Her (Blu-ray)

May 5, 2014 8 Min Read

Review by: Matt Brighton

Plot: What’s it about?

A few weeks ago I took a much needed break and decided to watch a few movies. “How’s that a break?” you ask? Well sit still baby birds, I’m about to feed ya!  All kidding aside, I’m an obvious lover of film and I consider it a “break” when I watch a movie that doesn’t need to be reviewed.  So as I sit there watching David O. Russell’s Three Kings starring George  Clooney, Ice Cube, Mark Wahlberg and Spike Jonze it hit me…hey, I totally forgot that he (Jonze) directed Her and Being John Malkovich.  Nice!  I’ll also throw in a little tidbit that Jonze directed Fatboy Slim’s video “Praise You” as well. Check it out, I”m sure you can find it on You Tube.  Still, it’s not often that writer/director/actors come along like Jonze and though he lacks moviestar good looks, he’s clearly got some talent both in front of and behind the camera.  Flash forward a few weeks and, whoa, look what showed up on my doorstep – Her. This is the last movie released that was nominated for Best Picture, so I could finally check it off my list.  Was it overrated? Was it worthy of Jonze’s Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay?  Read on and find out.

Theodore (Joaquin Phoenix) is a lonely soul. He writes greeting card type letters for those that don’t have the gumption and/or time to do so. But he’s also lonely. When a new operating system comes out (bear in mind this is set in the not too distant future) that will meet his every need, he’s intrigued and purchases it.  As it turns out, “Samantha” (voiced by Scarlett Johannson), is a highly intuitive and advanced piece of work.  She can pick up on voice inflections and knows more about the user than he knows himself.  Clearly a physical relationship isn’t possible, but when you’ve got a sultry voice whispering sweet nothings in your ear – who really cares? It’s not long after his purchase that Theo starts to become emotionally involved. In spite of the fact that he’s got a fairly good-looking and now recently eligible friend in Amy (Amy Adams). Of course the honeymoon phase can’t last forever and it’s not long that things start to decline.  Can this relationship be salvaged or will Theodore be forced to seek out a flesh and blood replacement for Samantha?

Oh great – that’s all we need, it’s not enough that our real-life relationships aren’t difficult enough, and now we’re getting into arguments with our computers?  Oh for the love of everything holy! I kid.  Admittedly Her is an interesting story and one that’s original enough.  Joaquin Phoenix plays his part to a tee, balancing the emotions that only an actor of his skill level can do.  I think what surprised me the most about the film was how raunchy it was.  Yes, really.  I realize that the internet has made way for a new kind of speak and if Spike Jonze’s vision is any indication, it’s the way we’re all headed.  The supporting cast does a fine job in their respective parts, but don’t be fooled by the box – Olivia Wilde is only in a few scenes, as is Mara.  Though we never see her, the unsung hero of the film is Scarlett Johansson’s voice who was, ironically enough, a last minute replacement for Samantha Morton. Jonze claimed that “something didn’t feel right” and replaced her with Johansson, though the OS’s name “Samantha” is an obvious nod to her involvement. Her was a uniquely engaging film and certainly worthy of Jonze’s Oscar win, so it’s worth a look for sure.

Video: How’s it look?

Films set in the future usually go two ways: the dark and dystopian look (Blade Runner) or the ultra pure and clean look (Gattaca). This took the latter approach and Warner’s 2.40:1 AVC HD transfer is about as good as it gets.  We can see all the nuances on the screen, the texture in the tweed, high-waisted pants that everyone seems to wear and the definition in some of the backgrounds.  The palette used covers the entire spectrum from a very warm look and feel, to a more cold and corporate look to a more sterile look. Yes, it’s pretty much all over the map.  Contrast is solid and flesh tones seem to have a very naturalistic look and feel to them. Her delivers.

Audio: How’s it sound?

As I sit here typing this, I’m trying to remember what, if any, sequences of the DTS HD Master Audio track resonated with me. I’m scratching my head.  Suffice it to say that while not bad, I found Her to be more of a run of the mill offering.  Yes, there are a few parts that are coming back to me, like the little discrete sounds out of the surrounds that pertain to the operating system. A little click here and there, if you will.  Vocals are very strong, with Johansson’s sultry voice leading the way and Phoenix’s more subdued vocals taking a back seat.  The front stage handles the burden of the track with relative ease.  All in all, it’s not a bad offering, just not one that really stood out as being memorable.

Supplements: What are the extras?

Given the critical praise of the film, I’d expected and hoped for a bit more regarding the supplements, but we’ve got a fairly interesting mix here. Let’s get started.

  • The Untitled Rick Howard Project: Creating Her – This 25 minute piece takes a look at the writing process, with many rough shots of Jonze and his staff alongside some shots from the film.
  • Her: Love in the Modern Age – A very  moving piece that documents a multitude of people and their individualized descriptions on what “love” actually is. Certainly technology has played a big part in the way we interconnect these days and this feature makes that point – a very emotional one at that.
  • How Do You Share Your Life With Somebody? – Running at 3 minutes, this is more of a glorified trailer than anything else. We’ve got some key moments of dialogue from the film juxtaposed with some rough footage that we’ve seen in the previous featurette.
  • DVD/UltraViolet Copy

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