Adventureland Blu-ray Review
'Adventureland' stumbles on to Region A locked Blu-ray with a somewhat disappointing looking 1080p AVC/MPEG-4 transfer framed at 1.85:1. I say disappointing because you would not expect a very recent movie to suffer from persistent noticeable grain, varying levels of detail, slightly washed out colours or picture noise in all the nightime scenes. That is, not unless this was the director's intention. Sadly we're not given this inside information other than the fact that he wanted it to look accurate for the period - and if he truly wanted to make a film look like it came from the late 1980's then he's succeeded.
What makes me feel that this is, indeed, the case is the fact that we have a generally nice sharp image without any hint of ringing, textures are crisply rendered and there's no suggestion of the much mentioned DNR. Overall it has the appeal of a good High Definition image, but if you're looking for a zingy transfer then don't say you haven't been warned. 'Interesting' would be an accurate description here.
The audio on 'Adventureland' comes in a DTS-HD MA 5.1 surround flavour, but most of the time your attention is locked firmly to the centre speaker as your ears focus in on the rather quiet dialogue. The surrounds are generally used for ambient effects or 'atmos' like the distant sounds of screaming kids on a rollercoaster or conversations being panned from left to right as crowd members move sonically through the sound field. In this respect it's not what you'd call an immersive mix and there's very little to wake up your subwoofer.
However, it could be argued that what really places this movie in time is the excellent 80's music featuring numbers from David Bowie, The Cure, INXS and the great Lou Reed. Whenever a classic 80's track kicks off, the stereo soundstage comes alive with pounding bass and clear, well controlled treble. It may have been the director's intention to use this to highlight how humdrum life is without music - but who knows for sure. All we know is that the rest of the soundmix is pretty uninvolving.
The Blu-ray edition of Adventureland comes complete with the now almost obligatory Digital Copy disc for those who like to watch a movie on a PC or laptop. We also get the following extras:
- Audio Commentary
I found the commentary by writer/director Greg Mottola and actor Jesse Eisenberg very entertaining with its mix of deadpan humour and sarcastic comments which helped maintain my good humour as they divulged many production details, on-set anecdotes, and information about the film's tone, music, and casting. Most Comm. tracks are a bit of a slog and only for the ardent movie buff, but this one made the time fly by.
- Just My Life (SD, 17 minutes)
This mini featurette takes us behind the scenes and explores the beginnings of the movie, including the director's own experiences as well as the contributions made by the cast - with a large percentage of clips making up the runtime.
- Welcome to Adventureland (SD, 5 minutes)
Here we have four quite funny, low quality commercials, promos, and employee induction training videos for Adventureland. Worth a look if only to see them parody the corporate mentality.
- Frigo's Ball Taps (HD, 3 minutes)
A not terribly funny look at the many ways a sadist can cause another male to kiss his knees.
- Deleted Scenes (HD, 2 minutes)
Here we have three deleted scenes entitled "Drunk Mom in Office," "Angry Grandfather," and "James Keeps Quiet." There is an optional commentary from Mottola and Eisenberg but we can generally see why the scenes were cut without someone telling us. Must have been for Americans.
- Lisa P's Guide to Style (HD, 2 minutes)
Actress Margarita Levieva (as Lisa-P) gives us an overview of '80s fashion. Thankfully this item is only 2 minutes long.
- Song Selection
This is basically a menu system that allows music fans to jump to scenes featuring their favourite '80s songs.
The coming of age comedy drama 'Adventureland' comes to Blu-ray with a 1080p AVC/MPEG-4 transfer that seems to fulfil the director's vision by appearing to have come from the late 1980's, due to the noticeable grain throughout, slightly washed out colours and variable detail and contrast. Many may feel this is a poor transfer, but it looks too deliberate for that.
The unremarkable DTS-HD MA 5.1 surround track is front centre weighted with little for the surrounds or subwoofer to do - except for when the classic 80's music numbers make them all spring into action with pounding base and crisp trebles. Then it's back to sleep again.
The extras don't really add much to the package but the entertaining Audio Commentary from director Mottola and actor Eisenberg is worth a listen.
This movie itself has been mis-sold by its marketing hype. Those expecting a crass teen comedy will be in for a disappointment but others may receive a pleasant surprise as it's a more gentle, thoughtful affair.
Suggested retail price when reviewed: £27.89
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- Audio Commentary