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HTF Blu-Ray Review: Election



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#1 of 4 OFFLINE   PatWahlquist

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Posted January 17 2009 - 04:00 AM


Election (Blu-Ray)

Studio: Paramount Home Video
Rated: PG-13 (for strong sexuality, sex related dialogue and language, and a scene of drug use)
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
HD Encoding: 1080p
HD Video Codec: MPEG-4 AVC
Audio: English Dolby TrueHD 5.0; Spanish, French 5.0 Dolby Digital
Subtitles: English, French, Spanish, Portuguese; English SDH+
Time: 103 minutes
Disc Format: 1 SS/DL BD
Case Style: Keep case
Theatrical Release Date: 1999
Blu-Ray Release Date: January 20, 2009

Election couldn’t have come at a better time, what with the nation in a frenzy of political euphoria that will culminate on the day this release streets. But this picture is not on the scale of or excitement of POTUS. No, it focuses on one girl, Tracy Flick (Reese Witherspoon) who strives to be the student council president at an Omaha high school. Tracy is a real go-getter whose feats of high-school derring-do land her in dozens of entries in the yearbook. Now she’s poised to become president of the student council, a position she considers the apex of her high school career. Civics teacher Jim McAllister (Matthew Broderick) really can’t stand Tracy and her type, those who waltz through life on their ambition more than the quality of their work. Mr. McAllister decides to thwart Tracy’s election by convincing lunk-headed jock Paul Metzler to run for president. Paul could really care less, but he believes in himself if Mr. McAllister does.

Once Tracy finds out about Paul’s candidacy, she turns up the campaign heat. Paul’s closeted sister, Tammy (Jessica Campbell), mad at Paul for stealing her soul mate, decides to run if only to get back at her brother. Tracy and Tammy scheme and plot, through speech and deed, while Paul cruises humbly along the campaign trail. Mr. McAllister is tortured by his boring life and his child-hungry wife, making him put out constantly to knock her up. Sexual indiscretions always make for interesting political bedfellows, and the quest for student body president is no exception, crossing moral and even legal lines. The candidates and players muscle for rank with knives (or cupcakes) out in valiant attempts to achieve a higher status in their common lives.

Some may be surprised to find out Election is a comedy, at least a fairly dark gray one, thanks to a sharp script from director Alexander Payne and Jim Taylor and based on Tom Perrota’s novel of the same name. The script is enhanced by Witherspoon’s perky take on the very cutting and borderline annoying Tracy Flick, a last name whose connotation of what you do to a bug is not lost on the audience. Tracy’s lust for power comes through in several different ways (including the legal issues I cited earlier) and her scheming with and against Broderick’s somewhat sad-sack McAllister make for a great dynamic between the two. When she needs to be Tracy can hang with the big boys and it’s not too hard to imagine her cruising the streets (and probably bedrooms) of Washington, D.C. in the future. Payne, who gained huge applause for the horribly over-rated Sideways a few years later, directs the picture with uncomfortable glee, using voice-overs and freeze frames to paint more precise images of the characters. Election is a great satire on the political process distilled down to its very core to show those who lust for power are really willing to do anything necessary to attain it.


Video:
Note: I am watching this title using a Marantz VP 11-S1 DLP projector, which has a native resolution of 1080p. I am using a Sony Playstation 3 Blu-Ray player while a Denon 3808CI does the switching and pass through of the video signal. I am utilizing the HDMI capabilities of each piece of equipment.

The Blu-Ray disc is encoded in the MPEG-4 AVC codec at 1080p with an aspect ratio of 2.35:1. The picture shows a fair amount of dirt and debris throughout and it does not appear to be a new transfer. I noticed a very minute amount edge enhancement. Colors are slightly muted but they come across as natural in the cool and mundane high school and Omaha settings. Flesh tones are accurate showing some rosiness to the actor’s cheeks and lips. Detail is good, and sharpness is soft, and again, this makes me wish there had been a new transfer done on this picture. Black levels are hard to measure as there are very few dark scenes, but what is there is acceptable.


Audio:
The 5.1 Dolby TrueHD soundtrack was attained by the HDMI connection of the PS3 to the Denon 3808CI.

The Dolby TrueHD 5.0 remains front heavy, and I found it very odd that this is only presented in 5.0. The soundtrack is mostly talking heads, and it therefore stays in the front three channels. The surrounds have little life to them and only engage to provide minimal ambient effects. Panning effects are good, and we are provided with a pleasing soundstage. LFE’s are not presented here discretely yet there is still some content that reaches the subs. The soundtrack is free of any debris or other distortions.


Bonus Material:

Commentary by Director Alexander Payne: Payne provides a lot of insight into the symbols embedded in the story and picture, some of which were not too obvious. He also goes into the usual commentary fodder, but it is still a good listen.


Conclusions:
Paramount rushes out this catalog title perhaps to capitalize on our upcoming inauguration. It shows in the fact that we are not given a new transfer and only one extra in the form of a director’s commentary. Still, the movie itself is highly entertaining and stands on its own regardless of any other detractors.
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All reviews done on a Marantz VP11S1 1080p DLP projector.

Displays professionally calibrated by Gregg Loewen of Lion AV.

#2 of 4 OFFLINE   Niko Nykanen

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Posted January 24 2009 - 11:07 AM

Man a retrospecive documentary would´ve made this a must have for fans. Now there´s just the great commentary by Payne.. And the movie of course, brilliant. Posted Image
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#3 of 4 OFFLINE   Dion C

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Posted January 25 2009 - 05:20 AM

Love this film! It's so heartless and wicked-funny. For anyone that has it, give yourself a laugh by freeze-framing the shot of a close-up of a newspaper article, where Payne (or whoever did the insert) complains in the article itself about having to write up fake newspaper articles for just such shots.

If memory serves me, it's in the film's third act. Nothing major, but a neat little laugh.
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#4 of 4 OFFLINE   Matt Thompson

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Posted January 25 2009 - 07:25 AM

Now my high school is preserved in 1080p. Nifty.