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High-Rise Blu-ray Review

High-Rise (2016) movie poster High-Rise

US Theatrical Release: May 13, 2016 (UK Release: March 18, 2016) / Running Time: 119 Minutes / Rating: R

Director: Ben Wheatley / Writers: J.G. Ballard (novel), Amy Jump (screenplay)

Cast: Tom Hiddleston (Dr. Robert Laing), Jeremy Irons (Anthony Royal), Sienna Miller (Charlotte Melville), Luke Evans (Richard Wilder), Elisabeth Moss (Helen Wilder), James Purefoy (John Pangbourne), Keeley Hawes (Ann Royal), Peter Ferdinando (Paul Cosgrove), Sienna Guillory (Jane Sheridan), Reece Shearsmith (Nathan Steele), Enzo Cilenti (Adrian Talbot), Augustus Prew (Munrow), Dan Skinner (Simmons), Stacy Martin (Fay), Tony Way (Robert the Caretaker), Leila Mimmack (Laura), Bill Paterson (Mercer), Louis Suc (Toby Melville)

Buy High-Rise from Amazon.com: Blu-ray DVD Instant Video

After playing Loki, second fiddle to his younger brother Thor in the Thor films and afterthought villain in The Avengers,
Tom Hiddleston recently made the leap to leading man. Unfortunately, his Hank Williams biopic I Saw the Light, delayed from potential awards contention in 2015, struck out with critics and moviegoers when it was released in the spring. A month later, his follow-up project, the UK film High-Rise, only played 41 theaters in North America.

Hiddleston plays Dr. Robert Laing, a school of physiology professor who moves into a new 40-story high-rise tower on London's outskirts in the 1970s. This is a classy place to live. It has a pool, a gym, a spa, and no shortage of attractive and interesting tenants. Laing comes to know a number of them, including single mother Charlotte Melville (Sienna Miller), mother-to-be Helen Wilder (Elisabeth Moss), Helen's documentary filmmaker husband Richard (Luke Evans), and the building's very own architect, penthouse-claiming Anthony Royal (Jeremy Irons).

Upon moving into the "High-Rise", Dr. Robert Laing (Tom Hiddleston) quickly finds himself part of the building's party scene, along with the pregnant Helen (Elisabeth Moss).

After enduring the embarrassment of attending a costume party out of costume and the nuisance of being stuck in an elevator during one of the building's common power outages, Laing gives a new neighbor the bad and not very true news that a brain scan has caught something serious. At a party following that diagnosis, the neighbor leaps to his death from the 39th floor.

The suicide proves to be a powder keg incident, as chaos and madness soon break out. Sex, violence, and fights over nonperishable food items ensue as the happening building descends into madness quickly and rather confusingly. High-Rise becomes something of an apocalyptic sci-fi film, something very different from what it began as and probably different from what you'd like it to be.

As the building descends into madness, documentarian Richard Wilder (Luke Evans) confronts the penthouse-living architect Anthony Royal (Jeremy Irons).

Adapted from J.G. Ballard's 1975 novel of the same name by Amy Jump and directed by Ben Wheatley (a duo whose past collaborations include Kill List and Sightseers), High-Rise is not your average film. It quickly makes a big impression on you as something strange, haunting, and wildly original. As it evolves and, more accurately,
devolves, your appreciation of the film begins to wane. It makes the leap to madness by the halfway point and cannot sustain interest in such lunacy as long as it wishes to. Characters blur together amidst the orgies and confrontations and the atmosphere efficiently established ultimately fades as anything more than the film's unique lone setting.

High-Rise boasts some truly impressive production design, which contributed to the film's not insignificant budget of nearly $20 million (well beyond Wheatley's frugal past works), and just a touch of glaring CGI for some exterior shots. That price tag coupled with a paltry North American gross of under $350 thousand suggests this is a costly loss for its financers, even after grossing nearly $3 million in its native UK. It's tough to be too bothered by the commercial performance because the film absolutely does fall apart and lose its grip on you. Even so, that first hour or so of set-up command some appreciation for their crafty vision and compelling visuals.

High-Rise recently hit Blu-ray and DVD under Magnolia Pictures' Magnet Releasing banner.

High-Rise Blu-ray Disc cover art - click to buy from Amazon.com Blu-ray Disc Details

2.39:1 Widescreen
5.1 DTS-HD MA (English)
Subtitles: English for Hearing Impaired, Spanish
Extras Not Subtitled; Not Closed Captioned
Release Date: August 2, 2016
Suggested Retail Price: $29.97
Single-sided, dual-layered disc (BD-50)
Blue Eco-Friendly Keepcase in Cardboard Slipcover
Also available on DVD ($26.99 SRP) and Amazon Instant Video


High-Rise's stylish visuals look great on Blu-ray, thanks to Magnolia's fine 2.39:1 presentation. The clean, sharp element is complemented by a lively and tasteful 5.1 DTS-HD master audio soundtrack.

A crew member discusses the silicone heads made for the film in "Heady Special Effects." Tom Hiddleston discusses his character in "Breaking Down 'High-Rise' & Its Tenants."


The Blu-ray's extras begin with an audio commentary by director Ben Wheatley,
actor Tom Hiddleston, and producer Jeremy Thomas. Leading the way, Hiddleston and Wheatley make an effort to turn this into a full, screen-specific, and comprehensive conversation, but they fail to turn this into a must-hear.

On the video side, where all is encoded in HD, we start with "Building the World of High-Rise: 70's Style" (9:02), a featurette that discusses the film's look, period costumes, and production design.

"Heady Special Effects" (3:36) looks at the manufacturing of a silicone head that is skinned in a cringe-inducing scene set at Dr. Laing's workplace.

"Breaking Down High-Rise & Its Tenants" (14:50) covers the cast of characters primarily with comments from the actors who play them.

Director Ben Wheatley discusses bringing Ballard to the big screen in front of a "High-Rise" poster. Though it divided critics, High-Rise's praises are sung in its North American trailer.

"High-Rise: Bringing Ballard to the Big Screen" (3:58)
considers the source text with some more cast and crew comments.

High-Rise's US theatrical trailer (2:18) is kindly preserved here.

"Also from Magnolia" repeats the six disc-opening ads, which are full trailers for The Wave< Gridlocked, The Last King, and The Dark Below followed by ads for The Charity Network and AXS TV.

The menu shuffles through clips, with character images transitioning between them. The disc supports bookmarks but does not resume playback.

The standard blue eco-friendly keepcase is topped by a glossy slipcover reproducing the same artwork below. Without a digital copy code to extend, the set holds no inserts.

Dr. Laing (Tom Hiddleston) wheels a toilet paper-wrapped Richard Wheeler (Luke Evans) down the hall in the free-spirited times before things get mad in "High-Rise."


High-Rise comes down from a very promising start to disappoint as a bold, stylish and unusual apocalyptic movie that outstays its welcome. Magnolia's Blu-ray has good extras and a fine feature presentation, so if you're interested in a rental, this disc will do.

Buy High-Rise from Amazon.com: Blu-ray / DVD / Instant Video

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Reviewed August 30, 2016.

Text copyright 2016 DVDizzy.com. Images copyright 2016 Magnolia Pictures, Hanway Films, Film 4, BFI, Northern Ireland Screen, Ingenious Media, Scoe Pictures, S Films, Recorded Picture Company Productions,
Magnet Releasing, and Magnolia Home Entertainment. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.