Bad Boy Bubby Blu-ray Review
The disc presents a Region free, theatrically correct widescreen 2.35:1 1080p transfer using the MPEG-4 AVC encode. Since the picture has so many different cinematographers, marking this picture has been quite a challenge, since some scenes are wildly different compared to their neighbours. For example the opening scenes are particularly drab, almost mono-tonal greys and browns with plenty of grain and little black to speak of. Contrast to some night scenes that show vivid colouring of the neon lights against deep inky blacks with decent enough shadow detail and little to no grain. Colours are therefore very much dependant on the scene in which they are involved, at times bold and striking, at others dank and muted.
Contrast and brightness also alter from scene to scene, at rare times deep blacks with plenty of shadow detail, but for the most part do tend towards the darker end of grey, and depending on the amount of grain can look very washed and muddy or impenetrable and filmic. There were some fluctuations of brightness but on the whole this is a very stable picture considering its age and budget.
Detail, however, is definitely a step in the right direction, with facial features, clothing weaves and other close ups, as well as distance perspective, buildings, the industrial estate, the power station, all being held with good edges. That is except for the scenes shot with slightly softer focus, which, although detail is good, is intentionally soft. All this conspires to leave a somewhat flat looking picture with none of the 3D pop we expect on top notch titles.
Digitally there were no compression problems, nor was there any edge enhancement, the original print does still suffer from instances of damage, e.g. specks and dots, but these are never that much of a distraction. Grain fluctuates between very prevalent to non-existent depending on the scene but some of the darker scenes do exhibit a little noise which tends to mess things up a little.
On the whole this is a gritty but pleasing transfer that I am going to award a seven, simply because it is a true reflection of how the film is supposed to be seen without any digital messing.
The disc has three tracks to choose from English Dolby TrueHD 5.1, English DTS-HD MA 5.1 and English Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo. Just as de Heer's method of shooting the picture was somewhat unique, so too was his recording of the sound - by placing microphones either side of Hope's ears to emphasise his isolation; this of course means that any surround mix is going to be artificial in nature as it's meant to be heard in stereo only. However, both the Dolby and the DTS do a reasonably good job of fleshing out the mix. The separation is wide with clear references to directionality in both dialogue and ambiance. The surrounds have the most use during the 'score' which fills the room. However there is always that 'artificial' feel to it all, particularly as the mix can at times be uneven, ranging from extremely quiet (parts the Bubby can't hear very well) to ear splittingly loud (the bagpipes in the gaol) meaning in the wrong conditions you may be reaching for the volume remote! Of the two tracks I found the Dolby to be the most uneven, the DTS showing slightly more depth and uniformity.
Of greater importance is the original stereo track that plays far more natural with all the decent stereo effects intact and does not rely on the surrounds to boost the material. Don't get me wrong there is nothing wrong with the surround tracks and some might like the enhanced separation, but personally, I like the film so much that I feel the claustrophobia felt with the stereo track is too good to be ignored.
- Audio Commentary
Director de Heer and star Hope sit together to discuss this uncompromising film. The two share a reasonable banter and both talk at length about the usual aspects of the film making process. It is somewhat dry in places with more than the occasional gap in the chat, but on the whole this is a pretty decent listen.
- Christ, Kid, You're a Weirdo featurette - 0:23:48 SD
Is an extended interview with director de Heer where he discusses the inspiration, writing, filming and interpretation that is Bad Boy Bubby. Comes across as a knowledgeable and uncompromisingly visionary director, and simply the only person that could have produced such a stark and amazing film. Fills out and works with the commentary very well.
- Binaural Headphone audio-track ('Be Inside Bubby's Head)
An odd little feature that seems to accurately portray Bubby's hearing while muffling his own speech, i.e. placing you as Bubby would actually hear the world. In practice it's not that useful and a bit too gimmicky for me.
- Original theatrical trailer - 0:1:52
- Digital Copy disc
- Standard DVD edition disc
- 20 page Colour Booklet
Another nice read on the back-ground of the film, plus its issues with censorship and other topics. Not so relevant here but I do find it so hypocritical of our censorship boards that lambasted and cut the film due to perceived animal cruelty to the cat, but were quite happy to see cockroaches pulled apart and eaten! This Eureka version, you will be pleased to note, is now uncut.
Not a massive amount of extra features, but those that are hear are worth a listen if you want to know a little more about the making of this incredible film. We seem to have lost a couple of extras that are available on the USA disc, but have gained the Commentary!
Bad Boy Bubby is a bold and uncompromising film; at times it is incredibly hard to watch, but its sentiment is clear, stick with it and you will be rewarded with a classic film that truly has the power to emotionally involve the viewer; such a rare feat for a film nowadays. The real star of the show is Nicholas Hope whose portrayal of the abused Bubby is outstanding, just picking one scene (when he decides to become 'Pop') you can see the cogs of his head moving; absolutely accurate acting. The filming style and choice of sound recording, as well as the lack of true score really focus the audience to Bubby's life, it is an amazing accomplishment and is a film that simply has to be seen.
Eureka's Blu-ray offers a three discs set, digital copy, SD DVD and Blu-ray with an unconventional picture and sound that, whilst do not show off the capabilities of the format do nevertheless remain faithful to the original print and are thus marked accordingly. The extra content may be a little stingy but there is enough here to keep those interested in the film entertained.
Suggested retail price when reviewed: £19.99
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- Audio Commentary