La La Land is more than the most acclaimed movie of the year — it's a cinematic treasure for the ages that you'll fall in love with again and again. Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling star as Mia and Sebastian, an actress and a jazz musician pursuing their Hollywood dreams — and finding each other — in a vibrant celebration of hope, dreams, and love.
Ever wish there was a movie that didn’t involve zombies, drug cartels, robots, or superheroes facing off in a post-apocalyptic end-of-world scenario? More often than not, those types of films are taking up all of the auditoriums at your local movie theater. Luckily, every once in a while we get something different, kind, and magical -- luckily, we are so very fortunate to get one of the absolute BEST films in a long time with La La Land.
Director/Writer Damien Chazelle (Whiplash & 10 Cloverfield Lane) has made an ode to the golden age of Hollywood musicals, but set in present day Los Angeles with stars Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling. Chazelle really hit home with Whiplash, but La La Land is a more light-hearted take on music and love as a musician (Gosling) and actress (Stone) cross paths in Los Angeles, fall in love, and sees if their relationship stands the test of time and fame as both struggle to make it in their respective fields.
This film really highlights Chazelle's talent, as each dance and music number is perfectly scored, choreographed with excellent attention to detail. He pays homage to the old days of cinema without hitting you over the head too often and makes you fall in love with these amazing, yet flawed characters. Gosling and Stone deliver outstanding performances and yes, actually sang and danced on their own, in addition to playing their own instruments. The result was simply magical with an excellent jazz score that I can’t stop listening to.
La La Land is such a beautiful film that you will be immediately entranced in its brilliance from the first scene, which is a “one-take” musical number on a 100-foot bridge in Los Angeles with over 100 dancers. The colors and choreography are just incredible and pave the way for the rest of the film. La La Land is a perfect blend of comedy, drama, music, and one breathtaking visual experience after another. This film will be watched over and over again for many years to come.
Vital Disc Stats: The Ultra HD Blu-ray
La La Land comes with a 50GB Blu-ray Disc and a DVD copy of the film that are Region A Locked. There is an insert for a digital download of the film. The discs are housed in a hard, blue plastic case with a cardboard sleeve. Trailers play before the main menu.
La La Land comes with an excellent 1080p HD transfer and is presented in 2.55:1 aspect ratio. The image looks amazing, and never like it went through a digital car wash. The picture has a lot of depth and a filmic quality that reveals tons of detail and color. Towards the end of the movie, Emma and Ryan go on dream-like journey of colorful Hollywood sets, which is stunning to watch.
You'll be able to see the cardboard buildings and pieces of glitter and textured paint on these sets, which is great. The colors here are amazing as well with bright primary colors that pop. Closeups reveal individual hairs on the actor's faces as well as the fine details of all the instruments used in the movie. Wider shots never go soft, but showcase some excellent background sets, props, and Los Angeles palm trees quite nicely.
Colors are bright and bold throughout when they need to be, and other times have a more vague and earthy tone, which keeps with the film's tone and theme. Black levels are deep and inky with no evidence of crush and the skin tones are natural and smooth. There were no major issues with any banding, aliasing, or video noise, leaving this video presentation with great marks.
This Blu-ray release has an English: Dolby Atmos track that sounds phenomenal. You'll feel like you're in the middle of a rocking concert at some points or in between a personal conversation with the two lead actors. Right of the bat, the surrounds kick into high gear with tons of cars honking from all over the place and with varying degrees of volume, depending on how far off camera they are.
The music kicks in and fully engulfs the soundstage with excellent highs and lows throughout. You'll be able to hear each instrument perfectly with a realistic heft as if you were there live listening to it. The concert at the big clubs have all the proper dynamics and echoes that it should, while the lounge locations have background chatter and cheer from the surrounds. It's all well balanced and literally music to your ears. Softer dialogue is clear and easy to follow along with and free of any pops, cracks, and hiss.
The score of the film always adds to each emotion in every scene with a fantastic jazz feel without drowning out any other sound aspect. The bass is smooth and never crosses into rocky territory, giving a great heft to the louder music scenes throughout the film. Ambient noises and sound effects are always robust and full and create an excellent soundscape that immerses you into the bustling life of artists in Los Angeles. This audio presentation is such a delight to listen to and fully captures the essence and music of the movie in each moment.
Audio Commentary - Director Damien Chazelle and composer Justin Hurwitz deliver an informative commentary track where they discuss what it was like to make the film. They discuss casting, the choreography, shooting on location, their influences, the music, and a lot of technical aspects. They also talk about the themes, tone and some anecdotes from set. If you loved the film, you'll like the commentary.
La La Land's Love Letter to Los Angeles (HD, 7 Mins.) - This extra examines the locations used in the film and how much Damien wanted to show the beauty of Los Angeles and how dreams can come true there.
Ryan and Emma: Third Time's The Charm (HD, 6 Mins.) - The cast and crew talk about how much chemistry Ryan and Emma have, due to their work on previous films together.
Song Selection (HD) - You can click on any of the musical numbers of the film and watch it.
La La Land is a fantastic film that is such a joy to watch from start to finish. I have no doubt you will be smiling throughout. The performances, choreography, and acting are all top notch with an excellent and heartfelt story to top it all off. It's nice to have a heart warming and lighter film every once in a while grace your screen. The video and audio presentations are both excellent and the extras are all worth watching if you are a fan. This is one of those Blu-rays that you'll watch quite a bit. Highly Recommended!
Portions of this review also appear in our coverage of Dunkirk on Blu-ray. This post features unique Vital Disc Stats, Video, and Final Thoughts sections.