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HD DVD Reviews


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#1 of 7 Herb Kane

Herb Kane


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Posted July 06 2006 - 03:02 PM


kiss kISS bAng banG
HD DVD / DVD Combo


Studio: Warner Brothers
Format: HD DVD / DVD Combo
Year: 2005
Rated: R
Film Length: 103 Minutes
Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
Audio: DD+ and DD 5.1
Color/B&W: Color
Languages: English
Subtitles: English, French & Spanish
Genre: Comedy/Mystery/Crime
MSRP: $39.99
Package: Single disc/Red HD DVD Keepcase

The Feature:
Kiss Kiss Bang Bang is the directorial debut of Lethal Weapon screenwriter Shane Black. He stylizes the film by employing a voice-over narrator which pokes fun at many film noir clichés (not surprising, after apparently spending much of his spare time reading Raymond Chandler novels). Although the tone is never more than semi-serious, we build a relationship with the characters as we come to enjoy their quirkiness. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang takes us on a different and somewhat off beat journey offering several laughs along the way. In typical noir fashion, the film is voice-over narrated by Robert Downey Jr.'s, Harry Lockhart character. Clearly his style makes it apparent he's talking to a movie audience in a tongue-in-cheek fashion. Occasionally, Hollywood uses offbeat narration, but this is flippant, in a welcoming and refreshing kind of way.

Harry is a two-bit thief who breaks into a casting call in an attempt to escape the police. Upon his arrival in Hollywood, he is teamed with a P.I. named "Gay Perry" (played by Val Kilmer), who takes him under his wing to show him the ins and outs of trade. He is reunited with his high school sweetheart, Harmony (played by Michelle Monaghan) who he still has a crush on. However, he gets more than he bargains for when he discovers two bodies in less than 24 hours.

Robert Downey brings the right mix of cynicism and confidence. Val Kilmer adds a a flair of arogance to his part as the enigmatic Gay Perry. Michelle Monaghan assumes the femme fatale role. The plot moves along at a rapid pace and periods of time go by without Harry's voice offering comments or observations. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang isn't necessarily an original piece of noir however the end result, a parody of the movement, is an entertaining one.

The Feature: 4/5

Presented in an aspect ratio of 2.40:1, this transfer is excellent. Absolutely excellent. In fact, I was impressed with the SD, but this disc is a prime example of the upgrade being worthwhile. Colors on the SD were impressive, but here, they virtually leap off the screen – the highlight of the transfer. They are bright and vivid and the level of saturation and density is perfect. Blacks were exceptionally deep while whites were contrasted nicely always showing clean and stark. Another upgrade with this transfer is the level of image detail. Very very impressive.

Also besting the previous version is a tremendous amount of depth and texture. Almost 3D-like. Film grain was all but non-existent. The film is immaculate and basically free of any dirt or other annoying blemishes - no surprise there considering this is a recent release. Authoring seems to have been handled very well as compression errors were non-existent.

Video: 8.5/10

While the DD 5.1 track on the SD was fine, the new HD offering is improved upon, but only ever so slightly. The DD+ encoded track packs a nice little punch and seems to be slightly more forward than it’s SD predecessor. Most importantly, dialogue was always bold and intelligible. The film is accompanied by some music here and there and the soundstage is satisfactorily wide. No more, no less. In terms of dynamics, there are a few action sequences which are handled well. I sensed a better mid range in terms of the music that accompanies the film this time ‘round, over the SD version.

The surrounds are limited to some scenes requiring filler and ambiance. LFE kicks in on a couple of occasions but nothing of great significance. The track is clean and free of any hiss or other noisy distractions and the overall fidelity of the track is natural.

Audio: 6.5/10

Special Features:
Not much here in terms of special features, all of which were ported over from the SD release and presented in SD on the standard side. They include:

  • A Commentary with Val Kilmer, Robert Downey Jr. and Shane Black. While not what I'd call the crème de la crème of commentaries, the trio banter back and forth while they discuss various scenes all the while not seeming to take life very seriously. On a personal note however, it's good to see Downey Jr. back on his game. He's a talented fella - let's hope he can keep everything on track. While it would be nice to have this available while watching the HD version, I’m sure that time will come – it’s only early folks.

  • Next up, a Gag Reel which includes a couple of funny scene as well as a few that aren't so funny. Duration: 4:18 minutes.

  • Last, but not least, the Theatrical Trailer closes out the special features and appears in perfect condition. Duration: 2:15 minutes.

    Special Features: 3/5

    **Special Features rated for the quality of supplements, not the quantity. Video and Audio portions will be rated from 0-10. The remainder of the review will continue being rated from 0-5 (similar to SD DVD reviews). Since the ratings are not averaged, the final Overall Rating will be from 0-5.**

    Final Thoughts:
    Robert Downey's star is once again rising in Hollywood. His latest vehicle is this quirky quasi-noirish comedy-thriller. Downey puts forth not only his comedic talents but his amazing acting ability shows through making this film a truly enjoyable watch and the chemistry between Kilmer and Downey is terrific. The movie is narrated (voiceover) by Downey from his character's point of view which adds to the quirkiness of the film. If you’re looking for a change of pace from the regular crime drama or predictable thriller, give this one a look.

    While I’m not a huge fan of double dipping (and rarely do I), whether or not you’ll want to pony up the extra for the HD version is a decision only you can make. Is it a worthwhile investment? I think so. The improvements (particularly on the video side of things) represents enough of an upgrade to warrant the extra expense. Either way you view it however, this film shouldn’t be overlooked. It is one of those pleasant little surprises that should leave you with a smile on your face.

    HTF Review for the SD version can be found here.

    Overall Rating: 4/5 (not an average)


    Release Date: June 20th, 2006
  • My Top 25 Noirs:

    25. 711 Ocean Drive (1950), 24. Odds Against Tomorrow (1959), 23. Desperate (1947), 22. Pushover (1954), 21. The Blue Dahlia (1946), 20. The File on Thelma Jordon (1949), 19. He Ran All the Way (1951), 18. The Asphalt Jungle (1950), 17. The Killing (1956), 16. I Walk Alone (1948),...

    #2 of 7 Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein

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    Posted July 06 2006 - 08:00 PM

    Ooh...and I saw this last night!

    Really cool film and a departure from all the normal fare out there.

    The dialogue is sharp, and the characters tear down the 4th wall from
    time to time to really deliver some memorable moments.

    As far as HD-DVD presentation is concerned, this title looks as good
    as you would expect from this format. It's amazing to sit and watch
    something that looks like actual film playing across the display.

    Absolutely fun movie, and Michelle Monaghan is absolutely hot.

    Ronald J Epstein
    Home Theater Forum co-owner


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    #3 of 7 rich_d



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    Posted July 07 2006 - 01:01 PM

    I also liked it.

    Did anyone else believe that the start of the narration (by the pool) was a reference to Sunset Blvd.?

    I happen to like these "only in L.A." kind of films where bizarre things happen.

    Some of the narration just wasn't all that clever or particularly witty, in fact I think they could have cut the amount in half and it would have been preferable. The dialogue between Harry and Gay Perry was quite good.

    Thought the story also came together quite nicely in the end.

    Saw it more as a 'who dunnit' meets Get Shorty in the city of dreams more than that much noir.

    Loved the opening credits, a touch of 60's romantic/spy films.

    Probably the weakest point was character development. Would it have hurt to have the bad guy have a couple minutes of screen time so we can like him or hate him?

    #4 of 7 TonyD


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    Posted July 10 2006 - 01:23 PM

    Originally Posted by rich_d
    I also liked it.

    Did anyone else believe that the start of the narration (by the pool) was a reference to Sunset Blvd.?

    Loved the opening credits, a touch of 60's romantic/spy films.

    the opening
    i was worried what rich posted would be a spoiler
    this was a great movie.
    smart dialogue throughout.

    veryone should see it.


    #5 of 7 Steve Tannehill

    Steve Tannehill


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    Posted July 10 2006 - 02:41 PM

    I loved this movie... Shane Black rules!

    - Steve

    #6 of 7 Harminder


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    Posted July 10 2006 - 02:56 PM

    This movie was great! Good thing I held out buying it on SD DVD before I got my HD-DVD player!

    I'm gonna order this as soon as I get my 10% discount for a year from Amazon.

    #7 of 7 TonyD


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    Posted July 10 2006 - 06:11 PM

    i'd buy this in a second if it was a straight hd dvd without the extra sd side