A hopeless man stranded in the wilderness befriends a dead body and together they go on a surreal journey to get home.
There are only a few times a year where a movie completely catches you off guard and there are fewer times where a movie will be imprinted and branded into your mind forever. ‘Swiss Army Man‘ is one of those films. It’s funny, disgusting, beautiful, and simply amazing on just about every level. This is where cinema is at its best. Director and writer pair Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert (known as the Daniels) have masterfully crafted a screenplay and beautifully shot film that that covers just about every aspect of being alive and human. It’s almost a coming-of-age story in a weird sort of way and is full of pure, amazing life, even though there is a corpse throughout the entire film. This movie takes those small, precious, awkward moments in life and puts them flat on the table for everyone to see. It’s a little bit gross and weird, but it’s also amazing and beautiful. I don’t think any two people could have played the two parts any better than Paul Dano or Daniel Radcliffe did. They are simply phenomenal in their roles and bring such a heartfelt performance to each of their characters, that you can’t help but want to spend more time with them.
We first meet Hank (Dano) who is on a small deserted island, as he is about to hang himself with makeshift rope, when he suddenly sees a dead body on the shore (Radcliffe). After he slips and almost hangs himself to death, he walks over to the corpse only to find out that the corpse has a ton of gas still inside of it. Soon enough, Dano is riding this farting corpse like a jet ski to a bigger place where civilization might be. Hank brings the corpse with him as he tries to find help and home and figures out that this dead body has a lot of cool powers and uses, like chopping down trees, spewing up rain water, farting fire, and shooting things at super speed out of its mouth.
The body soon begins to talk as Hank props this corpses head up and pokes and prods him to get him to do things. The corpse goes by Manny and is just as innocent as a newborn. Manny is discovering life and has no idea what it’s like, so Hank answers all questions from jerking off, to riding a bus, to going on a date and listening to music, to watching movies and having parents, and even re-writing the childhood classic “Everybody Poops” with actual poop inside the pages of the bible. No matter what you may feel about this movie, there will be something good you will take away with it, whether it be friendship, love, accepting yourself and others, happiness, or just a farting corpse that smiles. It’s all here and on display in the most beautiful fashion.
Paul Dano and Daniel Radcliffe are incredible in these characters. Dano plays Hank with such charisma and charm, yet with a chaotic and scary side, that you are never too sure about him. You can love him one minute and be frightened of him the next. Hank has many layers to him and Dano executes each emotional layer flawlessly. Then there is Daniel Radcliffe, who might just deserve a Best Actor nomination at the Oscars this year for his role as a corpse. Even though Manny is supposed to be dead and gross, Radcliffe plays him with so much life, that he is, well – alive. I’ve never quite seen anything like it before.
The two Daniels have really broken the mold with ‘Swiss Army Man‘ and I’m sure this film will be etched into the minds of cinema lovers for years to come. The soundtrack is also fantastic by Andy Hull and Robert McDowell and has a fantastical and indie element about it. This is one of the most original and fun movies of the year.
The Blu-Ray: Vital Disc Stats
‘Swiss Army Man’ comes with a 50GB Blu-ray Disc from Lionsgate Films and is Region A Locked. There is an insert for the digital download code. The disc is housed in an eco-friendly, hard, blue, plastic case with a cardboard sleeve.
'Swiss Army Man' comes with a great 1080p HD transfer presented in 2.40:1 aspect ratio. Lionsgate Films have delivered a great audio presentation here and while the movie was shot digitally, this transfer looks more filmic, rather than a digital car wash type of image. Detail is sharp and vivid throughout in both the night time sequences as well as the natural day light sequences.
Individual hairs on Paul Dano's straggly beard stand out nicely, as well as some of the makeup effects and wounds on Daniel Radcliffe's body. The makeshift clothing and wigs look phenomenal as well, showing each piece of mud and dirt encased in the clothing. Wider shots show the beauty of the surrounding trees and rocks very well. Every drop of water from splashes shows up nicely and is distinguishable too. There is also a very minor and small layer of grain that gives the movie that great filmic look to it, which never fluctuates or goes into heavy territory.
Colors look great, but are mostly muted in most scenes, giving that decaying corpse look with some tinted blues or grays. I wouldn't say this is a bright primary color movie by any means, but the warmer earthy tones do look great with some deep reds and oranges from the the fire. Greens and blues look excellent as well here. Black levels are deep and inky throughout with very minor crush and the skin tones are natural, in both the deceased and alive elements. There were no instances of any banding or aliasing, or video noise, leaving this video presentation with great marks.
This release surprisingly comes with a great Dolby Atmos track or Dolby TrueHD 7.1 mix for those of you that don't have the Atmos setup. I used a 7.1.2 Atmos speaker setup with the normal 7.1 surround and two overhead speakers, plus a subwoofer powering this adventurous soundscape. The sound effects are excellent for the most part, but could be a little subdued at times.
The nature atmospheric sounds of animals and trees cracking, as well as the wind blowing the leaves is fully immersive. The overhead speakers provide some great sound when thunderstorms crash down and the rain hits the makeshift housing. The fart noises are always loud and robust throughout (a phrase I thought I would never say or write) and provide some great directionality.
The score and music is excellent as well and always adds to the bizarre wonder of this story and film without downing out any other sound elements. The dialogue is always crystal clear and easy to follow, and is free of any pops, cracks, hiss, or high shrills. The bass kicks in nicely too in the heavier music and action moments, leaving this audio presentation with great marks.
Audio Commentary - Writer/directors Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert, as well as Production Designer Jason Kisvarnay and Sound Mixer Brent Kiser all come aboard this lively audio commentary. Kwan and Scheinert discuss the themes and story, as well as shooting on location and working with Daniel and Paul. Kisvarnay discusses how they build the sets outside and Kiser talks about making the fart sounds, as well as the other body functions throughout the movie. Fun commentary.
Q & A With Filmmakers (HD,67 Mins.) - Here, the filmmakers talk about making the movie, the sound of the film, and the grant the movie received from Dolby.
'Swiss Army Man': Behind the Scenes (HD, 17 Mins.) - Here is some interviews and on set footage of the actors and filmmakers talking about the film, making the movie, and having fun with the dummy used in the film.
Making Manny (HD, 4 Mins.) - A short clip of how the dummy of the movie was made.
Deleted Scenes (HD, 10 Mins.) - There are five deleted scenes here, all of which are worth watching, but were edited out for pacing.
'Swiss Army Man' is one of the most unique and films of 2016. Daniel Radcliffe and Paul Dano turn in outstanding performances, and the film itself has some great twists and turns that will keep you thinking and talking about the movie for days. The video and audio presentations are both great and the bonus features are all worth your time. Highly recommended!