Two aspiring artists keep running into one another while chasing their dreams in the City of Angels. The two hit it off in this contemporary musical that pays homage to those of the 1920s.
Musicals are far and few between these days. It seems the modern audiences are contempt with the next mega-blockbuster that hits the big screen. Nevertheless, film lovers and enthusiasts don’t want to give up on the once popular genre, and continue to welcome films such as La La Land. Musicals are interesting, fantastic in design, and full of memorable songs that’ll stand the test of time. One of my personal favorites is Moulin Rouge!, which was a contemporary twist on the typical musicals of the past. It was over the top, classical, funny, and contained a unique style only Director Baz Luhrmann could pull off. I haven’t seen anything like it since. La La Land takes a cue from the older films and recreates them in a modern way. It’s hip, funny, and full of dancing and catchy toons. Fans of the film will always think of La La Land the moment they hear the first few notes of, ‘City of Stars.’ This film has it all, including some seriously good talent.
Sebastian (Ryan Gosling) and Mia (Emma Stone) are the primary characters of this love story. They have great chemistry, even when their characters are at odds. Their quick wit, comical demeanor and similar personalities make them the perfect couple. The two have crossed paths a few times, but never hit it off until they took a stroll after a party one night. Up to this point, their goals and aspirations haven’t come to fruition. They’ve been trying for years, yet there’s a glass ceiling that prevents them from making their dreams a reality. Sebastian and Mia quickly discover they have common artistic goals in life, yet they couldn’t be more different than one another. Nevertheless, the two seem to lift one another up and inspire the other to chase their dreams. This gives them the motivation to push forward and risk utter failure. Surprisingly, their passion and hard work pay off, and the two begin to make something of themselves. Mia starts to become the actress she always wanted to be, and Sebastian makes strides as a contemporary Jazz musician. The two continue down their paths, but don’t realize they are growing apart in the process. This causes their loving relationship to fall apart in spectacular fashion. What was a sure thing quickly became a distant memory. The failed relationship doesn’t break them down though. Instead, they continue to grow and thrive in their careers.
Think Sebastian and Mia can achieve their dreams and join the City of Stars like their idols before them? You’ll have to tune in to find out!
Enough about that…let’s take a look at what this 4K Blu-ray has to offer!
The menu design consists of looping animation and a few short clips from the film. The menu options are listed along the bottom, and include: Play Movie, Set Up, Scenes, and Special Features. The ‘Set Up’ option allows viewers to choose the audio and subtitle tracks for the film. The audio tracks include: English Dolby Atmos, Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital, and French 5.1 Dolby Digital. The subtitles only come in English and Spanish. The ‘Scenes’ option displays three chapters at a time. Each one is numbered and includes a snapshot from the scene.
Now let’s check out the Special Features included with this release!
– Audio Commentary with Writer/Director Damien Chazelle and Composer Justin Hurwitz
– Another Day of Sun: They Closed Down a Freeway (10:36 HD): The opening scene is a pretty big deal. The huge cast and crew actually shut down a L.A. freeway for two days to capture this amazing dance scene. It was hot, long, and incredibly difficult for everyone involved. The Director felt the scene was going to be a disaster after the rehearsal on the first day, and the choreography had to be adjusted on the fly. Good thing they had the amazing Choreographer, Mandy Moore, to create and make changes as they were needed. Luckily, everyone came together to create this very memorable scene.
– La La Land’s Great Party (5:08 HD): The party scene Mia goes to with her roommates is another wildly choreographed sequence headed by none other than the talented Mandy Moore. It’s a complex sequence with people dancing all-around and even diving into the center pool with full suits on. It’s a really cool scene.
– Ryan Gosling: Piano Student (5:03 HD): Ryan actually didn’t know how to play the piano before this film. Viewers wouldn’t guess this after seeing his performance in the film. After the piano playing double saw him perform, he said there was no need for him to stand in. That’s quite a compliment. Bravo Ryan. Bravo!
– Before Whiplash: Damien Chazelle’s Passion Project (10:12 HD): Directors are artists, and they have personal dreams they’d like to achieve at some point in their careers. Most of the time, they have to give the studios something they want before they can do one for themselves. Not only that, the first films have to be a big enough hit before anyone will give them the time of day. Damien really wanted to make a contemporary musical. Luckily, Whiplash was the big hit he needed to get the cast, crew and budget needed to make his dreams come true. I’d say he nailed it! This feature lets viewers know they should always chase their dreams no matter how far reaching they may be. If you’re passionate enough, others will take that passion seriously. Success and a little bit of luck can go a long way, folks.
– Damien & Justin Sing: The Demos (5:08 HD): This feature consists of Damien and Justin singing ‘What a Waste of a Lovely Night,’ and ‘City of Stars.’ This feature is a collection of behind the scenes footage with the two songs playing in the background. Fans of the film will enjoy watching these two clips. The high notes are a bit tough to hit though… (-:
– Marketing Gallery: This feature consists of three trailers and movie posters created to market the film.
– Song Selection: This is a great feature to include with a musical. Having the ability to choose a particular song from the film with ease is a great way to share some of your favorite tracks.
– La La Land’s Love Letter to Los Angeles (6:56 HD): This feature explains why L.A. was the place to film. The title itself is a reference to LA, and the atmosphere and dreamland vibrancy made it the perfect place to shoot. The cast and crew all agree it was the only place to make this film.
– The Music of La La Land (13:32 HD): The tracks of a musical have to be taken seriously. It’s a character within itself, and it must be powerful and awe-inspiring. Director Damien Chazelle was well aware of its importance, and he entrusted his good friend and former roommate Justin to make the magic happen. Needless to say, Justin did a spectacular job with the score of this film. The primary theme for La La Land is very memorable, and will remind fans of the film instantly.
– John Legend’s Acting Debut (4:40 HD): John Legend is a very talented musician who had an interest in Damien ever since he saw ‘Whiplash.’ The two came together and the bond was made. This brought John onto the set and in the film.
– The Look of Love: Designing La La Land (8:48 HD): Color, music and costumes are what make this film pop. Add in the stellar script and A-class talent, and you have something sweeter than YooHoo! This feature takes a look at all the sets and artistic designs used in the making of the film. It’s fantastic, wild, and unlike anything you’d see in a typical movie. You can only accomplish this level of fantasy in a film like this. The background and various sets are just as part of the story as the characters themselves. It’s what completes the illusion.
– Ryan and Emma: Third Time’s the Charm (5:51 HD): The chemistry between Ryan and Emma is obvious in La La Land. While viewers see them clash in the beginning, it’s impossible not to see how well they work together when the characters officially meet. The Producers say the chemistry is as potent as Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan from a few years back. Ryan and Emma are like a romantic old Hollywood couple. Both actors had a lot of respect for one another as well. Fans of the film will certainly want to watch this feature.
– Epilogue: The Romance of the Dream (7:54 HD): This feature takes a look at the Epilogue (ending) of the film, and why they ended it the way they did. Many Western audiences wanted to see the couple get back together in the end. It’s tradition in Western cinema, but the Director wanted to show they didn’t need to do the typical ‘happy ending.’ In a way, viewers get the ending they wanted in the dream sequence, while the creators ended it the way they wanted to. It was a great compromise that also depicts the two main characters achieving the dreams they set out to accomplish.
Now let’s take a look at the technical side of this release.
The 2160p (4K Ultra HD) image comes with a CinemaScope aspect ratio of 2.55:1, so there are black bars along the top and bottom of your 4K display. No need to worry though as the compelling story and high-quality image will make viewers forget all about those pesky black bars. This production was shot on film, so it has a classic (classy) Hollywood musical look. It’s worth noting that the Digital Intermediate was mastered in 2K and upscaled to 4K. Be that as it may, La La Land looks fantastic! The inclusion of High Dynamic Range (HDR) only adds extra pop to the already vivid color palette seen in the film. There is grain to be seen in many of the shots, but this doesn’t take away from the quality at all. It’s a very impressive transfer.
The opening scene and those shot with natural lighting won’t pop as much as the ones captured on a soundstage, but the image is incredibly crisp and clear the majority of the time. The epic opening scene reveals some soft focus during wide shots, but this is nip-picking. What they accomplished on that stretch of highway was spectacular and nearly impossible. Seeing it in 4K simply reveals where any mistakes were captured on the source. Don’t let this dissuade you though, as the following scene with Mia and her roommates is sure to blow viewers away. The reds, blues, yellows, and every other vivid color practically jumps off your 4K display. The colors are so bright, viewers may lose track of the story unfolding if they’re not careful. The choreography is very intricate during this scene, and looks great in 4k Ultra HD.
This is a musical, so the soundtrack and overall audio track has to be top notch. I’d say they hit the nail on the head with this transfer. The Dolby Atmos track does a spectacular job pulling the viewer into the action. The opening scene is a prime example of what to expect from this 4K and 2K Blu-ray. Honking horns, singing voices from variable distances, ambient sounds, and background musical scores rip across all of your surrounding channels. The dialog is front and center most times, but with this ‘floating-camera’ cinematic style, viewers will notice how the sound sweeps all around. Musicians come in and out on command, and present themselves at full volume at times. This may not be a film viewers watch if family members are sleeping nearby. That said, some may find themselves adjusting the volume levels due to the musical tracks intense nature.
Overall, La La Land is a much welcomed Musical that pays homage to classical ones of yesteryear. It’s beautiful, full of talent, contains several memorable songs/dances, and will likely be a film referenced in future film courses for decades to come. Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone were the perfect artistic and talented couple to pair up in a film like this. Their chemistry is uninhibited, and provides additional realism to the story. I thoroughly enjoyed seeing this film in theaters and glad to see it look and sound just as good in a home theater. If you have a 4K display and booming sound system, don’t hesitate to add La La Land to your personal collection. This is a spectacular release. Pick it up on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray today!