Real (Riaru: Kanzen naru kubinagaryű no hi) (2013)

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Released 26-Feb-2014

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Science Fiction Theatrical Trailer
Trailer-Eastern Eye Trailers x 4
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2013
Running Time 121:30 (Case: 127)
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Kiyoshi Kurosawa
Studio
Distributor

Madman Entertainment
Starring Takeru Sato
Haruka Ayase
Jo Odagiri
Shota Sometani
Ayami Ishizawa
Case Amaray-Transparent
RPI ? Music Kei Haneoka


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None Japanese Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
Japanese Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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Plot Synopsis

     A year after Atsumi (Haruka Ayase) fell into a coma after apparently attempting to commit suicide, her fiancé Koichi (Takeru Sato) participates in a radical new program called “sensing” whereby his brain can be linked into Atsumi’s subconscious, allowing them to communicate and interact in a virtual reality. Koichi and Atsumi had been friends in primary school and had started living together 15 years later in Tokyo, where Atsumi was trying to establish herself as a magna artist producing a quite gruesome comic with murders called “Roomi”. Koichi does not understand why Atsumi would attempt suicide, and will use the sensing sessions to find out what happened. There are however side effects to the program, and Koichi starts having hallucinations of bodies and zombie type creatures. It seems that the key to understanding what happened may be back on the island where they grew up in the form of a drawing of a Plesiosaur.

     Real (Japanese title Riaru: Kanzen naru kubinagaryu no hi) is an intriguing film by writer / director Kiyoshi Kurosawa (who is not related to master filmmaker Akira Kurosawa) that for most of its 2 hour running keeps one guessing about what is happening. The film is eerie and creepy, of unexplained strange and unsettling events taking place in a normal suburban setting, so one is not sure what is “real” and what is imagined. The unsettling atmosphere of the first 75 minutes is however undermined by the major plot twist which subverts everything that has gone before, and a rather silly ending. Perhaps a clue to where the film is heading is in the source material, a novel by Rokuro Inui called A Perfect Day for Plesiosaur that was adapted by Kurosawa and Sackiko Tanaka; nevertheless the ending still feels somewhat a dinosaur too far.

     Real is virtually a two hander, with Takeru Sato (good in the Rurouni Kenshin films) and Haruka Ayase (who was great fun in Ichi (2008) as the female version of the blind swordsman Zatiochi) both giving performances which help to paper over some of the more uneven elements of the screenplay. Other characters fare less well, and it is hard to know just what to make of the creepy Dr Aihara (Ayami Ishizawa) whose character suggests a lot but ultimately goes nowhere.

     One may not be quite sure what is happening, but for much of its running time Real is an interesting film by Kiyoshi Kurosawa mixing drama, melodrama, science fiction, some horror and a little dinosaur action. The result is a film that is uneven, but frequently intriguing, and it generally held my interest.

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Transfer Quality

Video

     Real is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and is 16x9 enhanced. The IMDb gives the original ratio as 2.35:1 but I must say that I saw no evidence of characters out of frame, so I will reserve judgment for now as the only other release which lists the aspect ratio is also 1.78:1 (see the section below).

     More of a problem is the look of the print. While some of the “imagined” scenes were intentionally unfocussed and soft, most of the rest of the film was also quite soft and lacking in detail; colours were mostly dull, except for the green of the trees on the island, and shadow detail was often indistinct. Some scenes also looked quite glary. Blacks were OK, skin tones tended to be light.

     The print did show some ghosting but otherwise artefacts and marks were absent.

     The layer change was not noticeable.

    English subtitles are in an easy to read yellow font and seemed to be timely and error free.

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

Audio

     Audio choice is either a Japanese Dolby Digital 5.1 at 448 Kbps or Japanese Dolby Digital 2.0 at 224 Kbps. I listened to the 5.1 audio track.

     Real has an interesting sound design as Kiyoshi Kurosawa frequently uses silences to unsettle and create uncertainty. Dialogue was clear and centred. The surrounds and rears when they were used did provide ambient effects, such as music, wind, footsteps and breathing and the film did not require anything more. The original score by Kei Haneoka was used sparingly, but was effective when it was used. The subwoofer added bass to the music and occasional effects.

    Lip synchronisation seemed fine.

     The audio track was appropriate for the film.

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

Extras

Theatrical Trailer (1:23)

Eastern Eye Trailers

     Trailers for The Tower (1:37), Ace Attorney (1:36), The Silent War (2:09) and Quick (2:04).

R4 vs R1

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

     There is not currently a DVD release of Real in either Region 1 US or Region 2 UK. YesAsia lists two Region 2 Japanese versions, one with extras including a making of, interviews, stage events, a TV special and trailers, but neither version has English subtitles. The aspect ratio is not given. There is a Region 3 HK version which has English subtitles, but no extras are listed and it is also shown as being in the 1.78:1 aspect ratio. So local is the choice presently for English speakers.

Summary

     Real is an intriguing film by Japanese writer / director Kiyoshi Kurosawa. I was not as fazed by the twist as some reviewers, but I do agree that after the twist the film ventures into strange territory indeed which undermines what has gone before.

     The video is not great but the audio is fine; trailers are the only extras.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Ray Nyland (the bio is the thing)
Saturday, April 26, 2014
Review Equipment
DVDSony BDP-S580, using HDMI output
DisplayLG 55inch HD LCD. This display device has not been calibrated. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderNAD T737. This audio decoder/receiver has not been calibrated.
AmplificationNAD T737
SpeakersStudio Acoustics 5.1

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