Home Page | About Me | Home Entertainment | Home Entertainment Blog | Politics | Australian Libertarian Society Blog | Disclosures

Blu-ray Reviews: In the Loop

Originally published in Sound and Image, July/August 2010, v.23#08
Last updated 22 May 2011

In the Loop
2009 - Madman Entertainment Pty Ltd
Director: Armando Iannucci
Starring: Peter Capaldi, Gina McKee, Tom Hollander, Olivia Poulet, Chris Addison, Zach Woods, Mimi Kennedy, Anna Chlumsky, Enzo Cilenti, David Rasche and James Gandolfini

Movie: Picture: Sound: Extras:

Politics as comedy is not new. In the Loop is more or less a movie version of 'The Thick of It', a UK TV show with a very much harder edge on politics than 'Yes, Minister' did a couple of decades ago.

Both seem to be inspired by a certain conspiratorial view held by some about Tony Blair's former spokesperson, Alistair Campbell. And the filmmaker's conception of him -- Malcolm Tucker, played by Peter Capaldi in both the TV show and the movie -- has him as a fiery and foulmouthed controller of everything in the British government.

Campbell himself has demurred somewhat in an interview, claiming that he would never have broken into obscene abuse of US officials while a guest in Washington.

This movie has the UK and the US stumbling towards an unnamed war in the Middle East, more or less as an incidental side-effect of everyone pursuing their own personal agendas.

Expect to be appalled and entertained simultaneously, and be prepared to watch it twice, if only to savour the artistry of the f-word-laden Tuckerisms.

Madman Entertainment has lavished a decent MPEG4 AVC video bitrate on this movie. Clearly the software which performs the compression can have a target average video bitrate entered, and this was used with this disc. The main feature comes in at 29.97Mbps (some other titles on this disc: 25.00Mbps, 9.99Mbps, 7.97Mbps, 14.97Mbps). It was a bit hard to tell how good the encoding was because the filming was jumpy hand-held stuff, as though a film crew were accompanying real people around. IMDB informs us that the movie was shot in HD video format, so it seems likely that the whole film printing/telecine process was avoided.

The audio did its job in what is essentially a talky kind of movie in which there are no explosions. All the dialogue was very clear, enhanced, perhaps, in a TV show-like way. Even though 24 bit sound was used for the DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 treatment, the average bitrate was less than 3Mbps (this standard is typically around 4Mbps). This is in large part because the standard DTS core was at the half-rate 768kbps standard, rather than the more common 1,509kbps. So legacy equipment might have a slightly lower audio standard, although this isn't really the material on which to detect such matters.

Running time: 106 minutes
Picture: 1.85:1, 1080p24, MPEG4 AVC @ 29.97Mbps
Sound: English: DTS-HD Master Audio 24/48 3/2.1 @ 2943kbps (core: DTS 24/48 3/2.1 @ 768kbps); English: LPCM 24/48 2/0.0 @ 2304kbps; Commentary (Iannucci and cast): LPCM 16/48 2/0.0 @ 1536kbps
Subtitles: English
Extras: Deleted Scenes (1080i50, MPEG4 AVC, LPCM2.0 24/48 @ 2304kbps - 27 mins); 4 Interviews: Play All (576i50, MPEG4 AVC, LPCM2.0 16/48 @ 1536kbps - 42 mins); 12 Webisodes: Play All (576i50, MPEG2, LPCM2.0 16/48 @ 1536kbps - 13 mins); 2 Trailers (576i50, MPEG2, LPCM2.0 16/48 @ 1536kbps - 4 mins)
Restrictions: Rated (Australian rating); Locked to Region B

The following video bitrate graph was generated by BDInfo. This is the graph for the main movie stream:

© 2002-2011, Stephen Dawson