The Age Of Adaline - Blu-ray Disc Review

The Age of Adaline - Blu-ray/DVD/Digital Copy Package
The Age of Adaline - Blu-ray/DVD/Digital Copy Package. IPhoto © Robert Silva - Licensed to About.com

The Age of Adaline received mixed reviews during its theatrical run but has arrived on Blu-ray disc in a package that provides a great visual home theater viewing experience. However, does it deserve a spot in your Blu-ray Disc collection? Read my review and find out what I think.

Story

Adaline Bowman was born on January 1, 1908 (the first baby born that year), and grew up as a normal child, got married, and also her own child as a young adult. However, something tragic, yet magical, happened on a stormy nite in 1937 as she was driving to visit her daughter.

A storm caused to drive off the road and into a river where she succumbed to extreme hypothermia and died. Ordinarily, that would be a tragic end to a normal, yet short life, if a bolt of lightning hadn't struck the protruding car and jolted her back to life.

However, the lightning not only gave her a second chance for life, but it also meant, as she found out, extended her life indefinitely, without experiencing the effects of aging. Would you like to be immortal? The film follows Adaline's journey through the decades into the present day, exploring how such a state may affect an otherwise ordinary person.

Blu-ray Package Description

Studio: Lionsgate

Running Time: 112 Minutes

MPAA Rating: PG-13

Genre: Fantasy, Romance

Director: Lee Toland Krieger

Story and Screenplay: J. Mills Goodloe, Salvador Paskowitz

Discs: One 50 GB Blu-ray Disc and One DVD.

Digital Copy: UltraViolet HD and iTunes Digital Copy.

Video Specifications: Video codec used - AVC MPG4 (2D), Video resolution - 1080p, Aspect ratio - 2.40:1, - Special features and supplements in various resolutions and aspect ratios.

Subtitles: English SDH, English, Spanish.

Bonus Features

Audio Commentary with Director Lee Toland Krieger - Feature length commentary discussing how the scenes in the film were conceived and shot.

A Love Story for the Ages - Behind the scenes making of feature with lots of director, cast, and writer interviews on how the story was adapted for the film presentation, as well as the research done to make sure the time periods (down to newspaper typefaces and film stock) shown were visually accurate.

Style Throughout the Ages - Presents some repetition of the previous featurette, but goes into more details on production, costume, make-up, and hair design.

Discovering Young Harrison Ford: Anthony Ingruber, A YouTube Sensation - An interesting profile featuring the actor that was chosen to play the younger version of Harrison Ford's character in the film. This is a must-see featurette - this guy's impersonation of Ford is spot-on without being odd - Ingruber should be chosen as the next Indiana Jones.

Deleted Scenes: Two deleted scenes are presented. The first scene is an interaction between Adaline and a policeman that elaborates more on her paranoia of her true identity being discovered. The second scene is an interesting interaction between Adaline (who looks 29) and her daughter (aged normally in her 70's) that provides an additional perspective on their relationship.

Blu-ray Disc Presentation - Video

Age of Adaline is definitely a gem, in terms of the video presentation. The film is visually meticulous both in terms of cinematography and historical accuracy. Since the film takes place across a 100-year time span, it must visually change as well in order to be convincing.

For example, in flashbacks, we go back to Adaline's birth and childhood in the early 20th century. That footage was actually shot on film with a hand-cranked camera to give it more authenticity.

Also, as time progresses into the 1920's and early 30's, the filmmakers present a color tone that has tinges of sepia and a two-color process (sometimes referred to as two-strip technicolor) look. As it progresses into the 1940's and 50's colors become more bold, as so on.

Also, production design and clothing change as well, and we see accurate changes Adaline fashion sense, which features a combination of the "present" with a not to the past. Fabric detail and colors are excellent.

There is very little CGI in the film, however, there is the use of digital compositing that merged the Vancouver, Canada urban locations with both shot and virtually created backgrounds of San Francisco. The effect is very seamless, but I did notice some softness in some of the backgrounds.

All-in-all, Age of Adaline is a good demo disc for showing off how well a Blu-ray Disc can capture the visual elements of a film for home viewing - provided the filmmakers do their job in making a film that looks good.

Blu-ray Disc Presentation - Audio

For audio, the Blu-ray Disc provides Dolby Atmos and Dolby TrueHD 7.1 channel soundtracks. If you have a Dolby Atmos home theater setup, you will experience a more precise and immersive listening experience (vertical height) than with the Dolby TrueHD 7.1 option.

Also, those that do not have a home theater receiver that provides Dolby Atmos or Dolby TrueHD decoding, your Blu-ray Disc player will send out a standard Dolby Digital 5.1 channel mix.

The Dolby TrueHD 7.1 soundtrack I had access to on my system was definitely different than you would experience from an action, sci-fi, or action film. Age of Adaline has no superheroes, alien invasions, zombies, or military combat to push the limits of surround immersiveness but what you do have is very natural indoor and outdoor ambiance.

There is excellent audio balance between all channels, and excellent center channel presence (no buried dialog), as well as precise detail, such as the machinations of an old movie projector, and punctuated by a few immersive scenes, such as the storm that starts the film, and a scene with heavy rain that has good overhead and side sound immersion. Also, although there isn't a lot of bombastic subwoofer action (which would not have worked for this film anyway), the subwoofer is used appropriate moments to provide the proper low-frequency accent for key points in the film.

Final Take

When I received the Blu-ray Disc edition of Age Of Adaline, I assumed that this really wasn't going to be that interesting, or really appropriate for me to review for the About.com Home Theater site. However, once I popped the disc into my Blu-ray Disc player, I found Age of Adaline an overall engaging story and a very good example of the Blu-ray Disc viewing experience.

On the one hand I was drawn in by the questions raised regarding what the possible effects would be with regards to immortality, but, on the other hand, I came away from the film not totally satisfied, story wise, as I kept on thinking of an alternate, or subplot, that would be more in the line of an Alfred Hitchcock suspense thriller.

Also, although the film, through flashbacks and narration does a fair job of compressing over 100 years of time into about 2 hours of film time, it would have been interesting to tell Adaline's story more in a limited-TV series in which each decade of her life experiences could have been shown in more detail. In that respect, the film does shortchange the viewer.

That being said, the film is visually stunning and so meticulous in its historical detail that repeated viewings will unearth background elements you missed.

Also, on the audio side, even though it is definitely not as robust as an action or sci-fi film, the sound mix was precise and definitely worthy of the Dolby Atmos/TrueHD 7.1 treatment.

Although Adaline's story isn't fully fleshed out across the decades of her life, if you are a history buff, a fan of great cinematography and production design, or just looking for a good "date-nite" fantasy romance to experience on your home theater, definitely give Age of Adaline a look.

DISCLAIMER: The Blu-ray Disc package used in this review was provided by Dolby Labs and Lionsgate

Components Used In This Review

Blu-ray Disc Players: OPPO BDP-103 and BDP-103D.

TV: Vizio E55c-2 Smart LED/LCD (on review loan)

Home Theater Receiver: Onkyo TX-NR705

Loudspeaker/Subwoofer System 1 (7.1 channels): 2 Klipsch F-2's, 2 Klipsch B-3s, Klipsch C-2 Center, 2 Polk R300s, Klipsch Synergy Sub10.