Birdman review

Award-winning film flies high on Blu-ray with its spectacular picture and sound quality

Best known for playing the superhero Birdman in a series of Hollywood blockbusters a decade earlier, washed-up actor Riggan Thomson (Michael Keaton) is out to reinvent himself on Broadway. To this end, he has written a stage adaptation of a Raymond Carver short story, which he is also directing and starring in. However, as opening night looms, Riggan must contend with both his brilliant-but-volatile co-star Mike Shiner (Edward Norton) and recovering addict daughter, Sam (Emma Stone). And there's also the fact that Birdman himself keeps turning up to mock and criticise him…

Mexican director Alejandro González Iñárritu has spent the past 15 years using movies to explore the human condition. While this might not sound particularly exciting, the likes of Amores perros (2000) and Babel (2006) have also demonstrated a desire on his part to experiment with the filmmaking process, and Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) – its full title – represents his most experimental flick to date. Curiously, it also happens to be his most accessible and enjoyable.

Shot in a way that makes it seem like one continuous take, Birdman more than matches its technical triumphs with an acutely funny skewering of show business – playing up the usual actor's angst to existential levels. In doing so it finds a rich vein of humour to mine, one that the excellent cast latch onto and run with.

Picture: Birdman may be more interested in psychology than action, but that doesn't mean that the film is in any way short of cinematic fireworks. Vibrant colours and meticulous detailing abounds throughout the Blu-ray's AVC 1.85:1 Full HD encode, bringing the stunning beauty of Emmanuel (Gravity) Lubezki's photography to life.
Picture rating: 5/5

Audio: This DTS HD-MA 5.1 mix is far more involving than you may expect. The surrounds have plenty to work with as the camera follows Riggan around backstage, while more epic material such as Chapter 23's 'apocalypse' provides all of the booming bass and explosive dynamics you'd demand from a Summer blockbuster. A nice surprise.
Audio rating: 4.5/5

Extras: A fascinating look behind-the-scenes (33 minutes), an interview with Iñárritu and Keaton (14 minutes) and a gallery of 41 on-set photos. And that's your lot.
Extras rating: 2/5

We say: The extras features aren't as comprehensive as we'd hoped, but this is still a great Blu-ray showcase for a superb film

Birdman, Twentieth Century Fox, All-region BD, £25 Approx