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Black Butler: The Movie Live-Action DVD/BD Review

6 min read

One hell of a butler, literally.Black Buter Live Action Film

What They Say:
Inspired by the hit anime series Black Butler, this live-action adaptation brings an all-new story featuring a familiar demon butler doing what butlers do best: helping their masters seek revenge. The Black Butler is back—and there’s an all-new mystery to be solved. It’ll take one hell of a butler to figure it out!

The Review:
Audio:
The audio was good and stable. I watched the Japanese language 5:1 selection, but there was a fair amount of English mixed in. The balance was good during the various scenes, including action sequences. There was also good use of music and songs during the film.

Video:
I watched the Blu-ray version and found that the quality was consistently good. The action sequences were clearly filmed and easy to watch, which made it more enjoyable. The special scenes with Sebastian trying to perform many tasks at a time were slowed to demonstrate his skills and added extra flair to the scene. As this origin of the film is gothic and macabre inspired the darker scenes and colors were very welcomed.

Packaging:
This release is Blu-ray and DVD combo. It has a slipcase that mirrors the action case. It is relatively plain in design. The outside packaging of the case has a mini-poster on the back that mirrors the cover/main visual concept. On the back of the case and slipcase has a small summary and five screencaps from the film.

Extras: The only extras include was the original Japanese trailers and previews of the dubbed versions of the following anime: Black Butler, Wolf Children and Noragami.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
The movie begins giving little background information on the story and immediately starts into a mission or order from the Queen to investigate suspicious serial mummification deaths. Kiyoharu is undercover, when Sebastian shows up to save him. Even with a shot to the head, Sebastian always comes through and saves his master as ordered.

After the opening credits, the movie returns to Kiyoharu Genpo’s mansion with a brief introduction to characters and more information is revealed about the cases and those so far murdered. Kiyoharu is female, but since the Genpo rule is only men are allowed to inherit, she is playing the role of an illegitimate son. As the Queen’s dog, Kiyoharu is being looked upon from the state level as a villainous noble.

Kiyoharu gets a chance to see a mummified victim and tries to collect evidence with the aid of Sebastian. Under orders, Sebastian traces the wine and cigar found on the body to an elite club that is by invitation only. With the aid of Kiyoharu’s aunt, Kiyoharu finds a way to get an invitation to the elite club. When she does get the actual invitation, the seal is the same that Kiyoharu remembers of who killed her parents and the burn on the back of her shoulder

At the party, Kiyoharu meets the host, Kujo, the head of a pharmaceutical company, who seems to know all about her, including her side job with the Queen. Kujo captures Kiyoharu while Sebastian investigates the pharmaceutical company. There he discovers a variety pills and takes them for himself to find out what they do. One of the newest drugs, Necrosis, introduces an airborne drug that causes a group of people to die a bloody death.

Kujo ends up dead with the likely culprit being an arms dealer named Shinozaki. Kiyoharu decides to pay Shinozaki a visit, but when she does Shinozaki is dead and isn’t the mastermind. She realizes that Necrosis is going to be released during a VIP ceremony. Kiyoharu, her aunt and her servant leave to stop the incident at VIP ceremony.

On the way, Kiyoharu learns that her aunt is not her friend, but her enemy. They are the ones that plan to release Necrosis and set up Kiyoharu as the culprit. Her aunt also knows she sold her soul to a devil. Sebastian shows up to save Kiyoharu and many truths are revealed about the drugs and that her aunt was first married to Kiyoharu’s father until she wasn’t able to bear children. The last truth to be revealed was that her aunt killed her parents.

On Kiyoharu’s orders, Sebastian tries to kill Kiyoharu’s aunt, but is faced with her chemically enhanced attendant. With a silver sword, the attendant thinks that he has the upper hand when he gets in a slice on Sebastian’s face. Just when Sebastian thinks he has the upper hand, the aunt threatens to kill Kiyoharu and then can’t devour her soul.

In the midst of the fighting, Kiyoharu releases one of the Necrosis vapor. With their antidotes removed, they lose the upper hand. However, Sebastian has an antidote for Kiyoharu and himself, but the aunt reveals all she knows in a desperate plea for her life. Kiyoharu spares her aunt’s life, but the greedy aunt takes the last two antidote pills. Sebastian, who has been trying to hold back his laughter, when he reveals that he, actually gave her a Necrosis pill.

Kiyoharu decides the save the masses instead of herself. Sebastian pretends to not care, but after she successfully saves others and passes out, he saves her anyway by giving her the antidote despite her will to die. Kiyoharu lives on to seek out who was behind the Necrosis incident and her family’s murders.

In Summary:
I’m not sure really sure how I feel about this film. I am actually a fan of Black Butler, so I was really looking forward to this live-action version, but I’m left feeling a bit unsure if I liked it all.

I’ll start on a positive note and say that the actors were good looking and technically fit the parts they played. I did like that there were many non-Japanese actors as minor characters and in the background. The reason I liked this is because the original story takes place in England, so it would make sense to have a lot of diversity. I also like that they made up a lot of detailed backgrounds and the fight scenes were fun to watch and well done, especially Rin’s.

Beyond that, I have a lot of questions. I’m sure someone could tell me, but why did the Phantomhive name have to change to Genpo? Why wasn’t the main character Ciel? Was it logistically too difficult to have such a young small male character as a lead? I’m fully aware this was an adaptation, but so many pieces were similar why not make it accurate? I also don’t understand why there is all this attention to background detail, but the main characters contacts are so bad? The eyes of Sebastian and Kiyoharu should be a focal point, but that detail was lost. Also, Kiyoharu wore clip-on earrings. Seems like a stupid detail to notice, but it was obvious and seemed to cheapen the story. Other changes that didn’t sit well were the lack of Finnian and the change of the maid’s name for Mey-Rin to just Rin. Also, there is a great fire instead of murders, his aunt is a good person and the style of Sebastian should have been sleeker looking.

With all these little pieces that I really didn’t like nor understand the rationale why the story was adapted as it was. I feel overall let down. I’ve watched some really good adapted live action movies, such as Kenshin and Tokyo Ghoul, but this really isn’t one of them.

Features:
Dolby TrueHD: Japanese 5:1, English 5:1, Subtitles


Content Grade: C-
Audio Grade: A-
Video Grade: B
Packaging Grade: B-
Menu Grade: B-
Extras Grade: C

Released By: Funimation
Release Date: May 2, 2017
MSRP: $34.98
Running Time: 119 Minutes
Video Encoding: 1080p High Definition
Aspect Ratio: 16:9 (HD Native)
Review Equipment:
Sony KDL70R550A 70″ LED 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation4 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer

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