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August 18, 2010
Solitary Man Blu-Ray Review
Cinema Release Blu-Ray Release Distributor Director
21/5/2010 (USA)4/8/2010Village RoadshowBrian Koppelman
David Levien
Video Codec Sound Format OFLC Rating Star(s)
AVC MPEG-4Dolby TrueHD 5.1MMichael Douglas

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Michael Douglas and Jesse Eisenberg in the 2010 movie Solitary Man.

Around a year ago I saw a trailer for a film called Solitary Man. It looked somewhat interesting, but the main selling point was Michael Douglas as the star. Generally a consistent actor in his performances this was a movie we were keen to check out at cinemas. But here we are, no cinema release, and a direct to Blu-Ray release here in Australia.

New Yorker Ben Kalman had it all - a successful car dealership, loving family and a beautiful home. But through his own bad choices he lost the lot. Now in his fifties and divorced from Nancy, his college sweetheart and the one person who knows him better than anybody else, Ben seems to be on the verge of a comeback. But could Ben make the same mistakes again? Although he still finds time to hang out with his daughter Susan and his adoring grandson, she breaks off contact when she discovers he's seeing one of her friends. His girlfriend Jordan is the daughter of a very influential director on the board of a major auto manufacturer. Now if Ben can just keep his hubris in check for a little longer, he will be back as big as ever. But circumstances are placing him in very close proximity with one girl he shouldn't touch, Jordan's daughter Allyson.

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Imogen Poots in Solitary Man.
As I previously mentioned I was keen to check out this movie, primarily due to the cast which not only includes Michael Douglas but also Imogen Poots, Susan Sarandon, Danny DeVito, Mary-Lousie Parker, Jesse Eisenberg, and Janna Fischer - all of whom are superb. In fact it's the brilliant performances from this cast that makes this drama movie so, well, dramatic. If they weren't so believable you'd give up on the characters. As Ben, Michael Douglas is simply superb and it reminded me of some of his better performance such as Gordon Gekko in Wall Street, Detective Nick Curran in Basic Instinct or Nicholas Van Orton in The Game. He's such a likable character who becomes lost in his ways, and with his priorities. Does he redeem himself? That's a question we won't, or perhaps can't, answer.

Now we must warn that despite being M rated this isn't a movie which we would recommend to youngsters as there are plenty of sexual references, themes and profanities littered throughout the film.

Solitary Man certainly isn't the best movie ever but Michael Douglas is always watchable, and even despite his characters choices through this journey, it remains a compelling movie.

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A meeting on the University campus.
Being a film released to cinemas not twelve months ago it is not surprising to see such a clean, dirt free, encoding on this disc. The film has been encoded using the AVC MPEG-4 codec at the aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and its generally a very good presentation with a high level of detail in the 1080p image. If there is one negative it's that the encoding tends to have some black crush with detail in the darker sections being lost. One need only look at the scenes where Ben, and other characters, are wearing dark blue or black clothing, or indeed anyone with black hair. Still, this is a nice transfer well beyond the DVD's video quality.

Solitary Man has a Dolby TrueHD 5.1 audio track. This isn't really a movie which demands a great lossless track due to the limited use of surround sound channels and sub-woofer. Dialogue, which dominates this soundtrack, is clear at all times.

In terms of other audio track this disc includes a Dolby Digital 2.0 track encoded at 640kbps (which isn't available through the menu, but only by manually changing audio tracks, and also an English Descriptive Audio track encoded with Dolby Digital 2.0 (640kbps). Both are impressive tracks given the high bitrates. There is one English Descriptive Subtitle track on this release with text colour coded according to who is talking. Some of the dialogue has been shortened a little to allow the dialogue time to be read.

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Ben contemplating his future...
There is only one single extra on this disc which is a little disappointing given the strong cast. Still, with a box office of only $US3 million or so, it's possible not surprising that little effort has gone into this release which will be primarily rental sales only.

Inside The Crisis: The Making of Solitary Man (16:28/HD): A little promotional and too much replaying of scenes from the movie but this is still a somewhat decent look at the making of this film. A nice little extra, but sadly the only one on this disc.

Solitary Man is a good movie with a great cast, and a decent plot. This isn't about a man at the top of his game, or at the very top, but rather one on the decline which makes it so much more impactful.

Review By: Dave Warner


Note: All images in this article are Copyrightę Village Roadshow. They are only indicative of the movie and not sourced from the vastly superior Blu-Ray disc format.