I admit, I came at this Oscar-winning film from a very techie perspective — I was curious about it primarily because of the special effects involved in aging a man backwards. I was surprised to see how non-intrusive all of that was, with the focus being firmly on the drama.
Brad Pitt stars as the title character, with Cate Blanchett as his life-long love. It’s a long movie, 2 hours and 45 minutes, so be prepared to settle in for a detailed ride through his life, including a lot of period detail. It’s not fast-moving, but for this kind of drama, that would be the wrong approach. Unfortunately, not much is done with the reverse aging; the story could have been told very similarly with a normal man (and was in Forrest Gump).
I won’t be watching the film again — once was enough for me. I just don’t have the patience for that kind of slow-paced mood building when I already know what happens, and the framing sequence, with Daisy dying in a hospital as Hurricane Katrina approaches, was too much for me. My favorite part of the movie was the last third, with the two of them finally together.
The two-disc special edition satisfied my effects curiosity with plenty of features and background information. (If you just want to see the film, there’s also a single-disc edition.) On the first disc, in addition to the film itself, there’s a commentary by director David Fincher. The second disc is labeled “The Curious Birth of Benjamin Button” and contains a four-part documentary broken down into three trimesters and then birth (the premiere). You can play all or visit the elements separately. Conveniently, the menu marks which items aren’t included in the Play All function (elements such as stills, storyboard galleries, and information on costume design). The documentary covers development history, production, and many elements of the visual effects and sound design. It’s a comprehensive package with more than enough information about all aspects of the film.
(A complimentary copy for this review was provided by the studio.)