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Blu-ray Review: The Truman Show

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Truman Burbank lives the perfect life. He and his wife live in idyllic Sea Haven, with its beautifully manicured lawns, clean streets, and residents who know each other by name. But it’s not real. Truman is the star of the world’s biggest reality series. The result of an unwanted pregnancy, Truman was adopted by a corporation, his entire life has been captured on film and broadcast 24/7 around the world. Sea Haven is actually an enormous soundstage in the Hollywood Hills. Over 5,000 cameras are active in this “hamlet.” Everyone Truman interacts with — even his wife and mother — are actors.

The Truman Show was rather revolutionary when it came out a decade ago. In our day of webcams and reality TV, it doesn’t seem that far away from being an actuality, which is kind of scary. This was one of Jim Carrey’s first “serious” roles, but his goofy, immature Ace Ventura style is still heavily prevalent. That lightheartedness is probably the only thing that prevents this film from taking on a creepy vibe. After all, The Truman Show (the show within the show) is the ultimate Big Brother. Show creator, Christof, keeps the show going at any cost — even if it means hurting, or killing, his star. One of the ways that Truman has been kept within the island of Sea Haven is by having psychologically conditioned him to be scared of the ocean. With a few different music cues, and this film could be completely different.

The extras on this disc are lackluster. The “making of” documentary is divided into two parts — one with actors/creatives, the other focused solely on production design. The interviews look like they were probably shot recently, specifically for the Blu-ray. They are presented in widescreen, but were not shot HD — it looks like it was shot with a handicam and bumped up. Another documentary focuses on the special effects, which seems unnecessary as the film wasn't a special effects movie in its time. Craig Barron, FX Supervisor for the film, opens the documentary by saying just that — “The Truman Show isn’t really an FX movie.”  Okay, then why does this release need a documentary on the effects? As with most deleted scenes included with other movies, one can see why the ones put on this disc were taken out of the theatrical release. TV spots, trailers, and photos round out the extras. This is the first disc I have seen in a long time with no director’s commentary.

The 1080p transfer is amazingly sharp. There are a couple of scenes — one towards the beginning, one near the end — where one can see the film grain, but for the most part, it is crisp and clean. The one major effects shot — the exterior of the “set” — looks rather cartoony in such crisp definition. The colors in the film are almost blindingly bright, especially with the picture-perfect blue sky and the green of the town square is almost day-glow. However, for the fake world that Truman lives in, it feels highly appropriate. The 5.1 sound is nothing special, but then again, The Truman Show is not really a movie that comes to mind when I think sound design.

If you have been planning on adding The Truman Show to your collection, I don’t know why you wouldn’t pick up the Blu-ray. But unless it is your favorite movie, I see no reason to replace your DVD copy if you already have one.

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