Michael Scott

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A Star is Born


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Movie: :5stars:
4K Video: :4stars:
Video: :4stars:
Audio: :5stars:
Extras: :2.5stars:
Final Score: :4.5stars:



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Movie

A Star is Born is probably one of the most remade films in all of Hollywood. The first time a film with this story and this name came out it was 1937, and was starring Janet Gaynor and Frederic March. Then in 1954 with James Mason and Judy Garland (my personal favorite of the bunch), and then again in 1976 with Kris Kristofferson and Barbara Streisand. Now it’s about time for the decades to go by and ANOTHER iteration of the iconic tragedy/drama/romance story to grace the silver screen once more. I’m usually a critic of constant remakes, but something struck me the moment I heard the casting decision for the film. The moment I heard Lady Gaga’s name pronounced as the female star I thought to myself “wow, she’s actually the perfect person for that role”. Couple that with the fact that this was Bradley Cooper’s directorial debut, I HAD to see it.

Before getting into the story and details about the movie, let me preface this by saying that the amount of awards that have been heaped on the 2018 film have been staggering to say the least. 7 academy awards nominations, nearly that for the Golden Globes, and countless other film awards have heaped praise upon the film, and for very good reason. It’s one of the best movies of the year and both Cooper and Gaga absolutely kill it in every single way imaginable. The two are pure magic on camera (both together and apart), and Cooper’s directorial debut is one that will be VERY hard for the new director to top in subsequent efforts.

Instead of dealing with film stars and their careers, Cooper has reinvented the wheel, while still maintaining the essence of what makes A Star is Born….A Star is Born. This is world where success is not measured in Oscars and acclaim from rich big wigs, it’s measured in YouTube views and public opinion, focusing in on the music industry instead of the silver screen. Cooper carefully crafts a tale that is multilayered, complete with organic characters that are larger than life, yet so raw and down to earth at the same time. If you’ve watched any of the previous films of the same name you know that this is NOT going to end well, and while I know what is coming, that final act hits you deep in the gut, twists the knife, and then pulls it out leaving this bittersweet and hollow feeling of utter tragedy. A fact that makes you appreciate Cooper’s writing and directing even more, as he is able to take a story that we all know and love, keep it the same, yet still have the desired effect at the end, even though we know what’s on the horizon.

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Alcoholic country-rock star Jackson Maine (Bradley Cooper) is at the very top of his career, just before that moment when the publicity and fame begins to slide down hill into obscurity. Looking for another cheap drink, Jackson stumbled into a dive drag bar and just so happens to see a young waitress by the name of Ally (Lady Gaga) performing. Captivated by her music and her soul, Maine pursues the young woman and encourages her to spread her creative wings. As those wings spread the two’s romance begins to hit some strains, as Jackson’s career is on the way down (part of it his own accord as the bottle is slowly taking over the country-rock star’s life), and the other is on the way up. As their relationship becomes more strained and tested, Jackson’s spiraling alcoholism acts as an anchor around the pairs neck. A burden that the rising star Ally is content to wear, even though it’s hampering her career at the same time.

A Star is Born is so much the same, but so different than it’s predecessors at the same time. I was absolutely captivated watching Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper’s dynamic together on stage. In the beginning Jackson is the confident one. Powerful, on top of the world, and Ally is the shy and timid one who needs some prodding to spread her wings. As the film progresses the specter of the bottle begins to pull Jackson down, and Ally’s quick rise to success forces their roles to change. Cooper just throws himself into the role of Jackson Maine so thoroughly that you can’t help but forget that this is Bradley Cooper. Watching the confident rock star descend into uncertainty and desperation is so agonizingly beautiful that even though you know his crash is going to be spectacular, you beg for the man to redeem himself at the same time.

Above I mentioned that Lady Gaga was the perfect choice for Ally and I stand by that comment. Ally’s rise to success and subsequent domination of the pop airwaves seems to rival her own career and life. I’ve been listening to Lady Gaga since before she was popular. Back when she was making “shock” music with explicit lyrics, then watch her rise to fame and popularity, only later to gain her own independence from studio executives who were “molding” her to fit a certain image and finally have her OWN voice in the music industry. Not to mention that no matter what you may think of the woman’s outlandish stunts on and off stage, she is an INCREDIBLY talented singer, and due to the fact t hat she’s not what most consider classically beautiful makes her the perfect type of character for this role. As such she feels so organic, so raw, and so utterly believable at the same time. Which in turn permeates the character of Ally and with Bradley Cooper’s incredible performance makes for a mesmerizing film.




Rating:

Rated R for language throughout, some sexuality/nudity and substance abuse




4K Video: :4stars: Video: :4stars:
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A Star is Born’s 4K UHD upgrade was taken from the same 2K master that the Blu-ray was struck from and upscaled up to 2160p for this disc. The film is stylistically shot with a sort of diffused and mildly hazy film style, that kind of looks like you’re in the middle of a smoky bar the whole time. Some outdoor concert scenes can be razor sharp and crisp, while others have that hazy look to it that really makes you feel like you’re in a country bar. Colors are sharp and bright, and the use of Dolby Vision and HDR really add a sense of depth to the black levels, especially with the diffused look that can play havoc on dark levels (the Blu-ray had a few scenes that really struggled due to that). The colors also show some dramatic improvements, with the neon colors of the on stage performances of Ally really highlighting that boost of clarity and color. Fine detail improvements are solid all the way around, and show incremental (and sometimes startlingly shocking) upgrades from the Blu-ray, but it’s really that use of HDR and DV that make the nuanced and stylized filming style really stand out on 4K.






Audio: :5stars:
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Wow, just WOW! Warner does it again with another killer Dolby Atmos track that is ALL about the music. From the opening guitar chords of Jackson’s first few moments on stage you’re clued into the fact that the audience is in for an auditory treat. The sound stage is wide and spacious, making full use of the surround channels, completely enveloping the listener into the center of the music. It flows through, around, and all throughout the listening stage, allowing the screaming audience to feel right in front of you, and the raucous chords of the music to just rip through those speakers like tissue paper. The track can be mild and laid back as well, letting the music subside for a short amount of time while Jackson and Ally talk, but blasting back with full authority at a behind the scenes party, or another concert. Every bit of dialog is precise and clean (except for Bradley Cooper mumbling in that twangy country voice of Jackson’s) and the LFE is amazingly deep and clean. Just be warned that Warner has once again put a 5.1 DTS-HD MA track on the disc as well (both Blu-ray and 4K UHD) and the disc defaults to that mix, so to get the Atmos experience you have to go in and manually switch over to that Atmos track as the default will be the 5.1 mix.





Extras: :2.5stars:
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Jam Sessions and Rarities
- “Baby What You Want Me To Do”
- “Midnight Special”
- “Is That Alright”
• The Road to Stardom: Making A Star is Born
• Music Videos
- “Shallow”
- “Always Remember Us This Way”
- “Look What I Found”
- “I’ll Never Love Again”
• Musical Moments







Final Score: :4.5stars:


A Star is Born is a multilayered tragedy, and Cooper allows for several subplots to play out on screen, culminating in the inevitable demise of one, and the surging rise of another. The film is powerful and tear jerking, while being homey and comforting at the same time. The music itself is incredible, giving both people the “voice” they so desperately wanted, and has itself been given a series of academy awards as well (the duet “Shallows” at the beginning will bring a tear to your eyes, with Cooper and Gaga just bringing down the house). Warner’s 4K UHD disc is very VERY solid, with a nice array of extras, very good video and an absolutely stunning Atmos track. Definitely a must watch.



Technical Specifications:

Starring: Bradley Cooper, Lady Gaga, Sam Elliott, Andrew Dice Clay, Rafi Gavron, Anthony Ramos, Dave Chappelle, Alec Baldwin, Marion Williams
Directed by: Bradley Cooper
Written by: Bradley Cooper, Eric Roth, Will Fetters
Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1 HEVC
Audio: English: Dolby Atmos (Dolby TrueHD 7.1 Core) English DTS-HD MA 5.1, French, Spanish, Hungarian, Russian DD 5.1, English DVS 2.0
Subtitles: English SDH, French, Portuguese, Spanish, Cantonese, Croatian, Greek, Hungarian, Korean, Mandarin (Simplified), Mandarin (Traditional), Romanian, Russian, Thai, Turkish
Studio: Warner Brothers
Rated: R
Runtime: 136 Minutes
Blu-ray Release Date: Own A Star is Born on 4K UHD Combo Pack, Blu-ray™ Combo Pack and DVD Special Edition on February 19 or Own It Early on Digital January 15!
14449





Recommendation: Must Watch

 
Last edited:

Todd Anderson

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clicking on Buy It Now right now!

Great review mike! Thanks for the warning on selection Atmos in the menu.
 

Michael Scott

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lol, i've gotten used to checking on pretty much any new Warner release for that 5.1 default track.
 

tripplej

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Thanks for the review. I heard lots of good things about this movie. Will definitely check it out. :)
 

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Thanks for the review. I will definitely watch this one, plus my wife has been wanting to see it.
 

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Thanks for the review. I will definitely watch this one, plus my wife has been wanting to see it.
It’s good!
 

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Wife and I saw it this past weekend and loved it. Not only is the film spectacular it also has a spectacular soundtrack. Getting the movie and also the soundtrack on vinyl. By the way the 1937 original is on TCM and the 1954 version airs on TCM on April 23rd. I couldn't find anything on the 1976 version.
 

Michael Scott

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agreed, the sound track is jaw dropping.
 

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Speaking of sound, the movie was nominated for best original song and it won.

Best original song
Shallow (A Star Is Born) – WINNER!
All the Stars (Black Panther)
I’ll Fight (RBG)
The Place Where Lost Things Go (Mary Poppins Returns)
When a Cowboy Trades his Spurs for Wings (The Ballad of Buster Scruggs)
 
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