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The Boys Are Back

review by Zach B.



MPAA Rating: PG-13 (For Some Sexual Language and Thematic Elements)

Running Time: 104 Minutes

Starring: Clive Owen, Emma Booth, Laura Fraser, George Mackay, Nicholas McAnulty

Screenplay by: Alan Cubitt
Based on the memoir by: Simon Carr

Directed by: Scott Hicks


Studio: Disney

Retail Price: $29.99

Features: The Boys Are Back: A Photographic Journey with Optional Commentary by Director Scott Hicks, A Father And Two Sons On Set

Specs: 2.35:1 Anamorphic Widescreen, English Dolby Digital 5.1, Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1, English Subtitles, Spanish Subtitles, Scene Selection (18 Scenes)

Released: January 26th, 2010



"The Boys Are Back" is presented in 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen, and it is a pretty beautiful transfer. The Australian exteriors look gorgeous here, with a superb amount of detail and rich colors. Black levels are solid, the print used for this transfer is more or less spotless and it seems there is the slightest lick of edge enhancement. Fleshtones look pretty spot-on, and color saturation elsewhere is full and does not smear. Greig Fraser's cinematography is done justice here. If there wasn't noise and edge halos, this would probably be a perfect transfer.  


The English Dolby Digital 5.1 is nice too, and fits right in with the low-key material of the movie. Dialogue is always clear and easy to hear, while the music — Hal Linde's compositions and the Sigur Ros songs — bring a lot of ambiance and warm energy to the channels. Sound effects sound great too, but are positioned more toward the front channels. The rears are used, and while there are discrete surrounds, they are a bit more subtle in nature that tend to come from everyday life. Still, they do a good job of enveloping you and making you feel closer to this intimate story. Subwoofer use does not amount to much, but that's to be expected. Dynamic range is pretty good, and fidelity rather high. In all, this is a job well done for a character drama.

Subtitles in English and Spanish are included, as well as a Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 track. 

The Boys Are Back: A Photographic Journey is a 16 minute montage of photos taken on the set by the unit photographer Matt Nettheim. You can watch this with some soft music, or with Commentary from director Scott Hicks. This is an interesting approach in lieu of a feature length commentary. While there is some stuff on specific scenes, much of the narration is made up of assorted production tidbits — how the film was ultimately shot in the part of Australia where Hicks grew up, how actress Laura Fraser is actually Scottish, locations, cut scenes, birds, working with young chilren and a lot on artistic touches (which are pretty insightful). There are plenty of great photos, and Hicks comments are enlightening. Worth checking out if you liked the movie, and certainly an original approach for a director to speak about his experiences making a movie.

The only other extra is A Father And Two Sons, On Set. Presented in anamorphic widescreen, this very short piece has footage of Simon Carr (his memoir inspired this movie) and his two sons on the set. Hicks chimes in, as does Carr on the experience of real people seeing their lives portrayed by actors. Short and sweet.

"The Boys Are Back" is a nice, sweet family-based character drama that features another layered performance from Clive Owen. The DVD of the film is pretty good: there are only two extras but they are worthy to watch, and the film's presentation is superlative — especially the transfer. The theatrical release for this movie was on the small side, so hopefully it will have more of a life on DVD.