DVD Movie Guide @ dvdmg.com Awards & Recommendations at Amazon.com.
Review Archive:  # | A-C | D-F | G-I | J-L | M-O | P-R | S-U | V-Z | Viewer Ratings | Main


Steven Spielberg
Michelle Williams, Paul Dano, Gabriel LaBelle
Writing Credits:
Steven Spielberg, Tony Kushner

Growing up in the post-World War II era, young Sammy Fabelman aspires to become a filmmaker as he reaches adolescence, but he soon discovers a shattering family secret and explores how the power of films can help him see the truth.

Box Office:
$40 Million.
Opening Weekend
$2,261,110 on 638 Screens.
Domestic Gross

Rated PG-13.

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
Dolby Vision
English Dolby TrueHD 7.1
English DVS
Spanish Dolby 7.1
French Dolby 5.1
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 151 min.
Price: $34.98
Release Date:2/14/2023

• “A Personal Journey” Featurette
• “Family Dynamics” Featurette
• “Crafting a World” Featurette
• Blu-ray Copy


-LG OLED65C6P 65-Inch 4K Ultra HD Smart OLED TV
-Marantz SR7010 9.2 Channel Full 4K Ultra HD AV Surround Receiver
-Sony UBP-X700 4K Ultra HD Dolby Vision Blu-ray Player
-Chane A2.4 Speakers
-SVS SB12-NSD 12" 400-watt Sealed Box Subwoofer


The Fabelmans [4K UHD] (2022)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (February 13, 2023)

After about 50 years as a director, Steven Spielberg turns the camera on himself with 2022’s The Fabelmans - sort of. While not purely autobiographical, the film strongly echoes aspects of his childhood and adolescence.

In early 1952, Burt (Paul Dano) and Mitzi Fabelman (Michelle Williams) take their six-year-old son Sammy (Mateo Zoryon Francis-DeFord) to see The Greatest Show on Earth. This makes a massive impression on the boy and launches his love of the movies.

This continues into adolescence, as teen Sammy (Gabriel LaBelle) pursues the craft of filmmaking. He does so through various family moves and conflicts, all as he builds toward adulthood and a choice of what to do with his life.

Spoiler alert: Sammy becomes arguably the most successful filmmaker of all-time. But we see none of that in Fabelmans, as it concludes before Sammy/Steven formally gets a career in motion.

Though I’ve enjoyed Spielberg’s movies since my own childhood, I never knew much about his life. I heard bits and pieces but didn’t invest in the topic beyond that.

Though fictionalized, Fabelmans offers a general overview. At the very least, it acts as a launching point to allow fans to decide if they want to learn more – and separate fact from fiction.

Not that Spielberg ever paints the story as true autobiography. After all, he doesn’t call it The Spielbergs.

Nonetheless, Spielberg does adhere to his actual life in a reasonable manner, albeit via the subjective lens of memory. Fabelmans offers an impressionistic view of his childhood more than a factual one.

Does Spielberg’s march down memory lane become a worthwhile cinematic endeavor? Yes, though not to the degree one might expect from a legend.

To its credit, Fabelmans offers an entertaining tale. It keeps you with it across 151 minutes, which feels like no small feat.

However, the film comes across as too "spread out", as even with all that running time available, the story tries to hit on too many points and becomes disjointed. It feels like Spielberg picked on a collection of "most memorable moments" from his childhood and made them into a movie.

This means we find an erratic approach to the narrative and one that doesn't hold together especially well. Rather than turn into a cohesive story, we get bits and pieces that semi-connect.

And as implied, maybe that’s exactly what Spielberg wanted: a semi-impressionistic view of his life. After all, we don't view our own pasts as one coherent tale, so perhaps he desired a movie that came across the same way he remembers events.

Which seems fine in theory but it doesn't lend itself to memorable filmmaking. The characters remain too one-dimensional and without real depth, as even Sammy doesn't become especially complex.

Consciously or not, I suspect Spielberg painted his characters this way to protect family. Any attempts to dig deeper could reflect poorly on those he loves.

Whatever the case, this ends up more as a movie I respect than I like. It comes with some strong moments - almost always related to Sammy's love of films - but it just doesn't turn into an especially emotional or memorable journey.

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

The Fabelmans appears in an aspect ratio of 1.85:1 on this 4K UHD Disc. A natural 4K image, the Dolby Vision presentation consistently looked great.

Sharpness appeared positive. Outside of some stylistic choices – and the reproduction of Sammy’s “home movies” – the film seemed distinctive and concise.

I noticed no issues with jagged edges or shimmering, and I witnessed no edge haloes. As expected, no source flaws popped up during the clean presentation – again, outside of those that become organic to Sammy’s creations.

Also as expected of a period piece, Fabelmans opted for a subdued palette. Amber/teal became the dominant tones, with splashes of other hues as well.

Given those restrictions, the colors seemed appropriate. HDR added range and impact to these elements.

Blacks were deep, and shadows satisfied. HDR brought strength to whites and contrast. All of this added up to a solid “A-” image.

I also felt pleased with the Dolby TrueHD 7.1 audio of Fabelmans. Given the movie’s character focus, the soundscape didn’t come across as consistently dazzling.

However, sporadic sequences popped to life well. With scenes like a cinematic train crash and a tornado, the mix occasionally became lively.

In addition, general atmosphere felt appropriate and engaging. Despite the low-key approach to much of the tale, the soundscape nonetheless impressed.

Audio quality was positive. Speech seemed natural and concise, without edginess or other issues.

Effects appeared accurate and dynamic, while music was rich and clear. Nothing here created a killer soundtrack, but the audio made sense for the story and worked better than anticipated for a character tale.

How did the 4K UHD compare to the Blu-ray version? Both offered identical audio.

As for the Dolby Vision image, it seemed a bit sharper and more dynamic than the Blu-ray. This didn’t become a remarkable step up in picture quality, but it turned into the more satisfying presentation.

Three featurettes appear here, and A Personal Journey spans 11 minutes. It offers notes from co-writer Tony Kushner, co-writer/director Steven Spielberg, and producer Kristie Macosko Krieger.

“Journey” looks at the project’s roots and path to the screen, as well as the script and connections to Spielberg’s life. While not tremendously in-depth, it becomes a worthwhile overview.

Family Dynamics runs 15 minutes, 28 seconds and includes Spielberg, Krieger, and actors Michelle Williams, Seth Rogen, Paul Dano, Gabriel LaBelle, Mateo Zoryon Francis-DeFord, Sam Rechner, Oakes Fegley, Chloe East, and Judd Hirsch.

This featurette covers cast, characters and performances. Though it leans toward happy talk, we still find enough substance to make “Dynamics” useful.

Finally, Crafting the World of The Fabelmans lasts and provides notes from Spielberg, Kushner, Krieger, Williams, LaBelle, Rogen, Dano, East, Rechner, Fegley, production designer Rick Carter, costume designer Mark Bridges, director of photography Janusz Kaminski, property master Andrew M. Siegel, editors Sarah Broshar and Michael Kahn, and composer John Williams.

“Crafting” focuses on sets and locations, costume design, photography, period details, editing, visual effects, and music. Expect another semi-superficial but generally informative piece.

The package also provides a Blu-ray copy of Fabelmans. It includes the same extras as the 4K.

As a semi-autobiographical piece, The Fabelmans provides an intriguing take on the young life of Steven Spielberg. Unfortunately, it never becomes better than pretty good, as it seems a little too spotty to really hit the mark. The 4K UHD provides excellent visuals and very good audio along with decent bonus materials. This becomes an enjoyable but slightly disappointing effort.

To rate this film visit the original review of THE FABELMANS

Review Archive:  # | A-C | D-F | G-I | J-L | M-O | P-R | S-U | V-Z | Viewer Ratings | Main