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DVD Review: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

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The Curious Case of Benjamin Button is the story of a man who ages backwards. The story is framed by Daisy (Cate Blanchett) in 2005 who’s dying in a New Orleans hospital bed with Hurricane Katrina about to hit. She’s listening to her daughter Caroline (Julia Ormond) read from Benjamin's diary.

In 1918, on the day World War I ends, Button is born; his mother dies in childbirth. Button is abandoned by his father who leaves him on the doorstep of a nursing home where he’s adopted by Queenie, who works there.

Button (Brad Pitt) is born as a frail 85-year-old man and the film follows him as he goes from a frail old man to a virile young man to an infant. The story shows Button as he lives his life and deals with regressing over the years. One constant in his life is Daisy, who he meets at the retirement home when she’s visiting her grandmother while Button is in his 70s and Daisy is 8. They keep in touch over the years with the pair having a crush on each other at various times and they eventually fall in love.

The movie is tragic since Button has to watch his loved ones get old and die as he takes on the traits of a senior citizen in a young body. Brad Pitt is excellent as Button and thanks to the special effects of today is able to portray the character throughout most of the film. Blanchett is also in most of the film and is believable as the only woman who understands what Button’s going though. It’s interesting that each character is played by one actor until about age 13 and then from then Blanchett and Pitt take on the character thanks to today’s technology.

There are a few extras on the DVD. On disc one is a commentary with director David Fincher. The commentary, while interesting, could have benefited from another participant since Fincher is monotone throughout most of the film except when he throws in the occasional curse word. The second disc has a making of featurette that’s divided into sections or trimesters called "The Curious Birth of Benjamin Button." This featurette reveals that this project has been in one form or another of development since the early 1990s and has had Steven Spielberg and Tom Cruise attached to it at one point or another. The featurette shows the process from its beginnings as a short story to the screenplay to finally making it to the big screen. There’s also copious time devoted to the special effects used to make the film and age the characters as well as interviews with Brad Pitt, Cate Blanchett, and composer Alexandre Desplat. Other extras include still galleries, storyboards, costumes, and more.

While the extras are good and in-depth, there are one or two nitpicks. During the commentary Fincher talks about deleted scenes; while the film is just under three hours, a deleted scenes section would have been nice. Also in the "The Curious Birth of Benjamin Button" there is an option to play all the featurettes, but there’s an asterisk next to a couple of sections saying "not included in play all." If you’re going to have a play all option, include everything.

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