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HTF Blu-Ray Review: Blades of Glory (1 Viewer)

PatWahlquist

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Blades of Glory (Blu-Ray)

Studio: DreamWorks Home Video
Rated: PG-13 (For crude and sexual humor, language, a comic violent image and some drug references)
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
HD Encoding: 1080p
HD Video Codec: MPEG4-AVC
Audio: English 5.1 PCM (uncompressed); English, French, Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles: English, French, Spanish, Portuguese; English SDH
Time: 93 minutes
Disc Format: 1 SS/DL Blu-Ray
Case Style: Keep case
Theatrical Release Date:2007
HD-DVD Release Date: May 20, 2008

Will Ferrell has made a career out of playing the borderline socially retarded lummox in a bunch of successful movies over the past few years. His portrayal of the narcissistic man child seems to strike the funny bone of the film going community, and in the case of Blades of Glory, to the tune of $118 million in box office grosses. So why is it while watching Blades of Glory and Ferrell’s portrayal of men’s figure skating champ Chazz Michael Michaels did I hardly laugh? Could it be that Ferrell’s role was overshadowed by Jon Heder’s role of child-man Jimmy MacElroy, the mop-topped bleach blonde of questionable sexuality? Or was it the fact that the undulating man-parts just don’t equal a satisfying whole?

The movie is pretty straight forward: Michaels and MacElroy are bitter rivals in the men’s singles figure skating world, to the point they tie in a big competition and have to share the gold. This pisses off Michaels to no end and he and MacElroy wind up in a fist fight on the rink that leads to their permanent expulsion from the figure skating world. Three and a half years pass and MacElroy has a stalker who finds a loop hole in the skate rules that would allow MacElroy to return to skating. However, it would have to be in pair’s competition. His search for a suitable partner leads him and Michaels into an antagonistic partnership just so they can skate again. Their hugely different personalities and how it’s translated into a skate routine causes their coach (Craig T. Nelson), a high level of angst as he tries to revive these skating pariahs. Our boys have competition in the form of the VanWaldenberg siblings, Stranz and Fairchild (Will Arnett and Amy Poehler), whose relationship is somewhat questionable and certainly creepy. Jenna Fischer is thrown in as the third VanWaldenberg sibling to give MacElroy a chance to find a girl and move along the plot. The ice will heat up with tension and competition as these bitter rivals must put aside differences to take home the gold and restore their faded dreams.

Ferrell and a seemingly inexhaustible supply of Farrelly and Apatow clones are now flooding our Cineplex’s with movies that lampoon any minor or major sport. While the focus has shifted from our old standbys of baseball and football, today’s screenwriters are looking for comedy gold in whatever they can find (is a curling movie too far off?). But the skating theme is a one trick pony, with the story quickly exhausting the gay jokes to include homoeroticism, delicate and sensitive performances and the love of pink, fucia, mauve and teal. What’s left is a thin backbone of the ho-hum story of two very different personalities having to go through personal growth to achieve a common and shared desire. Ferrell, who can usually elevate weak scripts and produce the laughs, regurgitates his dullard character, but now, we’ve seen it a few too many times (Ricky Bobby would have been a fine epilogue). Heder plays his character as if it were written specifically to appeal to his strengths, which are nothing more than riffs on Napoleon Dynamite. In everything I see Heder in, I believe he’s as more Dynamite than anything else. Even two of my favorite go-to’s to save a movie, Arnett, primarily, but Poehler too, do what they can with what they have. Arnett, for all his vamping in the feature, has some of his funniest schtick in the extra features, unfortunately, and William Fichtner’s small but fun role is too quickly dismissed. The end of the picture leaves me a little nervous about the future of comedy pictures and the ability of the ticket buyers to look past Ferrell’s endless retreads hoping to recover his glory days and the innocence of streaking down the street.


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 picture is framed at 1.85:1, and it is encoded in MPEG4-AVC at 1080p. Colors are quite solid in this transfer, coming across as rich and accurate without being overbearing. The picture seems to go a little hazy in some scenes making the overall image look flat. Sharpness and detail are good otherwise, showing us clear views of the background action and fine detail in the intricate costumes. Black levels are excellent showing good depth and detail. The image is free from any print dirt or other such debris and I noticed no edge enhancement.


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

The uncompressed 5.1 soundtrack is very pleasing but there is nothing really in it that showcases the boosted bits. About the only time you can hear the improved fidelity is when the songs come up (particularly Queen’s Flash Gordon theme) providing a rich and well balanced presentation. The soundtrack remains in the fronts primarily, with the surrounds opening up to highlight the crowds or some minimal environmental effects. When they do engage, it provides a very nice sound field. LFE’s are not used too often, usually with the songs and little else. Vocal presentations are accurate and I noticed only minimal ADR.


Bonus Material:

Return to Glory: The Making of Blades (14:46) and Celebrities On Thin Ice (6:03) (both in HD): Most of these bonus features are nothing more than EPK stuff, but the cast infuses it with some funny moments by their seemingly cluelessness about skating or the film in general. Fischer is particularly funny in that she doesn’t even know her character’s last name, and Ferrell has some fun with his interviewer. Arnett follows suit with his patented sarcasm and ability to make up stuff on any topic. Cooler Than Ice: The Super-Sexy Costumes of Skating (4:36) (HD) discusses how the characters come to life through their costumes; Arnett and Poehler-A Family Affair (HD) (5:48) has the duo goofing on how they got the job and how they approached the film. Again, this highlights just how funny these two are, just not so much in the feature itself.

20 Questions with Scott Hamilton (HD) (4:59): the former pro skater and broadcaster sits down to answer some tongue in cheek questions.

Hector: Portrait of a Psychofan (HD) (3:21): crazy-ass Hector gets the spotlight to further explain his love for Jimmy.

Moviefone Unscripted with Will Ferrell, Jon Heder and Will Arnett (SD) (9:54): the trio asks each other questions back and forth.

Deleted Scenes (HD) (9:10): four deleted scenes

Gag Reel (HD) (2:08)

Alternate Takes (HD) (8:38): some could-have-beens…

Music Video: Blades of Glory by Bo Bice (HD) (4:38)

MTV Interstitials (SD) (1:37): or commercials as we call them in the real world.

Photo Galleries


Conclusions:
The Ferrell schtick is leaving me morose and a couple of my favorite comedic actors can’t help to save the movie itself. The AV presentation is certainly fine as is the fluffy group of extras.
 

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