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HTF HD-DVD Review: Knocked Up


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#1 of 21 Sam Posten

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Posted September 16 2007 - 05:34 PM

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HD DVD Title: Knocked Up – Unrated and Unprotected (Combo)
Rated: Unrated, Theatrically R
Screen format: 1080P 1.85:1 HD VC-1 Encoded
Studio: Universal
First theatrical release: June 1, 2007
Previously released on DVD/BluRay: Day and Date with Widescreen DVD
Director: Judd Apatow
Starring: Seth Rogen, Katherine Heigl, Paul Rudd, Leslie Mann, Jay Baruchel, Jonah Hill, Jason Segel, Martin Starr
Sound Formats: English & French Dolby Digital Plus 5.1
Length: 2 Hours 13 Minutes
Subtitles: English, French



Plot: 4/5
Writer/Director Judd Apatow continues his streak of outrageous comedies with Knocked Up, a film that follows likeable slacker Ben Stone's (Rogen) adventure to fatherhood when he unbelievably scores with and unwittingly impregnates rising TV star Allison Scott (Heigl). Allison and Ben couldn’t be further apart as far as interests, lifestyles, and ‘hotness’, but Allison has decided to keep the child and Ben mans up to the challenge, attempting to win Allison over in the process. Along the way Ben and Allison have to dig into who they really are and what matters to each of them. While this is serious stuff the laughs are nearly endless as Ben muddles through life unashamedly.

Of course these two don’t live in a vacuum, despite Allison’s recent success she is still living with sister Debbie (Mann) and brother in law Pete (Rudd) and their children, and while Debbie is full of advice, thing’s aren’t as rosy in her own life as she wants to think. Ben’s crew, while less successful, currently is full of schemers and dreamers who also happen to be stoners and web heads. The two worlds collide with Ben and Allison at the center of it all and the fate of their unborn child in the balance.

The fear of pregnancy is certainly one of the biggest issues in most young adult’s lives, and KU gives an interesting ride through the challenges and decisions that come with an unexpected pregnancy. While it was never preachy about it, the ‘health class’ type videos that accompany a few scenes make a point of showing how early in development the fetal heart beat can be detected and other milestones that happened long before Allison makes her personal decision. Obviously this is a very polarizing issue and that KU manages to handle it without making judgments about any of the possible outcomes while celebrating the results of the couple’s choices, makes this a pretty remarkable film.

Sound Quality: 2/5
Frankly, Knocked Up’s soundtrack was as front-focused as a film could be. Except in the few nightclub scenes I never once felt like anything but the front left and right were firing and the Bass was lifeless outside the bars as well. This is a bit of a shame since the soulful soundtrack has some real gems, both in the commercial tracks that were chosen (including Old Dirty Bastard, the B-52s and Sublime) in addition to some really heartfelt additions from Loudon Wainwright. Other similar budget comedies (even those from Apatow) have had much more dynamic mixes and this one doesn’t deliver. Of course the music and dialogue that is there is just pitch perfect but I expected a lot more here.

Visual Quality: 3.5/5
Visually KU is a step up at least from the audio side of things, delivering a sharp and moderately colorful transfer of a well shot film. Noise, grain and other artifacts are all nearly nonexistent, and I never noted a single pop or scratch of any kind of print damage. Detail level is consistent with what I expected but this is not any kind of reference material. It is subtle, sweet and exactly how I envision a theatrical print of this movie would have looked, if not better.

Extra Features: 5+/5
First, let me let out a big “NICE JOB Universal” for their improvements to the U-control Features. They haven’t gotten it EXACTLY right but they made two monster improvements: first they now allow you to hit one button and all Picture in Picture segments will now automatically display without further user input; second the menu selection allows you to see which chapters have which U-control features. Since this film has PiP for every scene and no other U-control content anywhere else, this was not a huge deal but I see this as being VERY helpful going forward. The PiP segments I watched were as good as or better than most behind the scenes interviews and they mostly focused on Apatow and the cast.

For those who want more in depth on this film, it’s here in droves between these segments and a full commentary track. There are also deleted scenes and some extended and revised versions of existing scenes, and its clear that the editor had good sense on what was actually used in the film. A collection of alternate takes on key comedic lines returns, this was one of my favorite features in The 40 Year Old Virgin and it scores big time here. There’s also a gag real of flubbed lines and on set hi-jinx. There’s also an extended topless scene which isn’t as great as it sounds and a significantly extended scene where Ben’s friend Jonah has a special moment with Allison.

One downer on the extras front is a really terrible segment that has Apatow battling with director of Capote, Bennet Miller. This obviously fake segment was just entirely cheesy and should have been left off the film. Other segments had Apatow talking about using his own family in the film and those had a lot more genuine feel to them but this one was just bad.

Finally there are some web enable contents which I haven’t gotten to yet, which apparently contain mostly links to other Universal film clips and the ability to share your favorite scenes with friends, something which was demoed to us at the EMA show on another disk, and which I consider a colossal waste of time and money.

Overall: 4/5 (not an average)
Despite the downside of a disappointing surround sound mix, this disk has everything else going for it. Knocked Up itself is one of those rare films that are lewd enough and funny enough to satisfy all of the guys watching while sweet and heartfelt enough to appeal to all of the women, and the subject matter is compelling, as it is definitely something that most have had to at least contemplate and fear, if not directly experience. Visually the disk nails all that the film stock is capable of, and the sheer volume of extras that Universal has piled in is really impressive, and they are quite good to boot. If Anchorman, Accepted or The Forty Year Old Virgin was your kind of film, you will find KU to be just what the (neo natal) doctor ordered.

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#2 of 21 Tim Glover

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Posted September 17 2007 - 01:45 PM

Looking forward to getting this one soon....too bad about the audio mix.

#3 of 21 Jason Roer

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Posted September 17 2007 - 03:15 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tim Glover
Looking forward to getting this one soon....too bad about the audio mix.


Agreed. Along with Hot Fuzz, this is my favorite film of the year by far. Go UNIVERSAL! You rock! Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, 40 Year Old Virgin, Knocked Up, Children of Men, Bourne Trilogy! Keep 'em coming!

And this week a gem of a blast from the past with The Last Starfighter!

Cheers,

Jason

#4 of 21 Southpaw

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Posted September 18 2007 - 03:27 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sam Posten
Extra Features: 5+/5
First, let me let out a big “NICE JOB Universal” for their improvements to the U-control Features. They haven’t gotten it EXACTLY right but they made two monster improvements: first they now allow you to hit one button and all Picture in Picture segments will now automatically display without further user input; second the menu selection allows you to see which chapters have which U-control features. Since this film has PiP for every scene and no other U-control content anywhere else, this was not a huge deal but I see this as being VERY helpful going forward. The PiP segments I watched were as good as or better than most behind the scenes interviews and they mostly focused on Apatow and the cast.

.


Sam - Bourne Identity had this improved U-Control function. As long as I didn't click on Treadstone, the PiP commentary popped up automatically. I LIKE IT!

#5 of 21 Sam Posten

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Posted September 18 2007 - 06:39 AM

Yeah, never noticed that cause the pile of U-control stuff all ran together on Identity. Its a MESS, but at least its getting better!

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#6 of 21 BrandonJF

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Posted September 21 2007 - 01:34 AM

I'm disappointed that Universal didn't include all of the supplements included on the 2-dsic DVD SE. I'd rather have the disc 2 glued onto the bottom of my HD-DVD than disc 1.

Normally, I wouldn't care as much, but this was one of my favorite movies this year and I would actually watch the supplements for a change. Universal wins as I buy the HD-DVD and 2 disc SE....

#7 of 21 Sam Posten

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Posted September 21 2007 - 02:30 AM

I dont have the DVD and have COMPLETELY stopped following non HD news, so I wasnt aware that there were DVD extras that weren't included here. If there are significant extras not included I would be SHOCKED because I am not lying when I say that the sheer volume of extras on this single disk (when you count the Ucontrol stuff in) is quite impressive.

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#8 of 21 ppltd

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Posted September 21 2007 - 04:00 AM

Sam, thanks for another fine review. I hope to get a chance to watch this over the weekend. One question, though. Do the realatively poor AQ rating reflect the quality of the mix on the HD DVD release, or the quality of the original theatrical tracks?
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#9 of 21 Sam Posten

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Posted September 21 2007 - 06:56 AM

I'm going to assume that there just wasnt a whole lot to capture from the original presentation. Again what is there is quite charming it just isn't technically impressive. Where you draw the line on how important that is to you is a personal choice. But the fact remains that other similar genre movies have seen fit to have much more dynamic surround fields so blowing it off as just the nature of a dramatic comedy doesn't hold water with me personally.

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#10 of 21 TravisR

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Posted September 21 2007 - 08:35 AM

I hate when people claim to remember a theatrical presentation (even when it's been a few months) but I'll do it anyway Posted Image When I saw Knocked Up in the theater, I remember thinking pretty much the same thing about the soundtrack that you're talking about in your review. It may not be a great mix but I think it's indicative of what was in the theater.

#11 of 21 Cees Alons

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Posted September 21 2007 - 11:39 AM

Thanks for a clear review, Sam.
I had not seen this film, but based on the review and these posts (and some more research Posted Image ), I will pre-order the HD DVD.


Cees

#12 of 21 LarryH

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Posted September 25 2007 - 01:23 PM

I asked this in coupons and bargains, but no response as yet:

Has anybody ordered this from Amazon and gotten the 10% discount? I have tried multiple times without luck.

I hate paying extra for the SD version and just can't put up with not getting the 10% either.


UPDATE: Amazon has fixed this so that the discount now applies.

#13 of 21 Bob_L

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Posted September 25 2007 - 05:03 PM

Sam:

A rating question. If you speculate that the HD DVD looks as good or better than a theatrical print (apparently you didn't see this in the theater, neither did I), then what justifies a 3.5/5 rating? Is there some theoretical ideal OTHER than fidelity to the source material that you look for?

#14 of 21 Dave Mack

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Posted September 25 2007 - 05:14 PM

35 minutes in. My hd-a2 purring along like a CHAMP!
VERY funny film but the PQ is meh. VERY oversaturated and artificial looking. The people look orangey yellow as if they had some old school spray on tan stuff applied.
Honestly it looks like the BD of Talladega nights. Same look, blown out contrast, so-so detail and way over pumped colors.

Film IS funny though but after seeing Riddick as my first HDdvd, a HUGE step backwards in PQ. I know this look is trendy in comedies now but I don't particularly dig it. I'm not even faulting the transfer.

#15 of 21 Richard Kim

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Posted September 26 2007 - 02:28 AM

Hmm. Even though I have an HD DVD player, it looks like I'll just pick up the 2 disc SD DVD. It doesn't seem worth the extra $10.

#16 of 21 Sam Posten

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Posted September 26 2007 - 05:42 AM

Bob L: It's a hard question to answer as every film is different and we go into each one trying to be as objective as possible but there are many things that can weigh on this rating:

-Past exposure to the source material
-Comparison of source to other similar era films and films by the same director
-Budget of the film itself
-Genre

and much more.

I thought that KU had many issues that prevented it from looking as good as other Apatow fims do, but it wasn't the primary objective of the film to go for max picture quality. This transfer appears to have gotten all it could out of the source material as best as I can tell and our scores reflect both the overall source quality as well as the ability of the transfer to replicate that.

My experience has been that the HD transfers are, on whole, a LOT more faithful to original source than DVD ever was, there are however always exceptions. If we were to solely judge transfer quality I think that would be darn boring and really not help anyone.

Sam

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#17 of 21 WillG

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Posted September 26 2007 - 07:33 AM

Quote:
it looks like I'll just pick up the 2 disc SD DVD. It doesn't seem worth the extra $10.

Yeah, I also don't want to support HD releases that withold valueable extras that appear on the SD-DVD. It seems like that is very much the case here. I know for the majority of us, extras are secondary to PQ and AQ. But we shouldn't be paying premiums and be denied things from the SD. Maybe I'll make exceptions for Hi-Def releases when I already have the SD with all the features.
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#18 of 21 Mark Cappelletty

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Posted September 26 2007 - 03:40 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by BrandonJF
I'm disappointed that Universal didn't include all of the supplements included on the 2-dsic DVD SE. I'd rather have the disc 2 glued onto the bottom of my HD-DVD than disc 1.

Normally, I wouldn't care as much, but this was one of my favorite movies this year and I would actually watch the supplements for a change. Universal wins as I buy the HD-DVD and 2 disc SE....

Exactly what extras aren't included? Since there's an SD side on the combo disc, are those included as well (a la HOT FUZZ)? My copy shipped from Amazon yesterday and hopefully I'll have it this weekend. It will be a drag if all of the extras aren't included, particularly as Universal did such a great job with FUZZ.

#19 of 21 Southpaw

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Posted September 27 2007 - 06:52 AM

http://www.hometheat....d.php?t=262688

Here is the review of the SD 2 disc collectors edition which lists every extra. It does look like there are some things they did not put on the HD DVD for whatever reason.

#20 of 21 HDReady

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Posted September 28 2007 - 08:55 AM

Very nice review, Sam. We watched this on HD DVD last night (from Netflix). I agree with your assessment that PQ was generally very good and audio was quite disappointing, although the dialogue never muddled or unclear. What stood out most to me was how bad the SD extras looked after watching the movie in HD. I only recently jumped into the HD DVD game, but if SD movies routinely look as bad as the "Knocked up" extras did, I'll be format neutral in no time. Even the Reon processor couldn't save the dismal SD picture. (setup used: 50" 1080p Panasonic plasma; Toshiba HD-XA2; 8-10' viewing distance)





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