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The Reader Review – On Xbox via Amazon

May 4, 2009
The Reader Review

The Reader

With all the great reviews I had been hearing about The Reader, I thought it was time to watch for myself.  I try to keep Sunday nights chill and so I decided to buy a digital copy of the movie from Amazon.  Re-heating some Chinese food combined with a near-frozen bottle of IBC Rootbeer put me in the perfect place to watch The Reader, or so I thought.

It turns out, the best part of the whole night was watching an Amazon Digital Download from my Xbox360.  My primary PC is nowhere near my home theatre and I very much prefer to watch my movies in a room with over 1000 watts of Subwoofer and a 100″ screen.  That’s just me.  Thankfully after some simple instructions on the Amazon page, I was able to download it to my PC and stream it to my Xbox in the theatre.

Windows Media Player reports the file uses a resolution of 704×396, which seems a little odd since DVD quality is generally 720×480 (NTSC).  However, I watched the film without knowing this and judged it to be roughly DVD quality.  Given the resolution, it seems that was an accurate assessment.  For reference,  Star Trek VII: Generations which I also bought from Amazon, uses a resolution of 720×408.

As for the movie itself, it was somewhat of a deep movie, but with fewer twists and turns than I was expecting.  The timeline is what gives the movie intrigue.  It’s the first movie I know of that depicts Germany — from a simple citizen’s perspective — beginning pre-WWII and ending back in present time.

The character development was phenomenal and helped by the writing as well as the acting.  It is rare that a movie does such a good job of developing a character before revealing the intricacies of their role.  Developing the characters here was essential for the rest of the plot to unfold and to take the intended emotional grasp.  Unfortunately, the first 30 or 40 minutes of character development involved a lot of nudity.

That was probably the most disappointing part of the movie for me.  The movie was rated R by the MPAA “for some scenes of sexuality and nudity.”  It should have read “since everyone is naked for the first 45 minutes.”  Really, was that necessary?

It’s unfortunate, because it’s not every day that a movie has such solid character development with acting to go with it.  On top of that, it was set pre and post WWII and even tackled literacy as an issue.  Tackling big issues without being an after-school special is enough of a feat on its own these days.  The story did revolve around some bizarre character traits (I’ll use that to avoid any spoilers) and coupled with the nudity it really just detracted from the movie for me.

Overall, I’d have to give the movie a C-.  It’s too bad there were too many bits detracting from what otherwise could have been a great story.  If you’re looking for a family night flick, this is definitely not the one.

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