Blu-ray Review Comedy

'Hail, Caesar!' Blu-ray Review: A quirky love letter to the golden age of Hollywood

June 7, 2016Ben MK

Of all the Hollywood filmmakers out there, the Coen brothers are among the few who can truly be called visionaries. From Fargo, to The Big Lebowski, to No Country for Old Men, their movies can always be distinguished by their unique tone and signature style. And their latest — the gloriously screwball Hail, Caesar! — is certainly no different.

Set in the golden age of Hollywood, Hail, Caesar! is the kind of Coen brothers film that fans of Barton Fink and The Hudsucker Proxy will appreciate. A movie about the trials and tribulations of making movies within the 1950s Hollywood studio system, the film follows Eddie Mannix (Josh Brolin), a press fixer for fictitious studio Capitol Pictures. No stranger to the problems of celebrities, Eddie has tackled some strange cases in his time. However, his strangest case might just be his latest: the disappearance of leading man Baird Whitlock (George Clooney).

Drugged and kidnapped straight from the set of his latest picture — a Roman epic titled "Hail, Caesar! A Tale of the Christ" — Baird awakes to find himself a "guest" at a Malibu beach house, where he learns of an ongoing plot by Soviet sympathizers to inject Hollywood's most popular productions with Communist propaganda. Meanwhile, back in sunny California, Eddie faces no shortage of public relations fires to put out, including a pregnancy scandal for actress DeeAnna Moran (Scarlett Johansson), as well as an actor who can't act (Alden Ehrenreich).

To top it all off, Eddie must also keep a pair of Hollywood gossip columnists at bay (twins, no less, played by Tilda Swinton). As such, it's no wonder that he's contemplating leaving his job for something much less stressful. Hail, Caesar!, on the other hand, won't leave audiences with the same feeling. On the contrary, with a knockout cast that also includes Ralph Fiennes, Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill, it never fails at being eminently watchable.

With a fair number of scenes that double as lavish recreations of the types of movies Charlton Heston, Ethel Merman or Fred Astaire might have starred in back in the day, Hail, Caesar! looks fantastic on Blu-ray. Sometimes orange-looking skin tones notwithstanding, this is a reference-quality transfer from start to finish, serving up robust colors and a crisp image that's perfect for appreciating the movie's lush period costume and production design. As for the audio, the accompanying DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 sound mix does its job well, producing crystal-clear dialogue and lending a bit of heft to the film's musical numbers.

Universal's two-disc Blu-ray release includes an iTunes/UltraViolet digital copy, a DVD and the following Blu-ray extras:

  • Directing Hollywood (4:11) - The film's all-star cast rave about working with the Coen brothers.
  • The Stars Align (11:34) - A look at the characters played by Josh Brolin, Tilda Swinton, George Clooney, Scarlett Johansson, Channing Tatum, Alden Ehrenreich and Ralph Fiennes.
  • An Era of Glamour (6:22) - A look at the film's production and costume design.
  • Magic of a Bygone Era (6:01) - A featurette about the film's recreation of sound stage set-pieces from the golden age of Hollywood.

Hail, Caesar! is available from Universal Pictures Home Entertainment as of June 7th, 2016. The Blu-ray features English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, Spanish and French DTS 5.1, and English Dolby Digital 2.0 Descriptive Audio tracks. The film is presented with English SDH, Spanish and French subtitles. The total runtime is 1 Hr. 46 Mins.

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