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Tim Burton
Ewan McGregor, Albert Finney, Billy Crudup, Jessica Lange, Alison Lohman, Helena Bonham Carter, Robert Guillaume, Marion Cotillard, Matthew McGrory
Writing Credits:
John August

A frustrated son tries to determine the fact from fiction in his dying father's life.

Box Office:
$70 million.
Opening Weekend
$207.377 thousand on 6 screens.
Domestic Gross
$66.257 million.

Rated PG-13

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
English Dolby Digital 5.1
English PCM 5.1
French Dolby Digital 5.1
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 125 min.
Price: $19.99
Release Date: 3/20/2007

• Audio Commentary with Director Tim Burton
• Previews


Panasonic TC-P60VT60 60-Inch 1080p 600Hz 3D Smart Plasma HDTV; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.


Big Fish [Blu-Ray] (2004)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (April 13, 2016)

For many years, I thought Tim Burton could do no wrong. For his first decade as a director, he produced one good to great movie after another.

Burtonís charms sagged by the late 90s and ever since then, heís created a series of largely uninspired efforts. At least one exception to this rule exists, though: 2003ía Big Fish, a charming fable that reminds us of Burtonís strengths.

Fish follows Edward Bloom (Albert Finney). Early on we learn that he loves to tell the same tall tales over and over, and this started to irritate his 30-ish son William (Billy Crudup) years earlier.

When Edward grabs the spotlight at Williamís wedding to Josephine (Marion Cotillard), this greatly bothers the son, and the pair effectively cease to communicate for years. They learn about each other through Edwardís wife and Williamís mother Sandra (Jessica Lange), but they have no direct interaction.

When Edwardís cancer worsens and he nears death, William and the heavily-pregnant Josephine fly back from their home in France so the son and father can hopefully reconcile. While the two try to come to terms before itís too late, the movie tells Edwardís life story via his tall tales, most of which feature himself as a younger man (Ewan McGregor). Through these stories, we get a mix of reality and fantasy and learn more about the man.

Most people seem to regard Fish as one of Burtonís more reality-based movie, and thatís probably true. The modern-day parts of Fish include virtually no fantasy, and since Edwardís fanciful stories clearly arenít meant to be taken literally, we donít have to stretch our understanding of truth to buy into them.

However, Fish walks the line between the literal and the whimsical and rarely makes it clear where to draw the distinction. That works in the filmís favor, as it doesnít allow us to buy into concise definitions of reality and fantasy.

Of course we know that time didnít really stand still when Edward saw Sandra, but Burton aptly allows us to understand the subjective nature of the memories. Does Edward believe his tall tales after all these years? Who knows and who cares? The movie lets us see the way that the two sides intermesh and become a personal form of reality.

And it does so in a highly entertaining way. The many flashback stories never threaten to wear out their welcome. Thatís largely because they present their own mini-movies.

Fish enjoys a wide variety of tales, most of which focus on different genres. Horror, comedy, action, and romance all co-exist inside this flick, and that keeps the different segments fresh and fun. Donít expect much historical reality Ė Edwardís wartime assignment will cause much head-scratching among buffs Ė but thatís not the point, so you need to just go with the flow.

Fish also benefits from a decided lack of melodrama. Back in the present day, the flick easily could have turned sappy and drippy as father and son hash out their issues. Happily, Burton delivers genuine emotion without sickly sentiment. At times the movie reminds me of Forrest Gump, but Fish comes without that movieís sugary nature and simplicity. The drama integrates well and feels like a necessary component, which allows the conclusion to pay off in a genuinely moving way.

In no way will I ever consider Big Fish to be my favorite Tim Burton movie, as I simply adore too many of his earlier flicks too much. However, it may well be his most consistent and mature film to date.

On one hand, Iím not 100 percent sure I want to see Burton take on more ďadultĒ topics, as I love his warped fantasies. However, given the lackluster nature of his last few efforts, I have to endorse his change of pace, and if he continues in this vein, I look forward to his future work.

The Disc Grades: Picture C+/ Audio B+/ Bonus C

Big Fish appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. The movie didnít look bad, but it didnít look very good, either.

Sharpness presented a frequent concern. Much of the film seemed moderately ill-defined, with shots that appeared just a bit ďoffĒ and unfocused. The definition wasnít poor, but mild softness infused most of the flick. No jagged edges or moirť effects occurred, and I saw no edge haloes. A handful of specks materialized but the film usually seemed clean.

Colors varied. Unsurprisingly, the movie featured a wide array of hues that went from rather stylized more realistic. At times the colors came across as reasonably vivid and true, but they sometimes seemed somewhat drab and bland. Blacks were fairly deep and dense, but low-light shots tended to appear somewhat thick and muddy. Fish provided a mediocre visual experience.

While not spectacular, the Uncompressed PCM 5.1 soundtrack of Big Fish satisfied. For the most part, the mix maintained a forward balance. Music showed nice stereo imaging, and the track featured a good sense of atmosphere and ambience.

Occasionally we found sequences that used the spectrum well. For instance, Edwardís walk through the woods to and from Spectre presented nice activity for the spiders, bees, and monstrous trees, and some other elements during the film also brought the surrounds to life well. The soundfield never became dazzling, but it complemented the action fine.

Audio quality also appeared solid. Speech was consistently accurate and firm. I noticed no problems like edginess or a lack of clarity. Music appeared bright and acceptably lively, with reasonably good range.

Effects always seemed clean and accurate, and they packed a nice punch when appropriate. For example, the stomp to Karlís walking pumped out good bass. Overall, the audio of Big Fish worked well for the movie.

How did the Blu-ray compare to the original DVD? Audio showed a little more range and punch, while visuals appeared tighter and more distinctive. The transfer disappointed and couldíve looked better, but it still surpassed the DVD, which had its own problems.

The Blu-ray drops most of the DVDís extras, but we still get an audio commentary from director Tim Burton. Fans know that his tracks tend to be more than a little dry and slow-paced, so this discís producers wisely paired him with an interviewer whose name I couldnít understand. They watch the film as Burton fields questions about it. The format works very well and allows Burton to give us a fairly robust look at the flick.

Burton covers a nice variety of subjects. We learn why he took on the project as well as others who considered doing it and its personal relevance. He gets into casting choices and working with the actors. Burton discusses the visual elements of the film and provides a rationale for the use of practical pieces instead of CGI. We hear about differences between the book and the film plus many notes from the set. The track still sags occasionally, but overall this is a solid commentary.

The Blu-ray also includes Previews for Stranger Than Fiction and The Pursuit of Happyness. As noted the Blu-ray drops everything else from the DVD, which means we lose a good collection of materials.

A change of pace for Tim Burton, Big Fish offers a pretty winning piece. The movie presents a quirky but still rich and believable fable that works well in most ways. The Blu-ray offers mediocre visuals, good audio and an informative commentary. The movie receives a lackluster Blu-ray presentation

To rate this film, visit the DVD review of BIG FISH

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