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MOVIE INFO

Director:
George Clooney
Cast:
Ryan Gosling, George Clooney, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Paul Giamatti , Marisa Tomei, Evan Rachel Wood
Writing Credits:
George Clooney, Grant Heslov, Beau Willimon (and play, "Farragut North")

Synopsis:
Ambition seduces and power corrupts in a nerve-wracking thriller from Academy Award® nominated director George Clooney. Idealistic campaign worker Stephen Meyers (Ryan Gosling) has sworn to give all for Governor Mike Morris (Clooney), a wild card presidential candidate whose groundbreaking ideas could change the political landscape. However, a brutal Ohio primary threatens to test Morris's integrity. Stephen gets trapped in the down-and-dirty battle and finds himself caught up in a scandal where the only path to survival is to play both sides. The all-star cast includes Philip Seymour Hoffman, Paul Giamatti, Marisa Tomei and Evan Rachel Wood.

Box Office:
Budget
$12.5 million.
Opening Weekend
$10.470 million on 2199 screens.
Domestic Gross
$40.850 million.

MPAA:
Rated R

DVD DETAILS
Presentation:
Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
Audio:
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
English Descriptive Audio Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles:
English
Spanish
Closed-captioned
Supplements Subtitles:
English
Spanish

Runtime: 101 min.
Price: $35.99
Release Date: 1/17/2012

Bonus:
• Audio Commentary with Writer/Director/Actor George Clooney and Writer/Producer Grant Heslov
• “Developing the Campaign: The Origins of The Ides of March” Featurette
• “Believe: George Clooney” Featurette
• “On the Campaign: The Cast of The Ides of March” Featurette
• “What Does a Political Consultant Do?” Featurette
• Previews


PURCHASE @ AMAZON.COM

EQUIPMENT
Panasonic 50" TH-50PZ77U 1080p Plasma Monitor; 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.

RELATED REVIEWS


The Ides Of March [Blu-Ray] (2011)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (January 9, 2012)

Just in time for the 2012 presidential election, we get The Ides of March, a drama that looks at the behind the scenes dynamics of those races. Young hotshot political consultant Stephen Meyers (Ryan Gosling) works as second-in-command for the campaign of Governor Mike Morris (George Clooney). Not only does this offer a good career opportunity, but Meyers finds himself caught up in Morris’s message of hope and optimism.

This doesn’t last, as the realities of politics conspire against Stephen’s idealism. Morris battles Democratic opponent Senator Ted Pullman (Michael Mantell) in the crucial Ohio primary; the winner of this contest seems destined to snare the nomination.

In the midst of this, Pullman’s campaign manager Tom Duffy (Paul Giamatti) attempts to recruit Stephen to the other side; Meyers declines, but their conference bears repercussions. In addition, Stephen engages in a romantic dalliance with young intern Molly Stearns (Evan Rachel Wood), but it turns out he’s not the only person in the Morris camp to sleep with her – another twist that ultimately affects the campaign. Stephen also needs to fight off aggressive reporter Ida Horowicz (Marisa Tomei) and keep up with Morris manager Paul Zara (Philip Seymour Hoffman) to navigate the shark-infested political waters.

Ides represents Clooney’s fourth time in the director’s chair. Apparently Clooney decides to direct every three years, as it follows 2002’s Confessions of a Dangerous Mind, 2005’s Good Night and Good Luck and 2008’s Leatherheads.

I felt let down by Clooney’s first three films, and Ides gave me another disappointment. Actually, I can’t claim I felt all that much discontent over Leatherheads because I didn’t expect a whole lot from it. On the other hand, I looked forward to Good Night and was truly displeased with its mediocrity.

Like Good Night, Ides delivers a watchable film, but it disappoints because it could – and should – be much better than simply okay. Ironically, the main weakness of Good Night came from its lethargic, ho-hum feel, while Ides goes the other way. Whereas the 2005 film lacked passion and drama, Ides tries too hard to take the opposite path.

This is a Drama with a Capital “D”, as Clooney doesn’t seem to feel content to maintain our interest with the basic nature of the campaign trail. Personally, I think a look at the ins and outs of high-stakes politics would be more than enough to sustain a couple hours of screen time, and when Ides sticks with that material, it works pretty well. Much of the first act concentrates on these matters and becomes fairly enjoyable and intriguing.

Alas, the movie can’t leave well enough alone, so it needs to indulge in soap opera territory. Mostly that comes via the story of the intern, but it also goes that way through Stephen’s conflicts of interest – theoretically, at least. The film treats the battle between his place on the Morris campaign and his potential role with Pullman in a simple manner that doesn’t do much to keep our attention.

The intern subplot doesn’t work well either, mostly because it feels phony. No, I’m not saying that hush-hush scandals haven’t occurred during political campaigns – unquestionably they have – but the manner in which this issue comes up in Ides feels contrived and phony.

I get the impression that no one involved with the flick thinks the basic day-to-day drama of a presidential campaign is enough to maintain an audience’s interest, but I disagree. Like I mentioned, the best parts of Ides related to that side of the story; it only derails when it attempts to give us all sorts of daytime TV nonsense.

Which is a shame, as Ides boasts tons of potential. You can’t beat its cast, and all do competent to good work. Clooney actually seems a little weak as Morris – a cross between Barack Obama and Bill Clinton – but he’s mostly fine, and others help anchor the film well.

They simply can’t overcome the flaws of the story itself. Ides wants to be a powerful drama about the perils of big-time politics, but instead it just seems overwrought and melodramatic.


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

The Ides of March appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.40:1 on this Blu-Ray Disc. This was a solid presentation.

Only a smidgen of softness impacted the image, as some wide shots – mainly of debate stages – looked a bit off-kilter. Those were minor distractions, though, as the majority of the flick displayed strong clarity and accuracy. I noticed no signs of jagged edges or moiré effects, and edge haloes remained absent. Print flaws failed to materialize in this clean transfer.

In terms of colors, the movie opted for an amber overtone much of the time. Some scenes featured a chillier blue tint, but the majority of the image used the more yellow impression. Within those parameters, the hues looked clear and distinctive. Blacks were deep and full, while shadows offered positive delineation. Outside of a little softness, this was a fine image.

No problems accompanied the movie’s DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack, but it didn’t do much to impress. That was fine, however, since the character drama emphasized dialogue. Music provided nice stereo presence, and the mix delivered acceptable sense of environment, particularly in crowd scenes. Nothing memorable popped up, though, so this was a lackluster soundscape.

Audio quality was fine, at least. Speech consistently appeared natural and distinctive, while music was full and lush. Effects had little to do but remained accurate and concise. The lack of ambition made this a “B-“ mix, but I thought it suited the material.

When we examine the package’s extras, we start with an audio commentary from writer/director/actor George Clooney and writer/producer Grant Heslov. The old friends and partners sit together for this running, screen-specific look at sets and locations, cast and performances, script/story/character topics, music and camerawork, editing and visual design, and other filmmaking subjects.

As I mentioned, Heslov and Clooney have known each other forever, so their easy rapport comes across during the chat; they mesh well as they converse. In terms of content, the track tends to be a little spotty, but not badly so. We get a reasonable look behind the seems and learn enough about the production to make the commentary worthwhile.

Four featurettes follow. Developing the Campaign: The Origins of The Ides of March runs seven minutes, eight seconds and delivers notes from Clooney, Heslov, producer Brian Oliver, playwright/co-screenwriter Beau Willimon, and actors Max Minghella. “Campaign” looks at the project’s roots and development of the flick, as we trace it from stage play to movie screen. We get some changes made along the way and related subjects in this short but informative piece.

Next comes the six-minute, 19-second Believe: George Clooney. It features Clooney, Minghella, actors Ryan Gosling, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Paul Giamatti, Jeffrey Wright, Marisa Tomei, and Evan Rachel Wood. The featurette looks at Clooney’s dual role as director and actor. It’s essentially a love letter to Clooney; outside of a few good shots from the set, there’s not much of interest here.

With On the Campaign: The Cast of The Ides of March, we get a five-minute, 49-second piece with Clooney, Hoffman, Gosling, Minghella, Heslov, Giamatti, and Wood. We get a few notes about cast, characters and performances. Mostly this is another puff piece that talks about how wonderful everyone is. Yawn!

Finally, What Does a Political Consultant Do? goes for seven minutes, 29 seconds and includes material with Clooney, Heslov, Gosling, Willimon and political consultant Stuart Stevens. Here we learn a bit about what role actual political consultants serve in campaigns. Some decent notes emerge, but like most of the other featurettes, this one mostly promotes the film and doesn’t tell us much.

The disc opens with ads for Drive, Moneyball, and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. These also appear under Previews along with clips for Anonymous and The Rum Diary. No trailer for Ides pops up here.

As a fan of political dramas, I went into The Ides of March with high hopes. Unfortunately, it fails to live up to expectations; while not without interesting moments – and buoyed by a killer cast – the end result seems melodramatic and not particularly involving. The Blu-ray boasts very good picture, competent audio and a decent set of extras highlighted by an enjoyable audio commentary. There’s probably enough meat here to make Ides a rental for fans of the genre, but don’t expect much from it.

Viewer Film Ratings: 4.2982 Stars Number of Votes: 57
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Review Archive:  # | A-C | D-F | G-I | J-L | M-O | P-R | S-U | V-Z | Viewer Ratings | Main