Based on a remake of a remake, Bradley Cooper’s (Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2) A Star Is Born is a far better movie than I ever dreamed it could be. Cooper, making his directorial debut, not only stars in the film, but was a producer, and co-writer of both the script and some of the songs for the film, and contributed to the score. He manages to take an oft-told story and retell it with a solemnity that makes it a fresh, and emotional experience.
Cooper plays Jackson Maine, a country-rock star, who gave up playing shows sober long ago. Looking for a drink after a gig, he stumbles into a drag bar, and discovers Ally (Lady Gaga), performing a cabaret act. Impressed, he agrees to meet her backstage, and the two hit it off. You probably know the story from here. They quickly fall in love, and Jackson happily puts her on a path to career success, only to watch her superstar status eclipse his own, as drugs, alcohol, and long held demons slowly consume him. Unlike previous versions of A Star Is Born, does explore issues of mental health, and attempt to explain why Jackson might have made the decisions he does.
While giving Jackson Maine a backstory is occasionally heartbreaking, he and co-writers Eric Roth (Forrest Gump) have given us, sans the stardom, a relatable everyman. Even though the audience knows his eventual fate, we’re rooting for him to take a different path. Jackson’s pain is almost always evident. You can see it in his eyes, and the way he carries himself. Yet, there’s no question he’s most alive around Ally, particularly when their onstage together. Jackson sings from heart, totally in love. Bradley Cooper continues to show that he is a talented and versatile actor. And color me surprised, he’s a capable singer!
Ally, a budding singer-songwriter who struggles with insecurities over her looks, seems patterned after Gaga herself. Tough but vulnerable, the part is perfect for her, and she nails it. Showing an impressive emotional range, it will be interesting to see how her movie career plays out. Here, every time she sings…chills. If you’re a fan of Lady Gaga, that alone is worth the price of admission.
Cooper recruited an impressive supporting cast, none more important than Sam Elliott (Tombstone). The inspiration for Jackson’s gravely speaking voice, he also plays his much older brother Bobby, and road manager in the film. The relationship between the brothers is troubled but loving. Andrew Dice Clay is surprisingly effective as Ally’s big talking, caring father, and Dave Chapelle turns up in a too short cameo as one of Jackson’s few real non-industry friends.
In the few moments where the narrative lags, vocal performances from the two leads (particularly Gaga), pick things up immediately, highlighting the strongest aspect of the film. The chemistry between Cooper and Gaga is so convincing, one hopes they team up again, and they both remain in the spotlight for a long time to come.
The film’s theatrical aspect ratio of 2.40:1 has been faithfully reproduced in a 2160 transfer using the HEVC codec. Sharpness is excellent, except when purposely diffused in sequences where the brightness of stage lights is an issue. Color appears natural throughout. Flesh tones can look a tad hot under the stage lights, otherwise they appear natural. Other than a light layer of cinematic grain, there’s no noise or artifacts present. This is a fine 4K transfer.
The disc offers both True HD 7.1 Dolby Atmos and DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1. The Atmos track is amazing during the concert segments, offering a truly immersive experience with music, and audience response coming at you from every conceivable direction. Bass is thunderous when appropriate, and dialogue has been well recorded to always be clear, and never drowned out by the music or audience reactions.
English SDH, Spanish, and French subtitles are included.
The package includes a Blu-ray disc, and Digital HD copy. The UHD disc includes the following extra that can also be found on the included Blu-ray disc:
- Musical Moments (UHD, 28:33) This takes the viewer to any one of the eleven “musical moments” in the film. A “Play All” feature is included.
The following extras are included only on the accompanying Blu-ray:
- The Road to Stardom: Making A Star is Born (HD, 30:02) Bradley Cooper discusses his three-year quest to get the film made, his singing lessons, the screen test he did with Lady Gaga, and more. The piece also includes comments from co-stars Gaga, Sam Elliott, Andrew Dice Clay, Dave Chappelle, Anthony Ramos, Rafi Gavron, and director of photography Matthew Libatique, and songwriter Mark Ronson.
- Jam Sessions and Rarities (HD) Music videos and songs that didn’t make it into the final film.
- Baby What You Want Me to Do? (2:22) Bradley Cooper
- Midnight Special (2:41) Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga
- Is That Alright? (1:58) Lady Gaga Music Video
- Music Videos (HD)
- Shallow (3:37) Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper
- Always Remember Us This Way (4:04) Lady Gaga
- Look What I Found (3:18)
- I’ll Never Love Again (4:54)
A Star Is Born (2018)
Movie title: A Star Is Born (2018)
Actor(s): Bradley Cooper, Lady Gaga , Sam Elliott , Andrew Dice Clay , Bonnie Somerville , Dave Chappelle
Genre: Music, Romance, Drama