Arthur Blu-ray Review
2011’s Arthur remake comes to US Region Free Blu-ray complete with a decent if remarkably unexceptional 1080p High Definition video presentation, in the movie’s original theatrical aspect ratio of 1.85:1 widescreen. Detail is generally very good indeed, remaining strong throughout, with no signs of any edge enhancement, nor any unnecessary DNR rearing its ugly head. The colour scheme is broad and represented in an all-too-vivid form, with the contrast a little bit too hot, leaving many tones unrealistically exaggerated – including, perhaps most importantly, skin tones; which vary wildly from almost orange to remarkably lifelike. This variable nature to the proceedings appears to be prevalent throughout, with a thin veneer of suitably filmic grain pervading the movie, but occasionally getting a bit out of hand and lapsing into the realm of random, unintentional noise. Precisely 17 minutes in, you’ll find Brand and Mirren walking down a busy street and, as they draw closer, you’ll realise that they’ve been out of focus the entire time – becoming odd, almost computer-digitised in form. It’s really quite surprisingly bad. Still, blacks are suitably strong and, with only a hint of crush, round out what is not necessarily a universally bad video presentation, but one which has far too many flaws, particularly for such a recent production and recent release.
On the aural front things are slightly more clear-cut, although the DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix is still not quite reference material. Dialogue comes across clearly and coherently throughout, largely dominating the frontal array wherever appropriate – and, in fact, the track itself, on the whole, is quite front-biased, with only the supporting elements of the score, and some of the more broad effects on offer, truly breaking through to the rears. The score plays along merrily throughout the proceedings – neither giving the surrounds a whole lot to do, nor ever leaving them empty – and the effects are generally quite low-key and ambience-centric, with only a few standout moments giving the speakers any chance at showcasing directionality; or giving the LFE channel anything to sink its teeth into. Overall, kind of what you would expect for this kind of comedy vehicle, with solid presentation of the material on offer, but nothing that will really blow you away.
Considering that it’s a modern comedy, I would have expected a fair few extras to adorn this disc, but, as is, all we get is a fairly limited smattering of thankfully occasionally funny extras.
This 11 minute featurette-ish offering kicks off with the Director and lead actor talking about the stuff that didn’t make it into the movie – and it’s funny because, from the footage here, you’d think that there was a considerably better film beneath it all. Almost all of the actors show off their more unrestrained side here – from Brand to Helen Mirren to Jennifer Garner – and they are all so much more interesting as a result. We get plenty of cast and crew snippets, and Brand is genuinely both funny and charming throughout – making almost all of his cast members crack up unintentionally as a result. Seeing the extra footage here; the outtakes and improvisations (mostly from Brand), you really do get the impression that they chose the wrong takes to comprise the final cut. Somewhere in here is evidence of a truly funny movie.
Here we get 10 minutes of deleted scenes presented in reasonable quality video, most of which are in-line with the main feature (i.e. not all that funny), but some of which are worth checking out – the Back to the Future moment is ok, for example. Nothing exceptional though; not like the footage hinted at above.
This 80-second offering simply does no justice to the seeming wealth of material that was hinted at in Arthur Unsupervised! Just go back and watch that pseudo-featurette instead.
Finally we get a bunch of skippable Previews.
Russell Brand’s 2011 remake vehicle just didn’t work for me. I’m not in the least bit familiar with the original, but I get the feeling that they were trying their best to get Brand to tone it down and become Dudley Moore for the part, and he merely feels restrained as a result. Thrown in some odd shifts in the seriousness of the proceedings, and scant few moments which come even close to laugh-out-loud funny, and you have a very odd animal which was too busy catering for younger mass-market audiences to deliver on all fronts as a hilarious and touching romantic comedy. I still have hopes for Brand, and enjoyed him in Get Him to the Greek, but perhaps that’s part of the problem – there he was given room to breathe; here it feels like neither he, nor any of his co-stars, were allowed to do so. And the end result isn’t a bad movie, just a distinctly lightweight one.
On Region Free US Blu-ray I was surprised to find such disappointing video. A modern, decent-budget production like this, freshly minted in High Definition, should look considerably better than this – and certainly shouldn’t have any glaring flaws. The aural track is more acceptable, but still far from exceptional, and only the excellent extra improvisational footage comes across as a positive, even if the extras on the whole are still both pretty weak and pretty thin on the ground. Overall the disc does not make the feature much more palatable. Honestly, even if you were a fan, I’d consider holding out for a pimped-out edition somewhere down the line (perhaps some unseen, uncut, R-rated version – and, from outtakes, there may well be a truly funny film in there somewhere). If you don’t normally like Russell Brand, then, maybe, this toned-down vehicle may work for you – rent it and find out. But if you do like him, then don’t expect another ‘Greek – this is Hollywood playing it safe and strictly by-the-numbers. Expect the unexceptional.
Suggested retail price when reviewed: £22.31
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