Boyhood appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. Though not a visual showcase, the image usually succeeded.
What “flaws” I noticed cropped up during the 2002-04 scenes. Those showed mild softness at times – usually during interiors – and I saw a couple of small specks. These parts of the movie weren’t unattractive but they could seem lackluster.
Happily, the visuals improved as the film progressed. Sharpness still had some inconsistencies, but the movie seemed well-defined and concise the majority of the time. No issues with jaggies or shimmering occurred, and I noticed no edge haloes. After those early sequences, no obvious print flaws appeared.
Boyhood provided a low-key but natural palette. Throughout the movie, the hues seemed reasonably full and distinctive. Blacks were fairly deep and rich, while shadows offered good smoothness and visibility. This became a “B” presentation.
As for the film’s DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack, it remained consistently restrained. The soundscape lacked much ambition and focused heavily on the forward channels. In that realm, the sporadic examples of music showed positive stereo presence, and the side channels offered generally good sense of place.
The surrounds didn’t have much to do, though they opened up a bit as the film progressed. Even so, they stayed limited and didn’t give us much information. We got a bit of usage for scenes at sporting events or at parties, but the track concentrated on the front the vast majority of the time.
Audio quality satisfied. Speech seemed concise and natural, without edginess or other issues. Music sounded peppy and full, and effects came across as accurate and clear. Nothing here impressed, but the track seemed fine for the material.
How did the Criterion release compare to the original 2015 Blu-ray? Audio appeared identical, but visuals showed some improvements. The Criterion disc came across as a bit tighter and cleaner than the prior version. It’s not a huge step up, but the Criterion set offered the superior image.
The Criterion package comes with new extras, and these start with an audio commentary. During this chat, we get a running, screen-specific piece with writer/director Richard Linklater, editor Sandra Adair, costume designer Kari Perkins, producer Cathleen Sutherland, 1st AD Vince Palmo, casting director Beth Sepko, production designer Rodney Becker, and actors Marco Perella, Andrew Villarreal, Libby Villari. Various participants come and go, so don’t expect that whole crew the entire time.
The commentary project's origins and development, cast/performances, character/story areas, costumes, cinematography, editing, personal experiences that informed the movie, dealing with the long shooting schedule, locations and production design, music, editing and various challenges.
Overall, this becomes a good commentary, though probably not as involving as it should be. The best parts look at real-life influences, with an emphasis on how Linklater’s past informed characters and situations.
I think the track feels a little less reflective than I’d like, though. Boyhood used such a novel approach/schedule but we don’t get a great feel for those issues. Again, the track works pretty well in its own right, but I don’t think it quite lives up to expectations.
Disc Two comes with five components. Twelve Years runs 49 minutes, 28 seconds and provides gives us footage recorded during the movie’s long shoot. This means comments across the 12 years from Linklater, Ellar Coltrane’s mother, and actors Patricia Arquette, Lorelei Linklater, Ellar Coltrane, Ethan Hawke, and Zoe Graham.
Essentially a video journal across the shoot, we get a good feel for how the movie progressed/evolved over time. The remarks add a little info, but the most valuable material comes from the on-the-set footage. Those elements turn this into a good overview of the production.
During the 57-minute, 35-second Memories of the Present, we find a discussion that involves Linklater, Arquette and Coltrane. Moderated by producer John Pierson, this panel chat looks at reactions to the film’s completion and its reception, aspects of the long shoot, how the actors’ real lives impacted the story/characters, and various reflections on the production.
Like the commentary, “Present” offers a good but not great conversation. The program offers a series of useful thoughts and becomes a fairly positive overview. However, it lacks great insight and could be tighter/better focused.
Always Now lasts 30 minutes, 10 seconds and provides a chat with Coltrane and Hawke. They discuss their characters and evolution as well as their performances, working with Linklater and more elements of the shoot. “Now” resembles the other chats, but it still offers new information, partly due to Linklater’s absence, as this allows Hawke and Coltrane to reflect on the director.
Next comes Time of Your Life, a 12-minute, 29-second video essay. Coltrane reads an essay from critic Michael Koresky accompanied by clips from Boyhood and other Linklater films aswell as various stills. “Life” offers a good piece of interpretation and introspection.
Disc Two finishes with Through the Years. This gives us a 23-minute, 59-second running montage of photos shot on the set by Matt Lankes. It also includes excerpts from writings by Lankes, Linklater, Sutherland, Hawke, Arquette and Coltrane, all of whom read their work. The photos offer a nice glimpse of the long production, and the comments add interesting thoughts. It’s another useful piece.
A booklet completes the package. It offers photos, credits and an essay from novelist Jonathan Lethem. Like most Criterion booklets, it adds value to the set.
While I admire the scope and ambition of Boyhood, the movie itself leaves me more cold than I’d like. Parts of it engage but the flick’s loose, meandering natural makes it somewhat dull. The Blu-ray offers generally positive picture and audio along with an engaging set of supplements. Boyhood remains an intriguing but not especially fascinating cinematic experience.
To rate this film, visit the original review of BOYHOOD