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Home Theater Movie Renter's Guide - December, 2011

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"The Help" (Blu-ray) - Reviewed by Chris Eberle

movie-december-2011-the-help

Synopsis

Enthusiastic young writer Skeeter (Stone), after landing her first job at the local paper, embarks on an ambitious project.  She decides to write a compilation of stories as told by the black maids of Jackson, Mississippi.  This is an extremely risky undertaking given that it's 1962.  Slowly she wins their trust and thanks to maids Abilene (Davis) and Minnie (Spencer), the rest of them finally tell all.  The resulting book turns Southern society on its ear and strikes a tremendous blow against racism during a tumultuous time in American history.

Specifications

  • Dreamworks
  • 2011, Color, Rated PG-13, 2 Hr 26 min
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Codec: AVC
  • 1080p
  • English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio
  • Starring: Emma Stone, Viola Davis and Octavia Spencer
  • Directed by Tate Taylor
Rating
  • Entertainment:
  • Video:
  • Audio:
  • Extras:
  • Violence: No
  • Sex: No
  • Language: Mild

Commentary

I thoroughly enjoyed this poignant story.  It's beautifully produced and expertly acted.  The subject matter is at times intense but it's a tale well-worth telling.  For those of you wondering how it compares to the book, I turned to my wife, who has read it twice, for that perspective.  She enjoyed the film every bit as much as I did.  Her only comment was that the story moved like lightning, which is typical of movies based on books, and a few things were inexplicably changed, also not unusual.  Given that assessment, I'd say fans of the book will also be fans of this movie.  I will be adding it to my collection; highly recommended.

Technical

Picture quality is first-rate with a well-saturated and warm color palette and excellent contrast.  Detail is good though not as razor-sharp as a reference level release.  Given the material though, the slight softness works to create a vintage feel to the image; totally appropriate for a period piece like this.  Most scenes are nice and bright with vivid tones especially in people's clothing.

Since The Help is dialog-driven, there isn't much for the surrounds and subwoofer to do but that's OK.  The front soundstage is large and detailed with clear environmental cues that immerse the viewer very effectively.  The music is also very enjoyable and features a collection of period tunes by artists such as Johnny Cash, Chubby Checker, Bo Diddley and many others.  I enjoyed the song played during the closing credits (The Living Proof by Mary J. Blige) so much I sat through the entire performance.

Extras

Bonus features include a making-of documentary, a tribute to the maids of Mississippi, deleted scenes and a Mary J. Blige music video.