Wednesday, August 18, 2010

National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation Blu-ray Review

Disc Size: 14.2 GB
Film Size: 13.9 GB
Film Rating: PG-13
Region: ABC
The Video
National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation is available on Blu-ray with a 1080p VC-1 video presentation. This release hit the Blu-ray format quite early in its life cycle, but revisiting the title proved to be even more disappointing.

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 on my projector system, but I did so on a large HDTV, which I suspect most viewers will be using. While it is true the film has never looked better, you really have to look deep to see the upgrade.

As mentioned, some moments can look good throughout....but that doesn't help makeup for the truly ugly ugly scenes throughout. The film is dated and definitely shows it, and I do think it could have looked at least slightly better. 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.

If you can find the release for a great price, then perhaps the minimal upgrade will be worth it. However, this is one title which I just can't recommend for the video presentation whatsoever as there really isn't much of an upgrade to be had. Maybe one day Warner will re-release the title with a better transfer and maybe find a better source too. 4.5/10.

The Audio
English 2.0 Dolby Digital, French 1.0 Dolby Digital and Spanish 1.0 Dolby Digital tracks are included. Optional subtitles included are English (SDH), English, French and Spanish.

I didn't expect a surround sound experience whatsoever due to the nature of the source and of course the audio encode itself, 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 if they included 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 when it has space to do so) is truly unacceptable. 4/10.

The 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 newly created extras for the 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. 2/10.

The Movie
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 and make the Christmas experience 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 have. If you have not seen the film (unlikely), you definitely need to see the movie in one way or another during the coming holidays.

Like any National Lampoon's Vacation film, the humor is outrageous and incredibly unbelievable, but that is WHY we LOVE them. 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. Personally, this one is a Christmas comedy gem. 10/10.

The Blu-news Summary
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.

If you don't own the film on DVD I would definitely say the Blu-ray release is 'Worth A Look' if found cheap as there is slight upgrade video-wise and have nothing to compare it to. If you own the DVD I suggest you 'Skip It' unless your a huge fan of the film like I am.

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