Concussion 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Review
It’s a little sad that we live in a world where anyone would deny that getting repeatedly hit in the head for a dozen or so years is bad for your health. Unfortunately, that’s where we are and just recently, a prominent owner of an NFL team dismissed any link between CTE and playing football. CTE was discovered and researched by Dr. Bennet Omalu, who published his findings and immediately got pushback from everyone in the NFL. What transpired was a number of hearings and lawsuits, eventually culminating with former NFL players reaching a settlement with the NFL over their medical issues. I assume there’s a way to write this synopsis and make it exciting, but the truth is that it’s not very interesting.
There are several issues plaguing CONCUSSION, but the crux of the film’s problems lie with the fact it feels like a watered down version of what it wanted to be. At a high level, the film is comparable to Michael Mann’s THE INSIDER. Both movies are about a man that knows damaging information about a billion dollar industry and faces backlash once his discovery goes public, except CONCUSSION lacked everything that made THE INSIDER great. CONCUSSION had absolutely zero suspense because Omalu was never really in danger. It was almost comical that director Peter Landesman even hinted that the NFL had thugs tail Omalu’s wife or threaten him. It was so ambiguous that even the audience thought everyone was just paranoid. It’s not that we needed the NFL to send thugs to rough up Omalu, but what it boils down to is that we spent two hours staring intently at computer screens and looking disappointed when he watched TV.
Aside from the lack of suspense, there just wasn’t much of a story here. Essentially, Omalu scientifically proves something that anyone with a 2nd grade education already knows; playing football is dangerous. It’s not Landesman’s fault the NFL is denying a link between CTE and football, but the denial is so asinine and embarrassing that it makes everything else seem like a waste of time. Putting that in movie form means we have an intelligent doctor saying “yes” and a businessman saying “no” for two hours.
The performances have gotten a lot of attention, albeit for the wrong reasons. The focus should be on the quality of Will Smith’s performance and it’s severely lacking. Will Smith looked like he was impersonating Omalu and not defining him for the movie. Will Smith is a talented actor, but this was not a good performance from him. Delivering an accent and pointing your finger sternly is just not enough. It’s not all his fault because there just wasn’t much for him to do. He didn’t have any “Oscar” moments to show off his range, mainly because I don’t believe the story called for it. Everyone else was fine with what they had, but there weren’t any shining moments for anyone.
I don’t know what kind of film Landesman really wanted to make or if his public declaration that the NFL didn’t influence the film is true. Watching CONCUSSION, I can’t help but think there’s another movie somewhere out there that depicts the NFL in a much more harmful light and in turn, probably has much more intensity. But even with some added intensity, I’m not sure this is a story that needed to be told, at least not in its current form.
4K ULTRA HD BLU-RAY REVIEW
Video: CONCUSSION is another example of a film that will only offer modest improvements over the existing Blu-ray, not because the 4K is lacking but because the Blu-ray already looks wonderful. Where the 4K shines through as far as CONCUSSION is concerned are during the many close-up scenes and the result is a strikingly realistic movie experience. From the threads to the character’s makeup, you can see explicit detail that you couldn’t normally see. Closeups aside, the various Pennsylvania settings look incredible with so much detail and vibrant colors (at least as “vibrant” as Pittsburgh can look).
Audio: The audio was fine.
There are no 4K exclusive extras included, but it does contain a Blu-ray copy of the film, which has the following special features:
Commentary with Peter Landesman: He does a fine job commenting on the technical aspects of the film, but I wanted him to open up a little more about the conflict between the film and the NFL. He shies away from discussing his personal feelings or any of the drama, but he does offer a lot of detail about the film, which was nice to hear.
Deleted Scenes (13:43): There are six scenes total and considering I thought the movie was too long as-is, I’m relieved most of these were cut. There’s nothing here that would have impacted the film.
Inside the True Story (11:09): Some of the cast and real characters talk about the true story. Once again, we’re not getting everything here, but it was nice hearing Will Smith talk about what drew him to the role.
Crafting Concussion (12:54): This is more of a quick fluff piece, quickly running through the basics of making the film.
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