As part of the Universal 100th Anniversary celebration, "Erin Brockovich" comes out on a two-disc combo pack featuring the film's Blu-ray, DVD, and digital copies. This 2000 biographical picture dramatizes the story of a woman who fought against a large energy corporation and eventually won the largest settlement ever paid in a direct-action lawsuit in U.S. history. The narrative begins with this single mother's loss over a personal injury lawsuit against a doctor who slammed his Jaguar into her car. With medical treatment drowning her in debt, her lawyer hires her as a legal assistant out of sympathy. This work leads her to a cover-up involving the contaminated water in a small desert community, which sparks a David vs. Goliath case.
Steven Soderbergh helms this critically acclaimed legal drama that received Academy Award nominations for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Original Screenplay, and Best Actor in a Supporting Role for Albert Finney. Julia Roberts' award-winning performance as the bold, brash, and dedicated heroine who bravely faces an energy giant on court also won her the top acting awards at the Oscars, Golden Globes, and Screen Actors Guild, to name a few. The real Erin Brokovich makes a cameo appearance in the film as a waitress named Julia, clearly taking the name of the star that portrayed her on screen.
The film's color palette often maintains a strong yellow and orange push, especially in the sun-drenched Hinkley sequences. There are selected parts covered by a bluish shade, which mainly involves scenes with the corporation's head-honcho lawyers. Some shots with a more natural and realistic veneer occasionally appear as well. Regardless of the picture's tint, facial complexions appear healthy and black levels are mostly strong with only a very few instances of crushing. Images in the arid desert scenes and sun-soaked cityscapes showcase plenty of deliberately glaring hotspots and blown-out highlights.
Most shots remain stationary to conform to Soderbergh's realistic treatment. Pervasive sharpening persists throughout the film's running time. Some edge halos rob the picture's pristine cinematic quality. Nevertheless, this HD version is still able to capture the right mood and tone for the story.
As a character-driven piece dominated by dialogue, the five-channel lossless soundtrack sports a front-heavy mix that clearly focuses its attention on conversations. Vocals are consistently clear and evenly modulated. With minimal rear activity heard throughout the movie, the track relies on an atmospheric score that often uses synthesized sounds, as if they're audio effects. These musical elements blend well in the mix to create a more immersive depth and presence. Alternative five-channel audio options in Spanish and French are also available in the package.
This disc set's supplements include "Erin Brockovich: A Look at a Real Life Experience," "Spotlight on Location: The Making of Erin Brockovich," a reel of deleted scenes, the film's theatrical trailer, and the Universal commemoration featurette "100 Years of Universal: Academy Award Winners." Viewers can also watch the film with English SDH, Spanish, or French subtitles.
"Erin Brockovich," could have easily succumbed to a wrong mix of too much or too little in terms of characters, interactions, and dialogue, but Soderbergh's sensitive direction becomes a precise balancing act that never falls into an annoyingly sentimental and trying hard route. He provides a unique approach in presenting a compelling story beyond the clichés of the genre. With an intelligent screenplay and a brilliant cast that brings passion and determination to the story, the film overcomes its character and plot issues in favor of a witty dose of drama and humor.