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Jay Roach
Bryan Cranston, Diane Lane, Helen Mirren
Writing Credits:
John McNamara

In 1947, Dalton Trumbo was Hollywood's top screenwriter until he and other artists were jailed and blacklisted for their political beliefs.

Rated R.

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 124 min.
Price: $14.98
Release Date: 2/16/2016

• “Who Is Trumbo?” Featurette
• “Bryan Cranston Becomes Trumbo” Featurette
• Previews


-LG OLED65C6P 65-Inch 4K Ultra HD Smart OLED TV
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-Chane A2.4 Speakers
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Trumbo [Blu-Ray] (2015)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (January 24, 2023)

Jay Roach earned his fame as the director of comedies like Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery and Meet the Parents. With 2008’s Recount, he nudged toward dramatic and history-based fare, a trend that continued with 2015’s Trumbo.

Circa 1947, Dalton Trumbo (Bryan Cranston) enjoys a career as one of Hollywood’s most successful screenwriters. However, his politics come to haunt him when various parties learn of his membership in the Communist Party of the United States.

As anti-Communist fervor spreads across the US, this turns into a tremendous negative, one that winds him up on a “blacklist” that means he finds employment difficult to locate. Trumbo fights against the system as he attempts a comeback.

When it hit screens in 2015, Trumbo looked like a surefire Oscar contender. With its mix of a serious topic and a massive cast of talent, how could it fail to garner multiple awards?

However, Trumbo nabbed only one nod: Best Actor for Cranston. He lost to Leonardo DiCaprio for The Revenant.

Trumbo did little business upon its semi-limited release and left theaters pretty quickly. As such, this Blu-ray represented my first view of the film.

Did I miss out on a great movie? No - Trumbo manages to become a reasonably entertaining overview, but it lacks the depth it needs to turn into anything more than a diversion.

Despite the movie’s title, Trumbo fails to find a lot of insight about its lead character. The film rushes through various topics and could feel more like a showcase for the star-studded cast than a real investigation of its narrative.

To be sure, no one can really fault Roach for his decision to focus on his actors. In addition to Cranston, we find folks like Helen Mirren, Michael Stuhlbarg, Diane Lane, Elle Fanning, Louis CK, Alan Tudyk, John Goodman and Stephen Root.

The performers add class to the project, though none find the room to bring real dimensionality to the film. Other than Dalton himself, the characters fly through the movie so rapidly that none enjoy much opportunity to shine.

Cranston does fine as the lead. Because his performance can feel like caricature at times, I don’t know if he deserved an Oscar nomination, but he adds life to the film.

Roach’s desire to speed through so much of the material and feature so many characters really becomes the biggest issue here, though. Trumbo dashes through its topics so rapidly that few manage to stick to the screen in a meaningful manner.

The subject matter remains fascinating – and timely, given the current political climate and the ease with which so many on one side allege others to exist as “enemies of the state”. Trumbo simply fails to turn into anything beyond an entertaining overview.

Footnote: relevant archival photos and footage appear during the first half of the end credits.

The Disc Grades: Picture B+/ Audio B/ Bonus D

Trumbo appears in an aspect ratio of 1.85:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. The movie consistently looked good.

For the most part, sharpness appeared positive. Some softness affected occasional wide shots, but the majority 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.

Also as expected of a period piece, Trumbo 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.

Blacks were fairly deep, and shadows satisfied. All of this added up to a solid “B+” image.

I felt reasonably pleased with the DTS-HD MA 5.1 audio of Trumbo. Given the movie’s chatty nature, the soundscape didn’t come across as consistently involving.

Still, scenes related to Hollywood and other large settings managed to add activity to the proceedings. While these didn’t dazzle, they suited the material.

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.

Two featurettes appear, and Who Is Trumbo? lasts four minutes, two seconds. It offers notes from director Jay Roach, daughter Nikola Trumbo, screenwriter John McNamara, and actors Bryan Cranston, Louis CK, Helen Mirren, Diane Lane and Elle Fanning.

The reel takes a look at the history behind the movie. It offers basics but essentially acts as a promo piece.

Bryan Cranston Becomes Trumbo runs one minute, 59 seconds and involves Roach, Cranston, Mirren, CK, and Lane.

We get brief notes about Cranston’s role and performance. It offers a glorified trailer.

The disc opens with ads for Eye In the Sky, Suffragette, Spotlight, Legend (2015), Mr. Robot, Steve Jobs, Secret in Their Eyes and Rock the Kasbah. Previews ads clips for Danny Collins, I’ll See You In My Dreams and Pawn Sacrifice. No trailer for Trumbo appears here.

With a tremendous cast and an important topic, Trumbo should knock it out of the park. Instead, I becomes a watchable but somewhat unfulfilling exploration that lacks depth. The Blu-ray boasts very good picture and appropriate audio but it includes minor bonus materials. Though this winds up as an enjoyable enough tale, it doesn’t approach greatness.

Viewer Film Ratings: 3.6666 Stars Number of Votes: 3
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