Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Dirty Dancing: Limited Keepsake Edition Blu-ray Review

Disc Size: 44.0 GB
Film Size: 30.5 GB
Film Rating: PG-13
Region: AThe Video
Dirty Dancing revisits Blu-ray in a keepsake edition with a 1080p AVC/MPEG-4 video presentation. The packaging claims the title is newly remastered, which is likely true, but I can’t say I am very impressed by the results. Fortunately this release is the release that should have happened to begin with; free of the series issues of the 20th anniversary Blu-ray release.

This time around Lionsgate went to Radius 60 rather than Panasonic for their compression and authoring and the results are significantly better. The film now looks much more natural and film-like, which perhaps may underwhelm a few viewers.

While I thought the previous Blu-ray release was horrendous, I actually liked the boost in certain colors; it made the film look a bit less dated. In comparison, this new release looks far more natural which at the same time makes the movie look a lot more flat.

The levels of detail are still fairly unimpressive, but there are some sharp and very clear moments throughout. Grain is present throughout, all natural and welcome. Dirt and specks are also quite active throughout the presentation though which is definitely disappointing for being remastered.

The serious issues from the original release are gone and I’m very grateful for that. The film could be a bit more cleaned up though. While I do wish colrs were a bit bolder, we do get to see detail we didn’t see before due to the darker push in colors, etc. One is example is the first screenshot, in which we can now see the detail in Jennifer Grey’s hair.

I did notice an issue and I am unsure if both are incorrect or one is the intended look of the film. If you compare my screenshots between both reviews, the one with Patrick Swayze dancing for example. You will see that the original release features both of his feet in the shot while this new release doesn’t. You will also notice that the original release is missing video from the top which is featured on this new release. Neither presentation shows the entire picture, which I don’t know if previous releases had the same problem or if one is the intended look of the film.

Dirty Dancing is a film from the 80’s, most high-def transfers from the 80’s are a bit softer in general so I anticipated it to look about the same. The Blu-ray presentation is definitely satisfying, but don’t expect to be blown away by the quality just because it is a 1080p source used this time around. 6/10.

The Audio
An English 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track is the lossless option, also included is an English 5.1 Dolby Digital EX track. Optional subtitles include English, English SDH and Spanish. The audio mastering was done by P0P Sound and I actually think the audio quality is impressive at times. The mix is pretty much recycled from the previous Blu-ray release; they just used a different codec.

Okay, so yes the movie sounds dated. Dialogue is not always as clear as I would have hoped, but the music is what really adds so much to the mix. From the very first song, I found the clarity to be very impressive and filled with life.

The final dance number for example has never sounded better. The film’s surround moments are few and far between, but there are a notable amount of surround effects placed throughout to make it quite the decent 7.1 mix.

I’m very pleased by the audio mix on this release. While the mix didn’t really immerse me, the music moments certainly sounded better than I’ve ever heard the film before. The dance numbers are aggressive and filled with life like only a lossless soundtrack can make happen.

I think most viewers will be more than satisfied by the audio mix present on the release. Dialogue levels are fine and do leave a bit to be desired, but for a low budget 80’s film it doesn’t sound bad at all. I thought the audio quality was quite impressive. 7.5/10.

The Extras

Disc 1:


Audio Commentary
With Writer/Co-Producer Eleanor Bergstein.

Audio Commentary
With Kenny Ortego, Miranda Garrison, Jeff Jur, Hilary Rosenfeld and David Chapman.

Trivia Track
The trivia track from the 20th anniversary edition Blu-ray release is also included on this Keepsake edition.

Kellerman’s: Reliving The Locations of the Film (12:24) (SD)

Dirty Dancing: The Phenomenon (13:44) (SD)
The crew looks back at production from casting and share memories from filming.

In Memoriam (1:58) (SD)
This is a feature highlighting the many that have passed away since the film.

A Tribute to Patrick Swayze (15:16) (SD)
Patrick Swayze’s brother and cast remember Patrick Swayze and his talents.

Emile Ardolino Tribute (13:28) (SD)
Miranda Garrison and crew remember Emile Ardolino.

Tribute to Jerry Orbach (6:34) (SD)
This is an entertaining tribute to Jerry Orbach and his long career.

The Rhythm of the Dancing (4:08) (SD)
Patrick Swayze talks about working on music and writing ‘She’s like the Wind.’

Fan Reel (1:42) (SD)
This is a series of images and video from fans of the film, big fans of the movie will likely find entertainment from this.

James and Julia Derbyshire: Dancing Across the Pond (4:41) (SD)
A couple talks about the amount of recognition their YouTube video received, including an appearance on the Oprah show.

Dancing To the Music (16:33) (SD)
The crew talks about the music in the film and how certain things came to happen, including the final dance number.

Theatrical Trailer (2:25) (HD)

Dirty Dancing With Patrick Swayze (12:29) (SD)
Patrick Swayze remembers the film and talks about all levels of production.

Eleanor Bergstein Script
See images of the actual script, well the pieces which exist.

Outtakes (:38) (SD)
The outtakes are presented in standard-definition this time around.

Music Videos (SD)
Hungry Eyes
She’s Like the Wind
(I’ve had) The Time of My Life

Multi-Angle Dance Sequences
View certain dance sequences from different angles not featured in the film.

Interviews (SD)
Jennifer Grey
Eleanor Bergstein
Miranda Garrison
Kenny Ortega

Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey Screen Test Montage (SD)

Jennifer Grey Screen Test Comparisons (SD)

Deleted Scenes (SD)
Eleven deleted scenes are included.

Alternate Scenes (SD)
Three alternate scenes are included.

Extended Scenes (SD)
Six extended scenes are included.

Vintage Featurette (6:45) (SD)
This is an old behind-the-scenes look of the film featuring on-set interviews prior to release.

Photo Gallery

Dirty Dancing Live In Concert (1:22:57) (SD)
Dirty Dancing Live in Concert is included in whole, presented in standard definition.

Bookmarks
Save your favorite scenes and return to them later.

Disc 2:

Digital Copy of the film
Compatible with iTunes and Windows Media.

The Packaging
The movie is packaged in a limited keepsake edition, which is DVD-sized packaging. The box set is actually of very good quality and includes a few things inside as well.

$50 Coupon
$50 off towards a 2-night stay at Mountain Lake Hotel, also known as The Real Kellerman’s from Dirty Dancing.

Hardcover Book
A small hardcover book is included, featuring all-color photos and pages. The book looks great and will easily please fans of the film.

Unfortunately the extras are all presented in standard-definition, aside from the theatrical trailer. This is especially disappointing as the deleted scenes/alternate scenes, outtakes, etc were all in true high-definition on the previous Blu-ray release. There are additional features this time around, but obviously sacrifices in quality were made to get them all on the disc. The Digital Copy is a nice addition though.

Overall I am pleased but can’t help but feel somewhat disappointed that some extras are inferior to the overall inferior previous release. Had this been a 2-disc Blu-ray set, I would have been much more satisfied. 8/10.

The Movie
Dirty Dancing, love it or hate it, there is no denying that the film is one of the most popular films from the 80’s, featuring a love story with a timeless soundtrack that viewers fell in love with or absolutely hated. Featuring songs such as ‘(I’ve had) The Time of my Life’ and lines like ‘Nobody puts Baby in the corner.’

The film was a low budget film which has become quite the success throughout time, even younger audiences and new generations are falling in love with the movie. The film is cheesy and totally 80’s, but I think it adds charm to the movie as a whole.

The film is directed by Emile Ardolino and written by Eleanor Bergstein. But perhaps most importantly, the choreography comes from the fantastic Mr. Kenny Ortega. The man is truly great at what he does and really helped make the movie what it is. What would Dirty Dancing be without the final dance scene? It would probably be just a low budget film with a small following.

Kenny Ortega is a man who I have had the opportunity to know and see him work on the set of High School Musical 3. Recent films in which he has served as both a choreographer and director include High School Musical 3: Senior Year and Michael Jackson’s This Is It. The man can come up with something great in only seconds of thinking and I was just very impressed by his talent and what he brings to the films in which he works on.

The movie stars the late Patrick Swayze as well as Jennifer Grey. Patrick Swayze is a great dancer and actor and he brings his best to the film. Aside from a few cheesy lines, etc, I really was impressed by his performance throughout. Jennifer Grey is a semi-attractive girl at the time and creates a very likeable lead character as well.

The movie’s music and dancing is what people really love about the movie though. The music makes the film stand out. When I hear ‘Hungry Eyes’ or any other song from the film I can’t help but automatically relate it to Dirty Dancing.

The movie is very predictable and the story isn’t anything that redefines the romance film genre. The film is a cheesy fun movie and is quite entertaining even today. The film is certainly one of the more memorable chick flicks of all time, really standing the test of time with some of the most memorable music moments in a film. 8/10.

The Blu-news Summary
Dirty Dancing is a fun but cheesy chick flick. The Blu-ray release is improved this time around, featuring a pleasing video and audio presentation. The extras are good but I am a bit disappointed that they are almost all in standard-definition. Overall this release is ‘Recommended’ to big fans of the film.

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Dirty Dancing (20th Anniversary Edition) Blu-ray Review

Disc Size: 46.6 GB
Film Size: 24.9 GB
Film Rating: PG-13
Region: AThe Video

Dirty Dancing made a Blu-ray debut with a 1080p AVC/MPEG-4 video presentation. Panasonic Hollywood Blu-ray Authoring Center did the authoring and compression services for this initial release. The video presentation is filled with issues, many that have to do with the dirty source and others which could have easily been prevented.

The film appears to be from a 1080i source which is mastered as if it were a 1080p presentation. Jaggies are present throughout, becoming much clearer the bigger you go screen-wise. The movie features some hideous amounts of aliasing, certain moments which are just downright dreadful.

There are certain moments in the movie which I thought looked good though, despite the serious issues. Certain moments featured a nice level of clarity like only a high-def image can bring. Most moments are filled with problems though and really can’t be missed.

I actually dug the colors, aside from a few moments which felt very pushed and unnatural. Black levels on the other hand were quite disappointing at times, always leaving at least a bit to be desired. The print is also quite dirty, featuring dirty and specks at a constant rate.

The release is certainly one of the more disappointing efforts on the format. How this made it through quality control is beyond me. The presentation is an improvement from DVD though; it is just a shame the release was not done right like it should have been.

The presentation will likely be found acceptable by some and absolutely hated by others. Like I said, there are moments which do feature a great high-def image, but with so many problems in between it really makes the transfer feel that much more inconsistent.

Bottom line is that there are issues that should not have made it past quality control, yes certain moments look nice, but the mistakes on this video presentation are just too many. You know there are problems when Jennifer Grey's face looks like stirred up cottage cheese. 3/10.

The Audio
A 7.1 PCM (Uncompressed) audio track is the lossless option included. Also included is a 5.1 Dolby Digital Surround EX track. Optional subtitles include English and Spanish. The audio mastering was done by P0P Sound and I actually think the audio quality is impressive at times.

Okay, so yes the movie sounds dated. Dialogue is not always as clear as I would have hoped, but the music is what really adds so much to the mix. From the very first song, I found the clarity to be very impressive and filled with life.

The final dance number for example has never sounded better. The film’s surround moments are few and far between, but there are a notable amount of surround effects placed throughout to make it quite the decent 7.1 mix.

I’m very pleased by the audio mix on this release. While the mix didn’t really immerse me, the music moments certainly sounded better than I’ve ever heard the film before. The dance numbers are aggressive and filled with life like only a lossless soundtrack can make happen.

I think most viewers will be more than satisfied by the audio mix present on the release. Dialogue levels are fine and do leave a bit to be desired, but for a low budget 80’s film it doesn’t sound bad at all. I thought the audio quality was quite impressive. 7.5/10.

The Extras

Audio Commentary
With Eleanor Bergstein.

Audio Commentary
With Kenny Ortega, Miranda Garrison, Jeff Jur, Hilary Rosenfeld and David Chapman.

Dirty Dancing 20th Anniversary Pop-Up Trivia Track

Dirty Dancing with Patrick Swayze (12:30) (HD)
Patrick Swayze remembers the film and talks about all levels of production.

Tribute to Jerry Orbach (6:34) (HD)
This is an entertaining tribute to Jerry Orbach and his long career.

Deleted Scenes (HD)
Eleven deleted scenes are included and are presented in true high-definition.

Alternate Scenes (HD)
Three alternate scenes are included and are presented in true high-definition.

Extended Scenes (HD)
Six extended scenes are included and are presented in true high-definition.

Outtakes (:41) (HD)
A very quick gag reel, but is surprisingly included in actual high-definition.

Original Screen Tests (HD)

Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey Screen Test Montage (HD)

Jennifer Grey Screen Test Comparisons (HD)

Multi Angle Dancing Sequences (HD)
View certain dance sequences from different angles not featured in the film.

The Classic Story on Stage (13:21) (HD)
Go behind-the-scenes of the stage show version of Dirty Dancing.

Photo Gallery
The photo gallery is presented in slideshow form with music.

Interviews (HD)
Jennifer Grey
Eleanor Bergstein
Kenny Ortega

Music Videos (HD)
Hungry Eyes
She’s Like The Wind
(I’ve Had) The Time of my Life

Emile Ardolino Tribute (13:31) (HD)
Miranda Garrison and crew remember Emile Ardolino.

The disc is filled with extras and what isn’t naturally in high-definition is upconverted to 1080i. The extras are quite great and take up the entire disc. There are plenty of features to see to say the least; it just would have been nice if the features were a bit more updated. That being said, I don’t think anyone could be disappointed by the bonus features included. 8/10.

The Movie
Dirty Dancing, love it or hate it, there is no denying that the film is one of the most popular films from the 80’s, featuring a love story with a timeless soundtrack that viewers fell in love with or absolutely hated. Featuring songs such as ‘(I’ve had) The Time of my Life’ and lines like ‘Nobody puts Baby in the corner.’

The film was a low budget film which has become quite the success throughout time, even younger audiences and new generations are falling in love with the movie. The film is cheesy and totally 80’s, but I think it adds charm to the movie as a whole.

The film is directed by Emile Ardolino and written by Eleanor Bergstein. But perhaps most importantly, the choreography comes from the fantastic Mr. Kenny Ortega. The man is truly great at what he does and really helped make the movie what it is. What would Dirty Dancing be without the final dance scene? It would probably be just a low budget film with a small following.

Kenny Ortega is a man who I have had the opportunity to know and see him work. Recent films in which he has served as both a choreographer and director include High School Musical 3: Senior Year and Michael Jackson’s This Is It. The man can come up with something great in only seconds of thinking and I was just very impressed by his talent and what he brings to the films in which he works on.

The movie stars the late Patrick Swayze as well as Jennifer Grey. Patrick Swayze is a great dancer and actor and he brings his best to the film. Aside from a few cheesy lines, etc, I really was impressed by his performance throughout. Jennifer Grey is a semi-attractive girl at the time and creates a very likeable lead character as well.

The movie’s music and dancing is what people really love about the movie though. The music makes the film stand out. When I hear ‘Hungry Eyes’ or any other song from the film I can’t help but automatically relate it to Dirty Dancing.

The movie is very predictable and the story isn’t anything that redefines the romance film genre. The film is a cheesy fun movie and is quite entertaining even today. The film is certainly one of the more memorable chick flicks of all time, really standing the test of time with some of the most memorable music moments in a film. 8/10.

The Blu-news Summary
Dirty Dancing is a cheesy but fun chick flick. The Blu-ray release features a dreadful video presentation and good audio mix. The extras are also very enjoyable, but perhaps they could have been updated a bit. The video features some issues that cannot be excused which unfortunately are the reason I say ‘Skip It.

Additional Screenshots:

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Monday, April 26, 2010

Avatar Blu-ray Review

Disc Size: 46.6 GB
Film Size: 41.8 GB
Film Rating: PG-13
Region: AThe Video

Avatar comes to Blu-ray with a 1080p AVC/MPEG-4 video presentation. The film’s high-def encode takes up almost the entire disc, something that was also done with South Pacific and Gone With The Wind. Having seen Avatar several times prior to the Blu-ray release, I knew the Blu-ray release would be a sight to see.

The Blu-ray release is stunning, particularly viewed on my high-def projector setup. The image features an extremely impressive level of depth and features a natural 3D pop throughout. Colors were always pleasing and black levels were nice and inky throughout.

Comparing the Blu-ray release to the included DVD made the release only that more impressive. While the DVD has some quite impressive moments compared to most DVD, it really cannot compare to the drastic upgrade in quality.

Avatar’s 1:78:1 aspect ratio on the Blu-ray release also allowed the film to feel like you’re looking through a window at times and truly opened up the presentation. Avatar features an extremely impressive level of technology and on Blu-ray it only makes it that much better. 10/10.

The Audio
An English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track is included as the lossless option. Other audio tracks include English Dolby Surround, English 5.1 Descriptive Audio, Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital, French 5.1 Dolby Digital and Portuguese 5.1 Dolby Digital. Optional subtitles include English, Spanish and Portuguese.

The audio on this release is very impressive and one of my new favorite mixes on the Blu-ray format. The film’s audio not only features an impressive level of clarity, but is also one of the more immersive tracks on the format.

The film’s sound design is impressive even on DVD, but everything is a drastic improvement on Blu-ray. Dialogue is always easy to understand and well balanced even during the louder action scenes. The film’s special effects pay attention to every speaker and really immerse you into the movie.

The film’s beautiful score by James Horner comes through beautifully; it actually gave me chills at times. While the mix is a bit similar to past scores from James Horner, there is no denying the beauty of the music or the quality.

Avatar on Blu-ray sounds great and is an easy improvement from DVD. There is no way one could be turned off by the quality of the mix. Perhaps there are a few more impressive mixes on Blu-ray, but that shouldn’t keep Avatar from receiving a top level score as it still manages to be one of the more impressive mixes on Blu-ray. 10/10.

The Extras

DVD Copy of the film

Aside from a DVD copy of the film, no other extras are included. The movie will be re-released in November on Blu-ray in a 4-disc set. The title is basically available now for those who just want to own the film rather than wait for a deluxe edition.

There is an online bonus feature site, which you can register at www.avatarmovie.com/register with your included registration code. Registration gains you access to first-looks and sneak peeks, content updates and future money-saving offers. Supposedly new features will be available this way throughout the year. The DVD copy being included is a nice addition and keeps the extras from being non-existent. 2/10.

The Movie
James Cameron’s Avatar is a movie I have heard about for a long time, but to be honest I never followed production news or anything. I even remember thinking it was a film version of The Last Airbender (which is opening this year) so I didn’t really care.

How I missed the memo about what Avatar was really about will forever be unknown, I actually didn’t even know much about the movie or it’s hype until a couple of weeks prior to it’s opening. That being said, once I watched the theatrical trailer I was more than excited to see to the movie.

I had a chance to see the movie in many different forms, both 3D and 2D. The IMAX presentation of Avatar was impressive and I can see why the film had the box office success that it did, it makes you want to go back and see it again in 3D.

The 3D effects were easily one of the most impressive I have ever seen, it added to the movie at times and it became one of the most fun times I have ever had seeing a movie. The movie was extremely expensive to make (perhaps the most expensive) and it shows. The effects and the settings are breathtaking, but of course that doesn’t come cheap.

I love Avatar, I truly do. The film has been bashed quite a bit by critics, although still received a very positive response for the most part. The film won Best Picture at the Golden Globes though (although means nothing in comparison to the Oscars).

James Cameron is known for making big epic films and Avatar is no different. In fact I loved Avatar so much that it easily ranks among my favorite James Cameron films. Some critics have found issue with what they believe to be a big political message throughout, but really I didn’t find it too bad.

The movie is all about good and evil in a way, something we see in ourselves every day. Greed is a big reason for issues in the world, but there is also plenty of good. While the message could be seen as a political one with things currently happening in the world, I didn’t really think that was the true intention of the film.

The movie’s storyline isn’t very original. I’ve seen comparisons to Pocahontas, Ferngully and Dances with Wolves. That being said, I thought the movie took bits and made a much better film, although I do love all the compared films. The film’s massive environments and unique locations make the movie stand out and adds a very unique quality to the film.

Avatar is one which I can see the flaws, acting isn’t always amazing particularly with the lead actor, etc. Regardless, I still think the movie is awesome in every aspect and it is definitely the type of movie I am always up for watching. The film is a popcorn flick done right, not awful like Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (which I have never been able to make it through).

While not everyone will embrace Avatar like I did, I have no problem admitting that I loved the movie. The characters were great and the world was like nothing I have ever seen before. I do think very highly of James Cameron and I love the drastic push in technology that came with Avatar, surely affecting films to come.

As stated, I do understand the film is flawed. If we are going by purely fun factor, I would give the film a perfect score, 10 out of 10. That being said, there are some cheesy acting moments and many things are not explained in the movie.

Perhaps the many questions left by the film will be explained in Avatar 2 and likely Avatar 3 when the time comes. The movie is extremely fun and ranks among one of my favorite titles this year, but it wouldn’t be fair for me to give the movie a perfect score when it does have a few issues that even I can see. 8/10.

The Blu-news Summary
Avatar is some of the most fun you will have watching a movie this year. The Blu-ray release only adds to the experience with stunning visuals and audio. The extras are not there this time around with a 4-disc set coming in November. While I can understand some will want to wait to own Avatar until November, this release is certainly ‘Recommended’ to all.

Additional Screenshots:

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Thursday, April 22, 2010

The Basketball Diaries Blu-ray Review

Disc Size: 23.2 GB
Film Size: 20.2 GB
Film Rating: R
Region: AThe Video
The Basketball Diaries make a Blu-ray debut with a 1080p AVC/MPEG-4 video presentation. The cover art alone looks dated, so I expected a semi-dated look to the film in high-definition. While the film is definitely soft like many catalog releases on Blu-ray, the image still features plenty to love throughout.

Certain moments of the film looked as if they were shot slightly out of focus, something that happens in movies from time to time. That being said, when a scene is in focus the results are quite surprising. The image features a healthy layer of grain throughout as well.

Colors are good and at times impressive for a catalog release. Black levels are slightly disappointing, featuring some slight crushing during darker scenes in the film. The image also features a nice level of depth at times, mixed with a nice amount of detail. The presentation is cleaned up a bit and not as dirty as I anticipated.

The Basketball Diaries while not among the best catalog releases we have seen on Blu-ray is easy to love. The presentation is true to the source; it wasn’t altered or scrubbed of its natural film grain. The image can look mediocre at times, but it can also be quite impressive.

Personally I think Palm Pictures has provided a top notch transfer for a film that really could never be reference material on any format. The film actually looks better than I expected and I have to say I’m quite impressed by the quality. Not everyone will embrace the more out of focus moments throughout, but it has always been part of the movie. 7/10.

The Audio
A English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio and English PCM 2.0 Stereo are the audio options included on the disc. For the record, there are no subtitle options available for the film or bonus features whatsoever. The audio mix is decent, but leaves a lot to be desired.

The dialogue in the movie is generally very crisp and clear. It’s a good thing that dialogue is always easy to understand as there are no subtitle options available. The film’s music and effects is very front heavy, coming through the front left and right speakers.

Surround sound effects are there, mostly used for panning effects which travel lightly. While those surround moments are nice and do add to the surround experience, I rarely felt immersed by the audio experience on this title.

The movie is not one which demands a surround sound experience, but effects could have been spread out a bit more to create an environment for the scenes in the film. Overall the mix does its job, but I certainly wish it would have been more immersive than it is. It isn’t quite lifeless, but it comes close a few times. I do give props to the studio for at least including lossless audio options, a must regardless of the mix. 6/10.

The Extras

Interviews with Cast and Crew (9:40) (SD)
Leonardo Dicaprio as Jim Carroll
Mark Wahlberg as Mickey
James Madio as Pedro
Patrick McGaw as Nuetron
Ernie Hudson as Reggie Porter
Lorraine Bracco as Jim’s Mother
Bruno Kirby as Swifty
Scott Kalvert, Director
Liz Heller, Producer

Jim Carroll Interview & Reading (6:15) (SD)
The interview was recorded in Toronto, December 1981. The “Just Visiting” read at the St. Mark’s Poetry Project, Ukrainian Hall, NYC, 1981.

Palm Previews (3:32) (SD)
Previews for other Palm Pictures releases.

The extras on this release are good. I didn’t expect any new features for this catalog title and we don’t get anything new here. The interviews are from the time the movie was produced but are quite informative and fun. There could have been more, but there isn’t. 3/10.

The Movie
The Basketball Diaries is a film based on the 1978 memoir of the same name written by the late author/musician Jim Carroll. The memoir comes from diaries which Jim Carroll kept at an early age. His memoir talks about many of his experiences growing up as a young teenager in New York City. He captures his many experiences with basketball and eventually drug and sexual experiences.

The film version came later in 1995, starring a young Leonardo DiCaprio as Jim. The movie is quite similar to the memoir and we follow Jim go from his big dreams in basketball to his struggles with drug abuse. The movie is a depressing one, but revisiting the movie again I found it much more impactful than I remembered.

The performance from DiCaprio is fantastic, even at a younger age. Moments particularly towards the end are hard to watch as he makes it very easy for us to feel the emotion in the character, the pain and the guilt that Jim has.

The story is one which we have seen happen too many times to young teens. Many who have big dreams of being successful, but get caught in the wrong crowd. The movie is one which I think many can relate to whether they have seen someone go through drug abuse problems or have had drug abuse problems themselves.

The movie doesn’t sugarcoat anything and that is what I love about the movie. Everything is so raw and hard-hitting; it’s hard not to be depressed by the movie. The movie isn’t one which is depressing for the sake of being depressing, there is nothing good that comes with drug addiction and the film is very powerful and honest in many aspects. 8/10.

The Blu-news Summary
The Basketball Diaries is a great film with some top notch acting. The Blu-ray release is decent, featuring a good video presentation with a mediocre audio mix. The extras are lacking, but I don’t see a double-dip anytime soon. Overall the Blu-ray release is ‘Recommended’ to fans and ‘Worth A Look’ to all others.

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Tuesday, April 20, 2010

The Slammin' Salmon Blu-ray Review

Disc Size: 21.7 GB
Film Size: 20.1 GB
Film Rating: R
Region: A
The Video
The Slammin’ Salmon comes to Blu-ray with a 1080p VC-1 video presentation. The movie’s lower budgets do show with the high-def transfer, but to be honest I was actually very surprised by the overall look of the movie.

The film features a very nice level of clarity that DVD just can’t be compared to. The film has a nice level of depth and a generally crisp image. Colors are strong and certainly pleasing, they add quite a bit to the high-def experience. Black levels are also quite satisfying, staying quite inky throughout.

The level of detail isn’t always as sharp as I would have hoped, but this likely has to do with the way the movie was filmed over anything. While certain moments do lack detail, rest assured that this is not due to DNR or Edge Enhancement.

The movie looks good and I really don’t think it could have looked any better if at all. The Blu-ray release is an easy improvement from standard definition and there is no way one could confuse the two. The high-def presentation does have some slight disappointments (as mentioned), but the Blu-ray presentation just presents those downfalls accurately. 7.5/10.

The Audio
An English 5.1 Uncompressed PCM audio track is the lossless option, also included is a Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track. Optional subtitles include English SDH and Spanish.

Like for most comedies, the mix on this release is quite front heavy. Dialogue is key in this film and is presented front and center, but always stays crisp and clear like a typical new release. The film’s music and effects also sound quite nice and vary in location.

The film’s audio effects do make use of the surround speakers during busier restaurant moments especially, creating a semi-believable audio experience. The film’s music while generally front heavy does expand nicely throughout the surround speakers from time to time.

To be honest this makes is quite satisfying for a film like this. It is hard to expect reference material out of a film that just doesn’t call for it. While it may not compare to the best audio tracks on Blu-ray, the uncompressed audio experience is certainly fitting. 7/10.

The Extras

Audio Commentary
With Writer/Director Kevin Hefferman and Writer/Actor Steve Lemme.

Audio Commentary
With Writer/Actors Jay Chandrasekhar, Paul Soter and Erik Stolhanske.

Hellish Kitchens: Art Imitates Restaurant Life (6:51) (HD)
The cast of the film talks about their real-life restaurant experiences while traveling in a van.

Theatrical Trailer (2:34) (HD)

Easter Egg (:42) (HD)
You can’t miss this hidden feature as it isn’t really hidden. While scrolling down the extras, under ‘theatrical trailer’ a fish will appear. Click the fish to view a hilarious introduction from Paul Soter for a live Broken Lizard show.

The extras on this release are entertaining. I previewed the audio commentaries and it was filled with discussion which is great. The Hellish Kitchens featurette is a bit dumb; I wish a real behind-the-scenes featurette was included. Overall the extras are fine, but do leave a bit to be desired. 4/10.

The Movie
The Slammin’ Salmon comes from Broken Lizard, the creators of Super Troopers and Beerfest. Super Troopers is hilarious, but didn’t feel the same way about Beerfest.

The film stars Michael Clarke Duncan as Slammin’ Cleon Salmon, former Heavyweight Champ turned high-scale Miami restaurant owner. Unfortunately for him he is in serious debt to a group of Japanese thugs.

Cleon comes up with an idea to make money and quickly. He challenges his wait staff to raise as much money as possible with big rewards for the winner. The winner would win $10,000, while the lower raising server earns a ‘broken-rib sandwich.’

Once the challenge is set, the wait staff gets serious in what becomes a hilarious series of events throughout the night. The film is wacky, but that is what I really enjoyed about it. The humor while random at times is absolutely hilarious.

The movie features a very likable cast and a very simple but very amusing storyline. I really had no idea what to expect, but seeing as it didn’t receive a mass theatrical release it did have me worried a bit about the quality. Which had me even more surprised by the time I finished the movie, it isn't a comedy classic but certainly much better than the average comedy now a days.

If you are a fan of any past Broken Lizard films, you should definitely check out The Slammin’ Salmon. The movie is one which features plenty of laughs and is just a good time. The movie features plenty of dumb gags, but at least it’s dumb in a very intentionally funny way. 8/10.

The Blu-news Summary
The Slammin’ Salmon is a surprisingly great comedy. The Blu-ray release is good, featuring a fitting video and audio presentation. The extras are a bit lacking, but not enough to knock the release significantly. Overall this release is ‘Recommended.

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Monday, April 19, 2010

Crazy on the Outside Blu-ray Review

Disc Size: 21.3 GB
Film Size: 19.6 GB
Film Rating: PG-13
Region: AThe Video
Crazy on the Outside comes to Blu-ray with a 1080p AVC/MPEG-4 video presentation. The movie looks quite good in high-definition, although I do admit certain aspects kept me a bit less impressed. The movie certainly looks like a new release and is free of any technical issues with the transfer.

The level of detail and clarity is usually quite good if not impressive. Colors are generally quite pleasing, although not as rich as I would have hoped. There are certain scenes in which colors just look a bit murkier, but they never look bad.

The Blu-ray includes a DVD copy of the film which I used to compare the two versions. Not surprising, the Blu-ray release is a clear improvement in every aspect. The DVD can look quite good at times, but left much more to be desired.

The movie never reaches reference level qualities, but I don’t have too much to complain about. The colors are the only real issue which I felt worth mentioning. They are good but do leave a bit to be desired at times. I think most viewers will find themselves very pleased by Crazy on the Outside in high-definition. 8/10.

The Audio
An English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track is the only audio option included. Optional subtitles include English and Spanish.

The film being a comedy, it would likely be a more front heavy experience. This is indeed the case with Crazy on the Outside, the film is very dialogue driven and it shows. Despite being front heavy, I find myself very pleased by the audio as a whole.

The film is one which just doesn’t call for any significant moments of surround use. Surround use moments are present though and used quite nicely. The surround speakers feature traveling effects occasionally as well as environment noises pertaining to the specific scene.

Overall I found the mix to be very satisfying and thought the clarity was great. The movie will make for demo material, but it certainly works with the elements that it has. I am very pleased by the DTS-HD Master Audio mix present on this release. 7.5/10.

The Extras

Disc 1:


Inside Crazy on the Outside (2:14) (HD)
This is a very quick behind-the-scenes look of the film. There is actually an impressive amount of behind-the-scenes footage with the short runtime. The cast talks about working on the movie with Tim Allen.

Gag Reel (4:57) (HD)
This is just your typical gag reel, some funny moments and some dumb moments throughout.

Bookmarks
Save your favorite scenes and return to them later.

Disc 2:

DVD Copy of the film

Digital Copy of the film
Compatible with iTunes and Windows Media.

There are very few extras on this release, but Fox has included a bonus DVD and Digital Copy of the film to add a bit more value to the release though. While this movie is definitely not a film for kids, it is still great to see more combo pack releases on Blu-ray. 5/10.

The Movie
Crazy on the Outside is another of those movies which I had no idea about until the Blu-ray release was announced. I wasn’t surprised I missed this one as it received a very small theatrical release and very little promotion in comparison to most Fox releases.

The cast is what had me most interested, much more than reading it was directed by Tim Allen. The cast includes Tim Allen, Sigourney Weaver, Jeanne Tripplehorn, J.K. Simmons, Kelsey Grammer, Julie Bowen and Ray Liotta. Clearly a lot of talent behind-the-project, which was surprising that it didn’t receive much more buzz.

Going into the movie I really had no expectations. I never heard any word of mouth about the film to even get an expectation. I do have to say I liked a lot about the movie, but I also found plenty of things which I didn’t like about the movie.

The movie’s cast brings a lot to love about the movie, the timing is great on many of the jokes and the jokes in general are very clever. That being said there are also quite a few stupid moments throughout, which I could see what they were trying to do but just didn’t work.

The mixed humor is something I would have to say is what is most disappointing about the movie. The film is intentionally dumb, featuring a crazy but loving family and crazy situations. That being said, the moments in which the dumb humor works and dumb humor doesn’t work is clear. There is a difference between funny dumb and just stupid dumb, if that makes sense.

The film features a very predictable story which does require you to suspense reality, but there’s nothing wrong with that. The movie is far from great and there are many issues which I could point out, but I still think the film manages to stay quite enjoyable as a whole. Perhaps I am being a bit lenient with the score, but I found it enjoyable despite sometimes feeling more like a sitcom special rather than a feature film. 6/10.

Blu-news Summary
Crazy on the Outside is an enjoyable but very flawed comedy with a good high-def presentation. The extras on this release are decent, but I was most pleased by the additional DVD and Digital Copy included. Overall this release is ‘Worth A Look.

Please Note: The release is available exclusively at Target stores. There is no word how long the title will be available exclusively at Target, but can be found for 19.99-24.99 on Blu-ray combo pack.

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