic in its presentation, and looks ever so slightly soft for the entire run time. However, that softness is EVER so slight and doesn’t obscure much, if any, of the wonderful detail littering the screen. Black levels are quite impressive and I never noticed any artifacting or compression issues in the slightest. An EXCELLENT looking disc that really shows off the stylistic nature of director James Marsh.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=38610[/img]The 5.1 DTS-HD MA track is a surprisingly lively one for a dramatic film. The dialog is still front and center being the type of movie that it is, but there is still quite a bombastic little track in the background. Surrounds are used quite often with the chirping of birds, or the sounds of a dance going on in the background, or even just little things like the sound of Jane’s pen scraping the desk or the slight hum of Stephen’s wheelchair as he moves around. The LFE is rather explosive at times, punctuating scenes with a power that can startle and adds a very pleasant low end to the film. I’m usually very surprised when I see a track this active in a drama, but it’s never bad thing, giving the full 6 speakers a solid workout, “The Theory of Everything” may not be perfection, but it certainly is excellence.
• Delete Scenes
• Becoming the Hawkings
• Feature Commentary with Director James March
“The Theory of Everything” is both inspiring and saddening, watching a man with such potential fall into what seems like an insurmountable valley, only to rise up and gain so much, only to lose so much once more. Eddie Redmayne’s portrayal of the famed scientist is up there with the greatest of them, and well worth the Oscar nomination that has been given. The movie has one or two small flaws that keep it from greatness, but the movie is still excellent and definitely worthy of watch. I had an amazing time watching it and with the excellent video and audio presentations on the disc, you should as well. Recommended.
Starring: Eddie Redmayne, Felicity Jones, Tom Prior
Directed by: James Marsh
Written by: Anthony McCarten (Screenplay) Jane Hawking (Book)
Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
Audio: English: DTS-HD MA 5.1
Runtime: 123 Minutes
Blu-ray Release Date: February 17th 2015
Buy The Theory of Everything On Blu-ray at Amazon
Recommendation: Watch It
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