Monday, November 9, 2009

National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation: 20th Anniversary Collector's Edition Blu-ray Review

Disc Size: 14.2 GB
Film Size: 13.9 GB
Film Rating: PG-13
Region: Free
Video
When I had first heard Warner was releasing Christmas Vacation once again in a collector's edition, I had hope that meant we would be getting a new transfer on the release. Unfortunately that is not the case, we still get the same 1080p VC-1 video presentation that was featured on the previous Blu-ray release (Although they did take the time to provide new disc art for the disc itself).

The release is definitely one of the worst looking titles on the format, which I blame mostly on the source, but a bit on the encode size as well. It's definitely the best the film has ever looked. The presentation can actually look quite decent at times, but when you pop in the DVD for a direct comparison is when the Blu-ray truly disappoints. The best the film ever looked does not say much in this regard.

I had the most recent DVD release on hand, hoping this title at least had a significant upgrade on Blu-ray. When I popped in the disc and did a direct comparison, I found very very little differences for the majority of the film. I did not compare this film specifically on my projector system, but I did so on a fairly large HDTV, which I suspect most people mostly use. While it is true the film has never looked better, you really have to look deep to see the upgrade.

The upgrade seen with most releases, even minor, just wasn't really so drastic on this release, in fact it may make you regret spending the money on this Blu-ray release that doesn't even feature an upgrade in audio or extras... 5/10.

Audio
A Dolby Digital 2.0 audio track is included and is dull and feels quite flat overall. I didn't expect a surround sound experience whatsoever due to the nature of the source, but it's a shame we are stuck with an audio track that is no better than the DVD release. Considering there was plenty of space on the disc, it would have been nice to have been given an uncompressed audio track.

Dialogue was fine, music was fine, but everything just felt overwhelmingly lifeless. There is definitely an improved level in overall quality and clarity that comes without compression, and is evident on most releases no matter the source. I definitely feel we would have experienced a slightly better quality had Warner taken the time to provide a lossless track.

The track is fine for what it is, but no uncompressed audio on a format that makes it possible and especially has space to do so is quite unacceptable. 4/10.

Extras

Audio Commentary
by Randy Quaid, Beverly D'Angelo, Johnny Galecki, Miriam Flynn, Director Jeremiah Chechik and Producer Matty Simmons.

Theatrical Trailer (2:22) (SD)

There are no actual new disc extras included in this '20th Anniversary Edition' Blu-ray release, but at least the commentary is fun and informative, something I always enjoy listening to. This is a disappointing supplements package, but at least nothing is missing from previous releases. 3/10.

The Packaging
The 20th Anniversary Collector's Edition comes in a collectible tin and includes the Blu-ray release with brand new cover art and a new dark green case which compliment each other nicely. Also included is snow powder, a Santa hat, four drink coasters, a button, as well as a Blu-ray exclusive Moose mug (which is extremely small).

Overall the packaging is neat, and it looks great alongside the 'A Christmas Story' Blu-ray tin release.Blu-news Summary
Christmas Vacation is one of my absolute favorite Holiday films of all time. How I miss the old National Lampoon films, which the brand has now stooped to the lowest levels of film possible. Chevy Chase and cast are hilarious in this film though, and make the film so much fun.

I have a wide-range of Holiday favorites, but this release definitely is at the top with a few others, including A Christmas Story, Charlie Brown Christmas, It's A Wonderful Life and White Christmas. These are all films I consider classics.

While not everyone has embraced National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation, the majority of viewers do. If you have not seen the film (unlikely), you definitely need to see the movie in one way or another during the coming holidays.

If you have seen the film already, you definitely know you feel already. Love it or like it, I doubt many actually dislike or dare I say hate the film. 10/10.

The Blu-ray release is disappointing in all aspects, I thought Blu-ray was about upgrade, but this Blu-ray release will have you thinking otherwise. To be honest after this release, I don't see another re-release anytime soon if at all on the format.

The new package is fun and looks great on a shelf, but adds nothing truly impressive to this release. If you don't own the film on DVD I would definitely recommend the Blu-ray release as there is slight upgrade video-wise, but if you own the DVD I suggest you 'Skip It' unless your a huge fan like I am of the film.

Additional Screenshots:

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