Winter's Tale (2014)

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Released 13-Jun-2014

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Fantasy Featurette-Behind The Scenes
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2014
Running Time 113:15
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Ads Then Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Akiva Goldsman

Roadshow Home Entertainment
Starring Colin Farrell
Jessica Brown Findlay
Russell Crowe
William Hurt
Case ?
RPI ? Music Hans Zimmer
Rupert Gregson-Williams

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

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

Plot Synopsis

     There are some movies which when you watch you immediately know why they were not successful with the US critics and box office audiences, however you also quickly realise that they have a lot to offer. This film, Winter's Tale, is one such film. One indicator that always strikes my interest is where a film has a good IMDb score (above 6) but has bad critics scores (35 from metacritic in this case). This often indicates an interesting, thought provoking and different film but probably with some flaws. The critics, especially in the US, seem to value 'important' drama rather than something different especially when it is in the fantasy genre. This film also did poorly at the box office only making half its production budget back globally, probably at least partially driven by the critic mauling it received. I was intrigued by the premise of this film and decided to give it a run. I am certainly glad that I did.

     The film is based on a novel of the same name by Mark Helprin and supposedly was optioned by Martin Scorsese but he eventually decided the novel was unfilmable. The baton was taken up by acclaimed screenwriter, Akiva Goldsman, responsible for the screenplays of a number of films including his Oscar award winning writing for A Beautiful Mind. Goldsman wrote the script and also makes his directorial debut with this film. The story is a romantic fantasy and I suppose if you had to bracket it with other films it reminded me in various ways of The Lake House (although much darker), Stardust (but less of a fairy tale) and also the Hugh Jackman/Darren Aronofsky film, The Fountain (although less weird). I like all of these three films and I suppose that means I had a better chance of liking this film than people who haven't seen or didn't enjoy those three films. If you liked one or all of those films, this film will probably be worth your time.

     The story is somewhat hard to describe but I will give it a go. The story runs between 1895 and 2014 in New York, however this is a New York where everyone has one miracle within them, to be used during their lifetime. Also, the city is riddled with demons, led by Pearly Soames (Russell Crowe). The demons report to someone who lives in the dark, known as The Judge or Lucifer (Will Smith in a cameo). In 1895, a European couple are attempting to immigrate to the US with their young child. They are rejected as they have TB and are put back on the boat to return to Europe. They are determined that their young son will have more opportunity than them, so they steal a model boat and put their baby son on it and push him towards New York. Years later in 1916, we find the baby has grown up into a thief called Peter Lake (Colin Farrell) who has been brought up and trained by Pearly Soames. He has fallen out with Pearly and is being chased by Pearly and his man with a plan to kill Peter. Just as they are about to catch him, Peter is rescued by a magic horse which flies away with Peter on his back (I know, I know but just go with it OK). He decides to leave New York to get away from Pearly but his horse convinces him to rob one more mansion before he goes. The mansion is owned by magnate, Isaac Penn (William Hurt) who has left to go to his country house, leaving only his beautiful but critically ill with tuberculosis daughter, Beverley (Jessica Brown Findlay) in the house. Of course, Peter is caught by Beverley but instead of reacting badly she makes him tea and they talk. Soon Peter is madly in love with her and is determined to save her life. Is saving Beverley Peter's one miracle? Can he save her and escape Pearly? And, why does someone who looks very much like him live in 2014?

     This story is very sweet and romantic but also includes some significant darkness and violence balancing out the sweetness and avoiding a descent into mawkishness or sentimentality. It is a very different and interesting story and obviously attracted a high quality cast as you can see by the names mentioned above. Colin Farrell and Jessica Brown Findlay make a good couple and Russell Crowe is very believably a demon in the service of Lucifer. The film is also beautifully shot and looks good even on this DVD version. The DVD includes the theatrical cut of the film running just under two hours. I understand but cannot yet confirm that the Blu-ray release includes a longer cut of the film which I would certainly be interested to see. There are moments in this version which need more explanation and I can see where a longer version would make sense for this complex and interesting story. The music plays an important part in the film with a wonderful score and various classical pieces employed.

     I enjoyed this film, finding it different, interesting and well made and acted. Well worth your time if the concept appeals to you. Ignore the theatrical critics and give this a go.

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

Transfer Quality


     The video quality is very good for DVD but I would love to see the Blu-ray version.

     The feature is presented in a 2.35:1 aspect ratio which is the original aspect ratio. It is 16x9 enhanced.

     The picture was reasonably sharp and clear but not spectacularly so. Shadow detail was a bit limited at times in what is quite a dark film, with a lot of scenes at night.

     The colour is very good however the film is obviously colour graded to give it a steely gray look.

     There are no noticeable artefacts.

     There are subtitles in English for the hearing impaired which were certainly useful.

     There is no obvious layer change.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


     The audio quality is very good with just the dialogue letting the aural environment down a little.

     This disc contains an English soundtrack in Dolby Digital 5.1 plus an Audio Descriptive track in Dolby Digital 2.0.

     Dialogue was a bit challenging at times due to accents and the relatively low level of the dialogue in the mix. I would expect the Blu-ray to significantly improve this area. The subtitles were very useful indeed.

     The music is a joint effort between two high quality composers Hans Zimmer and Rupert Gregson-Williams. It works well for the film and sounds good on this DVD.

     The surround speakers were really well used for the music but also for a variety of action and dramatic scenes. They provided an immersive listening experience which again I am sure would be even better on Blu-ray.

     The subwoofer was a bit of a monster in this film adding significantly to the tension and driving scenes such as the furnace scene. Great stuff.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use


    One extra.


    The menu features music.

Behind the Scenes - Winter's Tale: A Timeless Love (5:54)

    A good quality featurette for one of these short promo pieces. It covers the adaptation, shooting and the concepts in the film. It includes interview segments with Goldsman and the cast.

R4 vs R1

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

    This film is available in other regions on Blu-ray and DVD however I cannot find any specific details of the DVD release. Buy local for DVD but a Blu-ray version would probably be worth the investment.


    An underrated and different romantic fantasy with a quality cast.

    The video quality is very good.

    The audio quality is very good.

    The extra is lonely but quite good.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Daniel Bruce (Do you need a bio break?)
Tuesday, July 22, 2014
Review Equipment
DVDSONY BDP-S760 Blu-ray, using HDMI output
DisplaySharp LC52LE820X Quattron 52" Full HD LED-LCD TV . Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderBuilt into amplifier. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum.
AmplificationMarantz SR5005
SpeakersMonitor Audio Bronze 2 (Front), Bronze Centre & Bronze FX (Rears) + Sony SAW2500M Subwoofer

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