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May 18, 2008
Erin Brockovich Blu-Ray Movie Review
Cinema Release Blu-Ray Release Distributor Director
13/4/20007/5/2008Sony PicturesSteven Soderbergh
Video Codec Sound Format OFLC Rating Star(s)
AVC MPEG-4Dolby TrueHD 5.1MJulia Roberts

THE MOVIE
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Julia Roberts and Albert Finney.

If you haven't seen Erin Brockovich then you're set for a great couple of hours with two of the finest performances put to celluloid in the year 2000, and a storyline based on real events.

Erin Brockovich tells the story of a feisty young mother who fought for justice any way she knew how. Desperate for a job to support herself and her three children, she convinces attorney Ed Masry to hire her, and promptly stumbles upon a monumental law case against a giant corporation, Pacific Gas & Electric. Erin is determined to take on this powerful adversary even though no law firm has dared to do it before. And while Ed doesn’t want anything to do with the case, Erin wont take no for an answer. So the two begin an incredible and sometimes hilarious fight that will bring a small town to its feet and a huge company to its knees.

I'll be honest here and say that I'm not really a fan of Julia Roberts. Even movies like Pretty Woman and Runaway Bride don't really do much for me. I don't dislike her, I just wouldn't go out of my way to watch most of her movies, but Erin Brockovich is one of the few exceptions. Albert Finney is perfect as Erin's boss Ed Masry and his performance is every bit s impressive as Julia's. The banter, and chemistry, between the two actors is electric and it's clear to see why Julia won the Academy Award for Best Actress, and Albert was nominated for Best Supporting Actor.

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Aaron Eckhart as Erin's boyfriend George.
One thing that has always amazed me about this legal movie is that there are so few 'courtroom' scenes, or at least scenes that show the arbitration hearings which reached the final verdict. Instead director Steven Soderbergh focuses on the interactions between Erin and Ed, as well as the struggles and home life of Erin and the plaintiffs.

While this movie is certainly - by many accounts - quite heavily Hollywood-ised it remains a gripping story. In real life it wasn't Erin Brockovich who went to the town to follow up on her findings, but rather Roberta Walker approaching Masry & Vititoe after PG&E offered a quick settlement. The movie also fails to mention that many of the townsfolk at Hinkley were quite disappointed with the move to arbitration, the inability to see the case, and an the almost six month delay in getting their settlement payments (although in fairness this took place some years later). You can actually find out quite a few interesting details here.

No matter what the reality may be Erin Brockovich remains an engrossing movie with stellar performances across the board and a great storyline. If you haven't seen it yet then you're in for something pretty special indeed.

VIDEO
Presented in the films original aspect ratio of 1.85:1 using the AVC MPEG-4 codec Erin Brockovich is a rather warm looking film. With many scenes taking place in the heat of the Mojave Desert in California much of the film is given a warm red tone to it. This tinting is actually a little unnatural, but is a style chosen for the movie, and not a fault of the transfer. Other scenes are quite clear. This isn't the best transfer we have seen on Blu-Ray but there are noticeable improvements in sharpness, colouring and detail over the DVD release. As a relatively recent theatrical release the print is quite clean, although some scenes do show some evidence of film grain although it never reaches the point of distraction.

AUDIO
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Time for a coffee break eh!
Erin Brockovich is a very dialogue driven movie with few big effects or explosions to get your theatre rocking. That didn't stop Sony Pictures providing the best possible audio experience with a Dolby TrueHD 5.1 audio track. The DVD release of this movie included a 448kbps Dolby Digital 5.1 track so the upgrade, while not significantly different, does offer a little more clarity to the audio, and especially the ambient effects. I must say that I really did enjoy the minimalistic music by Thomas Newman, especially the use of the piano for the main theme. It sounds a treat on this Blu-Ray disc.

Other audio tracks on this disc include Spanish, Portuguese and Thai Dolby Digital 5.1 each encoded at 640kbps, and each with a similar high quality of audio. Subtitles are provided in English, English for the Hearing Impaired, Spanish, Portuguese, Thai, Dutch, Arabic, Bulgarian, Chinese Simplified, Chinese Traditional, Croatian, Danish, Finnish, Hebrew, Hindi, Icelandic, Korean, Norwegian, Romanian, Slovene, Swedish, and Turkish. Sampling the English track we noticed that the text didn't exactly match the dialogue on screen, but was often shortened slightly.

EXTRAS
Erin Brockovich comes to Blu-Ray with some extras worth a look, however for such a brilliant movie, and one based on real events, the set is rather disappointing with direct ports of extras on the DVD release, minus the Isolated Music Score and bios. One really annoying aspect of this Blu-Ray is that the disc, prior to getting to the main menu plays a trailer for Saawariya which, strangely, isn't accessible through the menus? Anyway let's continue...

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It's Marg Helgenberger! You know, from CSI.
The Making of Erin Brockovich (15:13): One of those "Spotlight on Location" featurettes which has some interesting interviews, but really lacks a lot of details that this movie could have offered in some lengthy features. Sadly this feature is only presented in standard definition with 2 channel audio - obviously ported directly from the DVD.

Personal Profile "The Real Erin Brockovich" (4:00): An interview with the real Erin, and Ed Masry. I really expected more from this actually as it's very light on. I would love to hear so much more about the smaller details of the case.

Deleted Scenes (30:07): A sizable quantity of deleted scenes are presented here with some that could quite easily have been inserted back into the movie. The video quality is superb and the clips are presented in 1.85:1 as per the main movie. Sadly the option audio commentaries for the scenes found on the DVD have been removed for this Blu-Ray release.

OVERALL
Erin Brockovich is a fantastic movie and this Blu-Ray version is sure to impress. While the extras have been ported directly from the DVD release the deleted scenes in particular are quite superb. This is a disc well worth checking out.

Review By: Dave Warner

THE MOVIE
8/10
THE VIDEO
8/10
THE AUDIO
7/10
THE EXTRAS
4/10
OVERALL
7/10

Note: All images in this article are Copyright© Sony Pictures. They are only indicative of the movie and not sourced from the vastly superior Blu-Ray disc format.