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Adam McKay
Christian Bale, Amy Adams, Steve Carell, Sam Rockwell
Writing Credits:
Adam McKay

The story of Dick Cheney, an unassuming bureaucratic Washington insider who quietly wielded immense power as Vice President to George W. Bush.

Box Office:.
Opening Weekend:
7,768,371 on 2442 Screens.
Domestic Gross

Rated R.

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

Runtime: 132 min.
Price: $34.99
Release Date: 4/2/2019
• “Gaming the System” Featurette
• 3 Deleted Scenes
• “The Music of Power” Featurette
• Gallery
• Trailer
• DVD Copy


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-Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player
-Chane A2.4 Speakers
-SVS SB12-NSD 12" 400-watt Sealed Box Subwoofer


Vice [Blu-Ray] (2018)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (April 3, 2019)

If you saw Anchorman back in 2004 and opined that its director would eventually win an Oscar, I doubt you’d have had much company. Nonetheless, Adam McKay pivoted from the broad comedy of Anchorman and Step Brothers to win accolades and a screenwriting Oscar for 2016’s Big Short.

McKay got Academy Award consideration again for his follow-up, 2018’s Vice. The story of politician Dick Cheney, the movie covers various aspects of his life and career.

We see a little of Cheney’s youth, but most of the tale focuses on an adult Cheney’s (Christian Bale) time as a politician. We see his roots and early friendship with Donald Rumsfeld (Steve Carrell) as well as his relationship with wife Lynne (Amy Adams) and his rise to eventually become vice president under George W. Bush (Sam Rockwell).

This synopsis implies a standard chronological telling of Cheney’s biography, but that doesn’t occur. Vice plays fast and loose with time periods and events, so don’t expect a straightforward “point A to point B” tale.

I like that part of it, and McKay’s untraditional approach adds life to the film. As he did with Big Short, McKay brings a wild, loose structure to the film that ensures it consistently remains entertaining.

That doesn’t mean Vice wholly succeeds, though, as sometimes its lack of narrative discipline becomes a weakness. At times the movie brings such a “throw everything at the wall and see what sticks” feel that it becomes a jumbled mess, a nearly random conglomeration of scenes that dazzles with BS more than it traces a coherent tale.

Vice also comes with a little too much hindsight, as it tries too hard to connect the Era of Trump to Cheney, Bush and the others. Yeah, I agree we can trace current day abuses of power to the methods used by Bush and company, but the connection to Trump becomes a little too much for the film to handle in an effective manner.

Arguably the movie’s biggest misstep comes from its use of a mysterious narrator named Kurt (Jesse Plemons). He leads us through the events and when he eventually reveals his connection to Cheney, audience members seem likely to convulse due to massive eye rolling.

Again, I like aspects of McKay’s willingness to break from the standard biopic mode, but not all his choices work. The narrator feels unnecessary at best, and his link to Cheney threatens to derail the film when that reveal occurs.

Still, McKay brings us such a wild, funny ride that I can forgive most of these mistakes, and a brilliant cast helps. Bale received a well-deserved Oscar nomination for his work as Dick.

With all the weight he gained, Bale could’ve simply made this a “stunt performance”, especially because Cheney’s mannerisms and vocal traits lead so easily toward parody. However, Bale finds the heart of the character – it might be a dark heart, but he gets there, and he turns in a strong performance.

All the rest follow suit, and they resist the temptation to fall back on clichés for their well-known characters. None do as well as Bale, but they add depth to the proceedings.

Vice seems like too much of a cinematic mess for me to give it top ratings, but it’s also too entertaining and bold for me to knock it. Provocative and relentlessly watchable, this becomes a good ride.

Footnote: stick around a little bit into the end credits for a tag related to the focus groups.

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

Vice appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.39:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. This became a generally appealing presentation.

Sharpness looked fine. A bit of softness crept into a few interior shots, but not enough to really mar the movie. The flick mostly showed fairly good definition and delineation.

Jagged edges and shimmering were no problem, and no edge haloes appeared. Print flaws also failed to appear.

Colors worked reasonably well, and the flick went with a stylized palette that clearly favored teal and green along with some amber. Within these constraints, the hues worked fine.

Black levels also appeared deep and rich, while shadow detail was appropriately opaque but not too thick. The image was more than satisfactory.

As for the film’s DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack, it added some kick to the proceedings. Scenes with violence brought out the most evocative moments, as explosions, gunfire and related sequences managed to use the five channels in an involving manner.

General ambience also worked fine, and music showed good imaging. This was a chatty flick but it opened up on occasion.

Audio quality also satisfied. Speech appeared natural, and music displayed nice range.

Effects boasted pretty solid accuracy and punch, especially during those louder scenes. The mix suited the film.

A handful of extras appear here, and we find a featurette called Gaming the System. It runs 35 minutes, 42 seconds and includes notes from writer/director Adam McKay, producers Dede Gardner, Kevin Messick and Jeremy Kleiner, special makeup designer Greh Cannom, executive producer Greg Waxman, makeup department head Kate Biscoe, costume designer Susan Matheson, production designer Patrice Vermette, and actors Christian Bale, Amy Adams, Steve Carell, Tyler Perry, Alfred Molina, Alison Pill, and Lily Rabe.

“System” looks at the project’s origins and development, story and characters, McKay’s approach to the material, cast and performances, makeup and costumes, sets and production design, editing and photography.

Inevitably, we get a fair amount of happy talk here. However, we still find plenty of good insights, so this turns into a pretty informative piece.

Three Deleted Scenes occupy a total of 17 minutes, five seconds. We find “High School” (10:25), “Musical” (3:46) and “Bunker” (2:44).

Of these, only “Bunker” offers a fairly conventional scene, as it shows Cheney and Rumsfeld during a training exercise in a secret military facility. It offers entertainment – and shows the terrifying shirtless Bale shot found in the trailer – but it’s not especially informative.

“Musical” takes a cafeteria chat between Cheney and Rumsfeld and gives it a song and dance spin, while “School” offers a veritable mini-movie about teenaged Dick and Lynne. “Musical” seems fun but would’ve been a stylistic bridge too far in the final cut.

As for “School”, it’s unclear where it would’ve played in the film – alternate opening, maybe? It acts as a self-contained piece, with its own opening and closing credits. It’s interesting as a portrait of young Lynne but goes on far too long to fit in the final movie, especially since it tells us little we don’t infer elsewhere.

The Power of Music fills five minutes, seven seconds and features comments from McKay, composer Nicholas Britell, choreographer Andy Blankenbuehler, and actor/singer Brittany Howard.

“Power” discusses the “Musical” deleted scene. It brings a few decent thoughts but it’s light on details, especially because McKay doesn’t tell us why he cut it from the final film.

In addition to the film’s trailer, we get a Gallery. It shows 12 photos from the film and it lacks much value.

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

Erratic but bold and inventive, Vice does more right than wrong. I can forgive its occasional missteps because so much of it entertains. The Blu-ray offers pretty good picture and audio along with a few bonus features. Even with its spotty segments, this becomes an engaging spin on the biopic.

Viewer Film Ratings: 2.6666 Stars Number of Votes: 3
1 3:
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