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Blu-ray Reviews

HTF BLU-RAY REVIEW: Jennifer's Body: Unrated



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#1 of 15 OFFLINE   Matt Hough

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Posted December 31 2009 - 01:51 PM

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Jennifer’s Body: Unrated (Blu-ray)

Directed by Karyn Kusama

Studio: Twentieth Century-Fox
Year: 2009
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1   1080p   AVC codec
Running Time: 102/107 minutes
Rating: R/NR
Audio: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 English; Dolby Digital 5.1 French, Spanish, Portuguese
Subtitles: SDH, Spanish, Portuguese, others
Region: A
MSRP: $ 39.99

Release Date: December 29, 2009
Review Date: December 31, 2009
 
 
The Film
2.5/5
 
There have been tons of teenage horror movies but a teenage horror flick penned by an Oscar-winning screenwriter is indeed a novel event, and that’s probably the most interesting thing about Karyn Kusama’s Jennifer’s Body. Diablo Cody has provided her usual smartass teenage dialogue in a tale that mixes teen angst, the competitiveness of women for men, and demonic possession. The fright elements of the picture are strictly routine, but beneath the surface of this ghoulish little movie rests a potentially fascinating film about girls who grow apart as their interests in boys widen. Too bad the blood and guts sometimes get in the way of a really promising film pitting a dominant female against her emerging rival.
 
Best friends since childhood Jennifer (Megan Fox) and Needy (Amanda Seyfried) escape a fire at a local club, but Jennifer, who went there to hook up with the band’s lead singer, jumps into a van with the rockers and later that night arrives back at Needy’s covered in blood and vomiting up a black spiky tar substance before leaving. The next morning, Jennifer is as gorgeous as ever, but the school population is mourning the death of one of their classmates, the first in a series of murders with school-aged guys being devoured. Jennifer seems unmoved by it all as Needy slowly begins to realize that her friend, though always selfish and self-serving, has changed in ways she isn’t ready to deal with.
 
Diablo Cody’s demonic possession storyline isn’t as suspenseful or as frightening as any average episode of TV’s Supernatural, so its only real claim to fame is the frequently sassy and occasionally witty dialogue she has both of her leading teenaged characters spouting off (it’s easy to tell these words were written by the award-winning writer of Juno). Karyn Kusama doesn’t revel in the gore effects as Jennifer’s monster chews off the faces, necks, and other body parts of her assorted victims, but she’s fond of showing off camera moves for no reason other than that she can have them (a long, long tracking shot toward Jennifer’s second victim, a burly football player, is completely unnecessary; an extremely tight close-up of two girls kissing seems gratuitously long). There is one startling moment: before Jennifer eviscerates the young man, a group of forest creatures gather around to watch the carnage. It’s an eerily evocative shot, supremely creepy and effective and one which the film could have used many more of. Instead we get absurd projectile vomiting and levitations that are far more funny than scary. One almost expects the bed in Needy’s room to start bouncing up and down in the best tradition of The Exorcist, but thankfully, we are spared this.
 
Effortlessly beautiful, Megan Fox gets to play bitchy and predatory as Jennifer, something she has no trouble handling. Amanda Seyfried is outfitted in a pair of hideous glasses to hide her own attractiveness since she’s supposed to be the plain-Jane of the twosome, but the film is actually more of a showcase for her than for the top-billed Fox since she goes through the most radical changes of mood and behavior. She’s unquestionably the acting talent of the film. Johnny Simmons plays her sweetly naïve boy friend who must learn the hard way to listen to his lover when friends all around him are being eaten alive. J. K. Simmons enlivens a few scenes as a one-handed schoolteacher with an accent straight out of Fargo.
 
 
Video Quality
5/5
 
The film’s 1.85:1 theatrical aspect ratio is delivered in a reference quality 1080p transfer using the AVC codec. Color saturation and sharpness are superb resulting in a really dimensional image that is extremely enthralling. Flesh tones are precise, and all that blood looks real without the red blooming distractingly. Black levels are excellent with impressive shadow detail. The film has been divided into 24 chapters.
 
 
Audio Quality
4/5
 
The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 sound mix makes very good use of its surround channels for much of the film. There are a few times when one would expect more atmospheric use of the rears, but for the most part, there is notably good use of pans across the soundstage, and the LFE channel gets a nice workout as well. The music by Theodore Shapiro and Steven Barton effectively “bumps” and “screeches” when necessary to enliven the film’s suspense quotient.
 
 
Special Features
3/5
 
The disc contains both the theatrical cut and the extended unrated edition of the movie. The five extra minutes in the unrated edition are not actually additional gore and sex shots but rather extensions of scenes involving parents and friends of the slain boys during the film.
 
Director Karyn Kusama and writer Diablo Cody provide the audio commentary for the theatrical cut of the film. Kusama does by far the most talking, mostly complimenting Cody’s script and their decisions about certain aspects of the production they consider really important or groundbreaking. It’s quite a bit of start-and-stop as the film progresses. In the unrated extended edition of the film, Karyn Kusama has provided additional commentary just for the scenes which have been put back in (noted by a red slate in the lower right hand corner of the screen) expressing her feelings about their eventual excision.
 
There are six deleted scenes which may be watched individually or in one 14-minute grouping. They’re in 1080p.
 
The film’s gag reel runs for 5 minutes in 480i.
 
Jennifer’s Body: The Dead Pool” is the movie’s EPK featurette, 14 minutes of discussion of the film’s themes, praise for the film’s stars (particularly Megan Fox), and some interesting behind-the-scenes glimpses at how the special demonic effects were accomplished. This is presented in 1080p.
 
There are four video diaries as a cameraman follows around some of the film’s principals especially during the shooting of the film’s climactic indoor pool showdown. The participants are Megan Fox and Johnny Simmons, Amanda Seyfried, Diablo Cody, and producer Daniel Dubiecki. They may be watching individually or in one 12 ¾-minute bunch. They’re presented in 1080i.
 
“Megan Fox Is Hot” is a true statement, and this 1-minute vignette consists of a montage of film clips from the movie. They’re in 1080p.
 
The Megan Fox P.S.A. is a goof on the film as Fox in character as Jennifer states her desire to chew up anyone she wishes. It runs for ¾ of a minute in 480i.
 
“Fox Movie Channel Presents Life After Film School” is another in the series of interviews with three film school students interviewing a show business veteran. Here Diablo Cody describes her own unusual career trajectory and offers advice for anyone interested in pursuing show business. It runs 26 ½ minutes in 480i.

The second disc in the set is the digital copy of the film with instructions enclosed for installing on Mac and PC devices.
 
There are 1080p trailers for Gentlemen Broncos, All About Steve, Whip It, Fame, and (500) Days of Summer, among others. The trailer for Jennifer’s Body is not provided.
 
 
 
In Conclusion
3/5 (not an average)
 
Jennifer’s Body is a run-of-the-mill horror movie, its status elevated somewhat with its chipper dialogue and some attractive and talented performers. The Blu-ray experience is exemplary with stunning picture and most effective sound, somewhat wasted on a less than scintillating enterprise.
 
 
 
Matt Hough
Charlotte, NC


#2 of 15 OFFLINE   TonyD

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Posted December 31 2009 - 07:49 PM

I'm not sure this was a horror film, seemed more like an unfunny dark comedy with some bloody stuff mixed in.

There didn't seem to be much of a point to anything about the movie.
I wanted to see more of the Devils' Hole or whatever the waterfall was called, but that was screwed up too.
If the scientists are going to throw stuff down the hole wouldn't they include a phone number or some way for whomever finds the balls to inform them were the balls were found?

Also it was disappointing to watch a movie called Jennifer's Body and the never actually, really see Jennifer's body.

There is a few images floating around of the scene when Jenny is coming out of the water after swimming in the lake, the scene isn't even in the film. Only the part of her swimming is seen.



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#3 of 15 OFFLINE   Cory S.

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Posted December 31 2009 - 08:59 PM

It'll be a cult classic in 15 years.  Absolutely adore this film.  The movie is all theme and the two leads are fantastic in this thing.  Personally, I think it's a very underrated film.

"Because he's the hero Gotham deserves.  But, not the one it needs right now.  So, we'll hunt.  Because he can take.  Because, he's not a hero.  He's a silent guardian, a watchful protector.  A DARK KNIGHT."

#4 of 15 OFFLINE   TravisR

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Posted January 01 2010 - 04:20 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Cory S. View Post

It'll be a cult classic in 15 years. 
 

Definitely.

I enjoyed the movie but it's more of a pitch black comedy than a horror movie.

#5 of 15 OFFLINE   Paul_Scott

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Posted January 03 2010 - 01:21 PM



Quote:
Originally Posted by TravisR 



Definitely.

I enjoyed the movie but it's more of a pitch black comedy than a horror movie.
I would agree that it is much less a horror movie than a very dead pan, black comedy with liberal applications of horror and sex.
I enjoyed the hell out of it at the theater and am looking forward to revisiting it again now that I have it on Bd. The extras look remarkably weak (and for some reason they all get shunted to a tiny 720x480 box in the upper left corner of the screen. the standard def res I understand, but why stuck up in the left hand corner? Very odd) But at least the movie itself looks great.

I really get the feeling that most people were reviewing the films pedigree and that Diablo Cody and Fox were good targets to sneer at. While I generally enjoyed Juno, the dialogue was just insufferably cute and self conscious. I thought the writing in JB was far superior and much toned down. The film is still about teenagers so it is appropriate that there be some sense of 'teen speak'. That it isn't the exact same phraseology 'real' teens may use currently is immaterial. It sounded natural to me and was well delivered by the cast (all of who I found very appealing).

I went into this expecting a low brow, grindhouse kind of movie, with sex, horror beats and irreverent, trashy humor- and that's what I got. And done with a surprisingly high degree of gloss and craft as well.
I'm baffled by the reaction to this one. Maybe if it had had Tarrantino's name on it somewhere and a more obvious campaign explicitly stating this was a big studio grindhouse movie (i realize somewhat of an oxymoron) the inclined parties might  have felt they had a pass to enjoy it. I dunno.


#6 of 15 OFFLINE   TonyD

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Posted January 03 2010 - 02:02 PM

I'm not baffled by the overall reaction, It's just not a very good movie.
It has a couple of fun moments but as a whole nothing memorable about the film at all.

Juno was kind of cute and had a nice story. this movie didn't have much of anything to like.
It wasn't sexy enough even though there was one lingering girl/girl kiss, but even that was screwed up by putting the camera practically in the mouth of both girls while they were kissing.

There was some gore but that was more disgusting then scary.
The story just wasn't interesting.

Even the blu-ray was mediocre with the extras mostly just meh.



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#7 of 15 OFFLINE   TravisR

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Posted January 03 2010 - 02:21 PM



Quote:
Originally Posted by Paul_Scott View Post

I went into this expecting a low brow, grindhouse kind of movie, with sex, horror beats and irreverent, trashy humor- and that's what I got. And done with a surprisingly high degree of gloss and craft as well.
 
That sums up why I think it's got cult potential.


As for its reception, I just think it's a movie that appeals to a very small segment of people so it makes sense that most critics and audiences probably wouldn't care for it.

#8 of 15 OFFLINE   Paul_Scott

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Posted January 03 2010 - 02:31 PM

And yet at the same time, I never saw the amount of vitriol lavished on Planet Terror or Death Proof- films very much in the same low-brow vein. In fact, to me JB is superior to both of those (although the versions I watched were the extended dvd cuts so that might have bloated them beyond their ideal size). But the thing is, people seemed to go into those already in on the joke. Here it seems just the opposite.
They seem like they got ripped off or bait and switched.
And to Tony D, there are a bunch of sequences that stick in my mind form this- either from specific content or atmosphere. Compared to 9 and that Bruce Willis Sci-fi movie, two films I saw around the same time, I thought JB was far more satisfying than either of those.
I just read another review that panned it over on DVD Beaver- yet the impression I get is that the reviewer there, like most I have seen, is judging the film as something it isn't. He says something along the lines of the comedic elements being incidental. It's baffling how few people are coming into it in the spirit it was (to me, obviously) intended. I knew going in not to expect a serious horror film- and I don't have a TV so I'm not bombarded by advertising. Maybe that was the big problem- how it was marketed.

Not to besmirch anyone here- but I'm starting to think the film is smarter than a lot of it's critics. At the very least, I do think it knows what it is, even if they don't.


#9 of 15 OFFLINE   TonyD

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Posted January 03 2010 - 02:40 PM

Smarter then it's critics, what does that even mean especially for this movie, not exactly 2001?
Also at least I said, "I'm not sure this was a horror film, seemed more like an unfunny dark comedy with some bloody stuff mixed in."

I haven't seen the Bruce Willis movie but i did "9", I enjoyed "9" and thought it to be a much more interesting idea.

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#10 of 15 OFFLINE   TravisR

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Posted January 03 2010 - 02:49 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Paul_Scott View Post

I knew going in not to expect a serious horror film- and I don't have a TV so I'm not bombarded by advertising. Maybe that was the big problem- how it was marketed.

 

It was marketed as a fairly straight horror movie (with the obligatory Diablo Cody-style jokes) and that's what I expected. So I was fairly surprised that it was a comedy. Like I said though, I see this as a movie with a pretty limited appeal so I'm not knocking anyone that didn't like it.

And since you brought them up, I think Death Proof is much better in its extended form but Planet Terror only adds a few minutes of footage so there's not a lot of difference between the two versions.

#11 of 15 OFFLINE   Paul_Scott

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Posted January 03 2010 - 02:57 PM



Quote:
Originally Posted by TonyD 

Smarter then it's critics, what does that even mean especially for this movie, not exactly 2001?
Also at least I said, "I'm not sure this was a horror film, seemed more like an unfunny dark comedy with some bloody stuff mixed in."
 
That's why I wasn't hitting on you specifically Tony. I've seen reviews, like the Beav's, that just seem totally clueless.
And when I say 'smarter than some of it's critics' I'm referring to thematic stuff that gives this a little more heft than the typical low-brow schlock fest. I agree this isn't 2001 (though 2001 still kind of leaves me cold as much as I try to appreciate it)- but something like gender/sex politics- especially in the realm of teenagers-  have transitioned quite a bit from when I ( and maybe even Cody) was that age in the mid 80's- and I see this as somewhat of satirical caricature on where things have ended up. Several of the main male characters are emo, sensitive, and frequently power-less, while female subject of the story is near omnipotent and literally is a man-eater.


#12 of 15 OFFLINE   TonyD

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Posted January 03 2010 - 03:08 PM

I agree with you on 2001, I think I would have liked JB if it had more skin and was funny, it just didn't make me laugh.

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#13 of 15 OFFLINE   Justin_S

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Posted January 03 2010 - 05:52 PM

I was disappointed by this one, probably due to similar themes being explored to superior effect in 2000's Ginger Snaps. I actually felt that the best moments in Jennifer's Body revolved around the Satanic band. As such, I couldn't help but think how much better it would have been had it stuck with them as the main antagonists. That said, this was decent enough. Far from the disaster I've seen people claiming it to be.

#14 of 15 OFFLINE   Jon Martin

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Posted January 04 2010 - 02:54 AM

While I didn't care for the film theatrically, the unrated cut is actually a much better film.  The five minutes add quite a bit to the film. 

#15 of 15 ONLINE   Aaron Silverman

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Posted January 04 2010 - 07:40 AM


Quote:
Originally Posted by MattH. 

There is one startling moment: before Jennifer eviscerates the young man, a group of forest creatures gather around to watch the carnage. It’s an eerily evocative shot, supremely creepy and effective and one which the film could have used many more of.
If the Woodland Critters liked it, then I am gonna have to see this movie!

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