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Jay Roach
Charlize Theron, Nicole Kidman, Margot Robbie
Writing Credits:
Charles Randolph

A group of women take on Fox News head Roger Ailes and the toxic atmosphere he presided over at the network.

Rated R.

Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1
English Dolby 5.1
Spanish Dolby 5.1
French Dolby 5.1
English Descriptive Audio
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 108 min.
Price: $39.99
Release Date: 3/10/2020

• “No Easy Truths” Documentary
• Trailer & Previews
• DVD Copy


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Bombshell [Blu-Ray] (2019)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (March 1, 2020)

Once primarily known as the director behind the Austin Powers and Meet the Parents movies, Jay Roach turned political with 2008’s Recount. 2019’s Bombshell offers another tale in that vein, as Roach looks at events that rocked Fox News.

Bombshell focuses on the experiences of three women at Fox News. Megyn Kelly (Charlize Theron) enjoys her own Fox show and she gets to serve as one of the moderators in an August 2015 debate for the Republican presidential candidates.

When Kelly asks Donald Trump a question about his prior misogynistic comments, this blows up into a major story, mainly because Trump persistently insults her after the event. This leads to stress in both her personal and professional lives.

Kayla Pospisil (Margot Robbie) works behind the scenes on various Fox shows, but she hopes to become on-air talent. This leads her to meet with network chief Roger Ailes (John Lithgow) in what becomes a degrading experience for her.

Gretchen Carlson (Nicole Kidman) also hosts her own show, but she regards this little-watched midday program as a demotion from her prior spot on the popular AM yak-fest Fox & Friends. Carlson suspects her refusal to go along with the sexist culture exemplified by Ailes plays a part in this unwanted shift.

Eventually Carlson launches a lawsuit against Ailes and she attempts to find other women to join. Among others, this leads Kayla and Megan into the proceedings.

Can I regard a movie about Fox News independent from the current political climate? Not really, especially since the events in Bombshell played a large role in the creation of said political climate.

No one can say for certain that Trump wouldn’t have won the presidency without the relentless, unquestioning support of Ailes and Fox News. After all, other networks didn’t do much to stop his ascent either.

That said, the others major TV news sources didn’t actively promote Trump in the way that Fox did, so credit or blame falls on their doorstep. We’ll never know how the Trump candidacy would’ve evolved without Fox, but given the narrow margin of victory, I think an election without Fox’s involvement wouldn’t have gone his way.

This feels like the wolf lurking in the background of Bombshell, as our knowledge of What Happens Next adds a dark aura to the film. The events depicted here end a few months before the 2016 election, so the movie doesn’t formally follow that, but we all know where it’ll go.

For the most part, Bombshell keeps this material in the realm of subtext, as even the involvement of Trump in the story – via his crude attacks on Kelly – doesn’t play a massive role. The world of Trumpism exists here, but the focus remains on Ailes.

That said, I clearly see that Roach wants us to interpret Trump in the same light as Ailes. Buried among the 1000 other scandals of the Trump administration, we tend to forget that many women have credibly accused Trump of varying degrees of sexual misconduct.

Bombshell doesn’t directly remind us of those claims, but it still feels like it wants to reflect them. The film’s ending offers a hopeful text note that women will continue to take down powerful men with their truth, and I find it hard to believe Roach doesn’t intend Trump as one of the recipients of this form of justice.

In terms of its social goals, Bombshell achieves success. It shouldn’t come as a shock that women live in a sexist world where they often must degrade themselves to get along, but the film paints these situations in painful detail, as it lets us get inside the women’s heads to feel their emotions.

As a movie, though, Bombshell proves more erratic, mainly because it doesn’t tie together the three lead characters especially well. Like I indicated, these women eventually come together in a way, but much of the film progresses like three semi-related but not especially well-integrated narratives.

Roach finds it tough to balance the three, so we wind up detached from one or two of the characters for semi-extended stretches. I don’t mind that Bombshell doesn’t attempt to give all three equal time – Kelly receives the lion’s share – but I’d prefer that it allows the plot points to mesh better than it does.

This means some awkward shifts in addition to the lack of balance I noted. Bombshell seems so eager to pack in so many narrative threads that it can rush at times and lose its way to a minor degree.

Honestly, Bombshell feels like a feature film that probably would fare better as a mini-series. The movie clocks in at 109 minutes, and another 30-40 minutes would flesh it out more vividly, so a much longer take would seem even more compelling.

At least Bombshell never becomes boring, and I can’t complain about the cast. In addition to the four actors I cited, we find a slew of names and almost-names here, far too many to mention.

At times, these choices can feel like stunt casting, but for the most part, they work. The star-studded cast adds credibility to the project.

Ultimately, Bombshell tells a worthwhile story and it does so in a fairly compelling manner. The movie never truly excels and would benefit from more cinematic breathing room, but it largely succeeds.

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

Bombshell appears in an aspect ratio of 2.39:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. Overall, this was a positive image.

On a smidgen of softness ever cropped up here, mainly in some wider shots. Otherwise, the movie showed nice clarity and delineation.

Jagged edges and moiré effects failed to appear, and edge haloes remained absent. Print flaws also stayed away from this clean image.

In terms of palette, Bombshell went with an emphasis on amber, and it tossed in some light teal along the way. Overall, the hues were fine for their visual choices.

Blacks showed good depth, while low-light shots boasted nice clarity. This was a solid “B+“ presentation.

Outside of releases from small labels, virtually every Blu-ray from 2008 to date came with lossless audio. Imagine my shock when I plopped Bombshell in my player and discovered nothing more than a Dolby Digital 5.1 track.

I don’t know if someone simply goofed when they authored the disc or this acted as a conscious choice on the part of Lionsgate. It meant I deducted points from my grade, though, as the absence of a lossless mix on a 2020 Blu-ray seems preposterous.

Not that Bombshell came with a sizzling soundtrack anyway, as it gave us competent sonics most of the time as well as a little pep on occasion. A drama like this didn’t need to boast a rock-em, sock-em mix, so the audio seemed acceptable.

Usually, the soundfield didn’t have a lot to do, so it concentrated on good stereo music and general ambience. Every once in a while, though, the mix came to life – in a moderate manner, at least.

Audio quality was fine. Speech seemed natural and concise, without edginess or other concerns. Music appeared full, with reasonable definition.

Effects remained clear and accurate, with some pretty solid low-end response. This became an acceptable track, though the lack of lossless material remained perplexing.

A seven-part documentary called No Easy Truths fills a total of one hour, 34 minutes, eight seconds. It includes comments from director Jay Roach, writer Charles Randolph, producer Robert Graf, director of photography Barry Ackroyd, production designer Mark Ricker, set decorator Ellen Brill, prosthetic makeup designer Kazu Hiro, makeup department head Vivian Baker, hair designer Anne Morgan, costume designer Colleen Atwood, and actors Charlize Theron, Margot Robbie, Nicole Kidman, John Lithgow, Connie Britton, Allison Janney, Amy Landecker, Kate McKinnon, Liv Hewson, Brigette Lundy-Payne, Rob Delaney, Mark Duplass, Nazanin Boniadi, and Malcolm McDowell.

“Truths” looks at the project’s roots and development, story and characters, cast and performances, photography, sets and locations, makeup, costumes and hair, music, and Roach’s impact on the production.

With so much time at its disposal, “Truths” manages to offer a good overview of the film. While it leans a little toward happy talk at times, the piece nonetheless comes with plenty of useful insights that allow it to turn into an engaging take on the flick.

The disc opens with ads for I Still Believe, Knives Out, A Simple Favor, The Farewell and Angel of Mine. We also get the trailer for Bombshell.

A second disc provides a DVD copy of Bombshell. It includes the same extras as the Blu-ray.

A star-laden view of controversies at Fox News, Bombshell does more right than wrong. It could use a longer running time and a bit more depth, but it manages to give us an engaging work. The Blu-ray brings very good picture and an informative documentary, but the lack of lossless audio surprises and disappoints. Despite that perplexing choice, this becomes a reasonably positive release for an engaging movie.

Viewer Film Ratings: 3 Stars Number of Votes: 4
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