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Reviews » Blu-ray Reviews » Michael Collins (Blu-ray)
Michael Collins (Blu-ray)
Warner Bros. // R // March 22, 2016 // Region A
List Price: $21.99 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Neil Lumbard | posted April 11, 2016 | E-mail the Author
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Michael Collins Blu-ray Review

Michael Collins is a historical action-thriller based upon the Irish historical figure who helped create guerilla warfare and fight for Irish independence from the UK. The film focuses on the events during the war and on the events following its conclusion (during the start of the Irish Free State and during the period in which Collins makes a stand for a peace agreement).

The cast is generally impressive with Liam Neeson giving a particularly noteworthy performance as Michael Collins. Neeson holds himself well in the role and helps to carry the film and give it a depth which is not found in the storytelling itself. Alan Rickman is impressive in his memorable supporting role as Eamon de Valera. Julia Roberts, unfortunately, feels miscast in this film as Kitty Kiernan (who has a romance with Collins). Her Irish accent (which often disappears during the course of the film) wasn't well-done and she lacks chemistry with co-star Neeson.

The production design for the film is effective for the most part. The costume designs by Sandy Powell (The Departed, Shutter Island) are especially noteworthy and were effectively done for the time-period and the cast of characters.  The production design is exquisite and has a lot of impressive set designs. The cinematography by Chris Menges (The Reader, Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close) is impressive and has both moments of beautiful color and a more morose color palette of grays for during the war sequences). The score by Elliot Goldenthal (Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within)  is energetic and lively during the action sequences.

Written and Directed by Neil Jordan, Michael Collins is certainly an ambitious undertaking of an important historical figure in Irish history. The effort isn't lacking in ambition. However, the film doesn't seem as focused on the background of the war and the history of this story and too much of the film focuses on the action of the war itself.

The film is unfortunately not as effective as its ambitions. Though the film has some strong production elements, the screenplay is not as effective as it should have been. The story begins during the war and does little to establish the story behind the Irish fight for independence. The story also focuses significantly less on character development and more on the development of the war.

An issue with the film is that it seems to be divided between wanting to be a historical drama and an action-thriller. Instead of focusing more on the historical and political aspect of the story, a huge portion of the film is focused on lengthy action sequences which are poorly staged and directed. The film seems unfocused and the direction is often over-the-top and ridiculous in presenting the war. Jordan's action sequences often make the film feel like any average 90's thriller and not like one with such significant historical context.

Michael Collins would have benefited from a better first act exploring the foundation of the war and those nvolved in it's beginning. Instead, the film largely flounders between decent sequences focusing on the history of the character and uninvolving action scenes. It's not a terrible film. However, it's not a particularly well-done one either. Michael Collins falls short of its large ambitions.

The Blu-ray:


Video:

Michael Collins arrives on Blu-ray with a high-definition 1080p MPEG-4 AVC encoded presentation in the original theatrical aspect ratio of 1.85:1 widescreen. This is a modest presentation with generally solid color reproduction, detail, and clarity. The transfer is a naturally filmic one which preserves fine film grain. The presentation has no issues with print damage but has some minor dirt and dust on the print. Black levels aren't particularly strong. There are no issues with the encoding quality by Warner Archive.

Audio:

Michael Collins is presented on Blu-ray with a reasonably strong 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio lossless audio presentation. Dialogue clarity is excellent throughout. The music score is well represented with this sound presentation. Bass sounds surprisingly robust. Fidelity is not as strong as on a modern production but the overall clarity and definition is reasonably strong.

Subtitles are provided in English SDH (for the deaf and hard of hearing), Spanish, and French.


Extras:

Audio Commentary with Director/Screenwriter Neil Jordan

The South Bank Show Documentary (51 min.) is a documentary covering  both the making of the film and the history of Michael Collins.

In Conversation with Neil Jordan (5 min.) is a brief interview with the director of the film about the production of the film.

Deleted Scenes (6 min.)

Theatrical Trailer

Final Thoughts:

Michael Collins doesn't work anywhere near as well as it should. Though the film is about an important historical figure, the storytelling seems more interested in action set-pieces (which aren't effectively directed) than in the historical figure behind the war. Nonetheless, Liam Neeson delivers an impressive performance as Collins and the film has enough decent production elements to make it worth seeing once.

Warner Archive's Blu-ray release features reasonably strong PQ/AQ and a decent assortment of supplements.

Rent It.

Neil Lumbard is a lifelong fan of cinema, and a student who aspires to make movies. He loves writing, and currently does in Texas.

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