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Joel Cohen and Ethan Coen
Josh Brolin, George Clooney, Scarlett Johansson, Ralph Fiennes, Tilda Swinton, Channing Tatum, Alden Ehrenreich, Jonah Hill
Writing Credits:
Joel Cohen and Ethan Coen

A Hollywood fixer in the 1950s works to keep the studio's stars in line.

Box Office:
Opening Weekend
$11,355,225 on 2,232 Screens.
Domestic Gross

Rated PG-13

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
Spanish DTS 5.1
French DTS 5.1
English Descriptive Video Service
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 106 min.
Price: $34.98
Release Date: 6/7/2016

• “Directing Hollywood” Featurette
• “The Stars Align” Featurette
• “An Era of Glamour” Featurette
• “Magic of a Bygone Era” Featurette
• 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.


Hail, Caesar! [Blu-Ray] (2016)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (May 24, 2016)

For their first flick since 2013’s Inside Llewyn Davis, the Coen brothers return with 2016’s Hail, Caesar!, another period piece. Set in Hollywood circa 1952, Eddie Mannix (Josh Brolin) works as a “fixer” at Capitol Pictures. This means he needs to put out various fires to maintain the reputations of the studio’s stars – and thus protect the financial bottom line.

This sends Eddie on many missions, but the dominant issue arises when actor Baird Whitlock (George Clooney) disappears from the set of Hail, Caesar!, a Biblical epic. We follow Eddie’s efforts to find Baird, cover other problems and sustain his family life as well.

Sometimes an audience reaction can help carry a movie, and sometimes the crowd hurts a film. When I viewed Caesar on the big screen, the other viewers seemed unimpressed. In a room with maybe 30 patrons, the movie prompted almost no reaction to anything.

Which made sense to me, as the film gave us little reason to react. Caesar offers marginal plot information or character development, as it seems to exist solely so the Coens can stage scenes reminiscent of those from old movies.

And they do so well, as the throwback sequences offer lavish homages. Sure, the Gene Kelly-style scene with the sailors is way more homoerotic than anything that would've actually existed, but the “movies within a movie” still seem effective and often entertaining.

Unfortunately, beyond these period-accurate simulations, there's no "there” there to Caesar. An exploration of a Communist group goes nowhere, and Mannix becomes an almost forgotten "lead". He associates with a lot of the action but little of it goes anywhere.

Occasional sequences show some life - usually those with Tilda Swinton in a dual role as twin gossip columnists - and the cast all seem game, but the end result is a drag. I can appreciate low-key humor from the Coens - I really liked Llewyn Davis but Caesar just lacks any punch or purpose.

I'm reasonably familiar with the "classic Hollywood" depicted in the film, and I appreciate the craft that went into those recreations. Nonetheless, Caesar offers a slow, monotonous piece that feels more like a montage of old movie scenes than an actual narrative.

The Blu-ray Grades: Picture A-/ Audio B-/ Bonus C-

Hail, Caesar! appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. The film came with a great transfer.

Sharpness looked terrific. At all times, the movie seemed accurate and concise, with no softness on display. I saw no jagged edges or moiré effects, and the presentation lacked edge haloes or source defects.

In terms of palette, Caesar tended to mix teal and amber. Exceptions occurred, but this never became a dynamic set of hues. Still, the colors seemed appropriately rendered within the stylistic decisions. Blacks appeared dark and tight, while shadows looked smooth and clear. In the end, the image appeared excellent.

Though usually restrained, the film’s DTS-HD MA 5.1 mix did pop to life on occasion. Thunder rumbled in a menacing manner, the ocean splashed across the spectrum, and a few other scenes brought us pretty decent use of the different speakers. However, those remained in the minority, as most of the track focused on music and general ambience.

Audio quality seemed satisfactory. Music was full and rich, while effects appeared accurate and dynamic. Dialogue always came across as smooth and natural. Nothing here dazzled, but the soundtrack worked fine for the story.

Four featurettes fill out the set. Directing Hollywood goes for four minutes, 11 seconds and provides comments from executive producer Robert Graf, and actors George Clooney, Channing Tatum, Tilda Swinton, Alden Ehrenreich, Ralph Fiennes, Josh Brolin, and Scarlett Johansson. We get basic notes about the movie’s development and the impact the Coen brothers have on it. A few minor insights emerge but “Directing” mainly feels fluffy.

With The Stars Align, we see an 11-minute, 34-second piece with Clooney, Brolin, Graf, Fiennes, Tatum, Johansson, Ehrenreich, and Swinton. They discuss cast, performances, characters and influences. Like the prior short, we learn a little but not a lot.

The six-minute, 22-second An Era of Glamour involves Graf, Johansson, Tatum, Clooney, Brolin, Fiennes, Swinton, production designer Jess Gonchor and costume designer Mary Zophres. “Era” covers costumes and sets. It becomes another occasionally informative piece that suffers from too much happy talk.

Finally, Magic of a Bygone Era runs six minutes, one second and features Johansson, Tatum, Graf, Clooney, Brolin, and choreographers Mesha Kussman and Chris Gatelli. We learn about the choreographed dancing and swimming scenes. While brief, this turns into arguably the most useful of the four clips.

The disc opens with ads for Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2, The Boss, Race, and Rock the Kasbah. No trailer for Caesar shows up here.

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

As a lavish recreation of “classic Hollywood”, Hail, Caesar! excels. As anything else, it flops, as the movie fails to become more than a collection of stage pieces with little wit, cleverness or charm. The Blu-ray offers excellent visuals and satisfactory audio but it lacks notable bonus materials. Maybe Coen fans will get something out of Caesar, but it leaves me cold as anything other than an exercise in cinematographic design.

Viewer Film Ratings: 2.6363 Stars Number of Votes: 11
2 3:
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