Hunter, The (2011) (Blu-ray)

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Released 8-Feb-2012

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama Audio Commentary-Feature length with director and producer.
Featurette-Making Of-"The Making of the Hunter" (33:02).
Deleted Scenes-With optional commentary (7:43).
Gallery-Photo-Three galleries with music from soundtrack.
Theatrical Trailer-Similar quality to film (1:52) : 1080p, 2.40:1.
Theatrical Trailer-Balibo (2:34)
Theatrical Trailer-Ten Canoes (2:10)
Theatrical Trailer-Kenny (1:52)
Theatrical Trailer-Big Mamma's Boy (2:13)
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2011
Running Time 101:31
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Daniel Nettheim
Studio
Distributor
Screen Australia
Madman Entertainment
Starring Willem Dafoe
Frances O'Connor
Sam Neil
Sullivan Stapleton
Dan Wyllie
Callan Mulvey
Case Standard Blu-ray
RPI $39.95 Music Andrew Lancaster
Michael Lira
Matteo Zingales


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Linear PCM 48/16 5.1
English Audio Commentary Linear PCM 48/16 2.0
English Descriptive Audio Linear PCM 48/16 2.0
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.40:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 1080p
Original Aspect Ratio 2.40:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures Yes
Subtitles Dutch for the Hearing Impaired Smoking Yes, In character.
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits Yes, Action from very start.

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

Plot Synopsis

     The Hunter is one of those earnestly meaningful movies that has to be endured rather than enjoyed. It is filled with symbolism and good intentions, with a message in every frame. It is, however, not entertaining as well as being dramatically, and geographically, unfocussed. As a result, it is difficult to care about any message it may contain.

    We begin with a meeting between mercenary Martin David (Willem Dafoe) and the head of a mysterious European biotech company. It seems that Jarrah Armstrong, the company's man in on the ground in Tasmania, has disappeared while attempting to find the last Tasmanian tiger, if it exists. Martin, a heavily flawed character, flies to Tasmania, to solve the disappearance of Jarrah and to continue the search for an example of the possibly extinct marsupial. Martin has some encounters with the extremely rustic, if not rusty, locals, before he heads off into the wilderness. He meets Lucy Armstrong (Frances O'Connor), a matured hippy and mate to the missing Jarrah, along with her two children, Sass (Morgana Davies) and Bike (Finn Woodlock). She's "sassy" - swears like a trooper - and he rides a bike! It seems that Ma and Pa Kettle put more thought into naming their children than the green hippies of Tasmania. Martin also meets oddball neighbour Jack Mindy (Sam Neill), deeply terse and obviously smitten with Lucy. Martin bathes naked with the two kids with Lucy's approval  - I spent twenty years in Tasmania and I think he'd have more likely been castrated and hanged. Various locals are vile and disgusting - with a really bad performance from the always consistent Dan Wyllie as a pool player. This film is, as they say, fraught with meaning. We are hit over the head with a baseball bat regarding themes and issues, and the whole thing is ploddingly earnest and dull. I'm sure Willem Dafoe had a fine Aussie break making the film - evidently he really likes the place. He gives a passive, dead performance but is nicely photographed in searing high-def close-ups. The rest of the cast are pretty woeful, everyone being madly symbolic but not one conveying a character.

    It is a truism that any fundamental weakness of a film comes from the writing, and the lack of experience in the writers here is evident. Julia Leigh has previously, also in 2011, written the screenplay for and directed the Australian Sleeping Beauty, The Hunter being her first novel, which I have not read. The original adaptation was made by Wain Fimeri, whose previous experience has been mainly in TV documentaries. From that adaptation the working screenplay was created by Alice Addison, again with only a handful of TV credits. This lack of experience is telling. Socially, Tasmania is bluntly presented as a hell hole, Deliverance continually coming to mind. (I intend to give this disc as a gift to Tasmanian relatives, just to see what their reaction will be. Director Daniel Nettheim might need that baseball bat he used on our heads.) A major flaw of the writing is that no sense of place is created, either of Tasmania's position on the globe, or of the relationship of the Tasmanian wilderness to the urban centres. Personally, I know. But I've lived there. Didn't they think an overseas audience would see this movie? The best thing about this film is the photography of the scenery. Strikingly photographed by Robert Humphreys (Unfinished Sky) the stark, cold beauty of Tasmania, or sections thereof,  is accurately and artistically captured in striking widescreen images. The making-of featurette reveals that some of the location shooting was actually atop Mount Wellington, adjacent to Hobart's suburbs, confirming doubts that the "wilderness" presented was all actually wild. With considerable TV experience, and helming only his second feature, the first being 2000's Angst, Daniel Nettheim directs with assurance and clean, simple use of the camera. He also handles the children well. It's a pity he didn't have a better screenplay.

    I can only see anyone really "enjoying" this film if he or she shares the philosophical and conservationist views of the film and is gratified at having those views reinforced. Sin, guilt, redemption and conservation are important themes, but as a functioning movie this one is dead in the water - or the wilderness. The pictures are attractive, though. Blow-ups would make good images for a calendar, but just the winter months.

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Transfer Quality

Video

   Presented at the ratio of 2.40:1 in a 1080p transfer, this transfer is generally attractive and consistent.

   The images are sharp and clear, with the scenery very nicely presented - even though basically stark and uninviting, while close-ups are searingly detailed. Some interiors have relied on available light, and here the inmage does suffer with some murkiness and loss of detail. Blacks also tend to be less solid in these circumstances, but elsewhere are impressive. The colour is attractive though rather subdued, befitting the subtle hues of the Tasmanian locales. Skin tones are excellent.

    There are English Subtitles for the Hearing Impaired which were sampled and found to be very good. Only one colour, white, is used and all subtitles are centred, with no appropriate placement on the screen.

       

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

Audio

   There are three audio streams : English  Dolby Digital 5.1 

                                                   English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround Encoded at 48 Khz

                                                   English Audio Description for the Vision Impaired.

This is a fairly modest audio experience, with the dialogue front and centre and minimal movement across the front stage. Surrounds basically contribte ambience and score, with the rare plot effect coming from the rear. Dialogue is crystal clear, without any sync problems or other defect.

    The Descriptive Narration for the Vision Impaired was delivered by a bland youngish female voice. The information provided is basic, with very little flavour of the images.

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

Extras

 

There is a comprehensive collection of special features on this disc.

Main Menu :

The menu is presented over a composite of a shot of Willem Dafoe against some majestically mountainous Tasmanian scenery. There are animated moving clouds as well as music from the film. Options offered are :

Play Feature

Scenes : A strip of twelve thumbnails appears at the bottom of the screen.

Extras : Audio Commentary with director Daniel Nettheim and producer Vincent Sheehan.

             The Making of The Hunter (33:02)

             Deleted Scenes with Optional Audio Commentary (7:43)

             The Soundtrack and Portrait Galleries

             Theatrical Trailer

             Madman Propaganda

             Set Up : Options offered are :  English 5.1 

                                                             Audio Commentary

                                                            Audio Description for the Vision Impaired 

                                                            English Captions for the Hearing Impaired                                                            

 

Audio Commentary :

This feature length commentary is delivered by the director, Daniel Nettheim, and the producer, Vincent Sheehan. Both men sound deadly dull, rather like very bored primary school teachers, so there is little incentive to go the distance with them. They cover all of the "making of" issues that you would expect, with discussions of the Tasmanian locale and its problems possibly the most interesting. I thought that some of the bleak wilderness looked rather familiar, and much of it turned out to be the heights of Hobart's Mount Wellington.

Featurette : The Making of The Hunter (33:01) :

This quite interesting featurette is presented in 1080p at the ratio of 1.78:1. The material is broken into four chapters : The Story, The Characters, Tasmania and The Tiger. There are on screen contributions from the director, producer, the Production Designer, Steven Jones-Evans, and various cast members - even Tasmanian locals contributing their bit regarding the existence or otherwise of the unfortunate Tasmanian tiger. This is an above average featurette.

Deleted Scenes (7:43) :

Provided with an optional Audio Commentary, we are given eleven nondescript short scenes, all but one at the ratio of 2.35:1. There is nothing here that would have enhanced the film.

The Soundtrack and Portrait Galleries :

This is an unusual extra that has some appeal. Three separate Portrait Galleries are presented, two colour 1.78:1, and one black and white "square screen", featuring shots taken on and around the set by Matt Nettheim, the director's brother. Each gallery is accompanied by a section of a track from the soundtrack album of the score which is the product of a collaboration between Matteo Zingales, Michael Lira and Andrew Lancaster.

Portrait Gallery 1 (0:45) : Featuring "The Last of the King" from the soundtrack album.

Portrait Galler 2 (1:45) : Featuring "The Hunter" from the soundtrack album

Portrait Gallery 3 (0:45) : Featuring "Redleaf" from the soundtrack album.

Theatrical Trailer (1:52) :

This is a tight, interesting trailer which stresses the mystery / thriller aspects of the plot. It is presented in 1080p at 2.35:1, quality comparable to the film itself.

ATOM Study Guide

Madman Propaganda : 

Here we get a collection of four other Madman features with a total runing time of 9:13. All are presented in 1080p.

Madman Introduction (0:24)

Balibo (2:34) : Presented at 1.78:1.

Ten Canoes (2:10) : Presented at 2.35:1.

Kenny (1:52) : Presented at 1.78:1.

Big Mamma's Boy (2:13) : Presented at 1.78:1.

 

    

Censorship

    There is censorship information available for this title. Click here to read it (a new window will open). WARNING: Often these entries contain MAJOR plot spoilers.

R4 vs R1

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

    To date this movie has not received a DVD or Blu-ray video release in either the United States or the U.K..

Summary

   The Hunter is only worth seeing for the visuals.Heavy handedly subsituting symbolic stick figures for real human beings, it fails to create a believable world, so how can we be expected to be involved in any issue the symbols might represent? The disc looks good and the extras are fairly generous.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Garry Armstrong (BioGarry)
Thursday, April 12, 2012
Review Equipment
DVDSONY BLU RAY BDP-S350, using HDMI output
DisplaySamsung LA55A950D1F : 55 inch LCD HD. Calibrated with THX Optimizer. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to DVD player. Calibrated with THX Optimizer.
AmplificationOnkyo TX-DS777
SpeakersVAF DC-X fronts; VAF DC-6 center; VAF DC-2 rears; LFE-07subwoofer (80W X 2)

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