Saturday, December 12, 2009

The Mel Brooks Collection: High Anxiety Blu-ray Review

Disc Size: 32.2 GB
Film Size: 24.3 GB
Film Rating: PG
Region: A

High Anxiety makes it's Blu-ray debut as part of The Mel Brooks Collection. The film has a 1080p AVC/MPEG-4 video presentation that is less than stellar, but also not terrible. I am pleased to report that the presentation is very grain heavy, DNR and edge enhancement are not present on this release.

While the heavy grain will definitely distract some viewers who expect a crystal clear picture with even catalog titles, it's certainly accurate to every previous release of the film. Detail isn't always too impressive, but there is a clear upgrade in overall sharpness and clarity.

Wider shots are generally more impressive than closeups, as closeups tend to become a bit more soft looking and lacking in detail. Colors on the release are good, no colors really stand out, but they are not drab or dull whatsoever.

The film has a very healthy sized encode, and the print isn't as dirty as I expected it to be. While it is grainy, dirt and specks are nowhere near as present. Overall this is a fine video presentation free of any technical issues, the film doesn't always feature the best detail but I do not blame the high-def transfer in this situation. It's not going to amaze anyone, but I really don't see the film looking much better than it does now. 6/10.

A 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track is included for the release. Knowing the limitations of the audio, I wasn't expecting too much out of the surround sound. What we do get is no surround use at all, which definitely makes the mix feel very dated despite it's already known limitations.

Dialogue is usually quite clear and easy to understand, always front and center. Almost all audio comes through the center speaker, discreetly expanding to the front left and right speakers at times. The majority of effects and music do come through front and center only though.

The mix definitely feels lacking but there's only so much that can be done with the audio elements. I guess it's a pleasing track, just don't expect to be very impressed as it certainly shows it's age from beginning to end. I do appreciate the film getting the high-def audio treatment though, which I'm sure any viewer will be happy about. 6/10.


Hitchcock and Mel: Spoofing the Master of Suspense (29:21) (HD)
A new featurette about both Alfred Hitchcock and Mel Brooks is included, the cast is back for a look back at the film. Mel Brooks talks about meeting with Alfred Hitchcock about the script and his ideas for the film. They talk about beginning production, casting and much more.

See how Mel Brooks ended up playing the leading man, the granddaughter of Alfred Hitchcock also shares stories. This is a very enjoyable, informative and hilarious featurette that any fan of the film will absolutely love. This is fantastic and keeps this from being an average Blu-ray port.

The 'Am I Very, Very Nervous?' Test
This is a test you take while you watch the film, asking you a series of questions that tests your anxiety levels. This is very funny test presented in a very creative way.

Don't Get Anxious! The Trivia of Hitchcock
A pop-up trivia track regarding Hitchcock is available while you view the film. This trivia track is actually quite fun and informative.

Isolated Score Track
Listen to the score alone while you view the film, presented as a 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio trac,.

Theatrical Trailer (2:41) (HD)

Mel Brooks Trailers (HD)
History of the World Part 1
Robin Hood: Men in Tights
Silent Movie
To Be or Not To Be
Young Frankenstein

The extras on this release are much better than I expected. The new featurette is fantastic and presented in high-definition, it's a must see for any fan of 'High Anxiety'. The test and trivia track are fun and good extras, while the Isolated score track is also a very welcome feature on the release. The theatrical trailer for the film is also included and presented in high-definition. There are not very many extras on this release, but the high quality of what is included makes this a very solid package. 8/10.

The Packaging
Blu-news Summary
High Anxiety combines the humor of Mel Brooks with the suspense of a Hitchcock film, although not necessarily as amazing. The film's lead actor is Mel Brooks himself who plays Dr. Robert Thorndyke, a man who gets a job as a director of the Psycho-Neurotic Institute for the Very, Very Nervous.

The film is much more hilarious if you have seen the many classic Hitchcock films, the humor can be hit or miss at times, but it's usually more funny than it is disappointing. Despite the film not being his best work (which both fans and critics agree), I definitely enjoy it very much.

The characters in the film are absolutely hilarious, mostly due to the fantastic actors playing them. I really think a lot of it would not have been as funny had it not been cast the way it was. The film has a few dull moments when it comes to humor, but it's certainly forgivable by the end. It's not the best film from Mel Brooks, but any fan will still enjoy it very much. 8/10.

The Blu-ray release is a bit average, featuring average video and audio presentations, although I'm not sure how much more could have been done to make them any better. There are not too many extras on this release, but the new look back featurette alone makes it worth every penny if you are a fan of the film.

The film is not available as a standalone Blu-ray release, but is included in the Mel Brooks Collection. Due to this I can't give the Blu-ray a standalone recommendation. The collection though is 'Highly Recommended' to any fan of Mel Brooks.

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