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"Jack Irish": Set 2 Blu-ray + DVD Review

Jack Irish: Set 2 Blu-ray + DVD combo pack cover art -- click to buy from Amazon.com Jack Irish: Dead Point (2014)
Series, Blu-ray & DVD Details

Director: Jeffrey Walker / Writers: Matt Cameron (screenplay), Peter Temple (novel Dead Point)

Producer: Ian Collie / Executive Producers: Andrew Knight, Carole Sklan, Christopher Gist

Cast: Guy Pearce (Jack Irish), Marta Dusseldorp (Linda Hillier), Aaron Pedersen (Cam Delray), Roy Billing (Harry Strang), Shane Jacobson (Barry Tregear), Deborah Mailman (Commissioner Cynthia), Vince Colosimo (Mike Cundall), Kat Stewart (Ros Hoskin-Elliott), Barry Humphries (Justice Colin Loder), Dominic Allburn (Robbie Colburne), John Jarratt (Snr Sgt Laurie Olsen), Tess Haubrich (Sienna), Kate Beahan (Susan Ayliss), Kimesla Hartz (Elle), Damien Richardson (Drew Geer), Madeleine Madden (Marie), Ben Gerrard (Xavier), Paul Ireland (Artie)

Original Air Date: April 13, 2014 / Running Time: 89 Minutes (1 telemovie) / Rating: Not Rated

1.78:1 Widescreen (DVD Anamorphic)
Blu-ray: 2.0 DTS-HD Master Audio (English); DVD: Dolby Surround 2.0 (English)
Subtitles: English for Hearing Impaired; Extras Subtitled; Not Closed Captioned
Suggested Retail Price: $34.99 / Blu-ray Release Date: May 27, 2014
Two single-sided, single-layered discs (1 BD-25 & 1 DVD-5) / Blue Keepcase in Cardboard Slipcover
Also available as standalone DVD ($34.99 SRP)

Buy Jack Irish: Set 1 at Amazon.com: Blu-ray + DVD DVD

Guy Pearce's first twenty years in film have been extremely productive. He's acted in back-to-back Best Picture winners (The Hurt Locker, The King's Speech),
two films considered among the greatest of modern times (Memento, L.A. Confidential), one of the biggest blockbusters of all time (Iron Man 3), and a number of other films many people enjoy (from The Count of Monte Cristo to family favorite Two Brothers to Prometheus). So, it certainly seems to be not necessity but personal desire that moves Pearce to television in "Jack Irish", a mystery series produced in his native Australia.

Not keeping him occupied for half a year like a "CSI" or "Law & Order" would, "Irish" can easily be considered a series of TV movies, without the stigma that once held. In less than two years, Pearce has already starred in three such productions. After bundling the first two in last fall's Set 1, Acorn Media brings the third outing, Dead Point, to the United States on its own in next Tuesday's Blu-ray combo pack and DVD releases.

Jack Irish (Guy Pearce) and his former father-in-law Justice Colin Loder (Barry Humphries) meet at a bench overlooking hot air balloon takeoffs in "Jack Irish: Dead Point."

Dead Point finds Pearce's hero, Jack Irish, a widowed Melbourne lawyer who acts more like a private eye, remaining close to his late wife's family. Jack's former father-in-law, the respected Justice Loder (Barry Humphries, who you won't recognize as his drag alter ego Dame Edna), asks him to retrieve a red leather-bound book from the home of a recently-deceased acquaintance. The young man, a drug smuggler found dead in his Porsche with a needle in his arm, has some dirt on the judge: photographic evidence of their gay experiences together. Scandal could easily ruin Loder, who finds himself being blackmailed after the incriminating album goes missing.

Jack, meanwhile, is also looking into the drug dealer's death and trying to figure out if there isn't more to it than meets the eye. Jack's girlfriend, Linda Hillier (Marta Dusseldorp), the radio host he lovingly crank calls on the air, is also connecting dots, exploring how an drug enforcement agent (Kate Beahan) who was blackmailed via sex tape by the same man connects to the decedent's workplace, an exclusive and secretive members-only club.

Radio journalist Linda Hillier (Marta Dusseldorp) is back in Jack's life, though he still struggles to get over his late wife. Drug enforcement agent Susan Ayliss (Kate Beahan) meets Jack on a pier to discuss the sex tape with which she's been blackmailed.

Like the two mysteries that came before it, Dead Point is a fairly routine affair, boosted by the presence and weight of Pearce. He doesn't get to do much heavy lifting: a bit of action, some apprentice cabinet-making,
and the occasional jog. Nonetheless, his appeal slightly but definitely elevates the material above mediocrity. Certainly, Dead Point is not on par with Pearce's better feature films, but it's quite all right for a television drama that manages to exude filmic production value on reportedly a very small budget.

Author Peter Temple wrote four Jack Irish novels from 1996 to 2003. Now that the first three have each been adapted with titles for subtitles, you'd think that the Australian Broadcasting Corporation would finish them off, so long as Pearce remains game. According to a 2012 interview with the series' producer Ian Collie, the plan was to make all four plus a fifth one that Temple was (and apparently still is?) working on.

It's unclear when the next two will come to light, but that's the nice thing about irregular programming like this. There are no obvious deadlines or windows to meet. Temple, Pearce, and Collie can take a couple of years off and then come back. All they need is a two-hour timeslot and probably a couple of weeks for filming.

While a year passed between the Australian broadcast and North American home video release of the first two movies, Acorn doesn't make us wait nearly as long for Dead Point; it reaches stores just seven weeks after its Australian premiere.

Once again though it airs on Australia's ABC, one of the country's main networks, "Jack Irish" includes adult content: some profanity, a little sex and nudity, and some violence, though Dead Point gladly lacks the grisly images of the first two installments.

VIDEO and AUDIO

Acorn's Blu-ray boasts terrific picture quality. The sharp and crystal clear 1.78:1 widescreen presentation undoubtedly represents the best the show will look in 1080p. The days of television looking inferior to movies are long gone, even when shooting on digital video rather than film (hey, that's what movies do these days, too!).

The Blu-ray offers sound only in 2.0 DTS-HD master audio, which is odd since 5.1 surround is widely accepted as the standard on US television. Nonetheless, the mix is more than adequate, keeping dialogue crisp and packing the occasional punch with music and effects. It's a good thing that English SDH subtitles are included, because they come in handy when the Aussie accents and slang require some clarification.

Young director Jeffrey Walker shows Jack Irish pride in his hat selection while talking on the docks set. A photo gallery image shows us the filming of a tense "Jack Irish: Dead Point" scene.

BONUS FEATURES, MENUS, PACKAGING and DESIGN

Four minor supplements accompany the feature presentation on each format,
with the Blu-ray presenting them in HD.

The first three offer behind-the-scenes footage from three filming locations: "The Docks" (2:24), "Traffic Jam" (2:14), and "Air Strip Finale" (2:49). Director Jeffrey Walker and some of his cast and crew members share some thoughts on the production tricks and challenges of the sequences in question.

The final listing is a self-advancing photo gallery (1:42), which plays a mix of publicity stills and making-of images under the same music as the menu.

That simple menu again attaches score to gold-tinted imagery from the opening titles. Though you can probably get through it all in one sitting, the Blu-ray kindly resumes playback just as a DVD does, which makes up for its inability to set bookmarks. Both formats showcase Acorn's rare, generous propensity for scene selection menus and synopsis.

The discs open with Acorn's standard general 2-minute promo and trailers for "Line of Duty": Series 1 and "The Fall": Series 1.

The plain keepcase is topped by a glossy slipcover repeating the artwork below. The lone insert advertises Acorn's streaming service and social network pages.

Just another day on the job for Australian lawyer Jack Irish (Guy Pearce).

CLOSING THOUGHTS

Blurring the line between television and film, Jack Irish: Dead Point would feel slight on the big screen. On the small one, it's a little easier to appreciate, with the gifted Guy Pearce helping us to overlook the routine nature of the procedural mystery.
Like its two predecessors, Dead Point makes for a diverting couple of hours without making a tremendous impact. It nearly does that in the final few minutes, when it becomes surprisingly unhinged and unpredictable. But a big finale isn't enough to make us forget that up until then, the drama, plotting, and characterization have all been rather average.

Acorn's Blu-ray combo pack treats this production to outstanding picture, good sound, and a nice handful of extras. Too few TV shows receive such a satisfying high definition release. It definitely makes for a great way to see this movie, but it is pricey for an hour and a half of television and not necessarily something you're likely to revisit.

Once again, there seems to be no need for a standalone DVD edition, since the combo pack that includes it carries the exact same list price. (And yet, the DVD is currently outselling the combo on Amazon, the option making each version's sales rank lower than it should be.)

Buy Jack Irish: Set 2 from Amazon.com: Blu-ray + DVD / DVD

Buy from Amazon.com

Related Reviews:
Australian Television: Jack Irish: Set 1 Under Capricorn Five Mile Creek: Season 1
Guy Pearce: Iron Man 3 Animal Kingdom Lawless The King's Speech Bedtime Stories Seeking Justice Don't Be Afraid of the Dark The Road
Mystery TV: The Fall: Series 1 Jack Taylor: Set 1 Early Edition: The First Season Jesse Stone: No Remorse Above Suspicion: Set 3
Australian Movies: The Sapphires The Reef Australia "Crocodile" Dundee & "Crocodile Dundee" II The Boys Are Back The Great Gatsby Strictly Ballroom

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Reviewed May 23, 2014.



Text copyright 2014 DVDizzy.com. Images copyright 2014 The Australian Broadcasting Corporation, Essential Media & Entertainment, Film Victoria, ZDF Enterprises GMBH,
RLJ Entertainment and Acorn Media.
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