DESCENDANTS, THE

DESCENDANTS, THE 3

 

365 High-Def Days of Oscar: Day 32

Year: 2011

Oscar Wins:

Best Adapted Screenplay

Oscar Nominations:

Best Picture

Best Director

Best Actor

Best Editing

THE PLOT THUS FAR

A land baron tries to re-connect with his two daughters after his wife is seriously injured in a boating accident.

WHAT WE THOUGHT

Matt King is the workaholic, a lawyer who lives in Hawaii. He has a good life – at least until his thrill-seeking wife suffers a serious head injury during a powerboat race, placing her in a deep coma. Matt’s orderly life is no more. He must not only deal with the fact that he may never speak with his wife again, he must also learn an entirely new way of life – one with a domestic tinge. As wife Elizabeth’s condition deteriorates, Matt must also deal with family and friends and open doors he never knew existed. All right, that’s sort of cryptic, so let me give you this tidbit that is in no way a secret in the plot – Elizabeth, Matt shortly discovers, was having an affair at the time of her accident. On top of all of that stress and drama, Matt is the sole trustee of a huge plot of land that has been a part of his family for a very, very long time. He and his cousins have decided to field offers for the land, because the trust becomes dissolved in seven short years. Should they sell to the highest bidder or to a local businessman?

The core of the entire story is Clooney’s unbelievably terrific performance; he is vulnerable, strong, confused, decisive, anguished, angry. It’s not every actor who can pull off such a wide range of expression, and Clooney is so effective in this movie that you sincerely feel as if you are standing directly in his shoes, seeing all from his perspective rather than just through his eyes. To say that Clooney’s Matt is troubled is an understatement, but what makes this performance so remarkable to me is that at no time does he have all of the answers, and at no time does he have no answers at all.

For all of Clooney’s brilliance, it is surprising to note that Woodley almost steals the movie entirely away from him. While she has had quite a lot of experience on television, this is her first real film role and is an immeasurable breakout. The trailer suggests she is a bit of a wild child, but seeing the heartbreak and pain in her face after she finds out what has happened to her mother is enough to make you want to weep uncontrollably. Lucky for her, she gets more than one scene to prove her emotional chops, and she nails each and every one. She holds her own against Clooney, and has just the right amount of charisma and angst to make her character above and beyond believable. Her struggle to find her place and to help her father on this adventure is the emotional crux of the film, and the real driving spirit.

The Blu-Ray comes with featurettes, music videos and deleted scenes. Plus, you get a digital copy and DVD copy. The A/V Quality is pretty sharp for a drama, but it’s Hawaii and you should expect some epic setups. That being said, the 1080p transfer makes the most out of the tropical domestic setups. The DTS-HD 5.1 master audio makes the most out of the limited action, but it’s the film that speaks for itself. In the end, I’d recommend a purchase.RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW!

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