Posted on Sunday, December 28th, 2008 by Peter Sciretta
Each week in Blu-or-Not I take a look at the recent Blu-ray releases. This isn’t a review column. If you’re looking for movie reviews, look out for Adam’s This Week in DVD on Tuesdays. Blu-or-Not takes a look at the extra value content — the Blu-ray difference (and yes, this does include Picture and Sound). We decide is it worth buying the Blu-ray version or the plain old DVD.
Exclusive to Blu-ray: All the content is presented in High Definition, but none of it is exclusive to the Blu-Ray release.
DVD Features in HD: :
Deleted Scenes: Four and a half-minutes worth of four deleted scenes that had no reason to be in the film in the first place, including a laughable alternative ending with Rachel’s son Sam playing Rock Band (Jerry’s gift) with his friends when the television goes all “Matrixy” and begins to instruct him with a mission. If they had included that ending on the theatrical cut, people would have been laughing out loud.
Asymmetric Warfare: The Making of Eagle Eye: A 26-minute making of documentary which opens up with one of the screenwriters/producers talking about how Steven Spielberg came up with the idea for the story ten years ago, and that if the film had been made back then, it would have been “science fiction” and that it would have been “a movie that stretches all plausibility and credibility.” I would argue that the storyline still defies plausibility, but watching this documentary makes you want to like the film and the people involved, even though you know it’s a gigantic mess.
Shall We Play a Game?: The coolest featurette on the set, a 9-minute conversation between Eagle Eye director DJ Caruso and Wargames director John Badham. I’ve always loved conversations between filmmakers, and even while this is more self-promotional than most, its still cool.
Other features include: Is My Cell Phone Spying on Me?, A 9-minute featurette exploring the film’s tech-paranoia premise, Road Trip, a too short 3-minute featurette on the film’s many shooting locations, and a Gag Reel which mostly consists of Shia LaBeouf and Billy Bob Thornton flubbing their lines and Michelle Monaghan getting the giggles one too many times.
Video: 4 out of 5
Sound: 4.5 out of 5
Blu-Ray Exclusives: 0 out of 5
Extra Features: 3 out of 5
Price: $39.99 MSRP ($27 on Amazon)
Bottom Line: Might be worth a rental but definitely not worth a purchase. None of the extras attempt to explain the convoluted plot which makes less and less sense the more you think about it, even while you’re watching the film. I’m also disappointed with the lack of an advertised audio commentary from the filmmakers/screenwriters. NOT
Exclusive to Blu-ray:
Picture in Picture: Interviews with the cast and crew and behind the scenes footage are spread throughout the film, most of the time scene specific. This is probably the only worthwhile feature added to this edition.
Visual Commentary: This is the same commentary recorded for the collector’s edition, featuring Joss Whedon, Nathan Fillion (Mal), Adam Baldin (Jayne), Summer Glau (River), and Ron Glass (Book). But this time around you can watch Joss and the crew sitting on a couch while the joke and share their experiences working on the film. It’s a fun commentary but nothing new.
Alliance Database: A series of menus that let you explore the planets, people and history of the Verse. I’ve never really believed that people actually use these type of features. No one I know likes reading long text segments on a television screen. Too bad it isn’t supplemented with computer animated videos and documentaries.
Mr. Universe’s Compendium: Basically a version of the Alliance Database which comes up with new textual information based on the scenes you’re watching. I found it pretty much useless.
DVD Features in HD:
Deleted Scenes: 13-minutes of 9 deleted 6-minutes of 4 extended scenes, available with or without commentary from Joss Whedon. The scenes are off of an AVID output, not correctly formatted for a 16:9 television, and have time-codes at the top and the bottom of the black letterbox.
Outtakes: 6-minutes of bloopers, presented in the same non-hd condition as the Deleted Scenes.
Featurettes: Future History (4:31), What’s in a Firefly (6:32), Re-Lighting the Firefly (9:40), A Filmmaker’s Journey (19:53), Joss Whedon Introduction (3:41), Take a Walk on Serenity (4:06), The Green Clan (3:07) are all off of the Serenity Collector’s Edition Set. None of the features have been remastered for high definition presentation, and most even contain a letterbox within a letterbox.
Video: 4.5 out of 5
Sound: 5 out of 5
Blu-Ray Exclusives: 2 out of 5
Extra Features: 4 out of 5
Price: $29.99 MSRP ($20 on Amazon)
Bottom Line: I wish that Universal would have spent the extra time cleaning up the extra features for High Definition presentation. The addition of the Visual Commentary and Picture in Picture features are cool, but can’t really be played at the same time. If you play the film with both activated, the player will push you back to the visual commentary when the Picture in Picture segments end, leaving it up to you to switch back over to PinP when another segment begins. Hey, I’m lazy. Truth is this is the type of movie that either you lvoe or hate, and if you love it and have a High Definition television, its a no-brainer. BLU
More after the jump.