Blu-ray Review: Margin Call

Margin Call Blu-ray boxSTUDIO: Lionsgate | DIRECTOR: J.C. Chandor | CAST: Kevin Spacey, Paul Bettany, Stanley Tucci, Jeremy Irons, Demi Moore, Simon Baker, Penn Badgley, Zachary Quinto
BLU-RAY & DVD RELEASE DATE: 12/20/2011 | PRICE: DVD $19.98, Blu-ray $29.99
BONUSES: commentary, deleted scenes, featurettes, photo gallery
SPECS: R | 107 min. | Drama | 1.78:1 aspect ratio | 5.4 DTS-HD audio | English and Spanish subtitles

RATINGS (out of 5 dishes): Movie | Audio | Video | Overall

Margin CallMargin Call will have a love-hate relationship with many viewers, given the horrors that have been going on in the economy the last few years.

The movie shows us about 48 hours of drama in an investment bank. After a round of layoffs, a junior risk assessment staffer (Zachary Quinto, TV’s Heroes) forecasts a major problem looming on the horizon, a problem that could cause the company to go bankrupt if not handled immediately. Throughout the film, the firm’s executives must make choices that will affect them, the company’s staff and even their clients: Save themselves, or help others.

Margin Call is a slow boiler, building tension as the minutes tick away. It’s hard to feel bad for the characters, except maybe Stanley Tucci (Captain America) who’s laid off after 19 years of loyal work and is the one who found the problem in the beginning. For the others, it’s survival of the fittest, do what’s best for them even though they know it will hurt others. A few, including Kevin Spacey’s (Casino Jack) character, are more sympathetic until they continue to do what they know is wrong just because of the money — and it’s way more money than most people will see in a lifetime.

Despite the distance viewers might feel for the characters’ hardships, the actors make the movie easy to watch. The performances are universally good, with Penn Badgley (TV’s Gossip Girl), Paul Bettany (The Tourist) and Spacey standouts, but kudos also to Tucci, Jeremy Irons (TV’s The Borgias) and Simon Baker (TV’s The Mentalist).

The Blu-ray looks and sounds fine. There’s some grain in the picture, but that’s by design. Mostly it’s clear, and the same with the film’s ominous soundtrack.

Lionsgate packed the Blu-ray with more special features than are often found on these smaller drama movies, and they’re short and sweet. The standout is the commentary with writer/director J.C. Chandor and producer Neal Dodson. They keep the conversation lively and moving throughout the film, offering information on set design, casting and script changes, among others.

The handful of deleted scenes are as good as any in the movie. They don’t add much to the plot, but they’re worth a look.

The making of featurette is brief, with interviews with cast and crew saying how much they liked the script and why they felt this was a good movie to make. Some of the comments are a bit sycophantic, but the piece is more interesting than most of its kind.

Even more brief is a collage of behind-the-scenes shots, and a photo gallery with pics from the shoot and the film round out the extras.

 

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About S. Clark

Sam Clark is the former Managing Editor/Online Editor of Video Business magazine. With 19 years experience in journalism, 12 in the home entertainment industry, Sam has been hooked on movies on since she saw E.T. then stared into the sky waiting to meet her own friendly alien. Thanks to her husband’s shared love of movies, Sam reviews Blu-ray discs in a true home theater, with a 118-inch screen, projector and cushy recliners with cup holders.