Blu-ray Review: The Grand Budapest Hotel (Criterion Collection)

[Portions of this appeared in a review of an earlier release of the film–RW]

Wes Anderson is rarely accused of being boring or dull. The dollhouse aesthetic, hypersytilization, and droll humor are uniquely Anderson. His films often have an aura of timelessness about them, even if set in the present day. The dialogue may be updated, but the shot selection and elaborate set pieces suggests a bygone era.

That timeless feeling is very strong in The Grand Budapest Hotel. A story within a story, within a story, a young girl reads a book, which is introduced by a writer (Tom Wilkinson), who recalls staying at the titular Eastern European establishment as a younger man (Jude Law) and hearing the story of its past from current owner Mr. Moustafa (F. Murray Abraham) who worked there when he was a younger man (Tony Revolori).

From there, we go back to 1932, where we meet the popular concierge Monsieur Gustave H. (Ralph Fiennes). Gustave is particularly well-loved by the hotel’s older women. When one of his favorite patrons dies, he sets out to pay his respects with his new lobby boy, Zero (Tony Revolori), loyally at his side. The two arrive in time for the reading of the will, in which Gustave is bequeathed a priceless painting—much to the embarrassment of the late Madame’s son Dmitri (Adrien Brody), who sends his enforcer, Jopling (Willem Dafoe), after him. As war begins building up throughout the land, Gustave ends up in prison, now falsely accused of killing Dmitri’s mother. This leaves Zero to maintain order at the hotel, even as he falls in love with Agatha (Saoirse Ronan), the daughter of a local baker, and helps Gustave to escape prison.

Whimsical and artistic, Wes Anderson fans will find it easy to get caught up in the director’s latest world. The Grand Budapest Hotel is an enchanting tale—one that has you savoring every small detail. It’s full of strange touches that make it uniquely bizarre and entertaining. Despite that, I couldn’t’t help but feel something wasn’t quite right. The story—while quirky and fun—doesn’t always make a whole lot of sense. You might find yourself wondering what’s going on—and why.

Fortunately, there’s so much happening, and the characters are so quirky, it’s easy not to focus on the shortcomings in the story. Anderson’s snappy dialogue and countless comic surprises, along with a memorable performance from Ralph Fiennes make The Grand Budapest Hotel a recommended stop.

Sourced from a 2K master supervised by Wes Anderson, this is the same master used by Twentieth Century Fox to produce the first release of The Grand Budapest Hotel in 2014.

Presented in various aspect ratios (2.30:1, 1:82:1, 1.33:1) depending on the time period, 20th Century Fox’s 1080p transfer is a stellar one. Colors leap off the screen throughout, and contrast is strong. At times, the film sports a purplish overlay that leaves flesh tones looking a bit odd, but it does appear to be the director’s intent, these overlays also to the blacks. All of this shows off Wes Anderson’s unique visual style very nicely.

The Grand Budapest Hotel is presented in a 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio mix. Center channel heavy, the side channels are called upon for ambient and environmental sounds as well as Alexandre Desplat’s score. The arrange may be somewhat atypical, but it serves the film well. Dialogue is clean and clear throughout.

English SDH subtitles are included.

The included mix of old and new extras makes this a must have release for Wes Anderson fans:

  • NEW! Audio Commentary with Wes Anderson, Roman Coppola, Jeff Goldblum, and Critic Kent Jones: This commentary covers every aspect of the production possible.
  • NEW! Visiting The Grand Budapest Hotel:
    • Design/Special Effects (HD, 25:21) Special effects artists Jeremy Dawson and Adam Stockhausen discuss their professional relationship with Wes Anderson, and specifically, their work on The Grand Budapest Hotel.
    • Music (HD, 5:24) Music Supervisor Randall Poster discusses some of the music choices that were made in creating the films soundtrack.
    • Miniatures (HD, 2:10) Seen in stills and raw footage.
  • The Making of The Grand Budapest Hotel (HD, 21:28) Rae footage from the production of the film and provides a look at Wes Anderson’s working style.
  • NEW! Storyboard Animatics (HD, 25: 42 total) Six storyboards-to-film pieces from significant sequences in the film.
  • NEW! Video Essays
    • Wes Anderson Takes the 4:3 Challenge (HD, 23:23) Professor David Bordwell discusses Wes Anderson’s unique Cinematic aesthetic as well as the most common themes addressed in his films.
    • The Grand Budapest Hotel (HD, 16:08) Critic Matt Zoller Seitz analyzes The Grand Budapest Hotel and how melancholy and comedy give the film its identity.
    • Bill Murray Tours the Town (HD, 4:18) Follow Bill Murray around the locations where the film was shot.
  • Vignettes (HD, 9:00) a selection of three short pieces: Kunstmuseum Zubrowka Lecture, The Society of the Crossed Keys, Mendl’s secret recipe.
  • Cast (HD, 3:24) Filmmakers and various members of the cast discuss aspects of the production.
  • Trailer (HD, 2:26)
  • Double-Sided Poster
  • Booklet: Featuring character design drawings, essay by Richard Brody, and 1880 essay by Mark Twain about European hotel portiers.

The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014)
The Grand Budapest Hotel

Movie title: The Grand Budapest Hotel

Country: USA

Duration: 99 min

Director(s): Wes Anderson

Actor(s): Ralph Fiennes, F. Murray Abraham, Mathieu Amalric , Adrien Brody, Willem Dafoe, Jeff Goldblum

Genre: Drama, Period, Dark Humor, Comedy, Adventure, ,

  • Movie
  • Video
  • Audio
  • Extras
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