Set amid the streets of the San Fernando Valley, Magnolia follows one day in the seemingly unconnected lives of nine very different people. Primarily revolving around a kid's game show, these individuals' lives begin to intertwine in sometimes funny, and other times, rather painful ways. (Laurie Sevano)
Special features include "Behind The Story—Magnolia Video Diary" (SD 01:12:43), the "Frank T.J. Mackey Seminar" (SD 03:56), and a "Seduce And Destroy Infomerical" (SD 01:33); Aimee Mann's "Save Me" music video; the teaser and the theatrical trailers; and nine TV spots.
The 1080p 2.40:1 VC-1 picture appears dated but cinematic. Color styles, as well as lighting, were weighed very heavily by Director P.T. Anderson and Cinematographer Robert Elswit in the making of Magnolia. Compared to the previously reviewed DVD in Issue 42, the images are sharper and more finely detailed, often exhibiting an excellent level of clarity. Colors are absolutely rich in every sense of the word, but somehow manage to avoid oversaturation. That is true for fleshtones as well, which appear natural. Even the pumped-up game show, with slightly soft backgrounds, is nicely presented with vivid colors. Contrast and shadow delineation are nicely presented. The picture is very solid throughout, without artifacts. (Gary Reber/Suzanne Hedges)
The Dolby® TrueHD 5.1-channel soundtrack is dialogue- and music-driven. The presentation overall delivers fine fidelity, bettering that of the previous DVD's Dolby Digital 5.1-channel soundtrack. In terms of spatial utilization, the music is very well recorded and spreads nicely into the surrounds with significant envelopment, while at the same time exhibiting a wide stereophonic image across the screen. The dynamic and spatially energetic presence of the music is the highlight of this soundtrack. Additionally, the music is engaging and effectively conveys the dramatic momentum. Otherwise, the audio tends to be screen-oriented, with adequate depth and little surround envelopment, predominated by voices. The dialogue production is commendable, with good spatial consistency and natural-sounding tones, though, the somewhat high level in the mix makes the voices seem a little too far forward. The low end is ample, with minor .1 LFE engagement. For a dramatic film, this soundtrack effectively suits its storytelling purpose. (Gary Reber/Perry Sun)