Your regularly scheduled reviewer Josh here. Having done this job for quite a long time, I occasionally find myself unqualified to comment on certain types of movie. I'm talking of course about chick flicks. Especially chick flicks about the fashion industry, in which a supposedly frumpy (but actually flawlessly beautiful) starlet learns to empower herself by playing dress-up in a series of ridiculous costumes while a flower-pop song previously featured on Grey's Anatomy blares on the soundtrack. Sorry, some films are simply not made for me. You might as well ask Mel Gibson to critique Yentl. It's just utterly beyond my comprehension. As such, my wife Elizabeth has graciously agreed to tackle the movie review portion of The Devil Wears Prada. I hope that readers find a proper female perspective more useful than anything I could write. I'll return for the technical portions of the article below. Enjoy.
"I'm just one stomach flu away from my goal weight."
In The Devil Wears Prada Anne Hathaway, best known for her fairy princess roles, trades her glass slippers for a pair of thigh high Chanel boots. All the essential fairy tale elements are here: an adorably spunky heroine, a deliciously wicked boss, a loyal boyfriend, a worldly suitor, and a fabulous fashion godfather. Finding it difficult to land her dream job as a serious reporter, idealistic young journalist Andy Sachs falls into the job "a million girls would kill for" as Runway magazine editor Miranda Priestly's second assistant. She quickly learns that this job will require not only a makeover (cue Madonna's "Vogue" for the fashion montage), but also the loss of her personal life and quite possibly her soul.
Hathaway lights up the screen as Andy and is joined by a strong supporting cast. Emily Blunt shines as Miranda's first assistant and Stanley Tucci has fun as the snarky Nigel, Andy's guide through the treacherous world of high fashion. But it is Meryl Streep's performance as the title character that is most notable for adding shades of gray that didn't exist in Lauren Weisberger's novel. We see what she has given up to reach the top of her field and are left to wonder if the same work/life balance and ageism struggles are faced by Donald Trump and Ted Turner.
Like any good chick flick our heroine must have a love interest. Entourage star Adrian Grenier is charmingly swoon-worthy as Andy's steadfast beau (those eyes... and he cooks!). Simon Baker provides some nice eye candy as the suave older man who introduces Andy to Paris and the darker side of the fashion world. But this movie is more about the boardroom than the bedroom and the most compelling scenes are between Andy and her colleagues.
Over the top costume design by Sex and the City style maven Patricia Field (who also provides audio commentary) adds a touch of whimsy, and glimpses inside the fictional Runway fashion closet are a nice treat for would be fashionistas (or even for those of us who occasionally skim thru Vogue on the treadmill). While the film has it flaws, most notably an excessive use of montages, overall it's a better than average guilty pleasure that will have you cheering for Andy and perhaps feeling some sympathy for the Devil.
The Blu-ray Disc:
Blu-ray discs are only playable in a compatible Blu-ray player. They will not function in a standard DVD player or in an HD DVD player. Please note that the star rating scales for video and audio are relative to other High Definition disc content, not to traditional DVD.
This disc looks terrific. The movie has splendid, appropriately glossy photography by Florian Ballhaus (son of acclaimed cinematographer Michael Ballhaus) and has been transferred to High Definition extremely well. The picture is sharp and detailed, with no edge enhancement artifacts. Black levels are rich and have excellent shadow detail, lending the image a nice sense of depth. Colors are rich and vibrant, from Hathaway's porcelain skin and ruby lipstick to all the outlandish costumes on the fashion models, without a trace of noise or bleeding. There's some especially great High-Def imagery once the movie transitions to Paris.
The film is fleetingly grainy in a few places (some of the runway scenes were shot on 16mm for effect). The very opening of the movie looks a little noisy, but otherwise there are no digital or compression artifacts to note. The picture has a very nice, film-like texture and appearance.
The Devil Wears Prada Blu-ray disc is not flagged with an Image Constraint Token and will play in full High Definition quality over a Blu-ray player's analog Component Video outputs.
The Prada soundtrack is typical for a romantic comedy. Dialogue and sound effects are clear (the ring of Andy's cell phone is intentionally piercing), but the movie has no surround activity at all that I could notice, not even ambient noises or music bleed. Some of the songs on the soundtrack (notably "Vogue") offer rocking bass, but it comes out a little boomy here. Aside from that, fidelity is fine. It's just not a showy sound mix.
Subs & Dubs:
Exclusive to the Blu-ray is: