Moderator / Reviewer
- Apr 4, 2017
My AV System
- Preamp, Processor or Receiver
- Yamaha TRS-5830 Atmos Receiver
- Other Amp
- Peavy IPR 3000 for subs
- Universal / Blu-ray / CD Player
- Sony ubx800 4K UHD Player
- Front Speakers
- Cheap Thrills Mains
- Center Channel Speaker
- Cheap Thrills Center
- Surround Speakers
- Volt 10 Surrounds
- Surround Back Speakers
- Volt 10 Reach Surrounds
- Rear Height Speakers
- Volt 6 Overheads
- 2x Marty subs (full size with SI 18's)
- Video Display Device
- JVC RS-46 Projector
- Draper Cineperm M1300 119 inch Static Screen
(all bolded sections will be new to this review vs. our review of the 4K edition HERE)
A Star Is Born was released among much fanfare a few months back for Oscar times, and like most things popular, the studios figure out a way to re-release the film. With this one the biggest draw was the music. This was not just a FANTASTIC film (one of my favorite of the year), but also one filled with some incredible music by Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper (both single and duets), so the appeal of a bunch of extra musical material that didn’t make it into the final cut was front and center. Even though Bradley Cooper agrees that his final cut is the theatrical cut, Warner has decided to release an extended cut of the movie with over 12 minutes of added footage, with 95% of that footage being additional songs inserted back into the film. Sadly it was NOT done on 4K for some bizarre reason (I mean, the original theatrical cut made the 4K cut), and the additional songs are really neat, but at the end of the day I have to say that the theatrical cut is distinctly superior. The new songs are great, but they cut the flow of the movie just a bit and and takes away from the impact as a result. To make matters more interesting, the digital copy that came with the Blu-ray and 4K theatrical release is already upgraded to have the Encore edition as one of the special features, so it’s a bit of a difficult sell to upgrade to this version (or downgrade if you have the 4K edition).
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.
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.
Rated R for language throughout, some sexuality/nudity and substance abuse
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 Encore edition is a bit dissapointing though, as it foregoes the drastically superior 4K video encode, and the additional footage feels better as special features rather than an actual film. Plus, with the digital copy of the theatrical cut being automatically upgraded to the Encore Edition online, it makes this cut a very hard sell. It's a neat idea to check out, but methinks this was a rush job instead of an honest attempt at a true special edition for one of the best movies of the year. As a movie, and as a set, this is a MUST WATCH. As a release, it's a bit more mediocre.
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 (both versions), French, Spanish DD 5.1, English DVS 2.0 (theatrical only)
Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish, Portuguese
Studio: Warner Brothers
Runtime: 136 Minutes (Theatrical) / 147 Minutes (Encore)
Blu-ray Release Date: June 4th, 2019
Recommendation: Must Watch