Downsizing 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Review
No pun intended, but DOWNSIZING has grown on me. By no means is that me about to give a glowing endorsement of a film that’s tonally confusing and somewhat disappointing in its overall presentation. But I reflected on it a lot more kindly than I did when I first left the theater back in December. Upon stepping foot outside, I was disappointed and uncertain about what DOWNSIZING meant to say or if it actually had anything to say. I still had that thought rewatching it, but I now see the film as a peculiar sci-fi flick that simply wants to reflect on this moment of humanity.
The biggest theme in DOWNSIZING is environmentalism. It’s the first to pop-up and it comes in the form of Norwegians who are concerned about the pending overpopulation crisis. Their solution is something out of the TWILIGHT ZONE. Why not shrink everything? An adult man and woman would shrink down to four or five inches tall, and they’d have their own home and goods just as miniscule as them. The hope is that this’ll make a huge impact on the overall carbon footprint we’ve been leaving on Earth.
But then DOWNSIZING cuts forward a few years after this scientific breakthrough to Paul (Damon), who works a good, but dead-end job. We watch the seeds of interest get planted into Paul, but then we jump forward a few years again so we can watch him try to persuade his wife, Audrey (Kirsten Wiig), to become pint-sized. She takes up interest after they take a trip to the middle of the Arizona desert to the largest U.S. installation for downsizing. The Omaha couple, with their lower middle class income, could becoming instant millionaires if they downsize. Excited at the prospect of retiring early in life and living in a mansion, they can’t wait to sign on the dotted line. Of course it wouldn’t be a movie if it all went according to plan.
DOWNSIZING is wildly unpredictable, but not in the way you’d think. While good twists and turns add another layer to the overall plot, the twists and turns in DOWNSIZING feel more like detours in rural America to check out the world’s largest ball of twine. It’s odd watching a movie slowly move away from its comedic premise to a premise that encompasses organized crime, elitism, class warfare, refugees, more environmentalism and the doomsday argument. It sometimes pays off, but other times it’s very distracting because it doesn’t fit in the overall narrative of the film. Director and writer Alexander Payne left no stone unturned when it comes to socio-political commentary. I think.
For thinkers and philosophers, DOWNSIZING may prove to be theatrical nourishment and for others in the mainstream the film may feel too much like having a bowl of broccoli before having a dessert. Payne shoots for the moon with this ambitious project, and misses. But having watched the film a few times now, I’ll admit that it’s creeped into my conscious a little more each time. Maybe after a couple dozen watches, I’ll view it as a masterpiece. But I don’t think I want to relive a so-so movie that many times.
4K ULTRA HD BLU-RAY REVIEW
Video: I assume this was sourced directly from the 3.4k master and the result is a nice, but not quite great presentation. For most of the film, it feels like your standard 2K upconverted transfer where you’ll get some nice upticks in closeups and in some of the settings, but the overall presentation isn’t going to blow you away. Colors feel brighter on the 4K, especially with the sunny, outside scenes but also with some of the darker scenes. There were a few times I wished I could have asked Alexander Payne if the black levels were what he was going for, but overall the presentation was fine.
Audio: The same, efficient DTS track from the Blu-ray is included on the 4K.
This title was reviewed using a Samsung UBD-K8500 with a Sony XBR75X850C TV.
There are no special features exclusive to the 4K, but it does include a Blu-ray of the film, which includes the following special features:
Featurettes: There’s about an hour and six minutes worth of featurettes, all of which feel like fluff promotional material. There’s one praising Alexander Payne, one praising Matt Damon and another praising the entire cast. The visual effects, production design and general themes round out the other featurettes.