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HTF Blu-ray Review: Imagine That

Discussion in 'Archived Reviews' started by PatWahlquist, Oct 29, 2009.

  1. PatWahlquist

    PatWahlquist Supporting Actor

    Jun 13, 2002
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    Imagine That (Blu-ray)

    Studio: Paramount Home Video
    Rated: PG-13 (for some mild language and brief questionable behavior)
    Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
    HD Encoding: 1080p
    HD Video Codec: MPEG-4 AVC
    Audio: English Dolby TrueHD 5.1; French 5.1 Dolby Digital; Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital
    Subtitles: English, French, Spanish, Brazilian Portuguese; English SDH+
    Time: 107 minutes
    Disc Format: 1 SS/DL BD
    Case Style: Keep case
    Theatrical Release Date: 2009
    Blu-ray Release Date: October 6, 2009

    Eddie Murphy has become somewhat of an enigma to me anymore. Maybe I’m still stuck on his slew of hits so early in his career, but I have a tough time when his pictures don’t let him do what he does best. He shows glimmers of hope as a truly serious comedic actor now and again (such as in Dreamgirls), but for the most part he is being relegated to the role of working actor leaving the roles that would better suit him going to Chris Rock and Chris Tucker. Murphy obviously pays his bills, but I’m craving another Axel F. role rather than hearing the Donkey whinny.
    Imagine That has Murphy playing big time, divorced investment banker Evan Danielson. He is one of the top producers in his company, along with his nemesis Johnny Whitefeather (Thomas Hayden Church, fun in a supporting role), and as he is nearing a big presentation, his daughter’s school calls asking him to come get her. The girl, Olivia (Yara Shahidi) his retreated into a fantasy world of imaginary friends after her parent’s divorce, outwardly signified by her reliance on a purple blanket she calls her “goo-gah”. Evan takes her back to the office where she innocently draws on and defaces papers from Evan’s upcoming presentation. Whitefeather wows them and Evan melts down, using his daughter’s drawings act as symbol of what the stocks and companies in question will do.
    Then a strange thing happens: her pictures and Evan’s subsequent presentation were all entirely accurate. His boss calls him in to ask how he so accurately knew what was going to happen, and Evan has no response. That night as he and Olivia are talking, she tells him the imaginary friends have things to say about what stocks and companies are going to be hits. Based on these prognostications, Evan goes on a winning role leaving him and Johnny in competition for the top spot in the company. Olivia still demands his time with her school functions and reliance on imaginary playmates, but Evan will have to choose what is truly important to him if he is to have any success in the rest of his life.
    If a magic goo-gah and imaginary friends who can predict stock futures threw you as much as it did me, you’re not alone. The picture sets itself up as a routine broken family plot (which, really, it never rises above) then adds in the mystical hocus pocus nonsense of a prescient child or blanket and we are left not knowing what to think. Are we about to embark on a child’s fantasy world come to life, or are we going to see yet another familial love story with a Hollywood ending? The film can’t really decide and it’s as if the writers, Ed Solomon and Chris Matheson, knew they had a meager premise to go with and decided to see just how outlandish they could make it. Murphy shows us a couple glimpses of what we love about him, but overall, anyone could have stepped into this dog and phoned it in just as well. Paramount was kind enough to send out replica blankets with the review copies, so I think I’ll hold on to it and see if it can tell me when Murphy will bring his “A” game again.

    Movie: *.5/*****

    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 1.78:1. The image is very colorful throughout showing a good palate of colors and shading. Flesh tones were average but accurate showing very nice contrast between the actors faces. Detail and sharpness were good for this type of material, neither wow-ing me nor detracting from the presentation. I noticed no print dirt or other flaws in the transfer. Edge enhancement was minimal and a mild amount of grain can be seen. Black levels were satisfactory showing some detail and depth.

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

    The 5.1 Dolby TrueHD soundtrack was attained by the HDMI connection of the PS3 to the Denon 3808CI.

    The Dolby TrueHD 5.1 track was similar to the picture in that it suits the material fine, with an acceptable, front heavy presentation.. The sound stays firmly in the front channels and the surrounds are barely utilized to convey environmental sounds such as traffic and weather. LFE’s were engaged infrequently and didn’t add much to the overall scene. The soundtrack is clear and clean and free of any debris or other distortions. Voices remained lifelike.

    Audio: **/*****

    Bonus Material: all of this is in HD.

    Commentary by Director Karey Kirkpatrick and Breakout Star Yara Shahidi: while I think the assertion that Shahidi is a breakout is a little strong, and she doesn’t have much to contribute. Kirkpatrick keeps it going but it isn’t terribly interesting.

    Yara Shahidi Set Tour (7:28) has her showing us her trailer and the Paramount lot and its various components, and in Getting the Part (2:26) she is again spotlighted for those special qualities that got her this role.

    A Playground of the Mind (9:08) has Kirkpatrick discussing how important imagination is and how he uses it. Some of the cast members jump in too to discuss their interactions with kid’s imaginary friends and the importance of fostering one’s own imagination.

    Star Blanket: Native American Influence (3:43) has Kirkpatrick and others discussing the basis of the “goo-gah” and its importance.

    The King and His Jesters (7:48) has Kirkpatrick talking about reading the script and his initial trepidation of working with Murphy, while the other actors talk about working with him. Murphy is also discussed and it bothers me how his reputation precedes him making him seem better in this role than he really is.

    What Were They Really Saying? (5:03) is a spotlight on the pieces of video that were playing in the numerous monitors throughout the movie, and Johnny Whitefeather Outtakes (4:54) is a funny piece of Church’s flubs and bogus Native American slogans.
    Evan and Olivia Outtakes (5:31) is a similar piece focusing on the father and daughter duo.

    There are three Deleted Scenes, an Alternate Ending and a Director’s Roughest Cut (8:50) that shows some harmless cuts, a finer point ending and Kirkpatrick lamenting on cutting his own child out of the movie.

    Bonus Material: ***/*****

    Imagine That takes a worn out premise and tries to perk it up with a metaphysical component and it ultimately doesn’t work. Glimmer’s of the Eddie Murphy we all love keeps it from being unwatchable, but that’s about all that gets us through it. The AV presentation is fine as are the extras.


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