There were few films as eagerly awaited by this reviewer than Scorsese's "SILENCE." A great cast, great screenwriter and Scorsese! Yet, "SILENCE" is one of the biggest disappointments of any year. It's now as thoroughly awful as Scorsese's "Bringing Out the Dead" of 1999. But, "SILENCE" is "bad!"
The subject matter, two 17th century priests dealing with the horrific violence and prejudice of Japan while they search for their lost mentor, is compelling. However, the choices these priests make when faced with suffering, while heart-breaking, still should feel easy for most decent people to make.
Denigrate one's own religion to prevent the burning alive/drowning, beheading of others or allow the innocents to suffer? It should be an easy choice. But, Scorsese finds honor in the two characters for putting their religious convictions over saving innocents. It's mind-numbingly frustrating to watch.
It helps in any narrative to find some likeable things about characters we're supposed to watch for well over two hours. There is virtually nothing to like or admire about the two main characters! They come across as bland, naive and even a little "smug"(not a good quality for a priest). While Liam Neeson is somewhat of a saving grace to this debacle when he's finally on-screen, it's far too little, too late.
Visually, "SILENCE" is often impressive, but even a Monet painting would get old, fast, if constantly annoyed while looking at it!
PARAMOUNT has provided the correct 2.39:1 aspect ratio for this MPEG-4 AVC encoded 1080p Blu-Ray. The colors in the beginning tend to appear restrained, but as the film unfolds, colors become much brighter and vivid. Detail is nearly flawless. Whether it's the foam on the ocean spray hitting tortured peasants, or facial pores, the detail stands out as amazing! Contrast is also impressive aided by deep, inky blacks in the darkest of scenes. A fine looking transfer!
PARAMOUNT has provided a DTS-HD MA 5.1 mix. Scorsese pays a lot of attention to detail in the sound here. Nuanced effects within various settings go a long way in bringing the viewer into the given moment. Bigger, immersive effects come into play throughout as well. It's a flawless mix throughout! Dialogue, music and effects are always perfectly balanced.
An additional featurette, running just short of 30 minutes, looks at the source material and Scorsese's adaptation. It's more entertaining than the actual film.