DVD Review The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button (Two-Disc Special Edition)
Directed by: David Fincher Cast: Brad Pitt, Cate Blanchett, Taraji P. Henson, Julia Ormond Running Time: 2 hrs 45 mins Rating: PG-13 Release Date: May 5, 2009
Plot: The story of a man (Pitt) who ages backwards.
Who's It For? Any person who has felt the joy of love and the (very-human) loss of it could experience this film and identify with the not-so-odd life of Benjamin Button. Those who are deterred by the film's length are only cheating themselves out of making a special new friend.
Movie: Benjamin Button's story reminds us that the most basic human beings are extraordinary. But as a film, its existence rightfully disagrees with this truth. This is a movie that is more than just a a movie - or, an amalgamation of such parts like a good story and presentation. It is an incomparably beautiful lesson on life and love; a film frozen in time (in a good way, of course). Fincher has crafted a brilliant fairy-tale that takes the least of fictional characters and treats them with a fantastical touch. He has also given us an incredible love story between Pitt and Blanchett - whose wavering coupling speaks to eternity on the importance and unfailing elements of companionship.
Though grounded in the idea of loss, Benjamin Button is a joyous advocate of the many wonderful, horrible, yet overall amazing things that can happen during our years on top of Earth's soil. Aesthetic and thematic near-perfection make this film one of the best stories 2008 had to tell. And compared to the championed Slumdog Millionaire, I think in a few years this film might be held in higher regard. Movie Score: 10/10
Note: Pre-production, Production, Post-Production and Premiere extras are organized in four groups: "First Trimester," "Second Trimester," "Third Trimester," and "Birth."
"First Trimester - Development and pre-production": Benjamin Button has a higher age and more complicated history than some might expect. This is the type of extra that blows your mind with its tales of inception and pre-pre-pre production. At one time, Tom Cruise was interested in playing the title character, with Steven Spielberg circling around the project. This is the type of extra that generates more respect for dedicated producers, and offers an overwhelming amount of potential "Trivia" for IMDB.com.
"Second Trimester - Production: Part 1": Details about the production of the first half of the film are told, in story order. Here, it becomes even more obvious that David Fincher is a precise director with an exact vision for each shot he takes. Allegiance to the smallest of details is indicated by numerous interviews with the unsung heroes of unique films like Benjamin Button: production designer, location manager, and even the first assistant director.
"Third Trimester - Visual Effects: Benjamin": The Curious Case of the creation of a computerized Benjamin Button (at old age) is explained in great detail by this more than special feature (it's imperative, really). The process is shown step by step. Moments like watching Pitt act as a floating head are fascinating revelations to the movie's innovation. Various explanations by special effects artists truly indicate they have not drawn up a face on their computers, but have given life to "an older guy that looks like Brad Pitt," as one of the designers says.
"Birth - Premiere": A brief look at the New Orleans premiere of the film, which featured Brad Pitt and David Fincher briefly speaking before the film was done. Obviously less important than practically everything else on this DVD, but nonetheless makes for a completion of the life of Benjamin Button.
The other extras:
Audio Commentary with David Fincher Interview with composer Alexandre Desplat Featurettes on the film's Oscar winning art direction Stills galleries Behind the Scenes photos Trailers
Extras Score: 10/10
The awesome magic that is The Curious Case of Benjamin Button is enriched by this two-disc DVD from the almighty Criterion Collection, the art-house distribution company known for its reprinting and promotion of “the greatest films from around the world.” Like many of their other DVDs, this is another release where packaging is an art form itself. The second disc contains an incredible amount of information about every moment of the project's life. A wealthy amount of extras tell stories that both enlighten and make sense of the film’s Curious wonder, in all departments – but especially make-up, special effects, cinematography, and pre-production.
Unique and beautiful mainstream cinema lives on with a film like Benjamin Button, its existence beautifully complimented by this 2-disc collection.
Final Score: 10/10