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A Star is Born - Blu-ray Review

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A Star is Born (2018) - Movie Review

5 stars

Throughout A Star is Born, Bradley Cooper’s character growls out the lyrics “Maybe it’s time to let the old ways die” with a crooning intimacy that lays the familiar groundwork for what’s at play in his film about two stars passing in the night; one fading away, the other just learning to burn.

This is a new take on the well-worn love story about two artistic souls coming together on stage and sharing their journey in life. There’s a reason the story has been brought to film no fewer than three times through the decades by such luminaries as Janet Gaynor, Judy Garland, Kris Kristofferson, and Barbra Streisand. It is a timeless one. And it speaks to the eternal nature of human feelings, abject failings, and the music that gets us through it all.

Bradley Cooper puts his own stamp on the story this time around as he co-writes, produces, stars, and even takes the director’s chair for the first time in the film that also marks Lady Gaga’s big screen introduction. And they are both fantastic.

"Sit back, fall in love, and let it wash over you. Watch a star being born"


One would be hard pressed to recognize this as a film that features two huge stars, each making the transition to a new medium. But they are, and Cooper and Gaga complement one another like a pair of well-worn leather slippers. One of the most difficult things for actors to get right on screen is chemistry; that perfect blend of charisma and charm that allows us to buy into whatever it is they are selling. In A Star is Born, not only are we buying, we shove every last one of our chips to the center of the table as these two put on a master class in making us believe. And those goosebumps when the two sing together? Those are real. Don’t try to figure it out, just enjoy.

Cooper is seasoned musician Jackson Maine who we see take the stage as the film opens – but not before washing down a handful of pills with a huge swig of booze. We get the feeling this is a normal routine for the road-weary singer who comes to life in front of an audience, yet struggles to keep it together away from the limelight. When he accidentally stumbles into a drag bar one night he meets his muse in the form of a struggling musician with the perfect voice named Ally (Gaga) who still lives with her father (an unrecognizable Andrew Dice Clay), and toils away at a dead-end job.

The two eventually begin to fall for one another, and it is not long until Jack invites Ally onto the stage to sing one of her originals. But she’s shy, lacks confidence, and is still shaken by recording execs who recognize her undeniable talents but remind her that she’ll never make it in the biz with her average-girl looks. Personally, I think Lady Gaga looks totally bad-ass cool as Ally, with her stripped-down look that plays nicely with the rawness of her character. Regardless, she takes a deep breathe, quickly nods in approval, and skitters to the front of the stage. As those first notes rip into the microphone and reverberate over the crowd of thousands, let those goosebumps take over as you watch a star being born.

Unfortunately, the careers of the two singers are on a Benjamin Button trajectory as we watch Jack self-implode into a cloud of drugs and booze before stumbling through the chorus of his hit song, “It takes a lot to change a man and it takes a lot to try; maybe it’s time to let the old ways die.” Their relationship begins to sour and we’re given a front row seat into what sometimes happens behind the velvet ropes and pulled back curtains of the private lives of superstars. The lively spark of who he first fell in love with is snuffed by the manufactured pop songs and dance routines of what makes today’s modern-day stars.

A Star is Born (2018) - Movie Review

The stellar performances of Cooper and Gaga aren’t the only ones worthy of recognition here. The rest of the cast is clearly all in as well, especially Sam Elliott as Jack’s older brother, road manager, surrogate father, counselor and even drinking buddy. Andrew Dice Clay is actually quite charming as Ally’s Sinatra-wanna-be father, while Dave Chapelle turns in a surprisingly nice performance as lifelong friend “Noodles,” who represents a different path Jack might have taken in his life.

What would a movie about music and musicians be without great music? Standing in as some of the film’s biggest characters are the wonderful songs written by Cooper, Gaga, and Lukas Nelson that throw in a brilliant mix of the sounds inspired by Neil Young, The Who, Pete Townshend, Waylon Jennings, and The Strokes. I highly recommend catching A Star is Born on the big screen in the Dolby format. Sit back, fall in love, and let it wash over you. Watch a star being born.

A Star is Born (2018) - Movie Review

MPAA Rating: R for language throughout, some sexuality/nudity and substance abuse.
Runtime:
135 mins
Director
: Bradley Cooper
Writer:
Eli Roth, Bradley Cooper
Cast:
Sissy Spacek, Piper Laurie, Amy Irving
Genre
: Drama | Music
Tagline:
A star is born.
Memorable Movie Quote: "Maybe its time to let the old ways die."
Theatrical Distributor:
Warner Bros. Pictures
Official Site:
Release Date:
October 5, 2018
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:
Own A Star is Born on 4K UHD Combo Pack, Blu-ray™ Combo Pack and DVD Special Edition on February 19 or Own It Early on Digital January 15!
Synopsis: A musician helps a young singer and actress find fame, even as age and alcoholism send his own career into a downward spiral.

A Star is Born (2018) - Movie Review

Blu-ray

Blu-ray Details:

Home Video Distributor: Warner Bros.
Available on Blu-ray
- Own A Star is Born on 4K UHD Combo Pack, Blu-ray™ Combo Pack and DVD Special Edition on February 19 or Own It Early on Digital January 15!
Screen Formats:
2.40:1
Subtitles
: English SDH, French, Portuguese, Spanish
Audio:
English: Dolby Atmos; English: Dolby TrueHD 7.1; English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1; French (Canada); Dolby Digital 5.1Spanish; Dolby Digital 5.1; Portuguese: Dolby Digital 5.1; English: Dolby Digital 5.1
Discs: Blu-ray Disc; Digital copy; Movies Anywhere; DVD copy
Region Encoding: Locked to Region A

Warner Bros. presents a fantastic 1080p, 2.40:1 handling of Bradley Cooper's A Star is Born, starring Cooper, Lady Gaga, Sam Elliott, and Andrew Dice Clay on a Blu-ray + DVD + Digital Combo Pack.

Video

Though mostly a dark movie with a significant amount of it taking place inside darkened barrooms, concert halls, and outdoor concert venues, the black levels are deep and rich yet still provide adequate shadow definition and never noticeably give way to banding. There is an intentional grittiness to the entire experience from a film grain effect that shows itself mostly in the film's darker scenes but never becomes a distraction... but neither is it really a desired effect.

And then there's the Le Vie en Rose scene in a burlesque lounge! Arguably the best (among many) thing about the entire A Star is Born experience, the scene is shot with an intense red color palette that also features lots of vivid blues and saturated oranges from the drag bar spotlights. It is an incredibly moving scene and was, in my opinion, one of last year's most memorable... of any movie. As handled here, Warner reminds us why the scene was so effective as the bright colors pop and snap with the a perfectly saturated palette that never bleeds or glows as Lady Gaga writhes and croons to her attentive audience. If you watch nothing else on the disc, watch this scene and marvel at its craftsmanship and its handling on this transfer. Your home theater system will thank you for it.

Audio

Speaking of the Le Vie en Rose scene: this is just one of many where the film's Dolby Atmos 5.1 audio track comes to life with window-rattling immersion. One of the many others being the "Shallows" concert performance by Gaga and Cooper. A Star is Born is a music movie, and as such, we get a nice thumping audio surround constantly moving throughout the room as the hand-held concert stage cameras frame the subjects in closeups. The Dialogue is, appropriately, mostly front and center, and is always clear and coherent no matter the raucous setting. But your audio system will spring into action when Cooper's and Gaga's voices swing around the entire 5.1 spectrum as the movie cameras work the concert stage. Hear that up there? That's the crowd noise coming from the upper reaches of the concert venues via the Dolby Atmos audio dome. A true thing of beauty.

Extras

The wonderful Warner Bros. ASIB experience is rounded out by a disc chock-full of extras, including a 30-minute-long making-of featurette, music videos, and never-before-seen screen test footage. This absolutely would have been a perfect release had we gotten a Cooper + Gaga (or anyone-else) commentary. But as it is, thanks to Warner Bros., A Star will be reborn on February 19th when the Blu-ray + DVD + Digital Combo Pack of A Star is Born hits retailers shelves.

Supplements:

Commentary:

  • None

Special Features:

Warner Bros. crams a ton of special feature material onto the disc. Most of it is music videos and screen test low-res footage, but there is also a 30+ minute making-of featurette that provides lots of insider information as the main stars provide commentary on the making of the film.

Featurettes:

  • Jam Sessions and Rarities
    • Baby What You Want Me to Do (02:22) - Music video intercut with scenes from the film.
    • Midnight Special (02:41) Very cool jam session footage that features Cooper, Gaga, Lukas Nelson and the band as the throw together an impromptu rendition of Midnight Special.
    • Is That Alright (01:58) - Music video intercut with scenes from the film.
  • The Road to Stardom: Making a Star is Born (30:02) - Sit down interviews and off-the-cuff discussions with all the film's cast as they speak to what it was like working with one another on the film. We gets lots of insight into the writing of the songs, how Cooper trained to do his own singing and guitar playing. Lukas Nelson also sits down to discuss his contributions to the show.

Music Videos

  • Shallow
  • Always Remember Us This Way
  • Look What I Found
  • I'll Never Love Again

Musical Moments - The complete version of each of song that appeared in the movie

  • Black Eyes
  • Maybe It's Time
  • Shallow
  • Alibi
  • Shallow
  • Always Remember Us This Way
  • Why Did You Do That?
  • Oh, Pretty Woman
  • I'll Never Love Again

A Star is Born (2018) - Movie Review

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