Animal Kingdom

DVD Rating: ****1/2

Reviewed by: Amber Wilkinson

Read Owen Van Spall's film review of Animal Kingdom
Animal Kingdom

The extras on this disc prove, yet again, that Optimum Releasing know how to put together a pleasing and comprehensive package of additional material that manages to dodge the usual anondyne presskit monotony in favour of something a lot more quirky and satisfying.

There are two commentary tracks presented. The first is a very traditional run through with director David Michôd. Despite the debut director's obvious nervousness - "Is this boring? It's probably boring," he says early on - he makes a perfectly reasonable guide to his film. His observations range from aspects of the shoot, including technical difficulties that they faced, through to comments about the cast and casting along with some rather sweet touches, such as: "That's my mum. I cast her as an extra, she gave herself a line and now she's an actor." It's also possibly the only commentary track you'll ever hear in which the director asks: "Is that my stomach growling?"

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The second track goes beyond quirky and into the realm of the bizarre, as Michôd, Jacqui Weaver (Smurf), Ben Mendelsohn (Pope), Sullivan Stapleton (Craig) and James Frecheville (J) sit down to chat. Rather than talking to the film itself, they launch into a discussion of several key scenes. Opening with the revelation that "we've just had a fight" (which ended with producer Liz Watts leaving the room - though she does make a brief cameo appearance here) it's a rowdy and quite odd affair but does offer some interesting insights into the way the actors work. Weaver, for example, is quite happy to talk about the fact that she hates talking about the craft of acting - "It's none of the public's business how the wheels work" - while Mendelsohn reveals he hasn't watched something he's done in 10 years. Other bizarre interludes involve someone's mobile phone going off and a discussion of making animal noises. It stops, somewhat abruptly, at the hour mark, which is just about the point at which it is starting to run out of steam. Worth a listen as a curiosity and for an insight into the cast dynamic.

By far the best extra on the disc, however, is the excellent making of feature. Running at an hour and eight minutes, it is a fully comprehensive examination of the film, discussing all aspects of it with all the key players from conception and pre-production through the shooting and on to its Sundance Film Festival premiere. Michôd talks about his "10 years of pipe dreaming" before he was able to get the film up and running and offers some thoughtful observations about the process he has gone through. The cast, too, offer perceptive comments both about their characters and the shooting process, although this is by no means a po-faced affair - Guy Pearce, for example, insists his performance as Leckie is "all in the moustache". It's nicely shot and edited and makes good use of footage from the film without straying into the realm of spoilers.

The extras are rounded out by a trailer (also reassuringly spoiler-free) and interviews with Michôd, Guy Pearce, Mendelsohn, Joel Edgerton (Barry), Weaver, Frecheville, Laura Wheelwright, Stapleton and Luke Ford (Darren). Some of these are particularly brief, and there is a small amount of cross-over with the making of but they're all worth a listen.

Technically, the DVD is good, although the sound levels on the cast commentary track make it difficult to hear what everyone is saying sometimes - particularly Mendelsohn, who, one suspects, was furthest from the microphone. The film is fully subtitled, although the commentary tracks and extras are not, and there is an audio descriptive track.

Reviewed on: 14 Jul 2011
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After the death of his mother, a 17-year-old boy is thrust precariously between an explosive criminal family and a detective who thinks he can save him. Plus read our exclusive .
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Product Code: OPTBDR 1998

Region: 2

Ratio: 2.35:1

Sound: Dolby Digital 5.1

Extras: Director and cast commentary tracks, interviews, making of, trailer

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