The Rum Diary Blu-ray Review
- Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
- Video Codec: AVC/MPEG-4
- Resolution: 1080p/24 (23.976Hz)
- Audio Codec: English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 (48kHz/24-bit)
- Subtitles: English, English SDH, Spanish
- Region: A (Region-Locked)
- Rating: R
- Run Time: 120 Mins.
- Discs: 1 (1 x Blu-ray)
- Studio: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
- Blu-ray Release Date: February 14, 2012
- List Price: $35.99
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(All Blu-rayDefinition.com screen captures are lightly compressed with lossy JPEG at 100% quality setting and are meant as a general representation of the content. They do not fully reveal the capabilities of the Blu-ray format)
The Rum Diary is based on the novel by journalist/novelist Hunter S. Thompson. It’s a semi-autobiographical account of his time spent in Puerto Rico during the 1950s. It tells the story of Jack Kemp (Johnny Depp; Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides; The Tourist), a New York writer who takes a job as a freelance journalist at a failing Newspaper in Puerto Rico in 1960 that caters to tourists from the American mainland. Once there, Kemp struggles to maintain a balanced lifestyle between his work, the cynical veteran writers on staff, his penchant for hard boozing, and his infatuation with the beautiful fiancé of a corrupt businessman (Amber Heard; Zombieland; TV’s The Playboy Club)
A whimsical yet insightful look the dichotomy of freedom and colonialism, elitism and poverty, Rum Diary is told in the same hip, honest, and hard hitting tone that would come to definite the writing of Hunter S. Thompson, particularly in his later years.
If Depp turns in a typically A-class performance here, it is Giovanni Ribisi, who steals the show, however, as the continuously drunk “Religious correspondent” Moberg who likes to dress up like a Nazi and listen to records of Hitler’s speeches. His scene stealing, brain dead antics only help to increase the absurdity of The Rum Diary on the whole.
As The Rum Diary was shot on Super 16mm film, it never reaches the level of detail and contrast of a typical 35mm production; I won’t even bother to mention 65mm. Still, this AVC 1080p encodement from Sony seems rather spot on, in places almost looking like it could be from a 35mm negative. There aren’t any issues with compression noise or aliasing and flesh tones look rather good. Colors, on the other hand, never quite look as rich as they could, but, again, that seems more to do with the source and artistic choices than the transfer.
While the sole audio track, a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 (48kHz/24-bit) mix, offers clean sound and wide dynamics, it provides very little surround activity. It only comes alive when the various musical accompaniments are brought to the fore in the mix. On the plus side, there are weighty low frequencies, but not an overabundance that overwhelms the subtle style of the mix.
While the supplements are few with this release, there is a 45-minute archival feature that shows the real-life author Hunter S. Thompson and colleagues during the process of putting together his book The Rum Diary which is actually interesting to watch.
- A Voice Made of Ink and Rage: Inside The Rum Diary (1.78:1; 1080p/24; 00:12:39) – A brief making of featurette offers a few interviews with the cast and crew.
- The Rum Diary Back-Story (1.33:1; SD; 00:45:56) – Watch this archival documentary to witness the process of Hunter S. Thompson putting together his book The Rum Diary.
The Definitive Word
A fine and satisfying effort that is just a little rough around the edges, especially in its ending, but is still quite fun to watch, The Rum Diary is one of those quirky roles that Johnny Depp has excelled at over his career and he plays it perfectly here. Recommended.
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