Blu-ray Review: Nightcrawler
Distributor: Universal Studios Home Entertainment
Street Date: February 10th 2015
Technical Specifications: 1080P Video, Color, 2.40:1 Aspect Ratio, 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio
Runtime: 118 Minutes
With Nightcrawler, Jake Gyllenhaal continues to prove that he is one of the greatest actors of his generation. The proof lies not only in the De Niro-esque method acting dedication he gives to his roles (losing twenty pounds for the film), but in his chameleon-like ability to completely inhabit and disappear into a given role. His latest performance as Lou Bloom may very well be the most nuanced and intense effort of his career thus far.
In the film, Gyllenhaal plays Bloom; a full-time thief scavenging for scrap metal and a quick check any way he can. He’s a desperate individual, quick to offer his devotion and “talents” to anyone willing to listen. He soon runs into freelance videographer Joe Loder (Bill Paxton) and his crew filming a car wreck to sell to the highest local news bidder, and a new money-making scheme dawns on him.
He buys a camcorder (by selling a stolen bike no less), hires an intern (Riz Ahmed), and begins making connections with a program director (Rene Russo) of a local news channel struggling to compete in their ratings. With his natural obsessive nature driving him to push forward, Lou paves his way to the top of the freelance video business in no time at all. Soon he’s driving an expensive car, outracing the competition to the latest crime, blackmailing his way into physical companionship, and even altering crime scenes for better footage before the police arrive. When he beats the police to a brutal home invasion, the subsequent footage he shoots threatens to crumble his success. But Lou isn’t the type to go down easy.
There is so much that Nightcrawler has going for it besides the aforementioned performance by Mr. Gyllenhaal. The film is shot with a neon-bathed grittiness that exudes style and atmosphere, the supporting cast is allowed to shine (though the focus is a character study of Lou), and the screenplay is near perfect. Lou’s dialogue alone is likely being rehashed in Acting 101 courses across the country as we speak. Nightcrawler is an enthralling character study that easily pulls the viewer into its hopeless reality.
The high definition presentation for Nightcrawler included herein offers up one of the most gorgeous transfers of a new film in recent memory. Sometimes with brand new HD content being transferred right to Blu-Ray after a theatrical release, it’s hard to pick the best transfers from a wealth of fine-looking releases, but Nightcrawler is surely one of them. The fine object detail and texture of clothing, facial features, and the rain-drenched blacktop of Los Angeles is stunning to behold. The color scheme utilized here is perfectly conveyed on screen, and the black levels are inky and bold. I loved this presentation!
The 5.1 DTS-HD audio track sounds terrific on this Blu-Ray edition with dialogue, music, and background effects expertly crafted to make for a fine home theater presentation. With the lights turned off and the system balanced around your viewing area, you truly feel like you’re a player in the slimy underbelly of Los Angeles that Nightcrawler depicts. There are no hiccups in the sound design on the disc and I have zero complaints across the board. Well done!
Universal Studios Home Entertainment has provided fans of Nightcrawler with select bonus features to accompany this Blu-Ray release. Here’s a breakdown of what’s included:
- If It Bleeds, It Leads: Making Nightcrawler– This featurette is interesting, but incredibly short at just over 5 minutes. I would have loved to see a much longer, much more in-depth documentary or extended featurette focusing on this complex film. What we do get is Dan Gilroy, Jack Gyllenhaal, Rene Russo and other cast and crew discussing a few different aspects of the film along with some select footage from the film itself.
- Commentary- This feature commentary features writer/director Dan Gilroy, Producer Tony Gilroy, and Editor John Gilroy discussing the film at length and in-depth.
- Previews– Playable from the main menu, you can choose to “play all” or watch individual trailers for Universal Studios Home Entertainment titles including: End of Watch, The Grey, Homefront, Killer Elite, Side Effects, and Sabotage.
As you can see from the “Unboxing” pictures below, this Blu-Ray edition from Universal Studios Home Entertainment features a great slipcover that captures the gritty neon-bathed tone of the film. The slip has a mostly matte with partial gloss finish complete with an embossed title. On the reverse of the packaging you’ll find a brief plot synopsis, a list of bonus features, and technical specifications. On the interior of the packaging are two fairly plain discs for the Blu-Ray and DVD as well as the Ultraviolet Digital Copy Code insert.
Jake Gyllenhaal continues to prove that he’s one of the greatest actors of his generation in Nightcrawler. His performance of an obsessive, socially awkward, but criminally-brilliant and driven man is disturbingly realistic. The film is beautifully shot in a neon-bathed grittiness that exudes style and atmosphere, the supporting cast is fantastic, and the screenplay is one of the best of 2014. Universal Studios Home Entertainment has released Nightcrawler on Blu-Ray with near-perfect video and audio and a great audio commentary (though I do wish the bonus features were more extensive). Nightcrawler is an enthralling character study that easily pulls the viewer into its hopeless reality, and comes highly recommended.
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