• Storm Boy (Umbrella Entertainment) Blu-ray Review

    Released by: Umbrella Entertainment
    Released on: March 6th, 2019.
    Directed by: Henri Safran
    Cast: Greg Rowe, Peter Cummins, David Gulpilil, Judy Dick, Tony Allison
    Year: 1976
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    Storm Boy – Movie Review:

    Based on the novel of the same name by acclaimed Australian children’s author Colin Thiele and directed in 1976 by Henri Safran, Storm Boy was a genuine box office hit in its home land and did well in England as well, but it remains fairly obscure in North America.

    Set on and around the South Australian coastal region of Coorong, the story revolves around a boy named Mike (Greg Rowe) who lives with his father Tom (Peter Cummins). His father is a bit of a recluse, which is one of the reasons that Mike more or less keeps to himself. His only real friend is an Aboriginal named Fingerbone Bill (David Gulpilil) who nicknames him Storm Boy. Fingerbone also enlists Mike’s help in nursing three baby pelican chicks, and he obliges.

    As time passes, Tom insists that Mike let the now grown pelicans back into the wild. He agrees, but the one that Mike named Mr. Percival returns. Mike and the bird clearly have a bond, one that strengthens even more upon is return, but when a duck hunter makes short work of the bird, Mike’s entire outlook is shattered. Mike likes his isolated, quiet life but soon, as he starts to get older, things change for him. A local school teacher feels he needs a better education, and a wild life ranger takes issue with him. Fingerbone, however, is there to help, and to lend his sage wisdom which allows Mike to slowly but surely adapt to this new world.

    A smart and pensive family film with some unusual elements thrown in to keep things interesting, Storm Boy is well-made. Henri Safran, who has done more TV work than film, keeps the pace solid and gives us enough good character development to pull us into the story. The coastal setting gives things a rather picturesque quality, resulting in a very nice-looking film that does a fine job of showing off its interesting locations. The score is also quite good – production values are solid here overall, actually.

    Performances, however, are what make this. Child actor Greg Rowe may very much look like a product of the film’s time, what with his shaggy mop-top haircut, but he’s very good in the part. You’d think it would be tough to convince audiences that his boy has really and truly bonded with a pelican of all things but Rowe pulls it off here. There are a few spots where he’s not entirely believable, as is the case with pretty much all child actors, but by and large he delivers very good work. Peter Cummins is quite good as the father but the excellent David Gulpilil really steals the show. Here the actor better known for edgier fare like Walkabout and Mad Dog Morgan gets to play a nicer, calmer role but he suits the part perfectly and a great job in this film.

    Storm Boy – Blu-ray Review:

    Umbrella Entertainment brings Storm Boy to region free Blu-ray using an AVC encoded 1080p high definition transfer framed at 1.85.1 widescreen on a 50GB disc. Taken from a new 4k restoration, the movie looks very good here. There’s good depth and texture throughout and plenty of fine detail to take in, though it should be said that the film does appear to have been shot with a slightly soft look in mind. Skin tones look fine, colors look excellent and black levels as strong. The transfer is film-like throughout, meaning we get the expected amount of film grain, but the picture is clean, there’s not much in the way of print damage at all outside of the odd white speck here and there. Umbrella has done a fine job here.

    The English language DTS-HD 2.0 Stereo track on the disc is fine. Optional subtitles are provided in English only. Quality and clarity are both good here. Dialogue is easy to understand and it comes through quite clearly. There are no problems with any hiss or distortion and the levels are balanced well.

    The main extra on the disc is the inclusion of the 1978 film Blue Fin, directed by Carl Schultz and again based on a book by Colin Thiele. The story takes place in Port Lincoln, Australia, a small town where fishing is the dominant industry. Here we meet skinny, awkward twelve-year-old Steve "Snook" Pascoe (Greg Rowe), a clumsy kid prone to mistakes that frequently upset his tune fisherman father, Bill Pascoe (Hardy Kruger). Regardless, Bill brings Snook along to join his crew on his current fishing expedition, and it’s here, when an unexpected accident occurs, that Snook must rise to the occasion and save himself and his father from impending doom!

    Blue Fin isn’t quite as creative or original as Storm Boy but it’s a solid family-friendly movie that does a nice job of showing off some Southern Australian locations. The story is a little on the predictable side but thankfully both Kruger and Rowe are very good here, making it easy to look past that to enjoy the quality of work that they provide. The movie is well-made, boasting decent cinematography and good production values. Umbrella presents the film in 1080p framed at 1.85.1 in a more than solid high definition presentation.

    The disc also contains a twenty-six-minute featurette from 1988 entitled Story Makers: Colin Thiele, which examines the life and times of the author behind the book that both Storm Boy and Blue Fin were based on. Thiele, who passed away in 2006, was quite famous in his native Australia for the kid’s books that he wrote. This piece offers up some interesting biographical details about his life and also does a nice job of exploring the appeal and significance of his work as an author.

    We also get a twenty-five-minute profile of actor Hardy Kruger and a ten-minute piece called Wild Reel: Hardy Kruger And Greg Rowe in which the two actors appear out in public to promote the film. Both of these are archival pieces as well. The Kruger profile does a nice job of illuminating the background of the actor in question and in showcasing some of his more important work. Both of these are quite interesting.

    Rounding out the extras are theatrical trailers for Storm Boy and Blue Fin, a VHS trailer for Storm Boy, menus and chapter selection.

    Storm Boy – The Final Word:

    Storm Boy is a kid’s movie, sure, but it’s really well-done and definitely worth seeking out. The production values are strong and the performances are all very good. Umbrella Entertainment has done a very nice job bringing this to Blu-ray in a great presentation and with some strong extras as well, including a complete second feature! Recommended.

    Click on the images below for full sized Storm Boy Blu-ray screen caps!

    Comments 1 Comment
    1. AngelGuts's Avatar
      AngelGuts -
      Excdellent review, Ian. I saw STORM BOY and BLUE FIN at the movies as a kid.