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HTF BLU-RAY REVIEW: MacGruber



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#1 of 3 OFFLINE   Kevin EK

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Posted September 05 2010 - 01:46 PM

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MACGRUBER

 

Studio: Universal

Year: 2010

Length:  1 hr 31 mins  (R-Rated Cut)  1 hr 35 mins (Unrated Cut)

Genre:  Comedy/Action Parody

 

Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1

 

BD Resolution: 1080p

BD Video Codec: AVC (Theatrical Cut, @ an average 25 mbps) VC-1 (Unrated Cut, @ an average 25 mbps)

Color/B&W: Color

 

Audio:

English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 (@ an average 3.5 mbps, obviously going higher for the big action scenes)

Spanish DTS 5.1

French DTS 5.1

English DVS (Descriptive Visual Service) 2.0

 

Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish

 

Film Rating: R (Strong, Crude and Sexual Content, Violence, Language Nudity);  Unrated Version (see description for the R-Rated cut…)

 

Release Date: September 7, 2010

 

Starring:  Will Forte, Kristen Wiig, Ryan Phillipe, Powers Boothe, Maya Rudolph and Val Kilmer

Written by:  Will Forte, John Solomon and Jorma Taccone

Based on the SNL skits featuring the title character

Directed by: Jorma Taccone

 

Film Rating:    1 ½/5

 

Once upon a time, Lorne Michaels produced a feature-length adaptation of one of the current repeated skits from Saturday Night Live, with the result being an amusing film that did well at the box office and entertained a lot of people.  Of course, Wayne’s World had the advantage of having enough potential material to actually fill 90 minutes of feature film time.   The same cannot be said of MacGruber, the newest production to try this idea.  The source sketch is a one-minute parody of the TV series “MacGuyver”, in which the new title character regularly fails spectacularly to disarm a bomb and manages to get himself and everyone else killed.  And at one minute in length, this is usually a funny idea.  You get the basic setup – MacGruber (Will Forte) in a control room with his assistants (usually included Maya Rudolph and later Kristen Wiig) and the bomb – and then you watch him literally blow it.  And it all happens so quickly that it’s over before you know what has happened.  And that’s all there really is to the scenario.  Which means that there really isn’t a lot of material to try to expand this to a 90 minute length.  But they’ve certainly tried here.  MacGruber appears to be trying to parody the big action movies of the past 20 years, mixing ostensibly large set pieces and some disturbingly realistic violence with increasingly juvenile one-liners and crude humor.  Filmed on a lower-end budget with HD cameras, the film sets up a familiar action movie scenario with MacGruber being coaxed out of retirement to go after his hated enemy Cunth (Val Kilmer), who has stolen a nuclear weapon for use against the President.  Since the budget is not particularly high and the writers haven’t been that inventive in finding new action situations, the action itself tends to drag a bit.  And since the dialogue rarely gets beyond the obvious sexual joke or put-down, there isn’t much in terms of effective comedy to hold an audience’s interest there either.  Which brings us back to the issue that this kind of thing works much better as a one minute sketch on SNL.  It is for this reason that we probably will never see feature length versions of “Mark Wahlberg Talks to Animals” or “Toonces the Driving Cat”…

 

MacGruber will be released on standard definition DVD and Blu-ray this Tuesday.   The Blu-ray edition holds solid high definition picture and sound transfers of two different cuts of the movie.  There is an AVC transfer of the R-rated theatrical cut and a VC-1 transfer of a four minute longer Unrated cut that apparently just adds a little more language, violence and two brief scenes.  (I watched the Unrated cut all the way through – I have not seen the theatrical cut all the way, so there may be some other small differences).  The Blu-ray comes with one deleted scene, about 8 minutes of gag reel footage, and a scene-specific commentary by the film’s writers on the theatrical cut.   Further Blu-ray functionality is also part of the package, including pocket BLU,, My Scenes, and an online ticker and trailers, not to mention D-Box functionality. 

                                                       
 

VIDEO QUALITY   3 ½/5

MacGruber is presented in a 1080p AVC 2.35:1 transfer of the theatrical cut and a VC-1 2.35:1 transfer of the Unrated cut, both of which are equally solid.  I honestly couldn’t tell differences between the two transfers, and it’s a little strange that two different encodes were done here.   The black levels look solid, and the range of primary colors and flesh tones are satisfying and accurate.  There isn’t much of a “film look” here since the movie was shot digitally, but this is many steps above the transfers seen on Blu-rays like Smokin’ Aces 2: Assassins’ Ball.  I should note that I am watching the film on a 40” Sony XBR2 HDTV. If anyone is watching the film on a larger monitor and is having issues, please post them on this thread.

 

 

AUDIO QUALITY   4/5

MacGruber is presented in a great English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix in English, along with standard DTS 5.1 mixes in French and Spanish.  There is also an English Descriptive Visual Service track available.   The sound mix has plenty to do, from the multiple gunfights and explosions for the subwoofer and the surrounds, to the multiple 80’s songs played throughout the film.  To be honest, the sound mix is probably the best part of the movie and this disc.  It can truly be said here that MacGruber is Loud.  (Yes, that was deliberate, for whoever catches it…)

 

SPECIAL FEATURES      2/5

The Blu-Ray presentation of MacGruber comes with the usual BD-Live connectivity and My Scenes functionality, as well as pocket BLU and D-Box functionality.   To this is added a small amount of extras, including a deleted scene, a gag reel, and an audio commentary.  

 

Commentary with Will Forte, John Sullivan and Jorma Taccone – This scene-specific commentary, involving all three of the film’s writers, is only available on the Theatrical cut.  The three guys sit together and hash through various aspects of the film and the skits that inspired it.  Or make that two of the three guys.  John Sullivan is available only via speakerphone, and doesn’t contribute that much.

 

Deleted Scene – (0:44, 1080p)  A single deleted scene is included, showing Will Forte, Kristen Wiig and Ryan Phillipe walking from the latest Pentagon debriefing.

 

Gag Reel – (8:01, 1080p)  Just over 8 minutes of gag reel footage is included here, consisting of blown takes and lines, along with some unused angles.  There’s nothing particularly memorable here, to be honest.

 

BD-Live - The more general BD-Live screen is accessible via the menu, which makes various online materials available, including tickers, trailers and special events. 

 

My Scenes - The usual bookmarking feature is included here.

 

pocket BLU– The latest Blu-ray features of phone apps are included here for viewers with the right iPhones, Blackberries and other current hardware.

 

My Scenes - The usual bookmarking feature is included here.

 

D-Box – D-Box functionality is included for viewers who have this capability in their home theater.

 

 

The usual promotional ticker is present on the main menu, but can be toggled off at your discretion. The film is subtitled in English, French and Spanish.  The usual pop-up menu is present, along with a complete chapter menu.  Further, when you first put the Blu-ray in the player, several trailers will load from BD-Live, which you can get past by hitting the “Next Chapter” button. 

 

IN THE END...

MacGruber is the kind of film that makes you respect the craft that goes into a one or two minute SNL sketch, where you have a fun premise, a quick windup and a punchy delivery.  But at over 90 minutes, the same material becomes bloated and repetitive, to say the least.  I wish I could recommend it for rental, but it feels more responsible to point viewers to the SNL sketch material instead.

 

Kevin Koster

September 5, 2010.



#2 of 3 OFFLINE   Adam Gregorich

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Posted September 06 2010 - 09:36 AM

Thanks for the review Kevin.  I enjoyed the sketches on SNL, and wasn't sure if they would be able to extend them to a full feature.  Looks like you have answered that question /img/vbsmilies/htf/smile.gif.  I'll still need to see it as I am a big Kristen Wiig fan.
 

Waynes World was pretty good, but I think my favorite SNL port was Night at the Roxbury.



#3 of 3 OFFLINE   Kevin EK

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Posted September 06 2010 - 11:44 AM

I have to admit that watching the movie and writing this review drove me back to the SNL skits of the character.  Thanks to NBC.com, I've been able to watch all of them, and they hold up for me as being really funny for the most part.  There are occasional lapses into utter crudeness that go nearly as far as the movie goes, but there's something inherently funny to me about a scenario that always begins and ends the same way - much like Toonces the Driving Cat.
 

I mean, the situation is ALWAYS identical.  We see a close-up of a "Control Room" sign, then we go to mock-shakey cam footage of MacGruber and his two friends in the room.  First line is always "The door's locked!  We're trapped in here, MacGruber!"  Second line is always from the female assistant:  "And that's not the worst of it, MacGruber!  That dirty bomb (or chemical bomb, or nuke or whatever) is going to explode in 20 seconds!  What are we going to do?"   Then follows two or three MacGuver-like items being tossed to MacGruber (twine, gum wrapper, paper  clip, tomato juice...) before he gets distracted by someone, and then when he tries to get back to the job at hand, and is in the middle of his line, yep, bomb goes off.  Cue the stock footage and the yelled, high-pitched lyric "MACGRUBER!!!!"   Just as funny to me as Toonces going off that cliff. 
 

Couldn't they have just done 90 versions of that scene rather than taking up our time with the rest of this movie?