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HTF Blu-ray Review: Strange Wilderness



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#1 of 1 PatWahlquist

PatWahlquist

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  • Join Date: Jun 13 2002

Posted April 10 2009 - 08:29 AM


Strange Wilderness (Blu-ray)

Studio: Paramount
Rated: PG-13 (for non-stop language, drug use, crude and sexual humor)
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
HD Encoding: 1080p
HD Video Codec: MPEG-4 AVC
Audio: English Dolby TrueHD 5.1; Spanish, Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles: English, French, Spanish; English SDH+
Time: 87 minutes
Disc Format: 1 SS/DL BD
Case Style: Keep case
Theatrical Release Date: 2008
Blu-Ray Release Date: April 14, 2009


Peter Gaulke (Steve Zahn) has inherited his father’s Wild Kingdom-esque animal show, Strange Wilderness, but Peter’s a complete screw-up so the show has degenerated in quality and ratings. The head of the network has given Peter and his crew two weeks to bring in something good to boost ratings or they’re cancelled. Peter is approached by a friend of his fathers who has a map that leads to a real-life Bigfoot. Peter and his crew take their RV and head for Ecuador, in search of the mythical beast and salvation for the show.

David Letterman had an old joke that the current night’s show was so bad it wouldn’t even stick to the tape, and a few minutes into Strange Wilderness I was thinking the same thing. The anorexic plot is nothing more than a series of antics of a disjointed, non-cohesive cast trying desperately to do the best they can with what they’re given. When the credits rolled I was waiting to see if Alan Smithee had in fact directed the picture, but poor ‘ol Fred Wolf left his name on it. Everything in the picture we’ve seen so many times before: crude innuendos, stoners and their quest to get high, drunks, an obligatory hot chick only there for window dressing, Jonah Hill, and the list could go on and on. I may even be more forgiving of Strange Wilderness if it made me laugh, which it did exactly once when Peter does some narration over a shark at the end of the movie. I wish the picture would have instead done the whole thing around the actual Strange Wilderness as Zahn is finally given some humorous lines.

The film tries desperately to compensate by straying into the outrageous, including a bizarre sequence with a turkey and a brief meeting with a gone-native Vietnam vet portrayed by Robert Patrick, who has some bizarre injuries. He’s there as quick as he’s gone not giving us time to think, “Hey, Patrick is nowhere near old enough to be a VIETNAM vet.” One of the characters is the guy who apparently can survive anything, played with zealous air headedness by Peter Dante (a dead ringer for Joe Rogan), yet his stupid delivery makes Joe Rogan look like Laurence Olivier. Justin Long can usually salvage any scene, but he too drags down the picture with a tired riff on Jeff Spicoli. In case you needed a C-List actor to liven things up, there’s Harry Hamlin as a rival show host who is perhaps the luckiest character in the script as he is killed midway through. And poor Steve Zahn, has his career already gone so low that he is reduced to crap like this? To the cast of Strange Wilderness: you’re all better than this, so please, read the script before you sign the contract.

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. The picture maintains a real world look with the colors remaining very balanced throughout. Flesh tones are excellent and the outdoor scenes set in the jungle are lush and rich. Black levels are good and show a good amount of detail. Detail and sharpness are excellent. The picture remains crisp throughout, and it did not exhibit any edge enhancement or DNR.

Video: ***/*****


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. The soundtrack exhibits excellent presence with a very tight soundstage. It stays mostly in the mids with the LFE’s coming up to support some of the effects and music. Music is used often in the movie and it is well represented here, with nice dispersion of the stereo effects and rich, deep bass to support the full tonal range. Panning effects are accurate when they are utilized. Voices are clear and natural, as is the rest of the soundtrack.

Audio: ***/*****


Bonus Material: all items are in SD.

The smattering of bonus material consists of three behind-the-scenes pieces (Cooker’s Song, The Turkey and What Do We Do?) that show the filming of several scenes and the cast making comedic mistakes and improving. The EPK feature, Reel Comedy: Strange Wilderness is a twenty-one minute feature with cast interviews. The predominant question of “what is the plot of the picture” consistently comes up and they really don’t seem to know. If nothing else, this proves just how little they cared about this move outside of the paycheck. Finally, we are given thirteen deleted scenes over twenty two minutes.

Bonus Material: */*****


Conclusions:
This movie goes beyond bad, beyond the “it may be fun to MST3K it” bad because there just isn’t anything to make fun of. It’s almost as if we’ve been outsmarted by the cast and filmmakers to bring us into the inside joke regarding the “quality” of the movie, but I don’t think so. The AV portion of the movie is fine, but not outstanding, and the bonus features do nothing to help out the overall disc.
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.