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


Barry Jenkins
Trevante Rhodes, Andre Holland, Janelle Monae, Ashton Sanders, Naomie Harris, Mahershala Ali
Writing Credits:
Barry Jenkins

A timeless story of human self-discovery and connection, Moonlight chronicles the life of a young black man from childhood to adulthood as he struggles to find his place in the world while growing up in a rough neighborhood of Miami.

Rated R.

Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 111 min.
Price: $24.99
Release Date: 2/28/2017

• Audio Commentary with Director/Writer Barry Jenkins
• “Ensemble of Emotion” Featurette
• “Poetry Through Collaboration” Featurette
• “Cruel Beauty” 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.


Moonlight [Blu-Ray] (2016)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (February 16, 2017)

2016’s Moonlight gives us one of the year’s nine Oscar Best Picture nominees. The film tells the story of a young black man’s struggles to grow up in a rough part of Miami.

Moonlight breaks into three chapters to examine Chiron at different stages of his life. We get to know Chiron at 11 (Alex Hibbert), 17 (Ashton Sanders) and 25 (Trevante Rhodes). We follow his ups and downs as he navigates various challenges.

Yeah, that’s a vague plot synopsis, but given its structure and ambition, Moonlight doesn’t set up as a movie that I can easily summarize. Actually, I guess I did give it a simplistic overview, but unless I want to talk way too much about the story points, a brief, general blurb seems like the way to go.

If you want the typical melodramatic “it’s hard to live in the hood” tale, Moonlight will not work for you. Sure, it touches on the expected themes, as we get a boy who grows up without a father and who lives with a drug-addicted mother (Naomie Harris). He deals with crime and violence as part of his everyday life.

While those elements impact the tale, they don’t dominate, as Moonlight goes down a much more introspective path. This makes it a challenge at times, as it can become tough to suss out where the story wants to take us.

Eventually it all comes together, and even when the movie seems to move in mysterious ways, it remains involving, largely because it avoids so many of the genre’s clichés. While we grasp the negative environment in which Chiron exists, Moonlight doesn’t wallow in this – and it doesn’t sugarcoat anything, either.

Face it: with a movie like this, we usually would get murders and depravity and all the standard hallmarks of the genre. Some of those do appear, but Moonlight hints at these more than it shows them, and that understated nature works for it. We get the dark reality of Chiron’s existence without the usual sensationalism, and that subdued trend adds impact because we feel less manipulated by the experience.

In its way, Moonlight presents an unlikely romance between Chiron and his childhood friend Kevin. I won’t spell out how this develops, but we see Chiron’s gradual emergence as a person – with all the inconsistencies and fits/starts that mark real development.

This means Moonlight avoids pat “life moments” and offers no neat resolution/answers. Some may find this approach dissatisfying, but I like it.

The audience needs to work to understand Chiron and his development, and we don’t wind up with some “magical” fix for his concerns. The adult Chiron connects to the childhood one but shows the changes that his environment wreak on him, and we buy into the journey all the way.

Again, the gentle, almost matter of fact way director Barry Jenkins presents the tale adds to its effectiveness, and a strong cast helps as well. I’d hate to single out any of them, really, as all do nicely – there’s not a weak link in the bunch.

A break from genre clichés, Moonlight offers a refreshing take on its subject matter. With impeccable acting and rich character portrait, it becomes an engrossing journey.

The Blu-ray Grades: Picture B+/ Audio B-/ Bonus B-

Moonlight appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.39:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. Overall, this became an appealing presentation.

On a smidgen of softness ever cropped up here, mainly in some low-light shots. A few elements came with intentional blurriness, but I didn’t fault the transfer for those. Otherwise, the movie showed nice clarity and delineation. Jagged edges and moiré effects failed to appear, and edge haloes remained absent. Print flaws also stayed away from this clean image.

In terms of palette, Moonlight mainly went with subdued amber, orange and teal. Overall, the hues were fine for their visual choices. Blacks showed good depth, while low-light shots boasted nice clarity. This was a solid “B+“ presentation.

As for the film’s DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack, it gave us competent sonics most of the time as well as a little pep on occasion. A drama like this didn’t need to boast a rock-em, sock-em mix, so the audio seemed acceptable. Usually, the soundfield didn’t have a lot to do; it concentrated on good stereo music and general ambience.

Every once in a while, though, the mix came to life – in a moderate manner, at least. This was especially true during outside scenes, as those brought out a solid sense of place, and a segment in the ocean added range. These didn’t dazzle, but they gave the mix reasonable breadth.

Audio quality was fine. Speech seemed natural and concise, without edginess or other concerns. Music appeared fairly full. I though the score could’ve been a bit more vibrant, but it came across with reasonable definition.

Effects remained clear and accurate, with some pretty solid low-end response during louder moments. This became a satisfying track that suited the material.

When we go to extras, we begin with an audio commentary from writer/director Barry Jenkins. He offers a running, screen-specific look at the source and its adaptation, story/character and autobiographical areas, cast and performances, cinematography, sets and locations, music, production design, and connected topics.

Engaging and invested, Jenkins offers a very good commentary. He touches on a broad array of topics and ensures that we learn a lot about the film’s creation. I especially like the times he touches on personal aspects of the movie, and these tidbits add up to a compelling chat.

Three featurettes follow. Ensemble of Emotion goes for 21 minutes, 37 seconds and provides info from Jenkins, producers Adele Romanski, Jeremy Kleiner and Dede Gardner, and actors Janelle Monae, Mahershala Ali, Alex Hibbert, Ashton Sanders, Andre Holland and Trevante Rhodes.

“Emotion” looks at the source and its adaptation, story and characters, and cast and performances. Some of this falls into the usual happy talk, but “Emotion” offers a reasonable amount of insight.

Poetry Through Collaboration lasts 10 minutes, six seconds and features Jenkins and composer Nicholas Britell. This piece examines the movie’s music, and it does so in a positive manner.

Finally, Cruel Beauty fills up five minutes, 39 seconds with comments from Jenkins, Gardner, Romanski, and story writer/executive producer Tarell Alvin McCraney. “Beauty” offers notes about shooting in and depicting Miami. It’s the least useful of the three featurettes, but it still offers some value.

The disc opens with ads for 20th Century Women, Free Fire, American Honey, Swiss Army Man and The Lobster. No trailer for Moonlight appears here.

At times, Moonlight looks like it might fall back on genre clichés and become just another “life in the hood” flick. However, the movie boasts way too much subtlety and honesty to collapse into those traps. The Blu-ray brings us good picture and audio as well as a few useful supplements. Moonlight turns into an affecting character narrative.

Viewer Film Ratings: 4.5833 Stars Number of Votes: 12
0 3:
View Averages for all rated titles.

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