Have you ever known someone who always exaggerates when they tell a story? The details become more and more grandiose every time and the stories take on a life of their own. What if the fanciful narrator happens to be your very own father who has spent your entire life embarrassing you with these tall tales – even taking center stage on your wedding day. For Will Bloom (Billy Crudup; Zack Snyder's Justice League), this is his reality. His father, Edward (Albert Finney; Murder on the Orient Express/Ewan McGregor; Moulin Rouge!) constantly told stories of how he caught the biggest fish in the lake, or how he located a secret town hidden in the swamp called Spectre. Released in 2003, Big Fish is the theatrical rendition of the 1998 novel of the same name.
Edward Bloom grew up in Ashton, Alabama, and took the first opportunity he could to leave. He offered to escort a Giant away from the town and ended up going on a journey, where he found Spectre, joined the circus and fell in love. He eventually married the love of his life, Sandra Templeton (Jessica Lange; Tootsie/Alison Lohman; White Oleander), and they have Will. Edward eventually becomes a traveling salesman, which only strengthens his love of storytelling and offers ample opportunities to create new and wonderful people and places. However, when Edward is diagnosed with cancer and his health worsens, Will comes home to try and make amends to their fractured relationship.
With well-known and creative storyteller, Tim Burton (Edward Scissorhands), on hand to direct, Big Fish was bound to be a success, eventually grossing almost $123 million from a budget of $70 million. Burton's expertise for visualizing a story – the crazier the better – lends itself to this movie, where everything is bigger and better. The overall movie feels like a Burton production intertwining a sweet story with the bizarre visuals he lays out before the viewer.
Finney was such an incredibly talented man and pairing him with McGregor was excellent casting. Together they bring Edward to life as both an old man and the memories of his younger self. Lohman and Lange as Edward's wife (again young in flashbacks and older in present-day) perfectly fit with Finney and McGregor. Their soft-spoken, Southern demeanors endear them to the audience. Crudup and Marion Cotillard (Inception), as Edward's son and his wife, round out the cast with a fullness that gives the movie a "full circle" kind of feel to it.
The 4K version has some spectacular visuals with sharpness and clarity throughout. The lighting enhances Burton's fantastical vision as most scenes are bright and cheery. The Dolby Atmos audio is a nice compliment to the video, but the picture quality is the star of this release. The combo pack has a number of extras, most of which are housed on the Blu-ray disc. They include:
- Tim Burton Audio Commentary, Moderated by Mark Salisbury (on the 4K disc)
- The Character's Journey
- Edward Bloom at Large
- Amos at the Circus
- Fathers and Sons
- The Filmmaker's Path
- Tim Burton: Storyteller
- A Fairytale World
- Creature Features
- The Author's Journey
- Original Cast Interviews & Behind the Scenes
- Easter Eggs
- Theatrical Trailer
The sentiment behind the plot is sweet and endearing and the movie is an excellent example of Burton, the master filmmaker, at work. With a star-studded cast, an imaginative story, and Burton's brain and uncanny knack for the weird and wonderful, Big Fish is a terrific movie placed in capable hands.
With the release of the 4K UHD version, which offers some truly wonderful images, Big Fish is an excellent example of an upgrade done right. If you are a fan of Burton, you will want to add this release to your home viewing collection.