Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter [Blu-ray]
Blu-ray B - United Kingdom - Soda Pictures
Review written by and copyright: Samuel Scott (30th June 2015).
The Film

***This is an A/V and Extras review only. For reviews on the movie from various critics, we recommend visiting HERE.***

In a hectic city of 35 million, Kumiko (Academy Award nominee Rinko Kikuchi) feels devastatingly alone. Trapped in isolating psychological torment, Kumiko —a meek twenty-something struggling to make it on her own in Tokyo—lives in constant resentment of her dead-end job and demeaning boss, her more successful peers, and her relentlessly nagging mother. But her spirits lift when, in a fictional American film, she observes a man bury a satchel of money in the wintry Minnesotan landscape. Though only witnessed on a fading VHS tape, she becomes convinced that the treasure is real, and merely awaiting discovery by a courageous dreamer like herself. With little more than a self-made treasure map, Kumiko sets off on an epic, unpredictable journey across the Pacific and through the icy plains of Minnesota to unearth her mythical fortune.

Video

Soda Pictures have released the multi-award winning feature "Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter" on to Blu-ray in the United Kingdom using the original aspect ratio of 2.35:1. The film receives an AVC MPEG-4 encode and is presented in 1080p.

Filmed using an Arri Alexa Plus, "Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter" looks very good, but not without issue. The colour scheme used is overpowered with a multitude of cheerless and soulless shades, which is perfect for the tone of the film, but I did find that blacks were not as deep and inky as they perhaps should have been (police officer's jackets for example). The occasional brighter colours look striking (like in the office at 23:23), and skin tones appear natural. Detail levels are generally strong, especially when it comes to facial close ups and the more minute fabric patterns in clothing, though some shots do come across a little soft resulting in varying levels of sharpness. Mid-range shots are fine, and long-range shots - especially those that pan landscapes - are often impressive. Although there is no significant crush, shadow details did occasionally appear a little vague, most notably when Kumiko is in the phone box in the diner (77:20-79:00). Overall, the transfer is certainly above average, and the issues are no more than minor observations. There are no matters of contention when it comes to things like banding, aliasing, edge enhancement, or compression artefacts, and fans of the film will unquestionably be pleased.

The feature is uncut and runs 104:22.

Audio

Two audio options have been provided:
- English/Japanese DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
- English/Japanese Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo

For my viewing, I opted for the English/Japanese DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track which was excellent. The film doesn't have much in the way of action on screen, or requirement for hugely complicated effects. Heck, there is even less dialogue than your average film. Still, the audio track pulls you in, using excellent channel separation and some very good subtle effects whether it be whistling wind (50:20), or Kumiko's footsteps in the snow. The score by The Octopus Project most definitely isn't formulaic or what you may expect, yet each segment is perfect for the scene in question. As should be expected for such a new film, there are no problematic elements to contend with such as drop outs or pops.

English (Japanese dialogue only) and English HoH subtitles are available. Although the menu screens do not have an option for no subtitles, they can be turned off via the remote.

Extras

The main extra included is an audio commentary with writer/director David Zellner, writer/producer Nathan Zellner, and producer Chris Ohlson. The three give an informative offering, talking about where the idea for the film came from, and the general production. There are no dead spaces to worry about, and the participants remain on point throughout without having to stumble through any of the subjects. They even phone the actress who plays Kumiko's mother, Yumiko Hioki, during the commentary for a couple of minutes. Annoyingly though, she asks if she can speak in Japanese, and then what she has to say is not translated or subtitled! The commentary can be found in the Options menu, and is not listed under extras.

Next up we have some footage called "Casting Bunzo" (1:47). This is quite an amusing little piece where the filmmakers go and buy the rabbit that will play Bunzo. There are a couple of "denied" auditions for the unsuccessful candidates, and I have to admit to laughing loudly at the turtle.

Next we have some deleted and alternate scenes. Note these are only available separately and not together:
- "A Grim Finale" (1:44)
- "Kumiko's Mailman" (1:19)
- "Robert & Brad" (2:31)
- "The Long Drive" (2:15)
Two of these ("A Grim Finale" and "The Long Drive") are alternate endings so I won't give away what happens, though I'm glad they weren't used in the end. "Kumiko's Mailman" is nothing more than the postman trying to pile mail into Kumiko's stuffed letterbox. "Robert & Brad" is easily the best of these scenes, but is essentially nothing more than an awkward opening of a state map.

"Getting Pivotal" (2:53) is some standard behind-the-scenes footage in which the crew are filming the scene in which Kumiko releases her rabbit Bunzo to in a local park. Interesting footage, but a watch once kind of thing. I did like how they put in a couple of shots from the final product into the raw footage.

The rest of the extras are self-explanatory.
Slideshow (1:15)
Start-up Trailers:
- "Night Moves" (2:14)
- "Electricity" (1:58)
- "The Turning" (1:58)
Theatrical Trailer (2:07)

Overall

The Film: B+ Video: B+ Audio: A Extras: C Overall: B+

 


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