Milk (2008) [Blu-ray]

Genre(s): Drama
Universal || R - 128 minutes - $39.98 || March 10, 2009
Reviewer: Brad Lowenberg || Posted On: 2009-03-26

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.:: F I L M ::.
The Film

.: F E A T U R E S :.

Special Features

.:: V I D E O ::.

.:: A U D I O ::.

B L U - R A Y

Blu-ray Exclusives

.:: O V E R A L L ::.
Director: Gus Van Sant
Writer(s): Dustin Lance Black (written by)
Cast: Sean Penn, Emile Hirsch, Josh Brolin, James Franco

Theatrical Release Date: December 22, 2008

Supplemental Material:
  • 3 Featurettes
  • BD-Live

Technical Information:
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Widescreen (1.85)
  • English (DTS-HD MA 5.1)
  • Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish

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.::THE FILM::.

Synopsis: Upon moving to San Francisco from New York City in 1972, forty year old Harvey Milk (Sean Penn) gains focus in his life as a gay activist in the city's Castro district. Gay rights activism turns to political activism as Milk decides he can be a more effective voice for the gay community as a politician, elected or not. Through several elections and losses both for a city seat and a state assembly seat, Milk becomes the first openly gay man in the United States to be elected to political office when he wins a San Francisco supervisor seat in 1977.

His many political battlefronts include one with the national anti-gay Save the Children crusade, led and fronted by singer Anita Bryant. Closer to home, Milk has a continuing struggle with his fellow supervisor, Dan White (Josh Brolin), a staunch social conservative.

After all the talk I heard about this film I was excited to see it. Knowing only a little bit of history on Harvey Milk I was hit with what seems like a 2 hour documentary on his life. So was the film any good? Yeah, very. I found myself enthralled with Sean Penn's performance where instead of it being Sean Penn playing Harvey Milk it felt like he was Harvey Milk.

After watching Fast Times at Ridgemont High literally days before, it was a bit of a trip to see Penn going from stoner Spicoli to gay politician Milk. If anyone deserves an award, its Penn. But that's not the only stellar performance - James Franco who portrays Milk's lover for most of the film is spectacular. Judging by his previous work (Spider-Man, Nights in Rodanthe, "Freaks and Geeks"), he can show a wide-range of acting.


All Special Features are presented in HD.

Remembering Harvey (13 Minutes) - A great featurette that interviews several people the film was based on.

Marching for Equality (8 Minutes) - While not as exciting as the above featurette, this one goes into detail on how they re-created some of the historic debates.

Hollywood comes to San Francisco (15 Minutes) - The typical "making of" that comes with plenty of back-pats for the cast and crew. Nothing of real information is here.

BD-Live (not active at the time of review) According to my Press Sheet, Deleted Scenes are available via BD-Live...and of course these are already found on the DVD. This is, yet again, another way for the studios to force BD-Live onto consumers. Not happy with this decision as there is plenty of room for them to have included the Deleted Scenes on the spacious 50GB disc. Tsk Tsk.


Milk is presented in 1.85:1 (VC1) on a 50GB Disc. Not to impressed with the quality here as the film goes from having very little grain to what seems like an over abundance in a matter of minutes. Some of the classic news reels/clips look great (and I am not counting that in the score - just the actual film). Contrast seems a bit out of hand as well.

Universal has included an English 5.1 DTS MA track for this release. I had an issue where the dialog came across sounding like my bass was up to high and after I lowered it the dialog went to a more acceptable level. Aside from that, dialog sometimes echoed in all speakers and seemed unbalanced. Not impressed with this one at all.


Milk shows off the great acting skills of both Sean Penn and James Franco all while providing an interesting look into the life (and death) of Harvey Milk. While the film feels like it runs about 20 minutes too long, I still found it to be a very enjoyable ride. The Blu-ray boasts average Picture and Audio Quality with a meager supply of Special Features. Given the buzz for this film I think we will get a double-dip on this one eventually.