Sunday, December 13, 2009

The Mel Brooks Collection: To Be or Not To Be Blu-ray Review

Disc Size: 33.4 GB
Film Size: 28.1 GB
Film Rating: PG
Region: A

To Be or Not To Be comes to Blu-ray with a 1080p AVC/MPEG-4 video presentation. The film has a very mixed look, with the only thing present in all scenes is the very light layer of grain. Some shots are much softer than others, many which appear to be quite intentional.

We can go from one shot which is about as sharp and clear as one could expect, and then the next shot (particularly close-ups of Anne Bancroft) are as soft as can be. The high-def transfer does the best job it can with the source material, and I feel the presentation provided is of the highest quality.

The film is never going to be crystal clear, if you are a fan of the film already you will know of it's look and know not expect miracles from a high-def release. I am pleased that everything looks very natural, nothing looks manipulated or off to be honest. The transfer could have been much worse, we are given a very healthy encode and fairly clean print, which is definitely pleasing.

The colors on this release really enhance the look of the film in high-def, everything is so rich and pops off the screen, particularly when comapred to the DVD. Many moments really shine in high-def and it's certainly easy to appreciate the Blu-ray release as the film has never looked better. Everything is just improved from DVD in every possible way. 8/10.

A 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track is included and is quite impressive. The film is extremely dialogue heavy which makes the audio experience mostly front heavy. The film's fantastic music though expands to the surround area and is both beautiful and aggressive.

I am very pleased by the clarity of the film's music, and I thought the film's dialogue was defnitely lacking in comparison. It definitely felt dated, but was usually easy to understand. It may come off a tad disappointing, but not after you compare it to the lossy surround mix provided on the disc as well. The upgrade becomes instantly clear, I would definitely say the upgrade in quality between the high-def and lossy tracks is drastic.

To Be or Not To Be has never sounded better, and while it's not as perfect as I would have hoped, it's much better with high-def sound. I am extremely pleased by the audio track on the release, it's never sounded this good. 8/10.


Brooks and Bancroft: A Perfect Pair (14:49) (HD)
This recently produced featurette features cast and crew interviews in which they discuss the chemistry between Brooks and Bancroft both off-screen and on-screen. Mel Brooks shares memories of his wife and her ideas for the film. It's a very informative yet touching new feature that any fan will love.

How Serious Can Mel Brooks Really Get? (2:46) (SD)
An old promotional featurette, which features comments from Mel Brooks about this new film.

Profiles (SD)
Mel Brooks
Anne Bancroft
Charles Dunning

To Be or Not To Be: That is the Trivia!
A pop-up trivia track which plays while you view the film, see fun facts about To Be or Not To Be and the cast involved.

Isolated Score Track
Presented with 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, watch the film listening only to the film's score.

Theatrical Trailer (HD)

Mel Brooks Trailers (HD)
High Anxiety
History of the World Part 1
Robin Hood: Men In Tights
Silent Movie
Young Frankenstein

The new features on this release are great. The new featurette is certainly my favorite, it's nice to hear the stories from production. The trivia track is very fun and informative for those who care for them, the inclusion of the isolated score track and theatrical trailer is also nice. The quality of everything included is great. 7/10.

The Packaging
Blu-news Summary
To Be or Not To Be is a remake (some would call it an homage) of Ernst Lubitsch's To Be or Not To Be from 1942. I have to be honest though and say that I have never had the opportunity to see the original and the DVD release appears to now be discontinued.

This remake is directed by Alan Johnson, known mostly for being a choreographer over film director. Despite the lack in Directing experience, I think the final product is quite amazing. The musical numbers are fantastic and the regular scenes are also well done.

Mel Brooks and the late Anne Bancroft are both delightful in the film, the chemisty between them is amazing, a perfect couple both off-screen and on-screen. Mel Brooks stars as Frederick Bronski, a Polich actor while Anne Bancroft plays his actress wife.

The film co-stars Charles Durning who plays the SS colonel, a role in which he was nominated for an Oscar in 1983 for Best Supporting Actor. The performances in the film are all of the highest quality and it was definitely recognized. While some moments in the film are a bit flat, the comedy in this movie is hilarious. 8/10.

The Blu-ray release is fantastic, featuring a good video presentation and fantastic improvement in audio quality. Extras are entertaining as well, especially the new featurette. The film is not available as a standard Blu-ray release, it is one of nine films included in The Mel Brooks Collection, which is 'Highly Recommended.'

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