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post #1 of 26 Old 12-14-2018, 12:02 PM - Thread Starter
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The House with a Clock in its Walls Ultra HD Blu-ray Review



Ralph Potts reviews this delightfully thrilling tale from Universal Pictures Home Entertainment that spins a magical yarn about a mysterious house where things, including the inhabitants, are not what they seem to be.



The Review at a Glance:
(max score: 5 )

Film:

Extras:

Audio/UHD Video total rating:
( Max score: 100 )

98



Details:

Studio and Year: Universal - 2018
MPAA Rating: PG
Feature running time: 105 minutes
Genre: Family

Disc Format: BD-66
Encoding: HEVC
Video Aspect: 2.39:1
Resolution: 2160p/24

Audio Format(s): English Dolby Atmos/TrueHD 7.1, Spanish/French DTS-HD 7.1 High Resolution
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish, French
Starring: Jack Black, Cate Blanchett, Owen Vaccaro, Renee Elise, Sunny Suljic, Kyle MacLachlan
Directed by: Eli Roth
Music by: Nathan Barr
Written by: Eric Kripke based on the novel by John Bellairs
Region Code: A,B,C


Release Date: December 18, 2018


"Magic Lives Behind Every Door"


Synopsis:

“Lewis Barnavelt (Vaccaro) goes to live with his Uncle Jonathan (Black) in a creaky and creepy mansion with an eerie tick-tocking heart. But when Lewis soon finds out he’s in the presence of magic practiced by his uncle and neighbor Mrs. Zimmerman (Blanchett), his new town’s dreary aura boosts to life in an exciting and dangerous way.” – Universal Pictures Home Entertainment


My Take:

I am admittedly a sucker from family films that tells fantastical stories of adventure, hocus pocus and good old-fashioned escapism that blurs genre lines. The House with a Clock in its Walls doesn’t feel especially new, conceptually speaking, but that didn’t stop it from being whimsical, lightly dark (love putting those two together) and wonderfully giddy. Based on the novel by John Bellairs the story, as adapted by screenwriter Eric Kripke, successfully incorporates elements of magic, mystery, horror and comedy, while never truly committing to one over the other, keeping the balance within the focus of the narrative.

I enjoyed the flow of the story, its interpretation of magic and, the nature of the characters within its context. The house is as much a character in the story as those within it which was fun. I thought that Jack Black and Cate Blanchett were right on the money but, it was young Owen Vaccaro that stole the show. The House with a Clock in its Walls doesn’t reinvent the wheel but, it’s a well-spun magical adventure that can be enjoyed by the whole family.


Replay Value:


Parental Guide:

The rating is for thematic elements including sorcery, some action, scary images, rude humor and language.


AUDIO/VIDEO - By The Numbers:
REFERENCE = 92-100/EXCELLENT = 83-91/GOOD = 74-82/AVERAGE = 65-73/BELOW AVERAGE = under 65

**My audio/video ratings are based upon a comparative made against other high definition media/blu-ray disc.**


UHD Presentation: 96
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)


  • HDR: Dark Highlights:
  • HDR: Bright Highlights:
  • HDR: Expanded Color:
  • Resolution:
  • Visual Impact:



Dolby Atmos Rating: 100
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)


  • Level of immersion:
  • Soundstage integration:
  • Audio object placement:
  • Effectiveness of Atmos platform:
  • Entertainment factor:



The House with a Clock in its Walls comes to Ultra HD Blu-ray from Universal Pictures Home Entertainment featuring 2160pHEVC encoded video and lossless Dolby Atmos/TrueHD 7.1 channel sound.

For its presentation on Ultra HD Blu-ray The House with a Clock in its Walls was derived from a 2.8K source, finished on a 2K DI and upconverted to 4K.

The House with a Clock in its Walls is a period-based film that has a specific visual aesthetic which comes through quite naturally in this Ultra HD rendering. With a discernible increase in detail and depth, the image appears more vivid and lifelike when compared to the 1080p version, which is quite good in its own right. Primary colors are deeply saturated and pleasingly to the eye while whites appear bright and punchy. The scenes that take place at Lewis’ school are especially engaging as the variety of clothing worn by the students as well as the earth tones seen on the grounds pop nicely.

The film contains a multitude of sequences that take place in low/limited lighting, and the increased dimension in blacks and shadows enhances depth of field. I find the natural rendering of light via its discernible stages and incremental highlights to be one of the presentation's big pluses. This is the case during brightly lit exteriors, such as those at Lewis’ school or on the mansion’s grounds. On the flip side, dark elements mixed with bright highlights look terrific. The scene where Jonathan shows Lewis his first taste of magic (just after he plays his Saxophone) in the garden at night is a prime example. As the flittering lights emerge from the birdbath and form their pattern, set against the moonlit sky and shadowy background, the variance in their shapes and levels of light, create a stark contrast that is enhanced by the application of HDR.

The film has a variety of sequences that make use of close-up and wide-angle photography that show off the superb rendering of detail. The shots of the interior of the house look terrific as even the finest minutia in the woodworking and various odds and ends (both living and not) can be visually realized. The film incorporates some use of CGI, and the differences in the rendering of effects against the real-life imagery was apparent. Otherwise, I didn’t observe any odd-looking proportions or deleterious softening.

The House with a Clock in its Walls looks excellent in both 1080p and Ultra HD, however, the Ultra HD rendering is noticeably a cut above.



Dolby Atmos:

In listening to the Dolby Atmos surround mix I found it to be of the active variety that makes effective use of the platform. This film is tailor made for immersive sound as the blend of audio objects placed in the height channels contains atmospherics and discrete effects. At times it creates a tangible level of 3D immersion that is attention grabbing. Lewis’s first night in the house opens the door to what to expect as the various sounds/effects turn the room into a multi-dimensional listening space.

There are both large set pieces and smaller/brief sequences/moments, such as the attack of the books in the library, that show off this well-crafted mix. Everything comes together during the final act’s encounter in the clock room, as sounds rotate and revolve around the soundstage from both above and at ear level. Nathan Barr’s music score is mixed over the platform so as to add natural depth to its orchestrated elements without ostentatious display. I enjoyed the balance of atmosphere, discrete object placement and room energizing bass. I think that it complimented the source material, and made for an entertaining and invigorating listening experience.


For those not familiar with the details regarding Ultra HD Blu-ray you can refer to my article that includes some pertinent data on the subject. Here is the link:

Ultra HD Blu-ray Has Come to AVS Forum Blu-ray Reviews

Blu-ray Video:


Video: 92
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)


  • Resolution/Clarity:
  • Black Level/Shadow Detail:
  • Color Reproduction:
  • Fleshtones:
  • Compression:



Audio: 94
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

  • Dynamics:
  • Low frequency effects:
  • Surround Sound presentation:
  • Clarity/Detail:
  • Dialog Reproduction:
  • DSU/DTS Neural:X Rating * (non-rated element): NA


The House with a Clock in its Walls comes to Blu-ray Disc from Universal Pictures Home Entertainment featuring 1080p AVC encoded video and lossless Dolby Atmos/TrueHD 7.1 channel sound.

This film’s visual style doesn’t lend itself to eye catching color or infinite levels of dimension but this is a creative decision that doesn’t reflect negatively on its presentation. Resolution is excellent with clearly rendered images that exhibit refined levels of detail during close ups and discernible depth of field in wide angle shots. The filtered chromatic range is purposefully limited to muted primary colors and softer secondary hues. That coupled with the drab lighting schemes and dark cinematography makes for a visually pallid but thematically affecting look. Skin tones among the cast vary and range from Rosy to pale while appearing textural and predominantly lifelike. Blacks are deep and dynamic and shadow detail is excellent. I didn’t see any signs of video related artifacts in this whistle clean high definition presentation that looks terrific.

The 7.1 channel Dolby TrueHD (Dolby Atmos core) soundtrack is excellent and truly enhances the film’s overall presentation. This is a gratifying surround mix that features high level detail, superlative clarity, and rich, room filling surround sound. This is sophisticated sound design that incorporates a vast number of sound effects that are intricately mixed to engage the listening position. Spot on imaging and channel separation draw out both large and small sounds and allow their directional correlation based upon the onscreen events to be definable within the room’s acoustic boundaries. This is not an ostentatious audio presentation but it offers engaging bass extension that produces smooth, palpably rich low frequencies that energize the room. Dialog is reproduced with lucid expression and exacting clarity. This is an involving home theater presentation that plays perfectly to this film’s thematic content. Crank it up and enjoy!


Bonus Features:
  • Disc 1: The House with a Clock in its Walls Ultra HD Blu-ray
  • Disc 2: The House with a Clock in it Walls Blu-ray
    • Alternate Opening and Ending with Commentary by Director Eli Roth and Actor Jack Black available
    • Deleted Scenes with Commentary by Director Eli Roth and Actor Jack Black available
    o More Books, Please
    o A Horrible Practical Joke
    o Tarby Ditches Lewis
    o Eat Up
    o Play for Him
    o Get Out of the Way
    o Time Is of the Essence
    o The Clock That Never Breaks
    o 12 Minutes to Go
    • Gag Reel
    • Feature Commentary with Director Eli Roth and Actor Jack Black
    • Warlocks and Witches - Go behind the scenes with the enchanting cast of The House with a Clock in Its Walls
    o Finding Lewis - A look at the casting of Owen Vaccaro
    o Jack's Magical Journey - A look at the unique dynamism and magic that Jack Black brings to the character of Jonathan Barnavelt
    o The Great Cate - The cast discuss Cate Blanchett's wonderful performance as Florence Zimmerman
    o The Terrifying Isaac Izard - Watch Kyle MacLachlan's creepy evolution from living icon to undead-warlock
    • Movie Magic
    o The Ultimate Haunted House - Join filmmakers for a guided tour through the incredible house at the center of the film
    o Automatons Attack - A behind-the-scenes look at the mechanical horrors involved in this chilling sequence
    o Pumpkin Puke - Behind the scenes with the cast and an army of spooky, snarling, vomiting pumpkins
    o Moving Pieces - Filmmakers and cast discuss the amazing clock room set
    o Baby Jack - A behind-the-scenes look at the creepy Baby Jack sequence
    • Tick Tock: Bringing the Book to Life - Filmmakers discuss how they adapted the book for the big screen
    • Eli Roth: Director's Journals - Director Eli Roth takes viewers behind the scenes
    o Candler Mansion
    o Newnan, GA
    o The Chair
    o Comrade Ivan
    o New Zebedee Elementary
    o Wrap Day
    • Owen Goes Behind the Scenes - Armed with his own camera, Owen guides viewers on his own journey behind-the-scenes of the movie
    o Around the Set
    o Behind the Camera
    o The Big Interview
    o Downtime on Set
    • Theme Song Challenge - Eli Roth and the cast are challenged to come up with a theme song for the film
    • Do You Know Jack Black? - The cast compete with each other to see who knows Jack Black the best
    • Abracadabra! - Eli Roth performs a magic trick for Owen Vaccaro
    • Jack Black's Greatest Fear - Eli Roth and Owen Vaccaro play a prank on Jack Black
    • The Mighty Wurlitzer - Composer Nathan Barr discusses how he created the film's unique and distinct score
  • Digital Copy



Final Thoughts:

Based on the novel by John Bellairs The House with a Clock in its Walls is a well-spun, magical adventure that can be enjoyed by the whole family. It comes to Blu-ray in the Ultra HD Combo Pack from Universal Pictures Home Entertainment featuring terrific overall video quality, entertaining lossless sound, including an excellent Dolby Atmos immersive mix, and a fan friendly supplemental package that is worth exploring. The House with a Clock in its Walls turned out to be better than expected and deserves a place at the top of your rental queue.













Ralph Potts
AVS Forum Blu-ray Reviews


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post #2 of 26 Old 12-14-2018, 12:33 PM
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Ralph, thanks for the review.

I'd planned to pick this up, because I have been a John Bellairs fan for decades. The mix of humor/horror is one of his trademarks. (If someone could do a decent job filming The Face in the Frost, I'd be delighted. That's unlikely; the novel has more of a cult following. It's a novel for adults from a man who made his career with children's books.) Should have caught it on the big screen, but I knew it'd be in my library fairly soon.

Your high A/V scores make it a must buy.
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post #3 of 26 Old 12-14-2018, 02:00 PM
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I absolutely adored this movie. I saw that it was directed by Eli Roth and was like, "Wait... Eli Roth? Like... Cabin Fever and Hostel Eli Roth?" Yup. Kinda' blows my mind that he did such a great job on this, and I would love to see him tackle more stuff like it. I would go so far as to say that it is his best work as a director, though I'm sure some might disagree.

Day one buy for me.

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post #4 of 26 Old 12-14-2018, 07:48 PM
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Thanks for that review Ralph. I wanted to hear those words as I was very much looking forward to this one.

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post #5 of 26 Old 12-15-2018, 05:36 AM
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Thanks for the review Ralph
Spoiler!
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post #6 of 26 Old 12-15-2018, 10:43 AM
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I don't remember hearing about this movie at all! but will definitely be getting it. Movies don't always need to reinvent the wheel because sometimes we (most of us anyway) just want to be entertained and this movie looks like pure entertainment! Will be picking it up on the 18th! Thanks Ralph!
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post #7 of 26 Old 12-15-2018, 05:43 PM
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Thanks for the review Ralph! I love Jack Black and this film looks wonderful! I didn't get to see it in theaters but I will buy it sight unseen. Looks like its quite the performer in the looks and sound department! Can't wait!
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post #8 of 26 Old 12-18-2018, 06:08 PM
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Finally one that I liked! Great escape from reality!

Great sound. Bass was great and I loved the fact they used surrounds so much with voices. That's what I bought my jbl8330as for, full on dialogue! Just wish I wasn't down to 5.1 currently lol.
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post #9 of 26 Old 12-18-2018, 08:03 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bobknavs View Post
Ralph, thanks for the review.

I'd planned to pick this up, because I have been a John Bellairs fan for decades. The mix of humor/horror is one of his trademarks. (If someone could do a decent job filming The Face in the Frost, I'd be delighted. That's unlikely; the novel has more of a cult following. It's a novel for adults from a man who made his career with children's books.) Should have caught it on the big screen, but I knew it'd be in my library fairly soon.

Your high A/V scores make it a must buy.
Got it today.

From an AV point of view, it was pretty good.

As a film, it wasn't as good as I'd hoped. Owen Vaccaro, the child lead, was good. Cate Blanchett was about 10-15 years too young to play Mrs. Zimmerman. I don't recall the story line of the novel that well (my copy is tucked away in a box somewhere), but I believe that it was altered to give the kid a more active role. Less "gothic" than the original. (In the novels, Lewis grows up to become a university professor. Definitely not a Harry Potter precursor.)

Some of the humor (puking pumpkins, a projectile-defecating topiary griffin) was aimed at young children.

If they do a sequel, I'll buy it.
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post #10 of 26 Old 12-19-2018, 10:59 PM
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Hi Ralph

My friend that review was spot on and so glad I grabbed it while out getting some entertainment for the holiday weekend. Pure reference Atmos (which this year has been full of great mixes and re-mixes utilizing the format to great effect) and some of the most beautiful HDR/WCG on 4k
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post #11 of 26 Old 12-20-2018, 05:32 AM - Thread Starter
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Hi Ralph

My friend that review was spot on and so glad I grabbed it while out getting some entertainment for the holiday weekend. Pure reference Atmos (which this year has been full of great mixes and re-mixes utilizing the format to great effect) and some of the most beautiful HDR/WCG on 4k
Greetings,

Awesome to hear Jeff!

I am so glad you enjoyed it and as always it's great to get your insights.


Merry Christmas to you and your family.


Regards,
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Greetings,

Awesome to hear Jeff!

I am so glad you enjoyed it and as always it's great to get your insights.


Merry Christmas to you and your family.


Regards,
To you and yours as well my friend
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post #13 of 26 Old 12-23-2018, 10:05 AM
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Finally got to watch this last night and found it very entertaining! About the only expectation I had was that it would be geared for a younger audience and it was. But that still did not take away the entertainment value. I thought the soundtrack was fantastic!
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post #14 of 26 Old 12-23-2018, 10:18 AM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by brazensol View Post
Finally got to watch this last night and found it very entertaining! About the only expectation I had was that it would be geared for a younger audience and it was. But that still did not take away the entertainment value. I thought the soundtrack was fantastic!
Greetings,

Awesome! Glad to hear it brazensol.


Regards,
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post #15 of 26 Old 12-23-2018, 12:14 PM
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I also found this one to be pretty fun. The excellent PQ and AQ don't hurt. I am not usually a Jack Black fan, but this one fits him pretty well.
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post #16 of 26 Old 12-26-2018, 05:58 PM
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Sound and picture quality were outstanding in this movie, but the actual film was rather....... blah. It was worth a rent and watch, but it really was nothing more than just ok. Many scenes in this movie seemed little more than to get a bunch of pre ten year old laughs (obviously a kids movie... duh) . I realy liked the adult characters... the kid was just ok. Seemed very rushed to get the story moving along.

Some scenes really did sound great though
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post #17 of 26 Old 12-28-2018, 03:03 PM
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The kid wasn't believable at all. The movie could have been much better if they cast that role with a better young actor. PQ and AQ were top notch though.

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post #18 of 26 Old 12-28-2018, 08:31 PM
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Ralph,

This was never on my radar until I read your review. Ordered it, watched it, and both the wife and I LOVED it! What a fun movie. One of our sons pointed out that he felt it was geared more towards the 12-14 year old....at which point, my wife looked at him and said: "That is a quality that makes a man much more interesting to a woman, for life". He was, in a word, stunned by her response! I love it when we, as parents, can continue to teach our children!

Thanks for the great review....never would have bought it without you! Nancy says thanks, too!

Happy New Year! Looking forward to many more great reviews from you in 2019!
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post #19 of 26 Old 12-29-2018, 05:25 AM - Thread Starter
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Ralph,

This was never on my radar until I read your review. Ordered it, watched it, and both the wife and I LOVED it! What a fun movie. One of our sons pointed out that he felt it was geared more towards the 12-14 year old....at which point, my wife looked at him and said: "That is a quality that makes a man much more interesting to a woman, for life". He was, in a word, stunned by her response! I love it when we, as parents, can continue to teach our children!

Thanks for the great review....never would have bought it without you! Nancy says thanks, too!

Happy New Year! Looking forward to many more great reviews from you in 2019!
Greetings,

This is awesome. Thanks for sharing Rob and, I am so glad that you all enjoyed the movie and the moment it inspired. You and Nancy are very welcome! Thanks for reading and contributing to the review forum.

Happy New Year!

Regards,
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post #20 of 26 Old 12-29-2018, 04:08 PM
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I rented this from Netflix on Blu-Ray and really enjoyed the audio quality especially because the rental disc had Atmos. I am planning to add the movie to my collection via UHD Blu-Ray. I am a fan of Jack Black movies. This movie reminded me of "Gossebumps" at times.
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post #21 of 26 Old 12-29-2018, 04:23 PM
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Thanks Ralph for the review,

I enjoyed the movie but thought the lead child actor was a cry baby whimp for the most part until the end. The other characters in the movie did a good job and overall it was fun and entertaining.
PQ was outstanding in HDR on my OLED and the surround sound was very engaging.
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post #22 of 26 Old 12-30-2018, 12:28 PM
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Bought it. Not unhappy doing so. But its missing something. Can't put my finger on it but something just doesn't connect.
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post #23 of 26 Old 12-30-2018, 12:40 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JJHXBR View Post
(snip)

I enjoyed the movie but thought the lead child actor was a cry baby whimp for the most part until the end.

(snip)
Don't read the John Bellairs novel which is the source of the movie. It's a "gothic", with all that implies. Some find the characters in a gothic to be contemptible.

I thought the child actor's performance was pretty good. Some may dislike the character (who loves a wimp?) and extend that to the performance.
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post #24 of 26 Old 01-07-2019, 05:56 AM
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Originally Posted by hoopsrgreat View Post
Sound and picture quality were outstanding in this movie, but the actual film was rather....... blah. It was worth a rent and watch, but it really was nothing more than just ok. Many scenes in this movie seemed little more than to get a bunch of pre ten year old laughs (obviously a kids movie... duh) . I realy liked the adult characters... the kid was just ok. Seemed very rushed to get the story moving along.

Some scenes really did sound great though
That's what I thought too after watching the movie last night. I rented the Blu-Ray from Redbox and it came with the full Atmos audio which was really awesome.
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post #25 of 26 Old 01-07-2019, 11:28 AM
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Would be an interesting sub genre, movies in which a kid makes or breaks the movie. Not child actors like Harry Potter. But a single actor/actress as a child makes or breaks it.

Incredibly Loud and Closeup
Sixth Sense

Maybe first Home Alone?

August Rush
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post #26 of 26 Old 01-08-2019, 10:33 PM
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Just watched this with the family and we loved it. Thought it was a great time! Highly recommend it!!!
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