DVD Review HTF REVIEW: The Blues Brothers: 25th Anniversary Edition

Discussion in 'DVD' started by Steve Tannehill, Sep 4, 2005.

Tags:
  1. Steve Tannehill

    Steve Tannehill Ambassador

    Joined:
    Jul 6, 1997
    Messages:
    5,547
    Likes Received:
    215
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Location:
    DFW
    Real Name:
    Steve Tannehill
    XenForo Template  The Blues Brothers: 25th Anniversary Edition Studio: Universal Studios Home Video Case Style: Keep Case, no substantive insert Disc Format: Dual Sided / Dual Layered (DVD-18) Extended Version (Side A): Year: 1998 Rated: Not Rated Aspect Ratio: 1.85x1, enhanced for 16x9 displays Audio: English DD 5.1 Captions/Subtitles: English SDH; French and Spanish Subtitles Time: 148 minutes Theatrical Version(Side B): Year: 1980 Rated: R Aspect Ratio: 1.85x1, enhanced for 16x9 displays Audio: English, French, and Spanish DD 2.0 Captions/Subtitles: English SDH; French and Spanish Subtitles Time: 133 minutes “They’re not gonna catch us. We’re on a mission from God.” – Elwood Blues The Feature: In 1978, Grease was the word, and movie musicals got a shot in the arm. Around the same time, two up-and-coming rhythm and blues singers opened for a popular comedian at the Universal Amphitheater, recorded and released a live album recorded from those concerts, and history was made when that album spawned a hit single and went multi-platinum. Well, sort of. The comedian was real (Steve Martin), but the singers were none other than Saturday Night Live’s John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd, plus a hand-picked group of solid rhythm and blues musicians. Their album, Briefcase Full of Blues was fun, and the single “Soul Man” had people heading for the store for sunglasses. It was only a matter of time before a mythology was created around these characters and a movie was made. Dan Aykroyd wrote a lengthy script (think Los Angeles Telephone book in size) and John Landis, fresh from his triumph with John Belushi in Animal House, took the helm to shape the screenplay and turn out 1980’s The Blues Brothers. It was a musical. It was a comedy. It was a destroyed mall, a police chase to end all police chases, and did I mention it was a musical? James Brown… Aretha Franklin… John Lee Hooker… Ray Charles… Cab Calloway… wow. The story, such as it is, follows ex-con brothers Jake and Elwood Blues (Belushi and Aykroyd), who visit their scary old orphanage after Jake is released from prison, only to find that the orphanage will be closed in eleven days if $5000 in taxes are not paid. Jake and Elwood decide to save the orphanage legitimately by putting their band back together and playing benefit concerts. It is a bit of a stretch to make a 2+ hour movie out of this scenario using TV-skit stage personas. But string it together with musical numbers, car chases (and crashes), psychotic women with military weapons, and lots of good humor, and it works for what it is. Make it with John Belushi, Dan Aykroyd, and the very funny John Landis, and it has the potential to be a classic. I’ve seen the movie twice recently, with a small crowd of strangers, and a smaller crowd of friends, and we all found it enjoyable—sometimes to the point of uncontrollable laughter. That’s always a good sign. The Feature: 4.5 / 5      Video: There are two versions of The Blues Brothers on this DVD. Side A includes the extended edition that first made its appearance several years ago on DVD and laserdisc (the DVD was complete with a booklet that had an introduction by John Landis, and an itemized listing of which scenes had extended sequences). Side B includes the shorter theatrical version, which has never appeared on DVD. The video quality is similar, but the two versions do appear to be from different sources based on dirt and speckles. The video quality between the current release and the original special edition release is also similar, telling me that the movie was not remastered for this DVD release. Regardless, colors are rendered accurately; blacks are black; but there is quite a bit of grain and the appearance of noise reduction; there is definitely some edge enhancement, and a lack of fine detail. This is true on both sides of the disc. Both versions of the movie are presented in 1.85x1, enhanced for 16x9 displays. It's watchable, but not perfect. Video: 3.5 / 5     Sound: This is where the two versions of The Blues Brothers begin to diverge. The 5.1 remix for the 1998 release had someone playing around at the mixing console a wee bit more for the sound effects. Check out that gate opening to Jake’s freedom from prison to see what I mean—in the extended version, it goes right to left. In the DD 2.0 standard version, it remains focused on the center channel. The music is also mixed differently. The DD 2.0 mix sounds okay; the DD 5.1 mix sounds great, and is much more dynamic. I wish the original version of the film had been afforded the DD 5.1 mix. Sound: 4 / 5     Extras: Side A includes “The Stories Behind The Making of The Blues Brothers," which is the same 56:19 documentary that appeared on the prior DVD and laserdisc releases. There is some good behind-the-scenes footage, and interviews from 1998 and 1979/80. The stories told here are still being told to this day, at gatherings like last week’s Hollywood’s Master Storytellers. Side B includes an Intro (0:24) by Dan Aykroyd that can be played separately or will be played automatically when the movie fires up. “Going Rounds: A Day on the Blues Brothers Tour” takes a 7:03 look at two May 2005 performances in San Diego with James Belushi and Dan Aykroyd as the blues-singing brothers in black and white. I’m beginning to wish we had a House of Blues in Dallas. “Transposing the Music” is a 15:17 25th anniversary look at the movie—including the King Bee footage from Saturday Night Live, which is almost worth the price of the DVD. “Remembering John” is 9:39 extension to the Transposing documentary interviews, with John as the focus. Rounding out side Side B are production notes and a 4:26 Trailer. Both sides include “Musical Highlights” which are chapter stops and menu screens that focus on the individual musical numbers (as opposed to movie scenes). The supplements on both sides are all presented in 4x3. Oh, the menus on Side A are animated. On Side B they are static. Extras: 5 / 5 In Conclusion: The Blues Brothers is a favorite movie, and this DVD represents it well. I would have liked a better video transfer, however. If you have the original DVD release, you may be asking if the extra side of supplements makes the purchase of the new disc worth it. Keep in mind that the shorter version of the movie is included, which is paced a little better. But the extended sequences—especially the songs—and the inclusion of the more dynamic 5.1 mix definitely make the extended version worthwhile. And since you can get both in a package that costs less than $20, it’s hard to lose. Overall Rating: 4 / 5     Release Date: August 30, 2005
    Display calibrated by Steve Martin at http://www.lionav.com/
     
  2. george kaplan

    george kaplan Executive Producer

    Joined:
    Mar 14, 2001
    Messages:
    13,063
    Likes Received:
    2
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Thanks for the review. I prefer the extended version, which I already have, and you've confirmed no improvement in picture quality, so I'll be passing on this.
     
  3. Steve Tannehill

    Steve Tannehill Ambassador

    Joined:
    Jul 6, 1997
    Messages:
    5,547
    Likes Received:
    215
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Location:
    DFW
    Real Name:
    Steve Tannehill
    The new edition amounts to 37 minutes of new extras and the original cut of the movie. And while the purist in me demands owning this original version and all the extras (hey, I have both sets of the Lord of the Rings movies, too), I see your point, George.

    This is, however, a great buy if you don't have The Blues Brothers on DVD in your collection yet.

    - Steve
     
  4. Todd Stout

    Todd Stout Screenwriter

    Joined:
    Jul 13, 1999
    Messages:
    1,043
    Likes Received:
    2
    Trophy Points:
    110
    I've had the orignal release for several years now but I just had to buy the new DVD to own the original cut on a format other than VHS. I think it's fun to see the extra scenes but I also think that the original version flows a little better. Too bad the 5.1 mix is only available on the extended version. I can't complain too much though, I only paid $13 for the new release.

    Is it just me or does the 5.1 mix on the new DVD sound a little different than the 5.1 mix on the original DVD?
     
  5. Mark Lucas

    Mark Lucas Second Unit

    Joined:
    Aug 3, 2005
    Messages:
    497
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    For some reason I've thought about picking this up but there's no real reason to unless the bitrate is signicantly higher. The theatrical cut only having DD 2.0 is pretty lousy. I guess that explains one of the reasons the movie sounded so tinny and weak when I saw it at the dvd premiere in Hollywood.
     
  6. Todd Stout

    Todd Stout Screenwriter

    Joined:
    Jul 13, 1999
    Messages:
    1,043
    Likes Received:
    2
    Trophy Points:
    110
    You know, I was just comparing the 1998 DVD to the new one and I guess the 5.1 mixes are pretty much the same. I do think that the bass is a little heavier on the newer DVD's 5.1 mix but I could be wrong. I watched the scene towards the beginning where they jump the bridge in the Bluesmobile along with the car chase through the mall scene during my comparison.

    I also just watched part of the theatrical cut and the 2.0 sound is pretty weak compared to the 5.1 mix.

    Speaking of the car chase through the mall scene, here is some info about the mall that they used which is still standing 26 years later:
    Dixie Square Mall at DeadMalls.com
    DixieSquare.com
     
  7. Eric Emma

    Eric Emma Supporting Actor

    Joined:
    Feb 18, 2003
    Messages:
    508
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Good review, your review has prompted me to think about blind buying this, I'm a fan of Aykroyd and I love blues music so it seems like a natural fit
     
  8. Patrick McCart

    Patrick McCart Lead Actor

    Joined:
    May 16, 2001
    Messages:
    7,564
    Likes Received:
    195
    Trophy Points:
    9,110
    Location:
    Georgia (the state)
    Real Name:
    Patrick McCart
    I sold off mine for about $30 in profit, so I'll be picking this up... even if there's no real improvement in quality.

    Add:

    I'm really perplexed by the issues with DVD-18's. I have never had a problem with DVD-18 on my 2004 year Pioneer, year 2000 Toshiba, or my new DVD-RW drive. Even the Universals work perfectly.
     
  9. Steve Tannehill

    Steve Tannehill Ambassador

    Joined:
    Jul 6, 1997
    Messages:
    5,547
    Likes Received:
    215
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Location:
    DFW
    Real Name:
    Steve Tannehill
    Alas, I got my original copy back when it first came out--in the days of $34.98 retail price with a small discount. This copy, which I broke down and purchased Friday so I could review it with some semblance of timeliness, was $16.99, but convenient--and with gas prices what they are around here, the extra buck or two seemed like a fair trade.

    Back to House, M.D.!

    - Steve
     
  10. Bryan Tuck

    Bryan Tuck Screenwriter

    Joined:
    Jan 16, 2002
    Messages:
    1,724
    Likes Received:
    248
    Trophy Points:
    1,610
    Real Name:
    Bryan Tuck
    Has anyone experienced any problems with this disc? At the same point on both sides of the disc, the picture freezes up on my Sony DVP-NS50P. I thought it might be a layer change issue, but even if I skip to a later chapter, it still freezes up.

    I've tried it on a couple different players, and it does the same thing.
     
  11. Steve Tannehill

    Steve Tannehill Ambassador

    Joined:
    Jul 6, 1997
    Messages:
    5,547
    Likes Received:
    215
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Location:
    DFW
    Real Name:
    Steve Tannehill
    Just curious, have you had similar issues with other DVD-18 titles? DVD-18 titles from Universal? And what is the point on the disc where this occurs?

    I have moved from the Panasonic RP91 upstairs to the Sony 7700 downstairs, with no glitches so far (I am wary of the Sony, however, as it did lock up on me once with the DVD-9 release of Freaks and Geeks when no other player in the house did so).

    Thanks - Steve
     
  12. Bryan Tuck

    Bryan Tuck Screenwriter

    Joined:
    Jan 16, 2002
    Messages:
    1,724
    Likes Received:
    248
    Trophy Points:
    1,610
    Real Name:
    Bryan Tuck

    I'm not sure; it's actually a new player. It was not too long after the Ray Charles scene on both sides, where the freeze-ups started, and then it would continue to get hung up all through to the beginning of "Everybody Needs Somebody."

    At any rate, I took the disc back, exchanged it for another copy, and there've been no problems with the new disc.
     

Share This Page