Drama / Reviews

The Descendants (2011) Blu-Ray review

When his wife enters a coma due to a boating accident, Matt King’s (George Clooney) life is flipped upside down when he finds that she was cheating on him.

While that little story blurb above makes this sound like a depressing movie, strangely enough, it is not.  Is it a happy movie?  No, but they do find some humor in the situation.  Clooney plays a father who is torn between being the trustee of a chunk of land in the Hawaiian Islands that his family wants to sell, and dealing with two daughters who he has never really been there for, and then finding that his dying wife had been cheating on him before the accident.

This is a dramatic film with some comedic elements.  While never overly funny, there are a couple scenes that are incredibly funny in the context of the film.  The film is somewhat bittersweet as Matt comes to grips with being a father and being there for his kids, which only comes about because of his wife’s accident.

Directed by Alexander Payne (Election, Sideways) and based on a novel by Kaui Hart Hemmings, The Descendants is a very good film.  Is it a great film?  No.  I think it it is actually a little over-rated by other critics.  It is a very good film, though, but I never felt the emotional pull that the story works towards.  I never actually bought any of the characters as anything but actors in a movie.

While there is no question that George Clooney is a great actor, it is hard to separate him from himself.  George Clooney is George Clooney.  While he does a very good job here as Matt, an everyday father, I don’t think that his performance was Oscar worthy.  I never saw him as Matt King; I only saw him as George Clooney playing Matt King.

I really did like where the story went when Matt and his daughter Alex (Shailene Woodley) decided to track down the man his wife was cheating on him with to let him know that she was dying in the hospital so he could say goodbye.  They find that the man, Brian (Matthew Lillard) is married and a father.  The film spoke volumes to the character of Matt King when he chose to confront Brian and not to tell Brian’s wife.

The video quality on the blu ray is excellent and Hawaii is simply stunning.

This is a dramatic film, so you are not going to get crazy separation in the 5.1 channels.  The dialogue was crisp and clear through the center channel and there was never an instance where the dialogue was muddled by the music.

This was a rental, so there were no special features on the disc.

This has been one of those films that is hard to review.  I found while I was watching it that it is not one of those films that I felt particularly passionate about.  While I can appreciate the quality film making and the quality story and the quality acting, I found there was really nothing about this film to keep it in my mind.

If you are looking for a decent Oscar winning film, give this a shot.  While I found nothing particularly wrong with the film, I also found that I couldn’t relate to the emotional journey of the characters.  This makes for a somewhat hollow viewing experience.

Movie**1/2 out of ****



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