Thursday, February 4, 2010

Couples Retreat Blu-ray Review

Disc Size: 43.3 GB
Film Size: 35.2 GB
Film Rating: PG-13
Region: ABC
The Video
Couples Retreat comes to Blu-ray with a 1080p AVC/MPEG-4 video presentation. The majority of the film takes place on the island of Bora Bora, which definitely helps the visuals stand out among most new releases. The movie is certainly one of the most colorful that I have seen lately and those colors really make for fantastic eye candy.

The clarity and detail is also very impressive, we really get a great sense of the textures of environment, clothing and skin. The image also features a significant amount of depth, only feeling a bit more flat during darker-lit scenes.

The majority of the movie featured inky black levels and like a few previous Universal Studio films (Mamma Mia is one example), darker scenes tend to be a bit less impressive visually. I have no idea if it is mostly due to lighting, visual effects or the camera itself.

Regardless this is still one very strong presentation and Universal Studios Home Entertainment has provided a high quality transfer that is free of any technical issues. Couples Retreat looks fantastic in high-definition. 9/10.

The Audio
A 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track is included for Couples Retreat. This is a film that I had no idea what to expect audio-wise, taking place on an island it could have some fantastic surround use, but being a comedy it could also be quite front heavy.

What we get on this Blu-ray release is a pleasing mix of both. The film does fit the stereotype that comedies can be a bit less impressive audio-wise, but there are some good surround use moments to be heard with this mix.

Dialogue being key is presented in a very clear and crisp manner through the front center speaker. The music expands to the front left and right speakers, during club scenes it expands even more to give a music filled feel.

The highlight surround moments tend to be in more dangerous situations. There is the moment in which they are swimming with the sharks in which surround use becomes noticeably more active to give the sense of the sharks swimming around in circles.

Later we experience a quick but aggressive storm, which also manages to make good use of the surround sound speakers. The typical outdoor scene is not very effect heavy, but at times we do get some little added details such as the sound of the ocean in the background or birds in the sky.

Overall this is a very simple track, but I had no technical issues with the track itself. Everything that was important to be heard was very easy to understand. There were moments where the mix could have been a bit more immersive, but I have no real complaints. The mix will certainly not become demo material for anyone, but it presents the necessarily material about as clear as I could expect. 7.5/10.

The Extras

Disc 1:


Video Commentary (PiP)
With Director Billingsley and Actor/Co-Writer/Producer Vince Vaughn. They both watch the film alongside us and talk specifically about scenes, although there are moments where they don’t say much it is still an enjoyable Picture-in-Picture track.

Alternate Ending – Back in Chicago (2:56) (HD)
Includes optional commentary from Director Peter Billingsley and Actor/Co-Writer/Producer Vince Vaughn.

Gag Reel (3:22) (HD)
This is a pretty average gag reel with some decently funny moments.

Deleted Scenes (10:02) (HD)
Includes optional commentary from Director Peter Billingsley and Actor/Co-Writer/Producer Vince Vaughn. There are a total of nine deleted scenes, all presented in high-definition.

Extended Scenes (4:23) (HD)
Includes optional commentary from Director Peter Billingsley and Actor/Co-Writer/Producer Vince Vaughn. There are a total of three alternate scenes, all presented in high-definition.

Therapy’s Greatest Hits (5:32) (HD)
This feature has some very funny and likely improvised therapy moments not seen in the film.

Paradise Found: Filming in Bora Bora (6:19) (HD)
The crew talks about finding the perfect location for the film. They talk about the unique qualities of Bora Bora and feature a good amount of behind-the-scenes footage and interviews.

Behind the Yoga (4:27) (HD)
I absolutely loved the yoga scene in the film. Vince Vaughn talks about the yoga scene, his inspiration for the scene and the execution of the scene. We get some behind-the-scenes footage from filming and are mixed with some fun interviews.

My Scenes (BD-Live Enabled)
Bookmark your favorite scenes and return to them later.

Disc 2:

Digital Copy
Compatible with iTunes and Windows Media.

We get some very good extras on this release, they are short but they are all entertaining. The fact that everything is included in high-definition is also a plus. A Digital Copy is also included for those who would want to take this film on the go with them. 8/10.

The Movie
Couples Retreat is Directed by Peter Billingsley, yes the guy who played little Ralphie Parker in “A Christmas Story.” Peter Billingsley is known for being a producer behind several Vince Vaughn films including Wild West Comedy Show, The Break-Up and Four Christmases. This time around he serves as Director, a man with very little experience, having only directed one film (A Sacred Fire) in 1994.

Couples Retreat came and went quite quickly theatrically, at least from what I noticed. I was actually looking forward to viewing the film theatrically, but schedule never allowed. Now comes the Blu-ray release and critic response has been very rough for the movie.

Couples Retreat features a very impressive cast, with many likable faces from other popular comedies. There’s Vince Vaughn, a comedian which I find to be funny at times…but I won’t say much else about him. There is still a very impressive supporting cast which includes Jason Bateman, Jon Favreau, Faizon Love, Kristin Davis, Kristen Bell and Malin Akerman. We have some very funny guys and some very funny ladies involved in the project, and for the majority of the film they definitely bring the laughs.

The movie is about four couples who are also good friends. While all together at a party they are pitched an idea to go on a couples retreat, either they all go or none of them go as they must all chip in. Later in their homes they imagine all these fabulous nights and days filled with partying and water recreation and decide to go.

Once on the island they realize this is not the type of vacation they had in mind. The program includes waking up very early for therapy sessions, exhausting bike rides and swimming with sharks. After a couple of days, the idea of going to the singles island sounds so much better than what they are experiencing.

The film is a funny sex comedy, although everything is more implied or toned down (thus the PG-13 film rating). The yoga scene was something I found absolutely hilarious and I loved the character of Joey (Favreau) who tends to be the most sexually charged of them all. He surprisingly adds a lot to the film, especially since I found Vince Vaughn to be his usual annoying self.

The movie sounds like everything is great right? Wrong. I can’t get over how much the film falls apart the last 30 minutes of the film. The movie tries to get a bit more serious and ultimately falls flat, what makes it worse is the casting is a bit uncomfortable. The actors themselves are great, but no level of acting can make some of these people believable as couples who want to fix their marriages.

The film had a significant amount of promise despite a few weak moments throughout, but the dull finish felt like it was written last minute and filmed the same day. I don’t know how much thinking was put into the ending, but it seems like they had a good idea for a movie overall… they just had no idea how to wrap it up and keep it the same quality as the first half of the film.

Vince Vaughn also hurt the film more than all of the other actors combined; he has some funny moments but ultimately makes the film more annoying than it has to be. I am not on the Vaughn hater train at all, but I do tend to see many weaknesses when it comes to him and comedic acting.

The ending just really hurt the film and perhaps it runs a bit too long for its own good that the humor begins to really dry up. The movie is a recommended rental, but this is by far one of the most disappointing films I have seen lately. It’s a shame when a film has such talent behind it and high production values, but just doesn’t deliver like it should.

At the end of the day though, I’ve seen far worse films that bleed awful from beginning to end, which makes this one a bit more forgivable. Definitely give the film a chance if you are interested; just don’t go in with very high expectations. 6/10.

Blu-news Summary
Couples Retreat is far from what it could have been and while I find the ending to be a MAJOR disappointment, I did honestly find enjoyment from the first half of the film. If you are a fan of the film then this Blu-ray release is 'Highly Recommended.' But if you are new to the movie and are interested, I definitely recommend you ‘Give It A Rent' as this film will definitely get a mixed reception among viewers.

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