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October 12, 2013
The Call Blu-Ray Review
Cinema Release Blu-Ray Release Distributor Director
16/5/201318/9/2013Village RoadshowBrad Anderson
Video Codec Sound Format OFLC Rating Star(s)
AVC MPEG-4DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1MA15+Halle Berry

THE MOVIE
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The Call is out now on Blu-Ray.

2013 has been a good year for cinema overall, but one of the biggest surprises so far has been the success of The Call. Made for a modest $US13 million dollars the film grossed an impressive $US51 million in America alone - and probably that amount again around the rest of the world. It was a film that I had kept a keen eye on, but never managed to see it at cinemas in Australia, so when Village Roadshow sent the Blu-Ray over it was into the Blu-Ray player pretty promptly.

The Call follows the events surrounding veteran 911 operator Jordan Turner (played by Halle Berry), who is traumatized following a phone call where a young girl dies, possibly from her actions. Six months later, and Jordan is now a teacher at the call center, but when a young girl, Casey (Abigail Breslin), is kidnapped Jordan must use all her skills to save her life.

With a rather brisk 94 minute runtime, The Call is a gripping film from start to finish in what is essentially a film of two viewpoints - that of the 911 operator, and that of the hostage. The director, Brad Anderson, builds a solid rapport between the two characters without getting bogged down in their back story which isn't needed for the characters to evolve, nor for us to follow their journey.

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It's been a while since a good Halle Berry film.
Naturally this film is reliant on three main characters - the 911 operator, the victim and the villain and the filmmakers struck gold with the three actors in those roles. Halle Berry (Swordfish, Monster's Ball) is of course the lead actor in the film with top billing and while she spends the vast majority of the film in the "hive", or 911 operations center, it's a solid performance which had to be undertaken without the other lead actors to play off.

Abigail Breslin (Little Miss Sunshine, Zombieland) too is very impressive as the kidnap victim and it has really helped cement her role as a solid actress - we really can't wait to see her in the zombie film Maggie with Arnold Schwarzenegger sometime in the future (it's being filmed right now).

Finally, while he doesn't have a lot of dialogue in the film Michael Eklund (Watchmen) is superb as the kidnapper Michael Foster. He has a menace about him, and certainly portrays the kind of person you would expect to commit such hideous crimes.

The real disappointment comes with the minutes of the film which becomes a little predictable, a little unbelievable, and a little questionable as to some actions being taken, or lack thereof. Still, with such fine performances from Halle Berry, Abigail Breslin and Michael Eklund The Call is worth checking out.

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Searching for the kidnappers car.
VIDEO
The Call is another great looking film on Blu-Ray from Village Roadshow and has been transferred using the AVC MPEG-4 codec and while the cover for this film states it is presented in 1.78:1 the Blu-Ray actually plays in the film’s original 1.85:1 aspect ratio. From start to finish this is a very polished film on Blu-Ray which runs the gamut of scene types from bright and colourful moments in the mall, to darker scenes in the car boot following the abduction, and bright outdoor environments during the manhunt. Also impressive is the fine detail that is evident throughout the film, in particular the close-up shots of Halle Berry and Abigail Breslin which shows stunning levels of detail.

We didn't notice any glaring issues with the transfer bar the very occasional light colour banding that will take a very keen eye to spot.

AUDIO
The Call is presented on Blu-Ray with a stunning lossless DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track that, despite the subject matter, really comes to life. One would expect that a film based in a call center may be pretty bland, but it's not as ambient sounds play a major part in setting the tone, the music really kicks in and has an impact but most importantly the voices remain clear at all times. Surround sound channels get a great workout throughout the film and your sub-woofer will kick in on occasion too. All-in-all we really couldn't expect any more from this release.

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Abigail Breslin - trapped in The Call.
The disc contains only a single English Audio Description track which is encoded in Dolby Digital 2.0 at 224kbps and will get the job done. There is also a single English Captions subtitle track with wording coloured according to the person talking and is accurate albeit occasionally shortened to assist with reading the faster dialogue sequences.

EXTRAS
Unlike the pretty bare DVD release, the Blu-Ray version of The Call includes quite a few extras, although many are quite brief and sadly the Audio Commentary with director, actors, and producers found on the American release has been omitted.

Emergency Procedures: Making of The Call (14:53/HD): It's a little too EPK-ish however there are some good details provided about the creation of this film and it's worth checking out.

On The Set: The Lair (3:27/HD): This short featurette looks at one of the final set pieces of the film - needless to say it contains massive spoilers so don't watch it before the film.

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Halle Berry gets all emotional...
Inside The Stunts (6:57/HD): This is yet another very short featurette that shows some of the on-set stunt work throughout the film. Worth a look if only to see how even a simple film like this has some stunt work.

On The Set: The Call Center (4:52/HD): This featurette looks at creating the call center, and getting assistance from the real call center and callers in Los Angeles.

Rehearsal Footage: Michael Eklund (7:48/HD): Some test footage, that funnily enough is more haunting and scary then that in the final film!

Deleted & Extended Scenes (5:01/HD): Five deleted and extended scenes are presented here but there's not much to get excited about.

OVERALL
While the final minutes of The Call are a little disappointing, the first hour provides a gripping, thrilling and suspenseful experience with solid performances from the entire cast. A solid transfer and a few decent extras makes this a Blu-Ray release well worth checking out.

Review By: Dave Warner

THE MOVIE
7/10
THE VIDEO
8/10
THE AUDIO
9/10
THE EXTRAS
4/10
OVERALL
7/10

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