12 Hostages. 24 Hours. 1 Partridge.
Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa is by far and away the self obsessed D-Jocks finest hour, and never feels stretched or tired.To say it's a money grabbing exercise alone is to utterly miss the point as we find the prickly Norwich radio host bumbling his way through situations more akin to a day in the life of Jack Bauer than Alan Partridge. Torn between fear and excitement, Alan finds himself acting as a link between the authorities and a former colleague at the radio station who, having been laid off, has taken some of the management and staff at Shape FM hostage. His fears veiled by a misplaced sense of inflated importance, Alan attempts to calm the situation but inadvertently makes the situation more volatile.His one liners and inability to overlook even the mildest or most modest of minute mistakes combine to create an abundance of face-scrunching cringe-worthy moments – just what you'd expect from the veteran DJ. Steve Coogan's inescapable ability to embellish the much loved character in both writing and performance meets every expectation of newcomers to the character and those that have had a fondness of him since the early days alike. Wrapped up with a fast paced and high octane action setting, it's priceless comedy.
VideoAlan Partridge: Alpha Papa explodes onto Blu-ray with an excellent region B locked 2.35:1 1080p AVC encoded transfer that though peppered with some very minor problems, doesn't fail to impress. From the off, we're treated with exactly what the Red Epic cameras can do. The image is crisp, clean and sharp. The colours are authentic and natural with some very subtle grading added in post that shows some scenes delicately balanced with a blue-ish hue, where others have a mild yellowish tint. It's handled carefully and isn't overpowering at all – it's adds just the required amount of filmic quality to the image. Detail is impressive, and it's impossible to deny the texture on Alan's clothes and face during his rock-ballad rendition in the opening sequence is remarkable. Blacks are deep and rich and contrast is absolutely spot on, however there are a few scenes that have a mildly washed out feel, such as the scene in which he meets the gunman whilst dressed in a police uniform. With a touch of judder on lateral panning shots, and with some vague yellow bordering on strong red elements within the picture, it's only just shy of a perfect 10. Very good.
SoundPresented with two audio tracks, one being a standard DTS-HD MA 5.1 Surround track and a 2.0 LPCM Stereo track, your needs are covered with this excellent audio presentation. This review focusses on the surround audio track. From the off, you might be rather surprised as to the level of detail that's gone into the undeniably excellent sound design and mix. I had expected little by way of surrounds, but they get quite a work out actually. First things first, the main event is obviously the dialogue which is clear, sharp and never difficult to follow despite the frequent bombastic elements from scene to scene. High frequencies are excellent, and the sound effects crackle and pop here necessary. LFE gets more of a work out than I expected too with some deep and booming effects to thicken out the mix. As for the soundtrack, it plods along nicely and contains everything you'd expect from a Jerry Goldsmith-esque action score without ever becoming overpowering. On the whole, the mix is excellent and despite the combative nature of the sound design and music interplay together, the dynamic range is never lost. Impossible to fault at all.
ExtrasA healthy batch of pure, unadulterated and unmissable Partridge classics. Sit down to watch these little gems and you'll slip right back into Alan mode like he was an old cardigan.
Hectic Danger Days: The Making of Alpha Papa
A 35 minute featurette making of which is an absolute must-see for all veteran fans that features chat from Peter Baynham (Writer), Armando Iannucci (writer), Steve Coogan amongst many others. It's a fantastic eye-opening watch.Deleted Scenes
With a script that would hit the shortlist for the most improvised ever made, it's hardly surprising that there would be a plethora of Partridge shaped deleted scenes. Whats really surprising though is that there's almost thirty minutes worth on this Blu-ray release, all comedy gold.
Five minutes of bloopers and on-set chortle-worthy shots of actors cracking up at themselves and each other. I defy you to keep a straight face.
OverallUnmistakably Coogan, unmistakably Partridge, Alpha Papa ticks all the boxes for veterans and newcomers to the character alike. With explosions, chases, hostages and everything else you'd expect from a Hollywood blockbuster, only doused in the dry wit and familiar comedy of Alan Partridge, and it's set in Norwich. If Alan Partridge was my only hope in a hostage scenario, I might not expect to be saved, but I'd rest assured I'm in for a chuckle on my way out.
Studio Canal deliver on the Blu-ray promise with an excellent package that boasts high quality visuals and sound, and is absolutely loaded with enough Partridge extras that it'll make your Pringle golf shoes tingle. Whether a fan or not, you're sure to find Alpha Papa a suitable alternative to the regular summer block-buster actioner. Highly recommended.
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