{2jtab: Movie Review}

Byzantium - Blu-ray Review


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3 stars

Neil Jordan has entered the vampire genre a total of three times now, none with more plaudits than when he assembled a mega-watt cast for Interview with the Vampire. Now, nearly twenty years after that success, and every man and their dog making vampire movies since the Twi-hard epidemic, he returns for another go around in Byzantium.

Twilight this isn’t. This time, the vamps are pretty with no glowing eyes, sparkly skin, or fangs for that matter. They have a funky growing thumb nail with which to pierce some mortal flesh—different, but hardly earth shattering.

This time he follows a mother and daughter team of bloodsuckers as they attempt to settle their transient lives in yet another new locale in the UK. The mother (Gemma Arterton) is a bold and ancient being, rather stuck in her old ways; the daughter (Saoirse Ronan) although an age we’ll never see, is younger and fed up with her mother’s ways. When the old duck starts her usual racket, the youngster meets a terminally ill boy and decides that she no longer wished to follow her mother’s lead. Shit gets dangerous soon thereafter for all involved.

This story isn’t particularly dissimilar to Interview, in that you have a morose immortal telling the tale of their pain-filled lengthy existence and the frustration they have with their maker. There is bit more of a present day context in the narrative, but it’s pretty thin on plot really, and the revelations, told through non-linear flashbacks, don’t really satisfy for all the convolution to get there.

It’s really well performed, with the two leads inhabiting their respective characters well. The elder vamps are clichéd parts and rather dull, to be frank, but the villainous chap that sends Arterton’s character into a life of prostitution is delightfully sleazy and perilous. Shame then, that his part in the story is relegated to the past, and we’re left with the immortal dullards to provide a sense of conflict and peril. What works better is the conflict between Arterton and Ronan.

Cinematography has a real polished indie feel to it, but it’s undermined in places with some pretty shitty CGI work, especially the blood red waterfall effects.

All in all, this is an enjoyable vampire movie, well performed, and with plenty of merits, but for the director of Interview with the Vampire behind the helm, it’s thematic repetition and dodgy CGI, along with the fact it’s pretty much all been seen before, doesn’t add up to anything more than that.

{2jtab: Film Details}

Byzantium - Blu-ray ReviewMPAA Rating: R for bloody violence, sexual content and language.
118 mins
: Neil Jordan
Writer: Moira Buffini
Cast: Saoirse Ronan, Gemma Arterton, Sam Riley
Genre: Drama | Fantasy
Tagline: Byzantium
Memorable Movie Quote: "My story can never be told."
IFC Films
Official Site:
Release Date: June 28, 2013
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:
October 29, 2013

Synopsis: Two mysterious women seek refuge in a run-down coastal resort. Clara meets lonely Noel, who provides shelter in his deserted guesthouse, Byzantium. Schoolgirl Eleanor befriends Frank and tells him their lethal secret. They were born 200 years ago and survive on human blood. As knowledge of their secret spreads, their past catches up on them with deathly consequence.

{2jtab: Blu-ray Review}

Byzantium - Blu-ray Review

Component Grades

Blu-ray Disc
3 stars

4 stars

Blu-ray Experience
3.5 stars


Blu-ray Details:

Available on Blu-ray - October 29, 2013
Screen Formats: 2.40:1
: English
Discs: 1 50GB Blu-ray Disc
Region Encoding: B/2

Solid MPEG-4 AVC 1080p transfer throughout, but like the movie there are a few things that take it down a peg. It’s a dark movie, lots of night scenes, and every now and then there’s sign of noise in the blacks. All in all, it’s a solid presentation visually. Sound is better than the picture, with this 5.1 DTS-HD mix bringing the atmosphere in spades throughout the front and rears. Dialogue is crisp and effects are plentiful and well balanced. The extras are decent, but not exhaustive.



  • None

Special Features:

  • Cast and Crew Interviews
  • FrightFest Cast and Crew Q&A

{2jtab: Trailer}