BORAT CULTURAL LEARNINGS OF AMERICA FOR MAKE BENEFIT GLORIOUS NATION OF KAZAKHSTAN Studio: 20th Century Fox Film Year: 2006 Film Length: 86 min Genre: Comedy Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 widescreen enhanced Colour/B&W: Colour Audio: English Dolby Digital 5.1 surround Spanish Dolby Digital 2.0 surround French Dolby Digital 2.0 surround Russian Dolby Digital 2.0 surround Hebrew Dolby Digital 2.0 surround (NOT! Jew) Subtitles: English, Spanish U.S. Film Rating: R Canadian Film Rating: 14A Release Date: March 06, 2007 Movie-Film Rating: / Starring: Sacha Baron Cohen (Borat Sagdiyev), Ken Davitian (Azamat Bagatov) Story by: Sacha Baron Cohen, et al. Directed by: Larry Charles Very nice! Borat! Borat! Borat! If you have trimmed the hair in your ears in the past year, chances are you’ve heard of the Kazakh journalist, Borat. In his self-titled film, this fictional character leaves his native Kazakhstan to learn about American culture – the best culture in the world! Upon his arrival, he encounters disappointment after disappointment when meeting with many people who try to help him adjust to the cultural differences of his home country. While shooting this documentary, he becomes with obsessed with a picture of Pamela Anderson and is determined to go to California to marry her. On his journey, he receives strong reactions from the unassuming public, adding to the amusement of this film. I just had difficulty figuring out what was staged and what wasn’t; it seemed a bit of both. The irregularities of this made the film a bit awkward to watch, but still delivering the laughs until the very end when Borat returns to his native Kazakhstan. The movie is a hilarious bit for adults, as its audience is geared to adults. I don’t recommend kids watching this film despite how funny and innocent the commercials look – but from what I hear in the classrooms I know kids are seeing this. C’mon parents, show a bit of responsibility! The DVD has a cardboard slipcase over it; it’s needed because the artwork on the keepcase is all in Kazakh or Russian characters. There isn't a word of English on it. It’s faded and made to look like a homemade ‘download-and-print’ of a bootleg DVD. Even the disc is etched Borat with just a black marker. I thought it was a copied screener, but it was the real deal! Its creative packaging we’ve seen before on some music CDs addressing the piracy problem. Want crappy artwork? Here you go. Even the menus of the DVD look like a bootleg copy and almost everything is written in Kazakh with English subtitles over it. I love the low-fi Kazakhi anthem in the background...it adds to the authenticity. VIDEO QUALITY: 3.5/5 Borat was shot mostly on HDTV video with an aspect ratio of 1.78:1. Theatrically it was presented on 35mm with an aspect ratio of 1.85:1. This DVD appears to be sourced by an HD video copy without the film in between. The aspect ratio of this disc is 1.78:1 even though the packaging says 1.85:1. In all honesty, I’m not impressed. I found the source video to be a bit hazy and dull. It’s also much dimmer than I had expected and has a bit of clipped whites. I’ve seen some great HD video at DVD’s resolution and this title isn’t one of them. Colours look fine but don’t stand out as fantastic. The documentary-style shooting of this picture doesn’t seem care for looking for fantastic shots and that’s fine given the film. Video noise, especially in darker parts of the image, is most likely a limitation of the HD cameras. DVD’s fine detail is present in the background crowd during Borat’s singing of Kazakhstan’s national anthem (ha!) and the only the only thing truly blurred out is Borat’s private part – but the other teabag is clearly distinguishable – yikes! I can’t say I was expecting that!! AUDIO QUALITY: 3/5 The audio is no award winner. It’s supposed to be in Dolby Digital 5.1 audio but it really sounded like a 3.0 presentation. The surrounds were very quiet and there was rarely a moment of LFE (the latter not expected). The front soundstage is quite alive with sound effects and music to enhance the comedy while dialogue is firmly placed in the center speaker. Dialogue is a bit forward and I almost felt like turning down my center channel’s volume a decibel or two, but I don’t believe in that – I just listen to the mix as is: engaging, but not dynamic. TACTILE FUN!! ZERO / TACTILE TRANSDUCER ON/OFF?: OFF SPECIAL FEATURES: 2/5 Bonus materials are a bit slim on this disc but at least they’re worth the watch. Have you missed the promotional campaigns for this film? You’ll get to see a wide variety of this sort in the Publicity Tour Montage (16m39s). It has clips from Conan O’Brian, Comic-Con, the Toronto International Film Festival, Cannes, and much more. It’s hilarious to watch, really. This feature is widescreen in a 4:3 window (pillarboxed). Also just as hilarious to watch as the film are the deleted scenes and the deleted footage montage, about 30 minutes total. There is no play all function so you must select them from the menu. I enjoyed these scenes as much as the main film, if not a bit more that some. These are best enjoyed as a feature though; I think the film would have dragged if it were any longer than 90 minutes, so good choice on the cuts (all are 1.78:1 anamorphic) The disc also includes a comical musical infomercial (1min) and theatrical trailers under the feature Coming to Kazakhstan in 2028 (trailers are National Lampoon’s Van Wilder – The Rise of Taj, Super Troopers, Grandma’s Boy). IN THE END... You want to know what the Borat hype is all about? This DVD is on sale at every outlet – there’s no escaping this man!! Give in and see how the cultural learnings of America make benefit glorious nation of Kazakhstan. Michael Osadciw March 10, 2007.