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HTF Blu-ray Review: The Last Kiss



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#1 of 1 PatWahlquist

PatWahlquist

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Posted March 26 2009 - 11:52 AM


The Last Kiss (Blu-ray)

Studio: DreamWorks
Rated: R (for sexuality, nudity and language)
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
HD Encoding: 1080p
HD Video Codec: MPEG-4 AVC
Audio: English Dolby TrueHD 5.1; Spanish, French, German Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles: English, French, Spanish, Portuguese, German; English SDH+
Time: 103 minutes
Disc Format: 1 SS/DL BD
Case Style: Keep case
Theatrical Release Date: 2006
Blu-Ray Release Date: April 14, 2009

Note: portions of this review were originally posted in my review of the SD-DVD of this title.

Michael (Zach Braff) is skipping the silliness of marriage and going straight into parenthood with his girlfriend, Jenna (Jacinda Barrett). But this is not without hesitation and unease as he fears the impending finality that a child brings to ones life: Michael believes his life will be left with no more surprises. When a hot, young co-ed, Kim (Rachel Bilson) begins courting Michael, he sees Jenna at a younger age, and thus, sees himself before responsibility took hold. He, of course, pursues the flirtation and winds up partying with Kim, then making out with her afterwards. When Kim tries to entice Michael back to her room, he refuses.

During this time, Michael’s friend Izzy’s (Michael Weston) father dies, so Jenna and the rest of his friends are trying to get a hold of him. Michael has his cell phone off while he party’s, and Michael’s friend Chris (Casey Affleck), originally solicited by Michael to be his excuse, spills the beans. Jenna becomes suitably enraged, and once Michael comes home, she confronts him. They argue and he tells her the truth, that he was out with another girl, but nothing happened except a kiss. She dumps him, throws him out, and he makes more choices that only seek to complicate and potentially ruin the rest of his life.

The Last Kiss hinges on this primary aspect of the story and supplements it with various supporting characters and stories that only seek to reinforce Michael’s turmoil, but in different stages and iterations. Chris has his child, and his wife is a complaining shrew; Izzy is dealing with a busted relationship he refuses to let go of; Kenny (Eric Christian Olsen) lives the life by bartending and sleeping around. Jenna’s parents, Anna and Stephen (Blythe Danner and Tom Wilkinson) are also dealing with the demons of 30 years of marriage that only seeks to confuse Michael. The stories come together to provide an interesting portrait of early thirtysomethings in the new millennium. This untapped demographic, still caught up in the slacker mentality of Gen-X or Gen-Y or what have you, is now making choices they may not necessarily be ready for.

Director Tony Goldwyn and his fine cast infuse the picture with a lot of honesty and brutality, just the way relationships are (or should be) as well as our reactions to them. Michael tells Stephen that Kim represents the last kiss, and questions whether Stephen has had his. Wilkinson, in amazing dramatic fashion, straightens up and gives Michael a look that conveys everything he needs to know. Weston plays Izzy with that manic edginess that made him such a fright on Six Feet Under a couple years ago. Danner plays the trapped and rebellious Anna with simmering anger and intensity, while Bilson shows her character’s naiveté with playfulness and emotional inexperience.

I really did not have a lot to criticize about the picture outside of the fact, based on the ages and talents of the actors, it can’t seem to make up its mind how serious it wants to be. It avoids relationship and male bonding clichés, but it doesn’t deliver the kick to the gut that it potentially could have. Tom Wilkinson’s presence reminded me a lot of him in In the Bedroom, but this certainly doesn’t hit the emotional lows that picture did.

Movie: ***/*****



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. Black levels are good and show a fair amount of detail. Detail fluctuates from scene to scene, sometimes it is quite good, but then it degrades into haziness and mild smearing. The picture exhibited some edge enhancement on the SD-DVD, but it is not apparent here. Colors are accurate and natural but the do not really stand out. The BD improves slightly on all aspects of the image, showing more detail, a little bit deeper color (especially in the flesh tones) and better sharpness.

Video: ***.5/*****


Audio:
The 5.1 Dolby TrueHD soundtrack was attained by the HDMI connection of the PS3 to the Denon 3808CI.
I watched the feature with the Dolby Digital TrueHD 5.1 track engaged. Most of the action is in the fronts since the scenes are dialogue driven. When the surrounds are utilized, primarily for atmospheric effects, they provide a fair surround stage. LFE’s are barely used and I had to verify my subs were on; the bass track only comes up a couple times and I almost wonder if there was an authoring error. Voices are clear and natural, as is the rest of the soundtrack. The TrueHD adds more dimensionality and richness to the soundtrack over the lossy soundtrack of the SD-DVD.

Audio: **/*****


Bonus Material: all items are in SD unless otherwise noted.

Two feature length commentaries, one with Tony Goldwyn and Zach Braff, another with Goldwyn, Braff and other cast members: The cast commentary goes into more of the bonding aspects of the actors and degrades into laughter and nonsense pretty quick. There are approximately six people involved in the commentary, but there are still long pauses as they get engrossed in the film. Goldwyn and Braff’s commentary suffers from the same pauses, but they do get more relevant commentary out about the themes of the story and other such relevant topics.

The Last Kiss: Filmmaker’ Perspective (2:30), Getting Together (26:41), Behind Our Favorite Scenes (8:22), Last Thoughts (3:26): this four part feature includes a pretty good behind the scenes look at the making of the picture and the story with the producer, director and entire cast contributing stories and viewpoints on the story and characters.

Music Video – Cary Brothers Ride performance version with Zach Braff intro (3:25): Braff also directed the video, and that’s all his intro is. Boring song, nice video. I would have much rather preferred a video of the Imogen Heap song.

Deleted Scenes (13:30): seven deleted scenes, which include some extended scenes and two alternate endings, neither of which is the original Italian ending. Nothing too spectacular here.

Gag Reel (2:41).

Theatrical Trailer (HD).

Bonus Material: ***.5/*****


Conclusions:
While it doesn’t quite have the emotional gravitas that could make it a great film, The Last Kiss gives us enough to think about in our own lives and provides us with a couple laughs to make it through. The Blu-ray itself is an adequate presentation, with some minor improvements in the video presentation, with a very good set of extras.
ISO "Lost" ARG prints from Kevin Tong, Olly Moss, Eric Tan and Methane Studios.  PM me if you want to sell!

All reviews done on a Marantz VP11S1 1080p DLP projector.

Displays professionally calibrated by Gregg Loewen of Lion AV.





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