Her Blu-ray Review

Her Blu-ray ReviewIs the possibility of having a romantic relationship with some sort of artificial intelligence all that farfetched? While the concept is still largely the stuff you would find in science-fiction films like A.I. or the recent Johnny Depp dud Transcendence, in many ways it has become a reality. On Facebook, we “friend” people without ever meeting them in real life. Full-fledged conversations are often carried out on our smartphones in lieu of talking face-to-face. We also use our personal electronic devices to fight with one another, use emoticons to “kiss each other goodnight” and on occasion, we even end relationships on them. There is even the odd instance where some has wanted to take it to the next level by wanting to marry their computers. As advances in technology continue to “bring us together,” it also continues to further and further isolate us.

For Theodore Twombly (Joaquin Phoenix), the protagonist at the heart of Spike Jonze’s Oscar-winning Her, technology appears to work in the opposite direction. When we first meet Theodore, he is working for a company that writes personal letters for individuals who don’t have the time to do it themselves. While he’s a wiz at creating and expressing emotional correspondence for complete strangers via technology, Theodore is a bit of a dud when it comes to expressing his emotions to others in person. Not only is he in the process of divorcing his wife (Rooney Mara), he has zero luck when it comes to dating (Theodore’s blind date is played by Olivia Wilde).

So what is a lonely, introverted, lovelorn guy to do? The answer may lay in the new interactive operating system that Theodore purchases for his home computer. The system, which chooses to call itself Samantha (voiced by Scarlett Johansson), first acts as Theodore’s personal assistant, organizing files and what not. As time progresses, Samantha starts to adapt and evolve, which leads to the forming of a bond between her and Theodore. Said bond eventually blossoms into a romance, one that slowly but surely helps Theodore come out of his shell.

Jonze approaches Her’s themes of loneliness, modern-day romance, our overreliance on technology and what love really is in the same way the relationship between Theodore and Samantha is approached: slowly, confidently, honestly and maturely. By not rushing things, Jonze gives the viewer plenty of time to buy into the unique concept and allow the story and characters to develop dimensionally. It’s a more mature, kinder Spike Jonze we get with Her, one that seems far, far removed from the biting satirist behind Being John Malkovich and Adaptation.

The performances from Phoenix and especially Johansson are near-perfect. Phoenix gives us a Theodore who, flaws and all, is a likable guy you can’t help but feel for. Considering all she had to work with was her voice (but damn, what a voice!), Johansson has a particularly tricky task of getting us to accept her as an actual being right there beside Theodore and she does it quite effortlessly. Backed by a solid supporting turn from Amy Adams as Theodore’s friend, the wonderful turns from the two leads help share in all the wonderful highs and uncomfortable lows that come with any relationship.

Her Blu-ray Review

Her is very much like a person that you may meet and eventually fall in love with. You find plenty to like and admire the first time you see or meet them. As you spend more time with them, you begin to discover other aspects — some which you are at a loss to explain — about them that completely win you over. Her is a funny, heartbreaking wonder of a love story, one that has just as much to say about society’s addiction to electronics as it does romance in our modern society. Romantic comedy/dramas appear to be getting fewer and further apart these days, and good ones are even harder to find. Last year, we got lucky and had two of the best ones in years: Before Midnight and Her.

High-Def Presentation

Surprise, surprise! Her looks great on Blu-ray. The AVC-encoded transfer nicely captures the warm color pallet of Hoyte van Hoytema’s cinematography. While the picture has been given a bit of a hazy glow to certain parts, the picture detail is robust without resorting to any sort of edge enhancement or digital noise reduction. Match the tone of the film and the quality of the picture is the 5.1 DTS HD-Master Audio track. It’s effective without going overboard, largely relying on the front channels but also making fair use of the surrounds from time to time. Dialogue is always clear as is the beautiful score by Arcade Fire. Her will never be the de facto demo disc in any home theater. But as far as presentations go, this one perfectly complements the film itself; a very nice job from Warner Home Video.

Beyond the Presentation

Quality, and not quantity, is the name of the game when it comes to the supplemental section for the Her Blu-ray. Spike Jonze’s films aren’t known for their vast amounts of extras. Even Criterion’s wonderful release of Being John Malkovich didn’t have tons of bonus material. But what was there was quite good, which is exactly what we get here.

  • The Untitled Rick Howard Project (24 min): A brief but very informative look at the film’s production. It’s not your typical “making of” puff piece and it is all the better for it.
  • Her: Love in the Modern Age (14 min): My favorite featurette, this mini-doc features a series of short interviews with real-life people and how their views on relationships in the modern age and what love looks like and means to them.
  • How Do You Share Love with Somebody? (4 min): A montage of scenes from the film, a few behind-the-scenes clips and dialogue between Theodore and Samantha. It’s an extended trailer that most likely played on television during the film’s theatrical run (the actual theatrical trailer is not on the disc, however) and a nicely made one at that.

Her Blu-ray Review

What does love look like in the modern world? That is the main question raised by Her (and discussed in Love in the Modern Age) and one that gives the viewer plenty to ponder both during and after the film. Technology can help bring a bit of needed intimacy to us during the day via a text or a selfie of our significant other, but at the same time it can also help build a wall between people one text at a time. Her examines the pros and cons of how technology has become a factor of modern-day relationships and does it with a remarkable amount of honesty. It’s a major step forward for Spike Jonze as a filmmaker, which is saying a lot considering this is the guy who gave us Being John Malkovich, Adaptation and the underrated Where the Wild Things Are.

Warner’s Blu-ray of Her is a beauty of its own. The picture looks great, sounds fine and the supplements, while not expansive, are solid. We were blessed with a slew of great films at the end of last year (Nebraska, Inside Llewyn Davis, 12 Years a Slave and The Wolf of Wall Street), but it was Her that stood out as the most original not only of the year-end pack, but also of the entire year. If you haven’t seen it yet, give Her a spin. Chances are you’re going to fall in love with it, big time.

Her was released on May 13, 2014 on Blu-ray, DVD and Digital HD combo.

Buy or watch Her now at Amazon.com.

TheHDRoom may be paid a small commission for any services or products ordered through select links on this page.