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PLEASE NOTE: Michael D's is currently in READ ONLY MODE. Anything submitted will simply not be written to the database.
Lots of stuff is still broken, but at least reviews can now be looked up and read.
Erin Brockovich (Blu-ray) (2000)

Erin Brockovich (Blu-ray) (2000)

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Released 7-May-2008

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama Featurette-Making Of-(15.13)
Interviews-Character-The Real Erin Brokovich (4.00)
Deleted Scenes-With Commentary (30.00)
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2000
Running Time 131:00
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Steven Soderbergh

Sony Pictures Home Entertain
Starring Julia Roberts
Albert Finney
Aaron Eckhart
Case Amaray-Transparent
RPI ? Music Thomas Newman

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby TrueHD 5.1 (1536Kb/s)
Spanish Dolby TrueHD 5.1 (1536Kb/s)
Portuguese Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
Thai Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
French Dolby TrueHD 5.1 (1536Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.85:1
16x9 Enhancement
Not 16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 1080p
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles Arabic
English for the Hearing Impaired
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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

Plot Synopsis

Erin Brockovich represents one of the most successful examples of the fusion of high wattage starpower with sleek indie sensibility. This perfect combination (Julia Roberts and Steven Soderbergh) produced a film that not only snared a Best Actress Oscar for Julia Roberts, its popular star, but also turned in a decent trick at the box office.

To be sure, star vehicles such as Monster, Monsters Ball and Boys Don't Cry have all got the same statuette for their female leads but even combined they didn't bring in the $250 million plus in worldwide ticket sales that Brockovich secured.

The reason for the success at the box office is a reflection of the quality of the film but also the sheer drawing power that Julia Roberts held in the 90's.

The plot of Erin Brockovich is probably well known to just about everybody. It is based on a true story. Mother of three (by two husbands) Brockovich (Roberts) is on her way back from another fruitless job interview when she is t-boned by a doctor in a Jag. She consults downtown lawyer Ed Masry (Albert Finney) who assures her that he will get her a nice fat settlement. They lose and with the resultant medical bills she is twice as destitute as before. After failing to get any work she fronts up at Masry's office and demand that he give her work as some compensation. Reluctantly he agrees.

The amply cleavaged and mini-skirted Brockovich causes a stir in the office with her unconventional attitudes. She is a well balanced person - having chips on both shoulders.

One fateful day she is opening a new file when she notices an anomaly. A matter regarding a property purchase has been mixed up with details of persistent illnesses in the family of the property owner. Confused, she drives out to see the owner Donna Jensen (CSI's Marg Helgenberger) who tells her that the reason the files are together is that electricity giant PG&E, who wants to buy their home, has also been paying for medical treatment for their variety of ailments. Seeing a connection between the health problems and the purchase request Erin digs deeper. She finds that PG&E have admitted accidentally letting dangerous chromium leak from their nearby plant into the water supply of Hinkley, California. She also finds that Hinkley is a town where serious ill health is a regular occurrence. When PG&E offers to increase the purchase price by a healthy amount she and Masry smell a big rat - could it be that the chromium dumped by PG&E is not the harmless Chromium 3 but the carcinogenic Chromium 6 and could the town have been poisoned as a result? Once word is out there are hundreds of potential clients lined up.

Erin flourishes in her new job and gets more respect and money from the boss. At home things aren't so rosy. She reluctantly allows and amiable biker neighbour (Aaron Eckhart) to look after her kids when she is working long hours. Their relationship begins to blossom but he finds that she is so consumed by her work that her own family suffers. The story plays out as a drama with a legal backdrop as the mighty electrical giant wages war with Masry and Brockovich, who are forced to call in some big gun plaintiff lawyers just to get the case to court.

In truth Erin Brockovich is not really a legal thriller. There are precious few courtroom moments. It is really a feelgood story about a down and out woman who comes to attain respect and success when just about all her hopes had been snuffed out.

Anyone who cares deeply about the truth probably shouldn't delve too deep into the Brockovich story. In real life many of the claimants were unhappy about the outcome of the case and even the woman upon whom the character of Donna Jensen is based has dismissed the key scene of her getting some good news as a fabrication. Within a year of the case being settled the US EPA had declared Chromium 6 as a non-danger when imbibed. Hell, the gentle biker almost went to prison for an extortion plot to try to get some of Erin's money. Those who want the tearjerk moment/feelgood payoff of the fat paycheck to Brockovich to resonate loudly shouldn't concern themselves with the fact that most of the sick and dying claimants earned less out of the case than Erin and no one earned more that Julia Roberts who got $20 million for her role!

Ultimately, if you let the backstory to the real Brockovich deter you the film can seem shallow and forced. However, just when you want to pour scorn on the film Roberts flashes that big smile and all is forgiven.

The script by Susanna Grant makes it clear that Erin is to be the hero of the piece. Sometimes this comes off clumsily such as when the "big city" lawyers come on board and have to eat truckloads of humble pie when they make the mistake of underestimating the mighty Erin. Director Soderbergh had not long come off the uber-cool Out of Sight and applied the same indie sensibilities to this real life story. Close ups of Roberts' luscious frame abound making a legal story somehow sexy. Erin Brockovich is no masterpiece but it is a well made, enthralling study of a flawed character who triumphs sometimes in spite of herself.

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

Transfer Quality


Erin Brockovich was shot on 35mm film and projected at the cinema at a 1.85:1 ratio.

This ratio has been preserved on Blu-ray in its native widescreen.

The film was also released in High Definition some time ago as a HD-DVD title. It is perhaps no surprise that the feature-set on this release is the same as the HD-DVD title. According to DVD Compare the HD-DVD was encoded using VC1 whereas this Blu-ray release uses MPEG 4 compression. Those with both players and a bit of time on their hands might want to test the formats against each other.

As it is this is a fine, sharp transfer of a catalogue title. Soderbergh films have a distinctive look which often includes heavy stylization and colour treatments. This film is no exception and the baking California desert and the lawyers offices share one thing - neither look terribly "real". Bearing this in mind this transfer is a fine piece of work with every colour jumping off the screen. There is a noticeable amount of grain throughout but this seems entirely consistent with Soderbergh's vision. Otherwise, compression issues are non existent and the colours are clear and bright. As might be expected the print is nice and clean.

Skin tones are accurate.

There are so many subtitle options I was tempted to see if I could watch them all. I didn't, losing patience around the Baltics. The English subtitles for the Hearing Impaired are accurate.

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


There are a variety of sound options on offer. For the English speaking the True HD soundtrack is the prime track on offer.

Those expecting an all enveloping sonic experience, however, are likely to be disappointed. The film is a human drama providing little for the surround speakers and the sub-woofer to do.

That's not to say that the track is lacking. The dialogue is clear and easy to understand. Ambient sounds are also clear. The music by composer Thomas Newman is, if not unforgettable, a perfectly tuned accompaniment to the film.

Audio sync is fine.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use


Fans of this film will perhaps be slightly more than disgruntled at the lack of new extras. The Blu-ray format offers incredible storage capabilities yet this release has simply repackaged, in standard definition, the extras from the original DVD release.

Featurette-Making Of

The Making of feature is a pretty unimpressive studio puff piece. We are introduced to the main players including the real Erin and Ed Masry who give a bit of backstory. It is a bit of a backslapping affair with everyone praising Erin, Julia and Soderbergh.

Interviews-The Real Erin Brokovich

The personality profile is not really a profile at all. It is just the real Erin talking about her struggles and her triumph. Backed with some soppy piano music Erin tells how she believed in the claimants and gave them a voice through the court case.

Deleted Scenes - with optional commentary by Steven Soderbergh

The Deleted Scenes are the only real gold amongst the extras. However, viewers wanting to soak up the "never-before-seen" deleted scenes will quickly realise that they are the same "never-before-seen" deleted scenes featured on the original DVD release. For those who have held off buying the film till now the scenes are worth a watch. They are cobbled together and don't have an individual play selection. In total they run for just over 30 minutes. The scenes flesh out further background to the film. In the absence of any commentary track for the movie the track that Soderbergh provides for the deleted scenes is interesting. As always time and pacing dictated the exclusions. A pity as some gave greater depth and raw honesty to the movie. All are in standard definition and one is missing a sound track.

I suppose it is too much to ask for in a release dedicated to glorifying Erin Brockovich but it would have been nice to see the whole story in some sort of perspective. What did the win mean for the Hinkley claimants? Are they happy they went down this path? How has Erin's life changed?

R4 vs R1

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

The Blu-ray release is only out in Region B at present.


The story of Erin Brockovich may stray too close to the American Dream of success = big wallet but the film, viewed alone, is a masterful character study of a difficult woman.

This will never be a showcase Blu-ray but the film has a really nice transfer that does justice to the movie.

The lack of extras may be galling for those who wanted a comprehensive guide to the movie.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Trevor Darge (read my bio)
Saturday, August 02, 2008
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer BDP-LX70A Blu-ray Player, using HDMI output
DisplayPioneer PDP-5000EX. This display device has not been calibrated. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum.
AmplificationOnkyo TX-SR605
SpeakersJBL 5.1 Surround and Subwoofer

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