The Movie: 8.5/10
Daddy issues, we’ve all got’em. That explains why there are so many movies and books and songs and poems and Bible stories about the very topic. The Judge isn’t a grand tale of woe nor does it have a moral to lift you out of your father doldrums, but it’s a good start. We all know the feeling of someone in the world being a jerk to us. If it’s a kid on the playground we can either grow out of it or grow up to live bigger and better than that jerky kid and ultimately overcome whatever complex they caused us to have. When it’s a father figure though, it isn’t as easy to just “get over”. The Judge addresses the whole father-son relationship in a way that doesn’t drag us down into the dark “daddy hated me” kind of mood, nor does it play the “I’m a self destructive mess because of you dad.” tact.
The family we meet is a father and 3 sons. The father is the judge in a small town, the big shot middle son is a city lawyer coming back for their mother’s funeral and we know immediately there is a bit of tension there. Yes, just a bit. The father addresses the son as if he were the guy who kicked his dog (no dogs were kicked in this movie). There are moments of the son being a bit overly dramatic about his hatred or disapproval of the father, and Downey does it well, as always. Robert Duvall is amazing, of course, I don’t even really need to elaborate. Just watch the movie and you will see for yourself.
The performances all drew me into the story, one conversation at a time. Dealing with illness, stubbornness, pride, learning disabilities, grief, long-lost loves, broken dreams, small town angst, and more more more, is a tall order for one story, but it all comes together without being morose or even worse, shined up. The females in the story are, admittedly, either dead, a bit cocky, flirty, or adulterous, so that might say something about the vibe. I like Vera Ferminga’s character. She’s the one who’s a bit cocky, but in a good way. She’s strong and knows who she is. We hope she’s not a damsel in distress, and she’s not.
The movie is serious and has really deep heartbreaking scenes, and then it brings the laughter. I love the balance and the journey we go on with this little hurting family. There are complications that unfold, as with any family, and they are done with a great pace, delicately handled and then WHOMP, we get a big confrontation and it’s very satisfying. Family is hard, don’t let anyone tell you their family is fine and dandy, they are lying, big time. We don’t all have terrible tragedies or broken relationships between fathers and sons/daughters, but it’s pretty common. A story that takes us through one slice of this part of life with a few laughs and tears, and the “I love the smell of napalm in the morning” guy, AND IRONMAN, well, what more can ask for?
- Commentary By David Dobkin – The Director gives you quite an in-depth if not a little dry recount of the making of the film.
- Getting Deep With Dax Shepherd (9 Minutes) – Dax hams it up and does his best impression of a talk show host as he interviews the stars of The Judge.
- Inside The Judge (22 Minutes) – If you ever wanted a bit of inside knowledge on the actors process this is it. A roundtable style piece that showcases the talents of the principal cast.
- Deleted Scenes (18 Minutes) – Twenty deleted scenes that are a mix of bad and good, the first cut of this movie was 4 hours so there are even more somewhere out there, not on this disc though.
- DVD & UV Digital Copy
Cover Art and Menus: 4/10
The cover is functional. I wouldn’t have it as a poster. The menu is the menu.
Audio & Video: 9/10
Warner’s Blu-Ray release of The Judge is quite accomplished showing off Janusz Kaminski’s superb cinematography. The 1080P AVC transfer has a couple of issues though contrast is very hot with certain areas of the picture disappearing into the background on occasion. The other problem is there is quite a bit of sharpening done to the image and its quite obvious it was added in post. On the bright side though skin-tones are very natural and black crush and ringing are nowhere to be seen. It’s a mixture of good and bad but don’t take my word for it JUDGE for yourself.
The DTS-HD 5.1 track used here is subtle yet outstanding at what it’s trying to accomplish. The subtle nuances of a country abode are all delivered and it’s often like you are really there. There is little action in this courtroom based drama but sometimes surround sound is used to create ambiance rather than explosions. This is a great presentation one that Warner should be proud of.
Overall Score 8.5/10