BEASTS OF THE SOUTHERN WILD
MOVIE: *** (out of 5)
BLU-RAY EXPERIENCE: *** (out of 5)
BY KEVIN CARR
As each year winds down, I have found myself missing a handful of movies that I should have seen but never got around to. If they happen to be award films, I usually get a chance to watch them on a complimentary screener from a studio for awards consideration. However, I made a point to wait to watch “Beasts of the Southern Wild” on Blu-ray to experience the film in high definition.
On the surface, “Beasts of the Southern Wild” doesn’t scream the need for a Blu-ray viewing, even though it’s gotten plenty of accolades for cinematography, and the advertising artwork and presentation looks sharp. However, I am still glad I had a chance to see it that way.
The film is not terribly straightforward, but rather a fable for the modern age. This had led some viewers to reject it, seeing it as pretentious and confusing. Normally, I poo poo pretentious movies, but I found myself intrigued by “Beasts of the Southern Wild.”
The story follows a young girl named Hushpuppy (Quvenzhané Wallis) as she struggles with daily life in the bayou. When storms flood their homes and environmental changes threaten their homes, Hushpuppy and the bayou community must come together to survive. The interventions of outsiders from the city are seen as invaders, and we learn a strange connection between Hushpuppy and her neighbors with mysterious prehistoric creatures that have been released from the polar ice.
I doubt anyone is going to watch “Beasts of the Southern Wild” and understand it immediately. It would take several viewings and a stronger knowledge of the bayou culture (which I do not have at all) to really wrap your brain around it. But it’s still a fascinating movie.
Most impressive is the performance of Quvenzhané Wallis as our young heroine. She’s spunky and strong, and she acts as good – if not better – than any of her co-stars. Sure, the message of the movie is sometimes questionable from the point of view of a guy like me who lived in the suburbs all his life, but it’s an authentic one.
“Beasts of the Southern Wild” is unlike any other movie you’ll see this year, which seems to be a trend for films in 2012. It might get lost in the shuffle of award season, but it’s worth checking out for a unique story and different perspective.
The Blu-ray comes with a making-of featurette along with a selection of deleted scenes with director commentary. There’s also audition tapes and a featurette on the music and “The Aurochs.” Finally, the original short film “Glory at Sea” which inspired the film is included on the disc.