Extras: *** 1/2
Article first published as Blu-ray Review: Oscar-Winning ‘Birdman’ starring Michael Keaton Wins Best Picture and Director for Alejandro González Iñárritu on Blogcritics.
A funny thing happened during my second viewing of Alejandro González Iñárritu’s Birdman
— this time as a Blu-ray review — I finally recognized the brilliance
everyone has been talking about. And now that it’s won the Academy Award
for Best Picture, I’m happy to report that Birdman can safely perch in my Blu-ray collection, now available from 20th Century Fox.
originally dismissed the film, to quote myself: “The word masterpiece
gets thrown around a lot but do most of them really deserve that high of
regard? Even if a film is an outstanding filmmaking accomplishment, it
doesn’t necessarily mean it deserves the title ‘masterpiece.’ Time is
the one thing that can really decipher the difference between say, a
masterpiece versus a genre classic. In the case of Birdman, I
don’t want to step on the artsy fartsy crowd’s toes, or rain on the
director’s parade, but while it is a technical marvel, it is far from a
masterpiece. Make no mistake, this is a film you need to see, but I will
probably never watch it again.” I take back every word.
Riggan Thomson (Michael Keaton) is a washed-up, former superhero
actor, staging what he hopes will be the comeback of his career by
directing, producing and starring in a Broadway play. As if being
surrounded by egotistical, self-absorbed actors isn’t enough, Riggan is
also dealing with an alter-ego in a physical incantation of his Birdman character.
When an actor is injured during rehearsal by a stage light, Riggan
forces his lawyer/best friend Jake (Zach Galifianakis) to recruit Mike
(Edward Norton), a brilliant method actor who already knows Riggan’s
play inside and out — possibly better than Riggan does himself. In
addition to prepping the play, Riggan is starting to come unnerved over New York Times
critic Tabitha (Lindsay Duncan) aiming to get his production shut down,
and his girlfriend/actress Laura (Riseborough) informing him she might
be pregnant. Riggan is left trying to keep all his balls in the air and
make it through opening night, but his id may have other plans in
The 5.1 DTS-HD audio track is almost even better than the video. With
Antonio Sanchez’s wrongfully disqualified score thumping across the
soundscape, we’re also treated to plenty of deep and rumbling bass, with
a mesmerizing soundfield, planting the viewer right in the middle of
every scene. Directionality is absurdly spot-on with no line of dialogue
getting swallowed up by the panning camera movements. You will believe
you’re on set of every scene. Additional audio tracks include French DTS
5.1, and 5.1 Dolby Digital in Spanish, Portuguese, Czech, Hungarian,
Polish, and Turkish. Subtitles are offered in English SDH, French,
Spanish, Portuguese, Arabic, Bulgarian, Croatian, Czech, Dutch, Greek,
Hebrew, Hungarian, Icelandic, Korean, Mandarin, Polish, Romanian,
Serbian, Slovak, Slovenian, and Turkish.
While the special features may not be overflowing — which let’s face
it, would have only hindered the video/audio — but they definitely give
you an amazing behind-the-scenes look at the production.
All-Access (A View from the Wings)” (33:28) kicks things off with the
cast and crew taking a moment to listen to a speech from Iñárritu on
what was probably the first day of shooting. He explains to everyone
that he will “kill himself to make this the best,” and thankfully he
didn’t have to in order to achieve such an accomplishment. The amount of
rehearsal involved is astonishing and only goes to show how much hard
work was put in from everyone.
“A Conversation with Michael Keaton and Alejandro González Iñárritu”
(14:03) sits down the star and director who show what a great dynamic
the two have and the enthusiasm and how they hope the audience finds
themselves having individual personal experiences rather than spelling
things out. “Gallery: Chivo’s On Set Photography” is a collection of
pictures taken throughout the production with both a Manual and Auto
Looking back at my final paragraph from my original review, I couldn’t be more wrong. Birdman
really is the masterpiece everyone proclaimed it to be. While I
originally really liked the film, I felt it was a little overrated. I
now see the error of my ways. Iñárritu has delivered a marvel of a film,
and I’m glad I took the time to go back and revisit it before it was
declared Best Picture. While light on features, there’s no doubt we’ll
eventually see a fully loaded Blu-ray release, but with stellar
video/audio, Birdman is a film worth flocking to grab on Blu-ray.