The Judge (2014)

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

Released 11-Feb-2015

Cover Art

This review is sponsored by
BUY IT

Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama Featurette-Getting Deep with Dax Shepard (8:58)
Trailer-x 3 for other Roadshow releases
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2014
Running Time 135:45
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Ads Then Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By David Dobkin
Studio
Distributor

Roadshow Home Entertainment
Starring Robert Downey Jr
Robert Duvall
Vera Farmiga
Vincent D’Onofrio
Billy Bob Thornton
Jeremy Strong
Dax Shepard


Case ?
RPI ? Music Thomas Newman


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
English Descriptive Audio Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.40:1
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

     Hank Palmer (Robert Downey Jr) is a hot shot, unscrupulous, highly paid defence lawyer in Chicago. His private life however could be better; he is estranged from his father, a judge in the small wheat-belt town of Carlinville, Idaho where he grew up, and is talking divorce with his wife although he loves his small daughter. When Hank gets a message that his mother has died, he returns for her funeral and reconnects with his brothers Glen (Vincent D’Onofrio) and Dale (Jeremy Strong) and his high school girlfriend Sam (Vera Farmiga), although his relationship with his father Joseph (Robert Duvall) remains fragile.

    Hank is about to return to Chicago when his father is arrested for running over and killing a man on the night of his wife’s funeral. Joseph cannot remember the incident, but the blood of the victim is on his damaged car and, indeed, the victim is a man Joseph hates. It does not look good for Joseph, especially after an out-of-town prosecutor (Billy Bob Thornton) is assigned to the case. After some hesitation on both sides Hank agrees to defend his father although his defence is hamstrung by his father’s refusal to admit that he is suffering from terminal cancer and has been having treatment in secret which has the side effect of affecting his memory. As the case comes to trial, Hank starts to re-evaluate his ties with his family and the friends he left behind, and even acquire some humility as he struggles to keep his father out of gaol.

     The Judge is certainly a major change of tone by director David Dobkin whose previous films have included rather more light-hearted fare such as Shanghai Knights (2003) , Wedding Crashers (2005) and The Change-Up (2011). The Judge is a drama about family and opportunities lost, and a courtroom drama, where the dialogue and acting are the focus. Indeed, this is what, in years past, would have been termed “an actor’s picture” for the opportunities it delivers to the cast to develop and deliver a character piece. And deliver they do! Robert Downey Jr is wonderful as an arrogant man who comes to question his ethics and his past, while Robert Duvall, old, fragile, stubborn and opinionated, is simply superb. They are supported by compelling acting in the lesser roles, including Vincent D’Onofrio and Billy Bob Thornton, but the entire ensemble cast is exceptionally strong.

     With a running time of 135 minutes The Judge is too long and would have benefited from some more focussed editing of some scenes, including those of Hank watching old film footage of the family, which tend to belabour the point being made. But when the film focuses on the courtroom it is a tense and compelling drama where, as in life, no-one really wins.

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

Transfer Quality

Video

     The Judge is presented in an aspect ratio of 2.40:1, close to the 2.35:1 original theatrical ratio, and is 16x9 enhanced.

     This is a print with very, very glossy colours that in some sequences such as the greens of the corn-fields look overbright and unnatural. Interiors are also frequently glary with the light source behind the actor, leading to a loss of detail and shadow detail. Blacks are solid and skin tones OK.

     There was some minor ghosting with movement against mottled backgrounds and some scenes look quite grainy but marks are absent.

     The layer chance at 74:27 created a slight pause during a scene change.

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

Audio

     Audio is an English Dolby Digital 5.1 track at a lesser 384 Kbps plus there is an English Dolby Digital 5.1 audio descriptive track with a male voice for the vision impaired, also at 384 Kbps.

     This film is heavy with dialogue which, thankfully is clear and centred. There is not a lot for the rears and surrounds to do, except for some ambient sound, music, and the wind in one scene. The sub-woofer was seldom heard, but it was not needed.

     The original score by the prolific Thomas Newman (he has been nominated for 12 Oscars, but is yet to win one) was effective and there were added songs by a range of artists including Fleetwood Mac and Willie Nelson.

     Lip synchronisation fine.

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

Extras

Trailers (6:17)

     Trailers for The One I Love, St. Vincent and Keep On Keepin’ On play on start-up. They cannot be selected from the menu.

Getting Deep with Dax Shepard (8:58)

     A humorous set of interviews Shepard conducts with Robert Downey Jr, Vincent D’Onofrio and Billy Bob Thornton.

R4 vs R1

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

     The US Region A Blu-ray of The Judge includes as extras an audio commentary by the director, a making of (22:16), deleted scenes (18:28) and the Shepard interviews. However the Region 1 DVD only has the same Shepard interviews we do and is listed as being in the cropped 1.85:1 aspect ratio. For DVD stay with the local release.

Summary

     The Judge may feel a bit long but this is a competent, old fashioned drama replete with great acting by an excellent cast, especially Robert Downey Jr and Robert Duvall. Definitively worth a look by fans of either the actors or anyone interested in well-made courtroom dramas.

     The video and audio are functional. The extras are minimal.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Ray Nyland (the bio is the thing)
Monday, March 30, 2015
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

Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add) NONE