Animal Kingdom (Blu-ray) (2010)

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Released 11-Oct-2010

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Crime Main Menu Audio & Animation
Audio Commentary-David Michôd
Audio Commentary-Cast Commentary (approx 62 mins)
Featurette-Making Of-The Making of Animal Kingdom documentary
Interviews-Crew-David Michôd talks with Tom Noble
Short Film-Crossbow
Gallery-Poster-Poster & Key Art Gallery
Teaser Trailer-Animal Kingdom
Theatrical Trailer-Animal Kingdom
Trailer-Madman Propaganda
Rating Rated MA
Year Of Production 2010
Running Time 112:51 (Case: 108)
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By David Michôd
Studio
Distributor
Porchlight Entertain
Madman Entertainment
Starring Ben Mendelsohn
Joel Edgerton
Guy Pearce
Luke Ford
Jacki Weaver
Sullivan Stapleton
James Frecheville
Case Standard Blu-ray
RPI $44.95 Music Antony Partos


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Unknown English Linear PCM 48/24 5.1
English Linear PCM 48/24 2.0
English Audio Commentary Linear PCM 48/24 2.0
English Audio Commentary Linear PCM 48/24 2.0
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 for the Hearing Impaired Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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Plot Synopsis

     If there is a possible down side to achieving wide critical acclaim with your first feature, it must be the high expectation on your second. With that in mind, writer/director David Michôd has quite a task ahead of him. Michôd's debut feature, Animal Kingdom, has not only excited critics and local audiences in Australia, it is now finding similar recognition beyond our shores.

     With the recent public fascination for the Melbourne crime world, it would be easy to assume that Animal Kingdom was simply following in the wake of productions like the Nine Network's Underbelly series. But the fact is that Animal Kingdom was a ten year project for David Michôd. He kept the dream alive by spasmodically working on the screenplay, often doubting the quality and viability of the project. Insecurities continually dogged Michôd through production and post-production, before finally being laid to rest when Animal Kingdom received the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance this year.

     While elements of the story have been based on true events, Animal Kingdom is essentially a work of fiction. The film is set in and was filmed in Melbourne. The story opens with the fatal drug overdose of a woman in a small suburban flat. Despite the efforts of paramedics, the woman dies, leaving her desensitised seventeen year-old son, Joshua or Jay (James Frecheville), alone in the world. With nowhere to turn, Jay calls his estranged maternal grandmother, Janine "Smurf" Cody (Jacki Weaver), telling her he doesn't know what else to do.

     Jay has been sheltered from this side of the family, but he isn't naïve to the fact that his grandmother and his four uncles don't exactly live in a world of wholesome integrity. With shrewd and calculated ignorance, Janine is the loving matriarch of her family of crime. She provides a calming influence over her often chaotic household. Jay's uncles, Craig (Sullivan Stapleton), Baz (Joel Edgerton) and the youngest Darren (Luke Ford) all live in the house. Their various criminal activities ensure they are under the constant scrutiny of police. The fourth and eldest uncle is also the most intimidating. Andrew "Pope" Cody (Ben Mendelsohn) also lives in the house, but he has gone to ground. A group of rouge detectives have recently taken a special interest in his movements and activities. With his quiet disposition, Jay is openly accepted into the fold. But when a sudden and unprovoked act leaves the family devastated, Jay becomes an unwitting accessory in an indefensible act of revenge. Police instantly have their suspects and the Cody house is raided. Jay is taking in for questioning, where Detective Nathan Leckie (Guy Pearce) recognises Jay's inexperience and young innocence. He sees an opportunity to gain Jay's trust and hopefully steer him away from his uncles’ influences. This would also create a weakness in solidarity and facilitate the infiltration of the family. But despite Leckie's best efforts, Jay understands his duty of silence. With the intense police interest on Jay, it isn't long before suspicions begin to consume the family from within. In the criminal world, blood isn't always thicker than water and a family connection doesn't guarantee safety. A horrifying revelation reiterates that Jay's one and only option for a safe passage could be under the protection of Leckie; but can anyone really be trusted?

     Animal Kingdom succeeds largely due to the superb performances of its cast. There are many other cast members, not mentioned here, who play equally important roles with great distinction; this includes Laura Wheelwright in the challenging role of Jay's girlfriend. But for mine, the standout performances belong to the two veterans, Jacki Weaver and Ben Mendelsohn. At the time of writing this review there is strong sentiment that Jacki Weaver may be line for an Academy Award nomination. Although The Oscars aren't always the best indication of excellence, in this case a nomination would be pertinent recognition of a devious performance and a stellar acting career.

     Animal Kingdom has recently received a staggering 17 AFI (Australian Film Institute) Award nominations and it's hard not to see the film picking up a good majority of those.

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Transfer Quality

Video

Disclaimer: Please note that this disc has a video resolution of 1080p. It has been reviewed on a display device with a maximum native resolution of 1080i. More information can be found here.

     This Blu-ray has been encoded using MPEG-4 AVC and is presented in 1080p. Animal Kingdom is presented in the correct aspect ratio of 2.35:1, which is 16x9 enhanced.

     As you would expect the image looks outstanding, with no artefacts to speak of. Blacks were deep and clean, with just the occasional hint of inherent film grain. Shadows held an excellent degree of detail. The colour palette of Animal Kingdom is subdued with a predominant and appropriate arrangement of cool colours. Occasional displays of lush colour leap off the screen, like the image of a sunset over the city. All colours are perfectly balanced and couldn't be faulted.

     English subtitles for the hearing impaired are available for the feature only. These are displayed in soft yellow and are very easily legible.

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

Audio

     There are four audio tracks available on this Blu-ray edition. The centrepiece is the lossless Linear PCM 48kHz/24-bit 5.1 surround audio track. There is also a LPCM 2.0 48kHz/24-bit track and two English Audio Commentary tracks. Both commentary tracks are also LPCM 2.0 48kHz/24-bit.

     There were no problems at all with the dialogue quality and audio sync appeared accurate. The original score by Antony Partos is outstanding. From the opening credits the score establishes a sense of supremacy and foreboding, without ever imposing on the action. Some of the more incidental music used in the film is credited to sound designer, Sam Petty.

     The LPCM 5.1 track delivers an excellent surround experience. While the surround presence isn't a full-on assault, it is intelligent and uses the effects only where appropriate. Naturally this includes music passages, action sequences and immersive ambient sound. The subwoofer is also lively and provides superb depth to the overall sound experience.

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

Extras

Menu

     The main menu is animated with scenes from the film and features a sample of Antony Partos' brilliant theme music.

Director's Commentary - David Michôd

     Writer/Director, David Michôd begins the commentary by expressing a sense of unease regarding sustaining a listener's interest over the course of the film. Although his discomfort is often obvious, in general his commentary provides good insight into most aspects of the film.

Cast Commentary

     This was recorded around the time of the film's cinema release in Australia. The title of "Cast Commentary" is actually a little misleading. This is really just a small gathering of cast members, all of whom were obviously suffering from media promotion burn-out. Although the film plays over the top of the discussion, it's obvious the participants aren't actually watching the film. The contributors are David Michôd, Ben Mendelsohn, Jacki Weaver, Sullivan Stapleton and James Frecheville. While most of their discussion is quite farcical, it is often very funny and still well worth a listen; just don't expect a serious, in-depth commentary on the film. Note: This commentary only runs for about 62 minutes; this is when the contributors call an end to proceedings.

Featurette - The Making of Animal Kingdom (71:29)

     This "making of" documentary is really the centrepiece of all the extras. It features comprehensive input from cast and crew, providing great insight into all aspects of Animal Kingdom. This is divided into various chapters, each covering a different area of production. Apart from extensive interviews, there is also plenty of behind-the-scenes footage, including auditions, rehearsals and part of "the wake" deleted scene.

Interview - David Michôd talks with crime writer, Tom Noble (26:44)

     David Michôd talks with Tom Noble about his time as a police reporter for The Age newspaper and the Melbourne crime scene of the 70s - 80s. They also visit the locations of two vicious crimes against police and discuss the loose relationship one of these events has to Animal Kingdom.

Short Film - Crossbow (14:43)

     Crossbow is an outstanding 2007 short film written and directed by David Michôd. The film has relevance to Animal Kingdom in many ways. Apart from some familiar cast and crew members, Crossbow displays a comparable visual style. The profound and confronting narrative also heralds a prelude to something much bigger.

Poster & Key Art

     This is a collection of 20 pieces of poster art relating to Animal Kingdom. It's fascinating to see the varying promotional concepts before finishing with the final selection. This is the art featuring in cinemas and on the cover of the DVD and Blu-ray.

Teaser - Animal Kingdom (0:39)

Theatrical Trailer - Animal Kingdom (2:12)

Madman Propaganda

  • Balibo (2:34)
  • In The Electric Mist (2:13)
  • In The Loop (2:29)
  • Samson & Delilah (2:12)

    R4 vs R1

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

        At the time of this review, there is no Blu-ray US or UK release of Animal Kingdom. This edition from Madman Entertainment is actually region ABC.

    Summary

         David Michôd's Animal Kingdom is a stunning feature film debut from a promising Australian filmmaker. This crime thriller exceeds similar offerings from others in the genre and showcases stellar performances from a couple of acting veterans. Highly recommended.

         As you would expect, the video and audio transfers are outstanding. The selection of quality extras is first class and perfectly compliments the overall presentation.

    Ratings (out of 5)

    Video
    Audio
    Extras
    Plot
    Overall

    © Steve Crawford (Tip toe through my bio)
    Monday, November 08, 2010
    Review Equipment
    DVDPanasonic DMP-BD35 Blu Ray Player, using HDMI output
    DisplayHitachi 106cm Plasma Display 42PD5000MA (1024x1024). Calibrated with THX Optimizer. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080i.
    Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with THX Optimizer.
    AmplificationPanasonic SA-HE70 80W Dolby Digital and DTS
    SpeakersFronts: Jensen SPX7 Rears: Jensen SPX4 Centre: Jensen SPX13 Subwoofer: Jensen SPX17

    Other Reviews NONE
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