Elizabethtown  (Paramount Presents) – Blu-ray Review
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Film Title: Elizabethtown (2005)
Release Date: 2021
Runtime: 123 minutes
Region Coding: Region Free
Studio: Paramount Presents
Audio Format: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
Version Reviewed: Blu-ray
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Blu-ray Release Date: 2/9/21
Director: Cameron Crowe
Cast: Orlando Bloom, Kirsten Dunst, Judy Greer, Susan Sarandon, Alec Baldwin, Jessica Biel, Paul Schneider, Bruce McGill, Loudon Wainwright III, Gailard Sartain, Jed Rees, Paula Deen
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Full Blu-ray Tech Specs at bottom
“Elizabethtown” was a 2005 film, best categorized as a romantic comedy with some drama thrown in. The movie was written & directed by Cameron Crowe. Crowe is best known for, early in his teens, originally working as a reporter at Rolling Stone magazine. That part of his life would become something he would later write about semi autobiographically for a film, however, this is not that film. It’s just an interesting part of his life worth mentioning. He later would write the book and then subsequent screenplay for the film [adaptation of] “Fast Times at Ridgemont High” (1982). That was followed by a film called “The Wild Life” (1984) that he wrote the screenplay for. Eventually, Cameron Crowe would become more of a household name of sorts for being a filmmaker by both writing the screenplays for and directing such films as “Say Anything” (1989), “Singles” (1992), “Jerry Maguire” (1996), “Almost Famous” (2000), “Vanilla Sky” (2001), as well as more recently, “We Bought a Zoo” (2011), and “Aloha” (2015).
Our protagonist here is a successful young man named “Drew Baylor” (Orlando Bloom). When first get to meet Drew, he is currently working as a designer for a shoe company. That all very quickly changes though, and it’s not at all a “spoiler” to tell you as much. His boss, “Phil” (Alec Baldwin) is unhappy with his current project and decides to fire him for his shoe being a failure. Regarding failure, this line from the film says it best as to where things will go here:
“As somebody once said, there’s a difference between a failure and a fiasco. A failure is simply the non-present of success. Any fool can accomplish failure. But a fiasco, a fiasco is a disaster of mythic proportions. A fiasco is a folktale told to others, that makes other people feel more… alive. Because it didn’t happen to them.”
So, Drew has been fired from his job and is feeling pretty down. Plus, his girlfriend (of sorts) dumped him. So, actually, to say he’s feeling pretty down is an understatement. Drew is deeply depressed and perhaps at his breaking point when something horrible happens: he gets a phone call from his sister telling him that his father has passed away back in a town he was from, Elizabethtown in the state of Kentucky visiting a brother. Because Drew’s sister “Heather” (Judy Greer) is busy with her kids and taking care of his mother “Hollie” (Susan Sarandon) during her phase of initial grief and mourning, and because he’s deemed the responsible one, he’s sent first as the family representative to Kentucky.
On his flight to Elizabethtown, Drew is sitting on the back of the plane when he’s approached by a beautiful and chipper young stewardess named “Claire Colburn” (Kirsten Dunst). Claire can tell that Drew isn’t feeling too happy, but she doesn’t pry too much. Okay, that’s a lie. She does pry and ask what’s going on but in a nice way. She also helps him by drawing out a map, since she’s local to the area, from the airport to Elizabethtown, and insists that he doesn’t miss the exit 60-B.
Any other time in life, a guy like Drew would be eager to speak to a person like Claire but she knows that he has something personal going on in his life and just cares. He sees that. Let’s just say that they will end up speaking again, as she leaves him a way to get in contact with her on the back of her map she made. After Drew finally makes his way to Elizabethtown and meets some of his family he’s never got the chance to seen in decades, he’s left to deal with the funeral preparations and such for his late father. Thankfully, Drew will reach out to Claire via phone call and she will help guide him through some of this, and the two finally hit it off.
This film is one very unique drama, about dealing with loss, and also a romantic comedy. Some of the comedy here can be a bit dark comedy. As filmmaker Cameron Crowe describes this, it’s first and foremost a story about loss and love, that comes with a “musical banquet” and “travelogue” along the way. That’s so very true and you can find the full quote he made recently regarding the film for the inner packaging HERE on TheUncool.com (the “official website for everything Cameron Crowe“).
Movie Rating: 4.75 (out of 5)
“Elizabethtown” on its Blu-ray Disc debut from Paramount Presents is presented in the original 1.85:1 aspect ratio. This 2005 movie was shot on 35mm film using the Panavision camera and spherical lenses. The film has now received a 4K transfer (scan) and then was remastered. This was all supervised by the movie’s writer & director Cameron Crowe.
Next, let me get even more technical here, for a bit, in regards to the Blu-ray Disc itself. This release is using a BD-50 (50 gigabytes) disc, 44.76 gigabytes total, and 36.0 gigabytes for the film itself. It’s also worth noting that I found this to run around 37Mbps on average in terms of a video bitrate in the AVC MPEG-4 codec.
This looks just remarkable from the very opening when we first see “Drew” sitting in a helicopter, via a facial close-up (as seen in a screenshot above). There’s an excellent amount of film grain that has been left intact here in this transfer and remaster. The amount of detail all throughout proves to be remarkable and does this movie shot on 35mm film the justice that it deserves, feeling theatrical in its Blu-ray presentation. The black level is solid, the flesh tones are accurate, and the color palette can definitely be very vibrant at times.
Some scenes, intended as flashbacks of sorts, come a bit rougher than the other footage and scenes and that’s intended to set those visually apart from the rest of the subject matter. This movie really has never looked this impressive, and it’s able to look even more impressive via physical media where it can hit the higher bitrates I mentioned. The film grain here is just soothing, all throughout, visually as I mentioned and I’m glad to see that Cameron Crowe’s involvement with this scan and remaster process. The filmmaker obviously cares deeply about this film and how all of his other films look, as you can tell.
The cinematography here, done by the director of photography John Toll, can be just breathtaking at times, and now remastered in HD this proves to be able to look as good as it deserves to with a home video release. I cannot find one single thing wrong with this visual presentation, as it feels to totally do this film justice. That said, this earns itself a perfect 5 rating for video quality. It’s wonderful to see movies like this get the attention that they deserve, and I have to really tip my hat to Paramount for a job well done here.
Video Quality Rating: 5 (out of 5)
Audio on the Paramount Presents Blu-ray Disc debut of the 2005 film “Elizabethtown” is presented in DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround lossless sound.
The 5.1 surround mix here may be a bit more than you’d expect for a romantic comedy. The dialogue (and narration) does drive things for the most part here though, through the center channel speaker for the most part. One example of an exception to that involves voices coming from the rear channels in an echoing manner at 20 or 21 minutes in. I won’t spoil as to how they’re heard but they’re definitely coming through the left and right rear channel speakers in an almost ethereal way. The voices in the rear channels echoing are intended to be there, and this little thing just adds so much to the listening experience for the film, in my opinion. It’s not even subtle either, as it will grab your attention but in the right way.
This is one of those mixes where I can safely assure you that there will be absolutely no need here to ever adjust the volume, as it never gets close to being overwhelmed by any of the music or sound effects or anything. Dialogue and the narration are delivered in a spot-on manner all throughout. Speaking of sound effects, you actually will immediately get to hear them making great use of the rear channels at the very opening of the film inside a warehouse. Then, again just a little over a minute into the film, you’ll hear a nice rear channel pan for a helicopter passing by as the primary subject matter in a scene. It’s simple but effective and is making nice use of the rear channel speakers with a slight bit of bass via the subwoofer and such to give it a tiny bit of oomph.
One thing I like is how the 5.1 mix here comes with a bit more rear channel use for the music especially in the form of songs on the soundtrack. A Cameron Crowe film is usually something that goes with a good soundtrack, and this is no exception. The music here sounds great. The music is primarily driven from the front left and right channel speakers with a pretty nice amount of LFE that you’ll feel via the subwoofer. There are some other occasional sound effects that make for nice use of the 5.1 surrounds, with something as simple as even an echo carrying into the rear channels in one instance. Sure, it’s nothing ever too over-the-top but it’s after all a romantic comedy and drama.
The real highlight all throughout, and especially during the latter part, comes from the spoken narrative and the combination of excellent song choices for the soundtrack. The whole mix itself, in unison with the subject matter, comes together nicely. This 5.1 lossless mix manages to do this film justice in terms of sound. With that being said, this Blu-ray earns itself a very respectable 4.5 rating for audio quality.
Audio Quality Rating: 4.5 (out of 5)
Physical bonus material here includes the collectible slipcover that features the film’s original 2005 poster art as a fold-out on the front. It also features new art (as pictured below) for the interior packaging.
- A Digital Copy of the film (in 1080p HD with 5.1 surround sound) is included via a paper insert which you can redeem on one of three services: iTunes (AppleTV), Vudu, and FandangoNow.
Bonus materials, on this release, are presented in a variety of HD and SD (standard definition) video quality with Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo.
The bonus materials that are on the Blu-ray Disc include:
- NEW “Filmmaker Focus: Cameron Crowe On Elizabethtown“ (6 minutes, 22 seconds – HD) features the filmmaker discussing his film just recently in a short but sweet retrospective. This is a must-see for any fan of the film and/or Cameron Crowe.
- Deleted and Extended Scenes features a NEW introduction by director Cameron Crowe (2 minutes, 1 second – HD). Crowe discusses first screening the early cut of the film at the Toronto Film Festival. So, that’s how the scenes came to be removed from that original “long cut” as Crowe refers to it. There’s a “play all” function if you’d like to watch them all at once. The deleted and extended scenes, aside from the intro, include:
- “The Shoes They Wear” (48 seconds – HD)
- “A Student of Phil” (5 minutes, 29 seconds – HD)
- “Chuck Moves Back The Reception” (44 seconds – HD)
- “Rusty’s Learning to Listen Part 8” (3 minutes, 41 seconds – HD)
- “Chuck and Cindy Are Less Than Pleased” (32 seconds – HD)
- “It’s Only A Funeral” (42 seconds – HD)
- “Hanging with Russell in Memphis” (7 minutes, 27 seconds – HD) is presented in a variety of 4×3 and widescreen (uncropped in black bars). This scene was never fully finished and comes with some intro footage of Cameron Crowe going through instructions with the actor.
- Alternate Ending (3 minutes, 17 seconds – HD)
- “On the Road to Elizabethtown“ (13 minutes, 49 seconds – SD) is your typical “making of” featurette that originally appeared on the DVD release of the film. This includes on-set footage as well as interviews with members of the cast and crew like Cameron Crowe (writer/director), Kirsten Dunst (“Claire”), Paula Wagner (producer), Orlando Bloom (“Drew”), Donald J. Lee, Jr. (executive producer), and Susan Sarandon (“Hollie”).
- “The Music of Elizabethtown“ (5 minutes, 32 seconds – SD) features the writer/director Cameron Crowe discussing how much music means to him personally and how much it means to his films. This film was no exception and he put a lot of songs into consideration for this film’s soundtrack and the playlist featured in the film. This is a very fun and truthful featurette that briefly discusses the mixtape side of this film’s soundtrack. As a fan of both, I love that Crowe mentions how much Tom Petty (via Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers) is included on the soundtrack. I personally have to say this proved to be one of my modern favorite film soundtracks over the years. Finally, it’s worth noting that the members of the band My Morning Jacket and Charlie Crowe (Cameron’s cousin) make cameos as the band at the end of the film.
- “Meet the Crew” Featurette (2 minutes, 35 seconds – SD) gives you short on-set glimpses at crew members such as Cameron Crowe (writer/director) on day 1, scene 1, take 1, Scott Robertson (first assistant director), Randy ‘Woody’ Woodside (gaffer), Neal Preston (still photographer), Sunday Stevens (second assistant director), P. Scott Sakamoto (“A” camera/Steadicam operator), Herb Ault (key grip), Skyler Tegland (grip), Valerie Jo Van Norte (assistant property master), Brendan Lee (production assistant), John Toll (director of photography), Nancy Steiner (costume designer), Susan V. Kalinowski (hair department head), John Hammer Maxwell (on-set dresser), Chris Toll (“A” camera first assistant), Scott R. Hankins (set costumer), Clark Credle (production assistant), Ian Calip (production assistant), Donald J. Lee Jr. (executive producer), Ana Maria Quintana (script supervisor), Maggie Fung (key makeup artist), Dan Moore (video assist operator), Danny Jimenez (dolly grip), and finally the last day and last take.
- “Training Wheels” Featurette (2 minutes, 21 seconds – SD) is a lot of screen tests without any audio. You’ll see cast members like Kirsten Dunst, Orlando Bloom, and Judy Greer doing scenes and such to audition for their roles. This ends with some music and Cameron Crowe waving goodbye.
- Photo Gallery by Neal Preston (SD) lets you explore each gallery individually and navigate with the directional button on your remote control. This is comprised of the following galleries:
- “Behind the Scenes” (32 images)
- “Mercury” (9 images)
- “Drew Baylor” (11 images)
- “Mitch, Hollie, Drew, and Heather: The Baylors” (7 images)
- “Claire Colburn” (10 images)
- “Drew & Claire” (9 images)
- “Kentucky” (21 images)
- “The Memorial” (19 images)
- “The Funeral” (8 images)
- “The Road Trip” (7 images)
- Trailers and TV Spot include:
- “Bad Day” (2 minutes, 27 seconds – HD)
- “Drew” (2 minutes, 49 seconds – HD)
- “30 Seconds in Elizabethtown” TV Spot (32 seconds – SD)
Overall the bonus materials here include a digital copy of the film (in HD) on services like iTunes (AppleTV) and a few others, some physical extras in the form of the unique Paramount Presents packaging, an all-new interview with the writer/director Cameron Crowe via the Film Focus, his new intro for the deleted and extended scenes, as well as a plethora of archival featurettes.
Bonus Materials Rating: 3.5 (out of 5)
“Elizabethtown” from 2005, written & directed by Cameron Crowe, (as a film) was intended as primarily a love story that was part of a tribute to his late father. Despite (at times) being a tad bit darker than usual subject matter, for Crowe, it shouldn’t have been any surprise that he did get personal here. After all, the writer turned filmmaker has become widely known for turning the true story about his teenage years, when and where he worked as a journalist at Rolling Stone magazine (tagging along with rock bands), into a film with “Almost Famous” (2000). Speaking of that, this film has an Easter egg sort of connection to that film, in a song later listed on a playlist. That itself is a bit of fun film trivia for you.
It is certainly worth noting that Tom Cruise actually produced this film [Elizabethtown]. In fact, keep in mind that Tom Cruise had also previously worked with Cameron Crowe on his films “Jerry Maguire” (1996) and “Vanilla Sky” (2001) — the latter of which Cruise produced as well.
“Elizabethtown” proved to be one of Cameron Crowe’s fan favorites, looking back on it over fifteen years since its original theatrical release. Sure, it didn’t win the Oscars or receive the nominations like some of his other films but it still managed to deliver a story with a lot of heart, dark comedy, romance and discussed dealing with loss in a very unique way.
The film features a superb supporting cast including the performances from Susan Sarandon, Judy Greer, and others that are pretty unforgettable. Obviously, the leading role performances here by Orlando Bloom and Kirsten Dunst make this film so great and it’s worth remembering that they were both at the peaks of their careers. The two made for a perfect on-screen duo for a story such as this. Elizabethtown, as a Cameron Crowe film, made for one unique modern cult-classic romantic comedy. It is very unique and well-written as a story, which goes for all that Crowe has done in his career. So, I find it to be a very fitting part of this film. Plus, there’s a lot of attention paid to music along the way, most especially during the latter parts. Again, the musical side of this is also very fitting.
In terms of video quality, this Blu-ray Disc debut of the film from Paramount Presents proves to be one very impressive visual presentation. It comes from a new 4K scan and remasters that was supervised by the filmmaker (writer/director) Cameron Crowe. It comes with a very nice amount of film grain preserved and an abundance of detail from the very start up until the end. This proves to be one of the finest yet visually of the modern movies released on the Paramount Presents line and its involvement with the writer/director really paid off. This looks remarkable in HD here on Blu-ray and comes with much more grain and detail than you’d ever find in a streaming or digital version online. The higher bitrates this can run make for a very theatrical feel. All and all, this movie looks great here finally making its debut on Blu-ray.
In terms of audio quality, this sounds great in the lossless 5.1 surround mix. The dialogue and narration are spot-on all throughout. There’s a cool and at times pretty impressive use of the rear channels for sound effects as well as for the music. Speaking of the music, this is after all a Cameron Crowe film, so there are some excellent song choices here on the soundtrack that really help to drive the film. The rear channels bring us a bit of that music, to fill the room here in the 5.1 mix. as do some other ambient noises, sound effects, and such. There’s a very nice amount of LFE and you’ll be feeling the music mostly here via the subwoofer. Fans of this film and its soundtrack will be pleased with how this sounds.
The bonus materials here include a digital copy of the film (in 1080p HD with 5.1 surround sound) on services like iTunes (Apple TV), the physical packaging with a fold-out original 2005 movie poster, a new interview with Cameron Crowe discussing the film, as well as deleted & extended scenes, a couple of archival featurettes, and a few other archival extras like a photo gallery, trailers, and a promotional TV spot. It’s enough to leave fans of the film happy with the addition of some content for its Blu-ray debut.
In closing, Elizabethtown as a 2005 film proves to me, to be a modern cult-classic of both the romantic comedy and drama genres. It has really developed quite a following by the fans over the years, and those fans will be pleased by this release. The video and audio presentations here on the Blu-ray are impressive and do this fine film justice. It both looks and sounds excellent. As spine #14 in the Paramount Presents line and in its Blu-ray Disc debut this release earns itself rather high marks and comes as highly recommended.
In terms of Blu-ray release, this gets:
5 (out of 5) for video quality
4.5 (out of 5) for audio quality
3.5 (out of 5) for bonus materials
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