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DVD Reviews

HTF REVIEW: Bad Santa (The Unrated Version)...



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#1 of 40 OFFLINE   DaViD Boulet

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Posted June 16 2004 - 04:14 PM

 
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BAD(DER) SANTA
 
Studio: DIMENSION
Year: 2003
RunTime: 98 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 16x9 encoded 1.85:1 OAR
Audio: DD 5.1 English
Subtitles: English (captions for the hearing impaired)
SpecialFeatures: Deleted Scenes, Bloopers, About/Making-Of Featurette
ReleaseDate: June 22, 2004





The Feature...


Offensive. Vulgar. Course. Raunchy. Hard-core. Ruthless. Shocking. Disturbing. Perverse. Twisted. Depraved. Jaded. And very funny.

Not for kids. And having never seen the film theatrically, I have no idea what’s “worse” about this unrated version. Quite a few times I found myself sitting there open-jawed staring at the screen in disbelief. And loving every minute.

For those of you not acquainted, Bad Santa (“Badder Santa” in the case of this unrated version) follows the escapades of a duo of crooks using a Santa/Elf gig as a way to break into department stores and steal big-time cash (well, more than I make in a year). Billy Bob Thorton does an outstanding job fleshing out his, well, bad-Santa character which is to be utterly reviled. He’s extreme, but in my opinion his character still manages to balance on the edge of something you can almost imagine…extreme but not a true farce.

Tony Cox does an equally outstanding job supplying the role of Marcus, the little-person who plays the part of the Elf in the team's duo and actually runs the show (why isn’t his picture on the DVD cover? Sheesh). He delivers some of the funniest lines in the film (non of which I can repeat verbatim here at HTF Posted Image) and despite some obvious playing off the “dwarf” issue in the film’s story line, the movie itself demonstrates a great deal of respect for the persons of such short stature (ie, he’s not a 2-dimensional character serving as some sort of cliché/gag like “Mini-Me” in Austin Powers). I’ll be soon be posting a review of the Station Agent which is another film that deals rather respectfully with this topic.

Bad Santa is a film that impressed me. This film will make you laugh and shudder with disgust all in one motion. And I was very surprised to find how touching the story managed to come together at the end. It’s nasty, dirty, and potty-mouthed, but it’s also intelligent, extremely well assembled, and pulls together for a purpose. In a very real sense, Bad Santa is really an interpretation of the “Grinch Who Stole Christmas” tale (the film makes its own allegorical reference to help those who may have trouble making the connection on their own...I could see it coming with the decorating of the Seuss-esque Christmas Tree). Cynics will enjoy it for all the obvious reasons. Those who are more romantic at heart may enjoy it for the less obvious ones.




Picture...



I wasn’t able to view Bad Santa on the big screen (other than my own Posted Image) so I can only make assumptions about how accurately this DVD captures the intended look of the film. I’ll give you my objective impression of the appearance of this disc and those of you with theatrical memory chime in.

Standing in contradiction to the review of another excellent site, I’ll start off by saying that the image on this DVD, in overall terms, was satisfactory. Curiously (because these impressions differ from the other reviewer’s), I found the image to be as or slightly more detailed than the “average” DVD transfer with virtually no EE that I could see even from a single screen-width distance on my BenQ HD projector. My projector is calibrated to have a “flat” sharpness setting as is my DVD player (feeding the PJ via a 1280 x 720 scaled DVI connection) and in regards to ringing and such the chain is pretty faithful to whatever is on the disc (and does not contribute additional or exaggerated ringing). Detail was indeed slightly filtered, but not offensively so and certainly nothing to the level of what I saw on Kill Bill. Ironically, the Station Agent is a much more filtered image with obvious ringing on my system (ironic because another reviewer on the other site praised the Station Agent DVD image for its great detail and minimal EE!). In any case, this isn’t about who’s right…I’m just telling you what I see on my calibrated system.

Aside from some *slight* HF filtering, the only “problem” I noticed was that image contrast seemed a bit washed out…like the image lacked dynamic range. Black level seemed too “gray” to me and the picture never really took on a 3-dimensional appearance as a consequence of the subdued contrast. However, I’m fully prepared to attribute this characteristic of the picture to the film-source, so if you have an opinion based on more information please inform.

Compression seemed good and I wasn’t ever distracted by any obvious “MPEG” artifacting from my 1.75 screen-width viewing distance. I think that most people will find the image on this disc to be very film like. In my opinion, the greatest weakness was the apparent lack of contrast and weak black-level that resulted in an image that was ok, but lacked “punch”.

The 1.85:1 image is properly letterboxed in the 1.78:1 16x9 frame though only viewers with minimal overscan will notice (most displays overscan the very mild letterboxing of 1.85:1 in 16x9). This seems to be common practice with Disney titles and it's the most appropriate way to handle a true 1.85:1 transfer.


Picture: 4/ 5
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[b]Sound...



The 5.1 audio mix was very well done. It didn’t draw attention to itself in terms of any aggressive surround mixing or bold effects, but the audio was solid, vocals were well delivered, and the musical score came across richly and with texture. Bass was deep during some of the musical numbers and gunshots. The scene where gun-shots are fired demonstrated just how dynamic and bold this soundtrack could be.

Bad Santa, despite what you might assume, is put together rather artfully; and the integration of music as a well executed connective and transitional theme is one of the key ways that it distinguishes itself from the everyday movie fan-fare. For this reason, the quality of the music delivery in the soundtrack is important, and it comes across with dimension, texture, weight, and a nicely presented soundstage that has convincing depth (depending on the score--the orchestral numbers had more depth than the studio-mixed songs). I might have preferred a little more activity in the rear channels, even if just ambience, to “tie in” the back of the room more effectively into the acoustic environment. But hey, this is a primarily dialog (and music) driven film so we can’t be too hard on the mixing engineers. Posted Image


[b]Sound: 4/ 5
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[b]Special Features...



[b]In Closing...


  • Deleted Scenes: I counted three 4x3 lbxed deleted scenes. Interesting and some of them seemed that they would have been just fine left in the film. One of them is basically an alternate scene of sorts which was interesting to view.
  • About/Making Of Documentary 4x3 full frame and about 10 minutes in length. This featurette tends to focus more on the actors and decisions about production than the usual “featurette” I’ve come across. That a good thing…it doesn’t waste too much time simply repeating scenes from the film which seems to be a common means of filling time in many of these featurettes I review. Even casual fans of the film will enjoy watching this and getting to know more about the actors and decisions that went on behind the scenes.
  • Outtakes: 4x3 lbxed. Cute. Nothing earth shattering but fun to see some of the actors cutting up on the set and blowing takes with their giggles.
  • Badder Santa Gag Reel: About five minutes worth of material. Supposedly only on this “unrated” DVD version. Very similar to the Outtakes but here you really get an unfiltered expression of some raunchy jokes and filthy language. Enjoyed it.




I don’t know if Bad Santa is a film that I’d “recommend” exactly. It’s a film that will no doubt disgust and offend a great many, and perhaps delight and entertain just as many or more. Go in knowing what you’re getting yourself into and watch it with an open mind. You just might find yourself enjoying the 98 minutes as much as I did. While not exactly the world’s most loaded special edition DVD, for a single-disc affair, Bad Santa comes to you with a reasonable supply of extras to keep you entertained after the credits have rolled. If you want to be shocked, offended, and made to laugh, give Badder Santa a try.








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#2 of 40 OFFLINE   Nils Luehrmann

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Posted June 16 2004 - 04:58 PM

Great review David, and this bad boy is going to happily pick this up when it comes out.

#3 of 40 OFFLINE   DanaA

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Posted June 16 2004 - 05:47 PM

It's a rental for sure. I find Billy Bob one of the most interesting actors to watch. Nice review. Posted Image

#4 of 40 OFFLINE   LaMarcus

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Posted June 16 2004 - 10:50 PM

I guess since you haven't seen the original Bad Santa we won't get a comparison between the two. Do you know what are the extra scenes but in Bad Santa that were not in the original?

#5 of 40 OFFLINE   Jason Bovberg

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Posted June 17 2004 - 02:15 AM

Nice review, David! I thought I'd chime in with mine over at DVD Talk. I was able to set up two players and find exactly what footage was added. Hope it's OK with you that I post this!

http://www.dvdtalk.c...ad.php?ID=11182

#6 of 40 OFFLINE   TonyD

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Posted June 17 2004 - 02:29 AM

that list of added footage has at least one spoiler in it so dont read if you havent seen the movie.
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#7 of 40 OFFLINE   Will K

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Posted June 17 2004 - 02:38 AM

Can I get this on Clear Play? Posted Image
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#8 of 40 OFFLINE   DaViD Boulet

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Posted June 17 2004 - 02:39 AM

Jason,

By all means thanks for posting that link to your EXCELLENT review. Curious how both you and Dan (from dvdfile) saw edge halos. Odd how on my system I really don't see them (and usually I'm the one complaining). What's your display system?

Interestingly, I never got anything from BV detailing the differences between the two versions as you seemed to get. Posted Image

Thanks for the break-down of all the differences between the two cuts and for the excellent review in general. All visiting this thread should check Jason's review out:

http://www.dvdtalk.c...ad.php?ID=11182

-dave Posted Image
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#9 of 40 OFFLINE   Jason Bovberg

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Posted June 17 2004 - 03:00 AM

Hey David,

I'm watching on a calibrated Mits 65" DiamondVision with a Denon 2900 player. I reread my review, and it comes across as more negative than I wanted. (I've edited it to say that it is an above-average transfer.) I noticed the halos only in the brighter scenes.

#10 of 40 OFFLINE   Nils Luehrmann

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Posted June 17 2004 - 03:08 AM

Quote:
I noticed the halos only in the brighter scenes.
Your contrast may be a tad high as that is often the cause of halos that are only seen in bright scenes. At least it's worth checking.

#11 of 40 OFFLINE   Mark Cappelletty

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Posted June 17 2004 - 07:01 AM

Does anyone have the specs for the theatrical "Bad Santa"? There's a rumor going around about a commentary and a John Ritter tribute whch are on the R-rated version and not the unrated "Badder Santa" (which is the one I'm getting).

#12 of 40 OFFLINE   Jeremy Allin

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Posted June 19 2004 - 11:03 AM

Maybe I'll hold out for the inevitable "Baddest Santa" super-duper edition! Posted Image

#13 of 40 OFFLINE   CraigF

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Posted June 19 2004 - 11:47 AM

I hope it's the same content in Canada, I recall a recent Dimension film released by Alliance that wasn't...

Anyway, so far it seems the R version is P&S here, and if you want WS, it's the Bad(der) Santa, and who doesn't want that?

#14 of 40 OFFLINE   Christian Preischl

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Posted June 20 2004 - 03:58 AM

God, I hate them. I hate Alliance with all my heart. Actually, I'm so pissed off about it that I'd cancel my Badder Santa preorder just out of principle and pay extra to get the US disc. Unfortunately I can't because it's already gone into packaging. So I'll hope for the best, and Alliance can kiss my a** as far as future releases are concerned.

What gets me even more is that with Alliance you never know what you get until the disc is released. There's just no solid info available until the first ®etailers get it.

Chris

#15 of 40 OFFLINE   Jeremy Allin

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Posted June 19 2004 - 11:03 AM

Maybe I'll hold out for the inevitable "Baddest Santa" super-duper edition! Posted Image

#16 of 40 OFFLINE   CraigF

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Posted June 19 2004 - 11:47 AM

I hope it's the same content in Canada, I recall a recent Dimension film released by Alliance that wasn't...

Anyway, so far it seems the R version is P&S here, and if you want WS, it's the Bad(der) Santa, and who doesn't want that?

#17 of 40 OFFLINE   Christian Preischl

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Posted June 20 2004 - 03:58 AM

God, I hate them. I hate Alliance with all my heart. Actually, I'm so pissed off about it that I'd cancel my Badder Santa preorder just out of principle and pay extra to get the US disc. Unfortunately I can't because it's already gone into packaging. So I'll hope for the best, and Alliance can kiss my a** as far as future releases are concerned.

What gets me even more is that with Alliance you never know what you get until the disc is released. There's just no solid info available until the first ®etailers get it.

Chris

#18 of 40 OFFLINE   Justin_M

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Posted June 22 2004 - 09:03 AM

So, did anybody get the disc from Alliance? Is it actually Full frame instead of Widescreen?

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#19 of 40 OFFLINE   CraigF

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Posted June 22 2004 - 09:41 AM

I did not even see a single Bad Santa disc at lunch time today, the chain stores I visited only had Badder Santa. Online sources have conflicting info re the Alliance Bad Santa AR. For instance, though Future Shop didn't have any in stock so I could check, their web site says it's WS.

Thankfully, the Alliance release seems the same as the U.S. one re feature/extras content, except with French DD5.1 too. The front cover even looks the same because the French title is extremely tiny...though there is French on the spine and back for those who worry about that stuff.

[FWIW, Wal-Mart has slightly the best price (this disc is typically a little more than 1-disc new releases here), and check out the large number of new-today half-decent Columbia titles in their bargain bin.]

Edit: The Alliance Bad Santa is WS for sure, saw it today.

#20 of 40 OFFLINE   Colin Jacobson

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Posted June 22 2004 - 01:26 PM

Very interested to see if anyone got the "R"-rated Bad Santa to find out if its supplements differ...
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