On the Road (Blu-ray) (2012)

If you create a user account, you can add your own review of this DVD

Released 20-Feb-2012

Cover Art

This review is sponsored by
BUY IT

Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama Main Menu Animation
Trailer-Dredd 3D
Trailer-The Dinosaur Project
System Setup
Rating Rated MA
Year Of Production 2012
Running Time 139:41 (Case: 137)
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Ads Then Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Walter Salles
Studio
Distributor
MK2 Productions
Icon Entertainment
Starring Sam Riley
Garrett Hedlund
Kristen Stewart
Amy Adams
Tom Sturridge
Kirsten Dunst
Viggo Mortensen
Danny Morgan
Steve Buscemi
Case Standard Blu-ray
RPI ? Music Gustavo Santaolalla


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English DTS HD Master Audio 5.1 (2304Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 1080p
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English Smoking Yes, Constant
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

The Best Teacher is Experience

Adopted from the rambling novel by Jack Kerouac, On the Road as directed by Walter Salles is a beautifully crafted but ultimately self-absorbed and smug snapshot of the "beatnik" lifestyle where hedonism was the thing, and the "beat generation" was hip.

Sal Paradise (Sam Riley) is a young writer looking for inspiration and living on the generosity of his mother after the death of his father. Society is changing in post WWII America, and the traditional view of work and life is being challenged by a new generation who are not satisfied with the status-quo. Hanging out with buddy Carlo Marx (Tom Sturridge), Sal frequents many hipster dives, but is never quite included in the party. That changes on being introduced to the charismatic and beautiful Dean Moriarty (Garrett Hedlund). In meeting Dean and his captivating young wife Marylou (Kristen Stewart), Sal finds a kindred spirit where alcohol, drugs, promiscuous sex, and most importantly music, plays the dominant part of daily life. Dean is unfettered by the responsibilities of family, or work, or duty rather thinking of himself as a free spirit where life will look after itself, and Dean will have fun in the meantime. Marylou is only one of Dean's female dalliances, and a mutual attraction between her and Sal grows. It is the relationship between Dean and Sal however that borders on a real "romance", with the female company only a diversion to be quickly used and forgotten.

Finding inspiration from Dean and his friends, Sal makes notes for his book on characters and events as they embark on a road trip across America. Living as hobos or vagabonds, with the occasional casual job or minor robbery to provide essentials, they emphasise the President Truman notion of cutting the cost of living. With their paths converging and separating and converging again, Dean fathers a child with his second wife Camille (Kirsten Dunst) who becomes yet another victim of Dean's selfishness. Despite the obvious attraction of a hedonistic lifestyle, the preponderance of drugs and alcohol start to take their toll, with Sal starting to question where they are heading. The final betrayal by his beloved Dean finally turns Sal around into seeing the vacuousness of their existence, and he returns home to his long-suffering mother to reboot his life and gain respectability. The final scenes where the self-destructing and parasitic Dean searches out Sal show that the innocence is gone, and been replaced by pathetic self-pity.

In the acting stakes Hedlund is outstanding in the pivotal role of Dean Moriarty, and able to exude enough charm and charisma to make his repellent nature bearable. Riley is less convincing, especially in the latter scenes which were lacking the depth of sadness and regret which should have been felt by Sal. Often Riley appears distracted and indifferent to the events which are meant to be having a profound influence on his experience. Stewart is pleasingly effective as Marylou - managing to exude a naive vulnerability whilst also portraying a sense of reckless bravado. As the scorned wife Dunst displays a strength of character that is sadly missing from the rest of the characters, and ascends above the unfortunate circumstances she finds herself. Also crossing paths with our main characters are Viggo Mortensen, Amy Adams and Steve Buscemi, who deliver impressive and sometimes unsettling cameos.

On the Road is glamorous and exciting but cold so cold. The Dean character is so repellent that we can't help but be attracted. Sal is the willing passenger on the Dean bus to oblivion, and it takes a real slap in the face moment to jolt him back into reality. The damaged Camille is young and naive so you can forgive her for coming under the spell of the Dean charisma. Giving out dual hand-jobs in the front seat of the car at Dean's instruction illustrates her worth as just another instrument of pleasure rather than as a valued partner. It's only the older Camille who eventually stands up for herself and throws Dean out of her life. On the Road is a story where there is regret rather than fond memories, and betrayal rather than loyalty.

Don't wish to see plot synopses in the future? Change your configuration.

Transfer Quality

Video

The video is presented in MPEG-4 AVC high definition 1080p 2.35:1 widescreen which is the same as the theatrical aspect. Cinematographer Eric Gautier has done a magnificent job in portraying this era of American history from the jumping jazz bars to fabulous outdoor locations. Detail and clarity are very good with only slight graininess to detract from the dimly lit indoor shots. Colours are particularly warm and range from sombre indoors to vibrant outdoors whilst retaining a natural hue. There are no indications of compression artefacts and no obvious errors in the high definition transfer. All in all this is an excellent example of high definition mastering that will please any discerning viewer.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

A DTS Master Audio 5.1 audio track encoded at around 2,200 Kb/s is the only offering and it is a very good one. Surround activity is quite limited but does manage to open up during the numerous jazz musical interludes. Similarly there is little to report on the LFE front apart from as an accompaniment to the music. As you'd expect from a recent Blu-ray mastering there are no dropouts or distortions, and the audio is synchronised with the video. Dialogue is always clear however at times the mumbled accents are difficult to pick up - especially from Dean.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

Menu

Static menu with audio.

Previews

Dredd 3D (4:18) HD Video, DTS-HD master audio 2.0.

The Dinosaur Project (3:25), HD Video DTS-HD master audio 5.1.

DTS-HD Master Audio Sound Check

Censorship

    There is censorship information available for this title. Click here to read it (a new window will open). WARNING: Often these entries contain MAJOR plot spoilers.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

On The Road Blu-ray has not been released in the U.S. at the time of review however the Region B UK disc includes a photo gallery and six deleted scenes. The French version includes footage from the Cannes Film Festival. Of particular note is that the UK version only runs for 124 minutes whereas the French is 135 minutes and the Australian version 140 minutes. I can't verify why there are differences but maybe they are tied in with the deleted scenes. I'd suggest that if you think you'll enjoy the story and this film interpretation then go for the local version.

Summary

On the Road is a shallow vessel for the book that defined the "beat generation". It looks beautiful, the jazz soundtrack is uplifting, and the acting is mostly excellent. What lets it down however is the utter vacuity of the characters who are only lifted up by good acting and the sharper portrayals of Marylou and Camille. The almost constantly flowery dialogue, billowing cigarette smoke, and overt bonhomie become irritating after a time, with episodes of grittiness becoming a relief when it comes. I haven't read the book but I imagine that many who have done will be disappointed by this film adaptation. Nevertheless it is beautiful to look at and many will enjoy the story and the message behind it.

The video quality excellent.

The audio quality is very good.

The extras are virtually non-existent.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Mike B (read my bio)
Thursday, March 28, 2013
Review Equipment
DVDDenon DVD-3910 and Panasonic BD-35, using HDMI output
DisplayPanasonic TH-58PZ850A. Calibrated with Digital Video Essentials (PAL). This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Digital Video Essentials (PAL).
Amplificationdenon AVR-4311 pre-out to Elektra Theatron 7 channel amp
SpeakersB&W LCR600 centre and 603s3 mains, Niles in ceiling surrounds, SVS PC-Ultra Sub, Definitive Technology Supercube II Sub

Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add) NONE