(500) Days of Summer Review
At the heart of one of the best romantic dramas of 2009 you have great performances from two of the brightest up and coming leads Hollywood has to offer, coupled with a sharp but natural script that fuses snappy dialogue with casual banter well. The film looks great, making full use of the location work and is never afraid to mix up its visual styles through what I think is one of the film’s greatest assets – the way it is willing to play with perception throughout. An expectation vs. reality split-screen segment is the obvious example but the film is littered with many more, both glaring and subtle, indeed the scenes towards the end where Tom looks back sans rose-tinted glasses only confirms the perception of reality we’ve been witnessing events through up to that point. Ultimately I agree with everything Emma wrote in her excellent review of the film back on its theatrical run, which is why I’ll suggest you follow this link and read through her eloquent words on the film instead of any attempt at a coherent critique that I could manage. If you’re done then let’s move onto the disc…
The 1080P 1.85:1 widescreen transfer here is basically flawless. The Blu-ray format is now fully in its stride so far as studios getting to grips with the encoding on their recent titles, and (500) Days looks every bit as good as you’d expect doing justice to the myriad of detail found on screen and the range of visual styles portrayed. The lossless 5.1 DTS-HD MA audio is equally flawless, but at the same time it’s considerably less impressive if only because this is a drama/comedy and therefore is more concerned with dialogue, ambient sound effects and music than it is assaulting your senses with sound. All you need to know is the dialogue is clear, directional sound effects are few but appropriately placed and almost as important as the dialogue; the excellent soundtrack is rich and vibrant in its reproduction.
In terms of extras, this UK Blu-ray Disc is something of a disappointment with a large number of features lost at sea in the time between the US and UK release dates. The most significant of these missing extras is a commentary with the director, writers and actor (though it was passed through the BBFC), a reasonable length making-of and a number of other smaller pieces like audition tapes, storyboards and a Sundance featurette. Fox, who are usually excellent in bringing extras over, have really dropped the ball here.
So what has made it onto the disc you ask? First up is a selection of deleted and extended scenes (presented in HD) which are mostly scenes from the movie with a few extensions here and there. Nothing particularly good was lost, though I did like the depressed Tom walking down the street to “You Make My Dreams” which is a nice spin on the positive version found in the movie (though I would say I’m glad this contrasting scene was left on the cutting room floor as it wouldn’t have worked for the tone of the film). Next up are some extras that exploit the Gordon-Levitt/Deschanel pairing such as “Bank Dance”, essentially a music video/short film for one of Deschanel’s songs which is directed by Marc Webb and features the two actors strutting their stuff in a bank. It’s a lot of fun, as is “Sid and Nancy” (HD), a short film directed by Webb featuring the two actors recreating a favourite scene from said movie but at the same time putting a neat little spin on one of the lines of dialogue found in (500) Days of Summer. The last of the extras with the two actors is a series of conversations between the pair where they discuss acting, the creative process, karaoke and other things. It’s pretty light on content and most definitely for fans of the actors as opposed to anyone looking for real insight to the movie. Finally the disc includes a music video for Sweet Disposition by Temper Trap. Also in the package is a digital copy.