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Blu-ray Review The American President Blu-ray Review (1 Viewer)

Citizen87645

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Cameron Yee
Dating goes democratic in this Aaron Sorkin-penned, Rob Reiner-directed romantic drama, which also happens to be lit up like Independence Day with its all-star cast of Michael Douglas, Annette Bening, Martin Sheen, and many others. The film’s inaugural appearance on Blu-ray is less than auspicious though, sporting what looks like a dated master and negligible bonus material.



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The American President


Release Date: September 25, 2012
Studio: Warner Home Video
Packaging/Materials: Blu-ray EcoBox
Year: 1995
Rating: PG-13
Running Time: 1:53:23
MSRP: $19.98







THE FEATURE

SPECIAL FEATURES



Video

AVC: 1080p high definition 2.40:1

Standard definition



Audio

DTS-HD Master Audio: English 5.1 / Dolby Digital: Spanish 2.0

Stereo



Subtitles

English SDH, French, Spanish

N/A





The Feature: 4/5


The Leader of the Free World and the most powerful man in America Andrew Shepherd (Michael Douglas) wants to date. Specifically, he wants to date Sydney Ellen Wade (Annette Bening), a vocal and passionate lobbyist recently hired by an environmental group to get a critical energy bill through Congress. This despite a sizable gaffe during her first meeting with the President’s Chief of Staff, A.J. MacInerney (Martin Sheen); but it’s that very passion and candor that intrigues the President, who, besides being the Executive in Chief, is a widower and single father, now three years running.



While the President dating someone is not unprecedented, in an image-conscious election year it creates a number of challenges. Initially the press, public and even the White House staff seem charmed by the idea, but as partisan politics begin to take hold, with the vitriolic Senator Rumsen (Richard Dreyfuss) leading the charge as the Republican Presidential candidate, things turn decidedly ugly. Questionable dirt gets dug up on Sydney, the President’s character gets called into question, and the polls begin to show a precipitous decline. Though the new couple manages to rise above it on a personal level, there’s no avoiding the taint on their highly public work, and eventually something has to give.



Written by Aaron Sorkin and directed by Rob Reiner, the charms of “The American President” are unavoidable. With nearly seamless shifts from endearing romantic humor to thought-provoking, political drama, it’s no wonder Sorkin would later adapt his own script into the successful TV series “The West Wing.” If there’s one flaw, it’s the story’s central conflict – the objection by the Right Wing and eventually the public to President Shepherd’s personal life. Though I don’t doubt there’d be real world, partisan attacks over the situation, I’m skeptical they would reach such a fever pitch, making the events in the film ring hollow, as it's basically an answer to a straw man argument. Maybe that’s political naivete on my part, but it’s a nagging distraction as the story moves toward an otherwise inspiring and touching conclusion.


Video Quality: 3/5


Presented in 1080p with the AVC codec, the transfer is accurately framed at 2.40:1 and features strong color and inky black levels. Contrast is reasonably consistent, though at times it suffers from compression that gives the image an unappealing heaviness. Some shots are noticeably soft (like the shots of Sydney during her first phone conversation with the President), and wide shots show a notable loss of detail. Areas of noise, mixed with grain, also pop up from time-to-time, generating a distracting stew. The image has also been subjected to mild to moderate edge enhancement, giving it a hard, very non-film appearance. While the transfer is no doubt an improvement on the non-anamorphic DVD edition from 1999, the transfer still looks like it’s sourced from an old master, which ultimately doesn’t hold up well on the Blu-ray format.


Audio Quality: 4/5


While the video presentation falters, the edition’s audio fares much better with a great 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track. Dialogue is consistently clear, detailed and intelligible, especially with both Douglas and Sheen’s distinctive, gravelly vocals. Surround activity is negligible outside of fine support for the orchestral score, though a key helicopter fly-by and a couple instances of crowd noise are both seamless and balanced. LFE is non-existent, but the track exhibits excellent depth and dynamic range throughout.


Special Features: 0.5/5


Original Theatrical Trailer (2:58, SD)


Recap


The Film: 4/5


Video Quality: 3/5


Audio Quality: 4/5


Special Features: 0.5/5


Overall Score (not an average): 3/5



Warner Home Video’s Blu-ray edition of Aaron Sorkin and Rob Reiner’s politically infused romantic drama gets a middling approval rating due to its problematic video transfer. The bonus material is limited to just the theatrical trailer, making the Blu-ray one to avoid as a new release in favor of its eventual arrival in the budget section.
 

Jason_V

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This is one of my favorite movies and I was set to get it tonight at Target. Only they didn't have it. (If they did, I couldn't find it.)

Oh well, I'm happy to finally getting the BD release of TAP...the original has been excommunicated from my collection for a long time.
 

NY2LA

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Man I love this movie and am really getting to hate Warners. This is an excellent film and they tart up an old transfer instead of making a new one?
 

Johnny Angell

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Cameron Yee said:
If there’s one flaw, it’s the story’s central conflict – the objection by the Right Wing and eventually the public to President Shepherd’s personal life. Though I don’t doubt there’d be real world, partisan attacks over the situation, I’m skeptical they would reach such a fever pitch, making the events in the film ring hollow, as it's basically an answer to a straw man argument. Maybe that’s political naivete on my part, but it’s a nagging distraction as the story moves toward an otherwise inspiring and touching conclusion.
I love this movie, but I agree with you on this point. I cant watch this movie without thinking the dating issue is being blown out of proportion
If they had done a good job on the transfer I'd be buying this on release. I'll be waiting for a better price.
 

Chuck Anstey

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I think a key issue was the President was dating a lobbyist who was hired to get a specific result legislation passed. That fact alone makes the situation terrible and a serious conflict of interest. We have had such flap with our state representatives dating or cheating on their wife with a lobbyists and nobody ever cared about the cheating part.
 

Citizen87645

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Yet another difference between the movie world and the real world.
 

Johnny Angell

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Chuck Anstey said:
I think a key issue was the President was dating a lobbyist who was hired to get a specific result legislation passed. That fact alone makes the situation terrible and a serious conflict of interest. We have had such flap with our state representatives dating or cheating on their wife with a lobbyists and nobody ever cared about the cheating part.
The script never mentions (if I remember correctly) conflict of interest. He's a widower so it should be ok for him to date. It's a morals issue in the movie, and this is it's weakness, IMHO.
I still love the movie. Benning and Douglas are great in this movie.
 

Citizen87645

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There's a brief mention of conflict of interest, but it doesn't become the issue his opponents latch onto.
 

Chuck Anstey

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One of my favorite parts is Michael J Fox's tirade against the President. I think every real President should have someone go off on him/her once a month to remind them what they are supposed to be doing.
 

Steve Tannehill

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The picture looks fine to me. I guess my eyes are not as critical anymore. And it looks a far cry better than the 1.78x1 crop job I saw on HBO. The $11.98 price was right, too.
 

NY2LA

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Chuck Anstey said:
One of my favorite parts is Michael J Fox's tirade against the President. I think every real President should have someone go off on him/her once a month to remind them what they are supposed to be doing.
Agreed about liking the scene but this scene is not about the president ignoring his duties. The tirade is a loyal admiring staffer encouraging the Pres to stand up for himself against dirty politics.
 

Chuck Anstey

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"You mean the legislation deserves a chance, right sir."
He had let his personal feelings cloud his judgment. There was also the whole discussion about him not leading, which is a combination of failure to lead and to not standing up for himself, i.e. political cowardice and it wasn't just against dirty politics. I always took it as "better to fight and lose than do nothing and maybe not lose".
 

Jason_V

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Originally Posted by Chuck Anstey /t/324020/the-american-president-blu-ray-review#post_3980604
"You mean the legislation deserves a chance, right sir."
He had let his personal feelings cloud his judgment. There was also the whole discussion about him not leading, which is a combination of failure to lead and to not standing up for himself, i.e. political cowardice and it wasn't just against dirty politics. I always took it as "better to fight and lose than do nothing and maybe not lose".

Hence one of my favorite movie lines ever:

Oh, you only fight the fights you can win? You fight the fights that need fighting!

For me, TAP is all about growing a backbone and standing up to the bullies, or the people who speak the loudest. All Bob Rumson did was find ticky tack, petty little items with no bearing on the presidency to attack Shepherd with. He had no message, no plan. Just attacks. And Shepherd felt he was above all of that and he wouldn't justify any of it with a response. The problem with that, of course, is it makes you look weak when a bully keeps pummeling away and you don't try to defend yourself.

Which led to the speech in front of the White House Press Corps...another piece of film I think is just fantastic.
 

lukejosephchung

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I just got this wonderful Reiner/Sorkin collaboration 2 days ago, along with the equally marvelous "Dave", with Sigorney Weaver and Kevin Kline...I've gotta open my copies up and play them this weekend and remind myself about how politics should be, not as they are in real life these days!!!
 

Randy_M

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Really too bad about the PQ - I may pick this up anyway, as it's one of my favorites, and I hate the DVD
 

marshman1138

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Just reread your review on this charming film. Your thoughts about the "dating issue", spelled out here:

"If there’s one flaw, it’s the story’s central conflict – the objection by the Right Wing and eventually the public to President Shepherd’s personal life. Though I don’t doubt there’d be real world, partisan attacks over the situation, I’m skeptical they would reach such a fever pitch, making the events in the film ring hollow, as it's basically an answer to a straw man argument."

It would probably go just the way Sorkin presented them in today's political climate!
 

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