CLERKS II 2-DISC EDITION Studio: Weinstein Company Year: 2006 Rated: R Film Length: 1 hour, 37 minutes Aspect Ratio: 1080p High Definition Widescreen (1.66:1) Audio: Dolby TrueHD, English Dolby Digital 5.1, English Dolby Digital 2.0, French Dolby Digital 5.1 Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish Release Date: February 3, 2009 The Movie ( ½ out of ) Kevin Smith’s original Clerks marked the writer/actor/director’s debut as a film-making force to be reckoned with. The original movie was filmed on a shoestring budget in 21 days in grainy black and white footage. The film was an instant success after being picked up for distribution by Miramax films in 1994. Although Smith has since produced a number of other films featuring some of the same characters in his “View Askewniverse”, Clerks II is the first true sequel to Smith’s first film. Clerks II picks up more or less 10 years later with Dante (Brian O’Halloran) and Randal (Jeff Anderson) still working as convenience store clerks in Leonardo, New Jersey. In Clerks II, Dante and Randal end up working at a fictional fast food chain called Mooby’s. Jay and Silent Bob (Jason Mewes and Kevin Smith) are also around in this sequel as they follow Dante and Randal from their old job to their new one. Rosario Dawson joins the cast in this film as Becky, the manager of Mooby’s, and Elias (Trevor Fehrman) is a teenage employee who is the constant subject of abuse by Randal. If you enjoyed the “slacker” sensibilities of the original film, then you will probably enjoy Clerks II as well, even if it fails to surpass the original. Granted, this sequel is noticeably slicker and more polished than the original, as Smith has grown as a film-maker in the last 10 or so years and the budget on Clerks II must be increased from the original by a factor of at least 20. Smith’s increasing talent and the larger budget are evident on the screen so it cannot be said that the quality of this sequel fails due to production shortcomings. The reason that Clerks IIfails to live up to the original is that the first Clerks was an example of guerilla film-making by an aspiring director who applied his talents to produce an entertaining film that succeeded in spite of its budgetary limitations. One of the strengths of the original Clerks was its documentary look and feel which was achieved through its low budget and which gave the film an enhanced illusion of reality even where it failed to be realistic. By contrast, Clerks II is a slick Hollywood movie with the attendant higher production values of a studio film. The result is that Clerks II is an entertaining film that still fails, like many sequels, to reenact the heart and soul of the original. Video ( out of ) The movie is in 1080p high definition in a 1:66:1 aspect ratio. As a link to the original film, the opening footage of Clerks II appears briefly in grainy black and white footage before quickly reverting to color for the remainder of the film. An appropriate amount of grain is apparent throughout this transfer. The colors are muted, however, this is deliberate by Smith in his efforts to match the look of the original film and is not attributable to any defects in the transfer. There is no apparent edge enhancement or DNR marring this Blu-Ray version. Audio ( ½ out of ) The Dolby TrueHD and Dolby Digital 5.1 tracks provide most sounds through front and center since this film is heavy on dialogue. The second half of the film provides most of its music which is where the rear speakers make their only notable contribution to surround sound. I have nothing bad to say about the audio but do not expect this film to be reference for demonstrating the range of your sound system. Special Features ( out of ) Whether you love this film or hate it, Smith and the studio deserve props for providing a plethora of special features for this movie. The special features are located on both discs 1 and 2. The special features (on Disc One) include all of the following: Audio Commentaries: This disc has 3 (!) different audio commentaries. Kevin Smith appears on all 3 commentaries. The first commentary is provided by Smith, Scott Mosier (producer), and David Klein (D.P.). The second commentary has contributions from the cast, including Scott Mosier and Kevin Smith, Jennifer Schwalbach Smith, Brian O’Halloran, Jeff Anderson, Jason Mewes, and Trevor Fehrman. Casual viewers will probably enjoy the second commentary the most of all three. The third commentary is by Smith, Mosier, and Jeff Anderson. Introduction to Film By Kevin Smith and Scott Mosier (4:38): Director Smith and Producer Mosier introduce Clerks II. Deleted and Extended Scenes (38:24): Most of the deleted scenes are relatively short so they are presented sensibly in their original context by showing here of the extended versions of the scenes with the excised footage intact. The extended scenes are interesting for the most part, which made me wish that the disc had a branching feature for an extended version of the movie with the deleted footage edited back into the movie. This feature also includes an optional 2 minute introduction to the deleted scenes by Kevin Smith and Scott Mosier. A Closer Look at Interspecies Sex (8:57): Kevin Smith and his cast members provide their comments regarding “Kinky Kelly”. BD Live: As of the date of this review, there are not yet any BD Live features offered online for this title. The special features (on Disc Two) include all of the following: Back To The Well: The Making of Clerks II (90:12): This is a comprehensive documentary about the making of Clerks II, covering conception, notes from the studio, rehearsals, all aspects of production, post-production, premiere, and promotion. This also features an optional introduction by Kevin Smith and Scott Mosier. Clerks II VH-1 Special: (19:33): Promotional documentary special that aired on VH-1 in 2006 at the time of release of Clerks II. Bloopers (29:55): This also features an optional introduction by Kevin Smith and Scott Mosier. Train Wrecks: Video Production Diaries (50:47): 10 different production diaries that appeared originally online during filming of Clerks II are collected here. These features also include an optional introduction by Kevin Smith and Scott Mosier. Conclusion ( out of overall) Since this is a sequel, I cannot help but compare this film to the original. For me, Clerks II fails to capture lightning in a bottle the same way as the original. This does not mean that Clerks IIfails to entertain, only that it confirms that sometimes you cannot go back again. If you liked the original Clerks and do not suffer from high expectations, you will probably enjoy Clerks II as well, not only for the quirky characters and dialogue that are still in evidence here, but perhaps also for its differences from the original. I enjoyed Clerks II even though it is probably impossible for it to match the style and verve of the original.