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HTF BLU-RAY REVIEW: Harold and Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay

Blu-ray Reviews

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#1 of 1 OFFLINE   Cameron Yee

Cameron Yee

    Executive Producer

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  • Real Name:Cameron Yee
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Posted July 27 2008 - 06:57 AM

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Unrated Special Edition

Release Date: July 29, 2008
Studio: New Line Home Entertainment
Packaging/Materials: Single-disc Blu-Ray case with cardstock slipcover
Year: 2008
Rating: UR
Running Time: 1h47m
Video: 1080p high definition 1.85:1 / special features 1080p, 1080i high definition, 480i standard definition
Audio: 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio: English / special features in 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, 5.1 DTS and 2.0 stereo DTS
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish / select special features in English SDH and Spanish
MSRP: $28.99

The Feature: 2.5/5
Picking up after their return from White Castle, the sequel finds Harold and Kumar (John Cho and Kal Penn) heading to Amsterdam to find Harold's crush Maria (Paula Garces). But a gross miscommunication on the plane lands them in custody of Homeland Security and ultimately in the Guantanamo Bay detention facility. One convenient escape opportunity later, the pair are making their way home to clear their name. Along the way they'll face more challenges and surreal situations - everything from a classy white trash couple with a cyclops child to a reunion with one horny television star. Their biggest challenge, however, is maintaining their friendship through it all. Buddy relationships can only take so much and no amount of reefer will make saving it any easier.

What the first Harold and Kumar film had going for it was simplicity - the guys' mission never changed, it was always getting to White Castle for the perfect food. It was something everyone could relate to and though the characters may have gotten lost and sidetracked, the script never did. The same can't be said for the sequel, which broadens its scope to include socio-political satire, a love story for Kumar and a testing of the titular characters' friendship. With all of that and more, the movie winds up feeling aimless (almost 20 minutes of aimlessness if you compare the run times of the two films). That's not to say there aren't some laugh-out-loud moments, but they get harder to come by as the movie progresses. Here's hoping the third film gets back to the charming simplicity of the original.

The unrated cut runs seven minutes longer than the theatrical version and includes, among other things, more sustained shots of nudity.


Video Quality: 4/5
Accurately framed at 1.85:1 the picture is free of physical defects and edge enhancement. Overall clarity and detail is noticeably better compared to the high definition transfer for the first film, visible skin texture being the biggest indication. Black levels are deep and inky but there is still some clipping at the bottom end of the contrast range. Colors have a nice depth and pop, Harold and Kumar's orange jumpsuits and the brief scenes in Miami being a couple of representative examples.


Audio Quality: 4/5
A sole 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio option again seems a bit like overkill, but the mix puts the array to use a bit more than the first film. The bass is a little thumpier, surrounds more aggressive and the overall sound quality more full and immersive, but it's still a dialogue-driven film. Viewers won't miss a beat as that element is consistently clear and intelligible.


Special Features: 4/5

Though parts of the film may be low on laughs, the special features - particularly "Dude Change the Movie" - make up for it.

Dude Change the Movie: Nicely implemented and entertaining interactive feature allows viewers to "choose their own adventure" at several points in the movie. For example, choose between a topless or bottomless party. It's not all about branching to alternate or extended scenes though - the first branching point is actually the best, but I won't spoil it for you. Just be sure to choose the safer of the two options. If you want to go back to choose the other option it's simple enough - just hit the skip back button on the remote. Or you can not make a choice at all and hear Harold and Kumar argue over the decision.

Audio Commentary with John Cho, Kal Penn, and Director/Writers Hayden Schlossberg and John Hurwitz: The quartet do a lot of joking around, but interspersed there's good amount of production anecdotes and background.

Audio Commentary with Director/Writers Hayden Schlossberg and John Hurwitz, "The Real Harold Lee" and James Adomian ("George W. Bush"): Less rollicking than the previous commentary, your enjoyment of the track may depend on your tolerance of Adomian's Bush impression.

The World of Harold and Kumar (21m35s): Promotional piece covers all the bases but has plenty of funny.

Deleted Scenes (18m58s): Eighteen scenes that may not have worked in the film, but which manage to be funny on their own. My favorite is Cho's shower ballad.

Extras (7m02s): Eight outtakes include multiple takes in scenes like the whore house line up and Harold's encounter with the cyclops child in bed.

Bush PSA (1m53s): Bush (as played by Adomian) encourages America to go see Harold and Kumar.

Trailers: Includes the teaser trailer (57s), theatrical trailer (2m30s) and the red band trailer (2m15s).

Digital Copy: Video file for downloading to your computer or portable video device is available on a second DVD. Unfortunately, it is only compatible with Windows computers. I have a Mac so am unable to comment on the quality or the method of access.


Recap

The Feature: 2.5/5
Video Quality: 4/5
Audio Quality: 4/5
Special Features: 4/5
Overall Score (not an average): 3.5/5

Aimless sequel gets improved audio and video treatment compared to the first film and a great special features package that includes a well-implemented use of the format's seamless branching technology. The Windows-only digital copy is a disappointment, but not a deal breaker.
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