The Illusionist appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. The transfer consistently looked good.
Sharpness appeared fairly solid, but some softness occurred, likely due to the lighting used. Illusionist went with a lot of natural and candle light, so that made focus more of a challenge. Most of the movie came across as reasonably distinct, though. Only occasional shots looked moderately fuzzy, and those generally happened during low-light sequences. Jagged edges and moiré effects created no concerns, and I also noticed no issues related to edge enhancement. Print flaws weren’t a factor, as the movie showed no signs of specks, marks or other distractions.
Illusionist featured a subdued palette. The colors consistently seemed appropriate within the fairly monochromatic production design, as they reflected a yellow/brown tone. The film replicated the hues accurately fit within the movie’s spectrum. Black levels also were fairly deep and dense, and shadow detail looked fine. This was a good representation of a challenging set of visuals.
As for the DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack of The Illusionist, it presented a reasonably good affair. There wasn’t much to the soundfield. The score displayed good stereo imaging but otherwise, much of the track stayed subdued. I noted reasonably good general ambience throughout the film, and some more heavily populated scenes – like those at performances or on bustling streets – provided a greater level of activity. The surrounds seemed fairly passive throughout the movie, but they contributed a nice sense of reinforcement, particularly in regard to the music. Trains made for some positive involvement, but I didn’t find much to make the soundfield memorable.
Audio quality appeared strong. Speech came across as natural and crisp, and I noticed no issues related to intelligibility or edginess. Effects largely played a minor role in the film, but they always seemed accurate and well defined, with no issues related to distortion or other areas. The mix provided good reproduction of the score. The pieces of music came across as acceptably bright and vivid. This wasn’t a slam-bang soundtrack, but it worked for the movie.
How did the picture and audio of the Blu-ray compare to those of the original DVD? I thought both featured similar audio, but the visuals demonstrated the standard improvements. The Blu-ray looked a bit tighter and better developed.
In terms of extras, everything appears on a second DVD. That platter literally replicates the original DVD from 2007, so obviously it provides the same extras. We begin with an audio commentary from writer/director Neil Burger. He presents a running, screen-specific chat. Burger discusses sets and locations, his interest in the project and his adaptation of the original short story, cast, characters and performances, magic and effects, visual design, historical research, and other issues.
Like the movie itself, Burger’s commentary proves serviceable but unexceptional. He manages to cover all the appropriate subjects and gives us a more than competent view of his movie. However, the commentary never quite becomes terribly involving. Burger delivers the nuts and bolts, but it just doesn’t turn into anything memorable.
Two featurettes follow. The Making of The Illusionist includes movie clips, behind the scenes elements, and interviews. We hear from actors Edward Norton, Jessica Biel, Rufus Sewell, and Paul Giamatti. They do little more than tell us about the story and characters. It’s nothing more than a glorified trailer.
Next comes Jessica Biel on The Illusionist. She chats for a whopping 89 seconds as she describes her character and briefly relates why she wanted to do the project. It’s a waste of time.
Finally, we find some Trailers. In addition to the promo for The Illusionist, we get ads for Haven, Find Me Guilty and Winter Passing. The disc also opens with a clip for Gray Matters.
The Illusionist boasts an interesting twist on the love triangle theme with distinctive visuals, but it fails to stand out in many other ways. Though the film presents acceptable entertainment, it seems lighter than air and doesn’t stick with the viewer. The Blu-ray offers satisfying picture and audio along with some fairly average supplements. The movie remains unexceptional, but the Blu-ray serves it pretty well.
To rate this film visit the original review of THE ILLUSIONIST