“The Descendants” releases on a two-disc set consisting of a Blu-ray disc and a DVD.
The package houses the HD, SD, and digital copies of this Oscar-winning family drama by Alexander Payne. Based on the novel of the same title by Hawaiian author Kaui Hart Hemmings, this 2011 film explores the ups and downs in the lives of an American family living in Hawaii. It stars George Clooney, Shailene Woodley, Amara Miller, Nick Krause, Judy Greer, Matthew Lillard, and Beau Bridges.
“The Descendants” delivers an old-school storytelling style that primarily relies on mood, atmosphere, and characterization more than visual flair and effects. It has a naturally filmic look that showcases many beautiful Hawaiian sceneries. The film has that laid back appeal as it meanders to the tune of strummed ukeleles and the movements of ocean waves.
The varying tropical sights seen throughout the movie consistently showcase fine and strong details. Skin tones are always warm and lifelike. Images are free from digital noise reduction and edge enhancement problems and other visual artifacts.
The film’s five-channel master audio impressively works as a dialogue-driven track. The subtlety of its sound mix suits the story’s mood and feel. The sound design offers a good sense of environment. Atmospheric effects, whether in busy or quiet scenes, always sound natural and immersive.
Speaking lines are clear and resonant. Clooney’s voiceover is effectively deep and strong. Overall, the audio track is free from any discernible issue. Aside from the original English track, alternative five-channel audio options in Spanish and French are available as well.
This Blu-ray release promotes a variety of HD supplements. These are mostly about the film’s source material and behind-the-scene work and Hawaii as a premiere tropical destination. These include the featurettes “The Real Descendants,” “Waiting for the Light,” “Everybody Loves George,” “Working with Alexander,” “A Conversation with George Clooney and Alexander Payne,” “Casting,” “Hawaiian Style,” “Working with Water,” “The World Parade – Hawaii,” a reel of deleted scenes with director introductions, and the film’s theatrical trailer. The audience can also check out the Hawaii-set music videos “Will I Ever See You Again,” “Postcards from Paradise,” and “Honolulu’s Whisper.” The film provides subtitle options in English SDH, Spanish, and French.
“The Descendants” shines with its genuinely moving moments and finely crafted script. This well-written picture works as a bittersweet comic drama that boasts meticulous direction and brilliant acting performances. It successfully utilizes its Hawaiian setting to tell the story of a husband and father confounded by tragedy, infidelity, and the complications of suddenly taking care of his two rebellious daughters after his wife’s accident. Its emotional moments and twists rightfully cover up its minimal flaws as a mainstream offering. As a Blu-ray package, this release is a worthy addition to anyone’s home movie collection of quality American dramas.