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HTF REVIEW: Borat - Cultural Learnings of America...

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#1 of 33 OFFLINE   Michael Osadciw

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Posted March 10 2007 - 07:14 AM


Posted Image
Studio: 20th Century Fox
Film Year: 2006
Film Length: 86 min
Genre: Comedy

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 widescreen enhanced
Colour/B&W: Colour

  • English Dolby Digital 5.1 surround
  • Spanish Dolby Digital 2.0 surround
  • French Dolby Digital 2.0 surround
  • Russian Dolby Digital 2.0 surround
  • Hebrew Dolby Digital 2.0 surround (NOT! Jew)

    Subtitles: English, Spanish
    U.S. Film Rating: R
    Canadian Film Rating: 14A

    Posted Image Posted Image

  • Release Date: March 06, 2007

    Movie-Film Rating: Posted Image Posted Image Posted Image / Posted Image Posted Image Posted Image Posted Image Posted Image

    Starring: Sacha Baron Cohen (Borat Sagdiyev), Ken Davitian (Azamat Bagatov)

    Story by: Sacha Baron Cohen, et al.
    Directed by: Larry Charles

    Very nice!

    Borat! Borat! Borat! If you have trimmed the hair in your ears in the past year, chances are you’ve heard of the Kazakh journalist, Borat. In his self-titled film, this fictional character leaves his native Kazakhstan to learn about American culture – the best culture in the world! Upon his arrival, he encounters disappointment after disappointment when meeting with many people who try to help him adjust to the cultural differences of his home country. While shooting this documentary, he becomes with obsessed with a picture of Pamela Anderson and is determined to go to California to marry her.

    On his journey, he receives strong reactions from the unassuming public, adding to the amusement of this film. I just had difficulty figuring out what was staged and what wasn’t; it seemed a bit of both. The irregularities of this made the film a bit awkward to watch, but still delivering the laughs until the very end when Borat returns to his native Kazakhstan. The movie is a hilarious bit for adults, as its audience is geared to adults. I don’t recommend kids watching this film despite how funny and innocent the commercials look – but from what I hear in the classrooms I know kids are seeing this. C’mon parents, show a bit of responsibility!

    The DVD has a cardboard slipcase over it; it’s needed because the artwork on the keepcase is all in Kazakh or Russian characters. There isn't a word of English on it. It’s faded and made to look like a homemade ‘download-and-print’ of a bootleg DVD. Even the disc is etched Borat with just a black marker. I thought it was a copied screener, but it was the real deal! Its creative packaging we’ve seen before on some music CDs addressing the piracy problem. Want crappy artwork? Here you go. Even the menus of the DVD look like a bootleg copy and almost everything is written in Kazakh with English subtitles over it. I love the low-fi Kazakhi anthem in the background...it adds to the authenticity.

    Posted ImageVIDEO QUALITY: 3.5/5 Posted Image Posted Image Posted Image Posted Image

    Borat was shot mostly on HDTV video with an aspect ratio of 1.78:1. Theatrically it was presented on 35mm with an aspect ratio of 1.85:1. This DVD appears to be sourced by an HD video copy without the film in between. The aspect ratio of this disc is 1.78:1 even though the packaging says 1.85:1. In all honesty, I’m not impressed. I found the source video to be a bit hazy and dull. It’s also much dimmer than I had expected and has a bit of clipped whites. I’ve seen some great HD video at DVD’s resolution and this title isn’t one of them. Colours look fine but don’t stand out as fantastic.

    The documentary-style shooting of this picture doesn’t seem care for looking for fantastic shots and that’s fine given the film. Video noise, especially in darker parts of the image, is most likely a limitation of the HD cameras. DVD’s fine detail is present in the background crowd during Borat’s singing of Kazakhstan’s national anthem (ha!) and the only the only thing truly blurred out is Borat’s private part – but the other teabag is clearly distinguishable – yikes! I can’t say I was expecting that!!

    Posted ImageAUDIO QUALITY: 3/5 Posted Image Posted Image Posted Image

    The audio is no award winner. It’s supposed to be in Dolby Digital 5.1 audio but it really sounded like a 3.0 presentation. The surrounds were very quiet and there was rarely a moment of LFE (the latter not expected). The front soundstage is quite alive with sound effects and music to enhance the comedy while dialogue is firmly placed in the center speaker. Dialogue is a bit forward and I almost felt like turning down my center channel’s volume a decibel or two, but I don’t believe in that – I just listen to the mix as is: engaging, but not dynamic.

    TACTILE FUN!! ZERO / Posted Image Posted Image Posted Image Posted Image Posted Image

    Posted ImageSPECIAL FEATURES: 2/5 Posted Image Posted Image

    Bonus materials are a bit slim on this disc but at least they’re worth the watch. Have you missed the promotional campaigns for this film? You’ll get to see a wide variety of this sort in the Publicity Tour Montage (16m39s). It has clips from Conan O’Brian, Comic-Con, the Toronto International Film Festival, Cannes, and much more. It’s hilarious to watch, really. This feature is widescreen in a 4:3 window (pillarboxed).

    Also just as hilarious to watch as the film are the deleted scenes and the deleted footage montage, about 30 minutes total. There is no play all function so you must select them from the menu. I enjoyed these scenes as much as the main film, if not a bit more that some. These are best enjoyed as a feature though; I think the film would have dragged if it were any longer than 90 minutes, so good choice on the cuts (all are 1.78:1 anamorphic)

    The disc also includes a comical musical infomercial (1min) and theatrical trailers under the feature Coming to Kazakhstan in 2028 (trailers are National Lampoon’s Van Wilder – The Rise of Taj, Super Troopers, Grandma’s Boy).

    IN THE END...

    You want to know what the Borat hype is all about? This DVD is on sale at every outlet – there’s no escaping this man!! Give in and see how the cultural learnings of America make benefit glorious nation of Kazakhstan.

    Michael Osadciw
    March 10, 2007.

    Michael Osadciw

    THX/ISF Professional Video Calibrator

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    #2 of 33 OFFLINE   Ronald Epstein

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    Posted March 10 2007 - 07:52 AM

    Just saw this a few days ago, and I have to say that it was one of the most hysterical movies I have ever seen. I still can't believe the naked wrestling scene inside the hotel room between Borat and his Producer. It just amazes me how far a comedian will go for a laugh. Fox did a superb job on the DVD packaging. I really had to laugh at how they made this DVD look like a bootleg. Additionally, they did a superb job on designing the menu and features, though as Bill Hunt stated in his review, there are quite a few more deleted bits that I had the opportunity to see last year that never made it to this DVD. We are now into the third month of the year, and this is my favorite DVD title thus far. Nice job on this DVD, Fox!


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    #3 of 33 OFFLINE   Michael Osadciw

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    Posted March 10 2007 - 07:54 AM

    I agree with the menus...totally bootlegged - fantastic! ...and that wrestling scene...WHOA! I guess we'll have to encourage everyone to see it for themselves!!!!!!!!

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    #4 of 33 OFFLINE   Patrick McCart

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    Posted March 10 2007 - 09:29 AM

    This is one of the funniest movies I've seen. In fact, the packaging and menus made me laugh just as hard. If Fox hadn't issued both P&S and 16x9 versions, they should have just omitted the slipcover so you'd only see the "bootleg" cover on the shelves. Posted Image

    Of course, it's not for the faint of heart. The naked fight comes out of nowhere, which makes it even funnier. The IMDB says $18 million was spent on the production, so they must have paid off a ton of money to the "victims" of Borat's antics.

    #5 of 33 OFFLINE   Thommy...M


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    Posted March 10 2007 - 09:38 AM

    Great movie, wish the DVD had more. However, what we get in those deleted scenes is really great stuff. I'm thankful for that. It's great that the DVD has fun with the conventions of DVDs. The bootleg look is hilarious as is the joke when you go to the language selection menu and click on HEBREW....

    #6 of 33 OFFLINE   Brent M

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    Posted March 10 2007 - 10:42 AM

    Easily one of the funnies movies I've seen in the past few years. I laughed so hard at times I thought I was going to pass out. A very big Posted Image.
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    #7 of 33 OFFLINE   Adam_WM



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    Posted March 10 2007 - 01:56 PM

    My wife and I almost died last night from laughing so hard at this. HILLARIOUS.


    #8 of 33 OFFLINE   RobertSiegel



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    Posted March 10 2007 - 02:45 PM

    Usually, I can handle all types of humor and I found this movie very funny, though I would laugh much harder at Pink Panther and that type of humor. I am usually not offended, and I know this film is meant to do that, but for the first time in ages, I was offended at the Jewish thing, especially coming from a Jewish writer and director. Did it really have to be that harsh? We all know the teens will be watching this or owning it, what does this say to them, that it's cool to tease and degrade the Jews (Yes, you guessed it I am Jewish). I know this was all in humor, but it scares me to think how it will affect the younger age group and their opinion. In school, I was teazed terribly for being Jewish, (I am very proud of my heritage) I suppose that sticks with you, and when ciewing something like this, it all comes back, and I hope that this doesn't carry on to schools today with all these people in their younger years watching it. No, I don't want to start a political talk here. This is just my opinion. The movie was very funny, I really laughed, but didn't think it necessary to go that far. It would have been a little more "even" for a Jewish person watching this if they had extended the jokes to include other religions. My 76 year old mother (she is very cool) watched with me and laughed alot, but also felt the same.

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    #9 of 33 OFFLINE   Dave Scarpa

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    Posted March 10 2007 - 02:56 PM

    It Was a Parody. Unfortunately there are dumb people out there that will watch it and not understand this, what can you do those types are all at Rodeo's anyhow
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    #10 of 33 OFFLINE   TravisR


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    Posted March 10 2007 - 03:06 PM

    I can understand Robert's concern but I doubt that anyone would be suddenly influenced by seeing this silly (but funny) movie. I think that the people that are anti-Semetic assholes are that way before seeing it and the people aren't anti-Semites aren't going to be suddenly changed by seeing this movie.

    #11 of 33 ONLINE   Sam Favate

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    Posted March 11 2007 - 03:12 AM

    I also enjoyed the movie and the DVD. One of the funniest films of 2006, and it's a fun DVD too. I posted a review on my web site:


    #12 of 33 OFFLINE   Richard Kim

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    Posted March 11 2007 - 04:52 AM

    Actually, I'm pretty sure it's 1.85:1, because there are small black bars on the top and bottom of the screen. My display has 0% overscan.

    #13 of 33 OFFLINE   Michael Osadciw

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    Posted March 11 2007 - 06:22 AM

    Robert - I understand the Jewish thing. At the same time, this title is rated R so anyone under 18 shouldn't be watching it to begin with. If they are, that's the irresponibility of the parents. Ratings are there for a reason. Exercise good judgement - but it seems most parents treat their children like friends when it comes to movies and such. Richard - I'm also running 0% (actually it's about 0.75% on the bottom and 0.25% up top) and I didn't notice any black bars.

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    #14 of 33 OFFLINE   BarryS


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    Posted March 11 2007 - 06:40 AM

    I'm disappointed, myself. I read somewhere that there exists around 400 hours of footage shot for the film, yet the DVD release only has around 30 minutes of extra footage. I expected way more. I was hoping for commentaries and other stuff too. Just imagine an in-character Borat audio commentary. This release could have been a whole lot more.

    I'll wait for the inevitable Very Nice! Edition.

    #15 of 33 OFFLINE   Jon Martin

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    Posted March 11 2007 - 06:57 AM

    For those that loved the movie, be sure to pick up his TV series DA ALI G SHOW (both seasons available on HBO Home Video, more available in the UK). I was a bit disappointed by the film since it is nowhere near as funny as his TV show. Borat is probably SBC's weakest character. Not that he isn't funny, his others, especially Ali G are even funnier. As for the deleted scenes, there was talk after the success of this film that the producers were talking to HBO about doing another season using the deleted footage. That could be why there isn't more on the DVD. And I have to agree, the packaging is great. Haven't gotten around to watching it again yet.

    #16 of 33 OFFLINE   WillG



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    Posted March 11 2007 - 08:47 AM

    I wonder if they are going to leave the "bootleg" cover art when Fox drops the slipcover.
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    #17 of 33 OFFLINE   Andrew Radke

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    Posted March 11 2007 - 09:00 AM

    I swore up and down that I'd never see this judging solely by the commercials and trailers I had seen. It just didn't appear to be something I'd enjoy. But after hearing and reading all of the praise surrounding it, I think I'm going to have to rent it and see what all the hype is about.
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    #18 of 33 OFFLINE   Brent M

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    Posted March 11 2007 - 12:39 PM

    I remember seeing the trailer at the theater this summer(I think it was before a showing of Miami Vice) and thinking "what the hell is this and who would watch it?". Trust me, as long as you go into this movie with an open mind, you're almost guaranteed to laugh yourself into a mild coma.
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    #19 of 33 OFFLINE   RobertSiegel



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    Posted March 11 2007 - 03:16 PM

    Michael, thanks for responding. I understand that the film is rated R, but everyone I know who has teens let their kids watch, and yes it's the parents fault, but I also know of these teen after school gatherings (my cousin goes to them) and they all sit and watch the R rated films. I believe everyone under 18 who wants to see it will see Borat. There was a psychologist on Oprah when the film came out, as she was concerned about the same issue that bothered me, and he said films like this that the teens look up to are extremely burdening because it looks funny and cool to tease. Don't get me wrong everyone, I still laughed pretty hard, but the Jewish side and its effects on teens and their attitude about Jewish people concerns me. Of course this is a parody, but that doesn't mean there couldn't be harmful effects. I also agree with Travis, in that most people who are already anti-Semetic would be the ones to take it further, but in the teen world, where there is a big lack these days of individuality, it's very "cool" to go along with the rest. I have to say that some of the deleted scenes were funnier than some scenes in the movie. I want to say once again I am nit trying to start a political conversation, it's just my opinion.

    Classics on Blu-ray is what it is all about!

    #20 of 33 OFFLINE   Matthew Clayton

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    Posted March 11 2007 - 04:54 PM

    I've avoided this movie because of mixed reviews, but I did see ads for the DVD and the snippets shown seem quite hilarious. This will be a "very nice!" rental for me. I'm also curious as to the joke extends to the DVD itself -- are there the usual front-loaded Fox trailers and anti-piracy ad that load when the disc is started up, or does it go straight to the menu? I'm also wondering if there is a "bootleg" chapter insert or if Fox skipped it altogether.

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