The Pelican Brief Blu-ray review

Star talent and great potential remain unrealised in this archive Blu-ray release...

Up to this point I had not seen the Pelican Brief in any form whatsoever, and having read the fairly mundanely plotted John Grisham novel, I was hoping for a movie that bucked the trend.

We start with Julia Roberts, in a younger incarnation, as a law student who uses her significant intellect to uncover evidence of a link between the deaths of two Supreme Court judges. She documents the link, and the related cases, in a report that is accidentally forwarded to the government. This document links up the President’s campaign office with the possible source of the murders.

Roberts, (playing Darby Shaw), is soon on the run, after her lover and mentor is destroyed in a car bomb. In desperation she teams up with a reporter called Gray Grantham (Denzel Washington) and together they expose the plot and nearly get killed in the process.

Of course, the plot is nowhere near that simple, but neither is it difficult to work out In fact, in places it is a little pedestrian. The cinematography is okay, but not spectacular. Roberts and Washington put in ‘okay’ performances, but they are nothing near what they are both capable of. In this case, though, they are hampered by the material.

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As a movie, this is definitely just a two star.

The transfer of print to Blu-ray is good. Considering the limitations of the film, the colours are at least as good as the original DVD, which was also provided for comparison. Compared to the DVD, the Blu-ray image is cleaner, crisper and has far more natural-appearing colours. Blacks are well represented.

That’s not to say that the image is perfect. Backgrounds in some of the shots are softened off, whilst other areas appear very sharp. Noise is kept to a minimum though, so the visuals are not unpleasant to watch and the whole thing exudes presence on a large screen display.

Sound is excellent in places, but is again limited by the material. Voices are clear, the sound stage is perfect and the little amount of music used is placed well. It’s a good quality mix, far better than the movie really deserves.

Extras This bit is easy. Apart from the original movie trailer, there are no extras. That’s it. Now, if I had paid the extra to get a Blu-ray edition of a movie, I would have at least expected a decent level of extras. Even a voiceover would have improved the rating.

So there we have it. I would love to have rated this as a decent movie, but it isn’t. It’s not a bad movie, just mediocre, and this Blu-ray edition is a disappointment. Yes, the picture transfer is good, and the 5.1 HD surround is excellent for what it is, but the lack of decent extras is a real disappointment from a movie that doesn’t really inspire. Unless you are a purist that wants to upgrade from the DVD to the Blu-ray edition, or really want this to fill your collection, then stay away until it drops in price. In fact, just stay away anyway.

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2 stars

The Pelican Brief Blu-ray is out now.


2 out of 5