Director: David Dobkin
Cast: Robert Downey Jr., Robert Duvall, Billy Bob Thornton
Release Date: Own it today on Blu-Ray Combo Pack, DVD & Digital HD
A Review By: Kevin Lovell
Film Rating: 9/10
Disc Rating: 9/10
In “The Judge,” Downey stars as big city lawyer Hank Palmer, who returns to his childhood home where his estranged father, the town’s judge (Duvall), is suspected of murder. He sets out to discover the truth and along the way reconnects with the family he walked away from years before.
Hank Palmer (Downey) is a big city lawyer with an impressive reputation at winning the most questionable and unlikely defense cases. He had a good marriage and a beautiful daughter that means the world to him, but as his career continues to flourish, his marriage has deteriorated and divorce looms. When Hank gets a call that his mother has passed away, he must return to his home town in a small, rural city and confront his father Judge Palmer (Duvall) who he hasn’t spoken to in ages. Following his mother’s funeral and an unpleasant number of moments with his father, Hank prepares to head back home only to receive a call from his brother informing him that his father has been asked by the local police to come in for questioning after possibly killing a man with his car. Regardless of their issues, Hank decides to fight and tooth and nail for his father, whether he wants the help or not, and throughout the course of the case he will be forced to confront numerous personal demons from his own past as well.
‘The Judge’ is directed by David Dobkin who does an impressive job at the helm of this emotionally powerful film which is certainly a change of pace from the type of film that he is commonly known for, having previous directed comedies such as ‘The Change-Up’ ‘Fred Claus’ and ‘Wedding Crashers.’ In addition to Dobkin’s solid work in the director’s chair, ‘The Judge’ is most notably complimented by the numerous incredibly talented individuals who comprise the cast. The cast features some of the best actors working today, including Robert Downey Jr., Robert Duvall (nominated for a Best Supporting Oscar for his role), Billy Bob Thornton, Vincent D’Onofrio, Vera Farmiga, Dax Shepard and a number of others, all of whom deliver exceptional performances here in each of their respective roles.
Powerful, heartwarming, heartbreaking and at times also quite hilarious, ‘The Judge’ is a well constructed drama that shines with exceptional performances from some of the best actors working in film today. It delves deep into the complications so often present in families with similar yet also drastically different beliefs and also how much a person’s life can change simply from things that may have occurred in the past that unknowingly began to lead them in said direction. It also explores a concept that so many are aware of, that while you can try to run from your past and move on to something new; somehow it always seems to find you again when you might least expect it.
The Blu-Ray release of ‘The Judge’ features a full 1080p High Definition presentation utilizing the film’s original 2.4:1 Cinemascope Aspect Ratio. The video presentation looks great as a whole, colors are rich and vibrant and everything is sharp and detailed; even sequences such as the courtroom scenes which feature an excess of detail look fantastic and every small shape or area always appears spot on, looking great down to each edge of the picture. Fans of the film as well as those viewing it for the first time here on Blu-Ray should both be more than pleased with this high definition video presentation.
The Blu-Ray release features a lossless 5.1 channel DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack. While it should come as no surprise considering the type of film that this is not the most active lossless multichannel soundtrack you’ll find, but it certainly does a solid job of doing exactly what it is intended to. The majority of activity is focused to the center channel where the dialogue primarily occurs and every word, whether whispered or screamed, is clear and audible at all times. The other four channels do contribute to a degree with the score flowing gorgeously throughout all available channels and a storm sequence which is complimented by the activity in the surrounding channels.
The Blu-Ray release of ‘The Judge’ includes a decent collection of extra goodies. Included the release is a Commentary track with director David Dobkin, along with a number of Deleted Scenes (approximately 18 minutes worth in total) which also include optional Commentary from the director. The Blu-Ray release also includes a Featurette titled ‘Inside The Judge’ which runs approximately 22 minutes in length and takes a look behind the creation of the film and features Behind the Scenes footage and interviews with the cast and crew. A fun little bonus titled ‘Getting Deeper with Dax Shepard’ is included as well and definitely worth a peek.
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