Black or White (Blu-ray)

May 13, 2015 5 Min Read

Review by: Matt Brighton and Matt Malouf

Plot: What’s it about?

One has to wonder where Kevin Costner’s career veered off course. He’s certainly made some questionable choices over the past decade. Sure, he’s had a hit with Man of Steel, but it’s doubtful he contributed to the success of a superman film. It was likely to be a hit even without him. I will confess that he’s never been my favorite actor. Of his more recent titles, I did think he did a capable job in Mr. Brooks, but I still would’ve preferred a different lead in the role. In Black or White Costner plays Elliot Anderson. He’s becomes the sole guardian of his granddaughter after the grandmother dies in a car crash. His granddaughter Eloise is played by Jillian Estell. The trouble arises when the paternal grandmother Rowena (Octavia Spencer) believes she should be granted sole custody. Since young Eloise is Biracial, we then follow the complicated custody battle over who should be granted custody of her. This pretty much lays the groundwork for the rest of the film.

I must admit that I really wasn’t looking forward to this film in the slightest. I feared it would be melodramatic and cheesy. Not to mention that these films can sometimes have the feel of a TV movie. I’d be lying if I said my initial hesitations were put to rest during the film. While not a total failure, the film simply failed to draw me in. It doesn’t help that there are several moments of comedy thrown at us. I wish these were cut out all together. It’s not needed in a film of this sort, and feels as if the director didn’t have enough confidence in the story at hand. We see some of Elliot and his drinking problem as well. As mentioned, it just all feels too melodramatic. The film still manages to get a few things right. For one, the acting is pretty solid. Spencer is also more than just the villain in this story. Her character is admittedly well written, but even that can’t overcome the other shortcomings with the film. Black or White could’ve been an involving drama with a controversial subject at its core, but instead fails to captivate. It goes for some cheap gags and melodrama from which it can’t recover. It tries, but just didn’t cut it for me.

Video: How’s it look?

The film, presented in a 2.40:1 AVC HD image, leaves little to complain about. By and large, it’s just as we’d expect for a new to Blu-ray movie. The image is sharp, clean, crisp and well-defined and as we see Costner in more and more films, he’s not getting any younger.  The exterior shots are full of color and life while the interior shots seem to retain a warm look and feel. Image clarity and detail never ceases to amaze me and save for a very few blemishes, this will more than please audiences.

Audio: How’s it sound?

By and large, this DTS HD Master Audio soundtrack delivers the goods on all levels. It’s not one that’s going to challenge the extremes of your system and it’s not meant to. Costner’s gravely, yet deep voice carries well and other vocals do their part to make for a very lively dialogue track. Surrounds are present, but sometimes not all accounted for – they do their job, but the action is more limited to the front stage. Still, it’s a nice, above average track that’s sure to please.

Supplements: What are the extras?

  • Shades of Gray: The Making of Black or White –  Essentially your standard EPK with some behind the scenes footage as well as some interviews with the cast and crew of the movie.
  • Promotional Featurettes 
      Kevin Costner – The star of the film gives his .02 on his character and some of the themes in the film.

      Family First – A closer look at some of the underlying themes of the movie and how the filmmakers dealt with them.

  • Theatrical Trailer
  • Digital HD Copy

The Bottom Line

It could’ve turned into something meaningful that would resonate, but instead fails to do much at all. The cast give it their all, but they can’t overcome the shortcomings with the film. Skip it.

Disc Scores