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February 22, 2011
Buried Blu-Ray Review
Cinema Release Blu-Ray Release Distributor Director
7/10/201023/2/2011Icon FilmsRodrigo Cortés
Video Codec Sound Format OFLC Rating Star(s)
AVC MPEG-4DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1MA15+Ryan Reynolds

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Using a lighter to illuminate the coffin.

In defining Buried one could say this is more of an emotional rollercoaster then a movie. What the hell do I mean you ask? Well this film, shot on a shoestring budget, pulled in a tidy $19 million last year, but the entire film is set in a single location and follows the emotional journey of a single man in what could be his last hours of life. It's hardly a film in the sense of big blockbuster sets, gorgeous costumes, or multi-layered characters. So what is it about then? Read on...

Paul is a U.S. contractor working in Iraq. After an attack by a group of Iraqis he wakes to find he is buried alive inside a coffin. With only a lighter and a cell phone it's a race against time to escape this claustrophobic death trap.

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Ryan Reynolds is brilliant in Buried.
It's fair to say that this isn't a fun movie, not even close, but it really is amazing that the filmmakers can take a single actor, probably the smallest set ever seen on film (that being a coffin) and make an entire 90 minute film out of it. Admittedly I went into this film expecting something much more conventional, and for the first 30 minutes I kept expecting the film to cut to some exterior shot, but it never does. You're stuck in the coffin, looking at what Paul goes through, listening to the phone conversations and increasing desperation before reaching conclusion.

The most remarkable aspect of this film is the performance of Ryan Reynolds (Smokin' Aces, Blade: Trinity) which is simply stunning as he goes on the rollercoaster of emotions as he tries to escape from his prison. It's acting that we rarely see and to carry an entire film on a single actor is quite the achievement.

For whatever reason Icon have decided to present Buried in a full 1.78:1 aspect ratio. While this fills your lovely HDTV this is a change from the films theatrical 2.35:1 aspect ratio. We're not sure if the image has been opened up at the top and bottom, or if the sides have been cropped, so keep that in mind.

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Contemplating how to get out of the coffin!
Having said that this is a fairly decent looking film. Encoded using the AVC MPEG-4 codec this film has some very low light levels, perhaps the light from a mobile phone, or a cigarette lighter, but the transfer handles the darkness fairly well. We did notice some black crush, and there are moments where you can see the filmmakers have lightened parts of the scene, but for such a low-budget film (it was made for about $US2 million) the gritty, non-perfect, look only adds to the atmosphere.

Buried is released on Blu-Ray with a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 (16-bit/48Khz) track which, as expected, is somewhat limited by the sound design of the film. There really is only so much you can do with the audio of a man stuck in a coffin. Still at times the surround sound channels kick in nicely, as does the sub woofer while the dialogue remains clear except where intetionally muffled or crackly (when on the mobile phone for example). It's not going to win any awards, but this transfer sounds pretty good in this lossless track.

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Getting phone reception underground!
The only other audio track is an English Dolby Stereo 2.0 track encoded at 256kbps. That's certainly a lot lower bitrate then the lossless track, and is a little disappointing if you wanted to listen in that format. Still there's not a great deal going on audio-wise in this movie so you're not missing too much. There is only one subtitle opion, an English Hard of Hearing track which is accurate to the dialogue and noises throughout the film.

There are a couple of extras on this Blu-Ray disc besides the trailers upon the disc starting. Under Bonus Features you will find the following...

Unearthing Buried (17:26/HD): This is a moderately interesting documentary which covers the production of this film. Nothing exemplary, but interesting nonetheless as they have some on-set footage, although there are too many scenes from the film padding out the experience.

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Trying to get phone reception.
Interview with Director Rodrigo Cortés (14:35/HD): It must be said the director, Rodrigo, is a pretty interesting guy and provides plenty of insight into the production of this film, including adding in some comedic elements.

Theatrical Trailer (1:10/HD): The Theatrical Trailer is presented here, and does a good job selling the movie, but does give quite a bit away so avoid before you see the movie.

On a technical level Buried is a great film with a great performance from Ryan Renolds and a unique setting. Having said that it's not a movie that I would go back and watch over and over again. Still it's certainly worth checking out.

Review By: Dave Warner


Note: All images in this article are Copyright© Icon Films. They are only indicative of the movie and not sourced from the vastly superior Blu-Ray disc format.