Bad Santa 2 Blu-ray Review
Bad Willie Style
Billy Bob Thornton plumbs new depths for the Bad Santa sequel that nobody really needed.Way back in 2003 Bad Santa was a surprise hit; a decent black comedy playing to star Billy Bob Thorton's angry-man profanity, finding humour in his deplorable antics and hard-to-reach heart. It helped that somewhere, deep behind the scenes, strong contributors like the Coen Brothers were working their magic on the script, and that Billy Bob can make almost anything watchable. Almost. Clearly Bad Santa 2 was designed to prove that adage wrong, leaving it one of the rare films that even Billy Bob can't save, dredging the bottom of the barrel with the nastiest humour it can manage in a desperate bid to elicit reluctant laughs and cover up the painfully non-existent story. Worse still, it takes what good will and genuine heart was left over at the end of the first movie and Alien 3's it into oblivion for the sake of cheap shots and giggles.The eight-years-in-the-making production history should set alarm bells ringing with even the baddest Bad Santa fan, with this Weinstein production (the disgraced producers insisted on reshoots for the first film too) feeling like an utter waste of talent. Kathy Bates tries her best, but Christina Hendricks embarrasses herself with the kind of big breast-based role she was famous for staying clear of. It's one of the most unfunny unpleasant sequels in the history of sequels. It's a shame - Billy Bob has enjoyed some manner of resurgence recently, hitting a career high with the excellent, unmissable Amazon original TV show Goliath, and he could have recaptured the magic of the fun first Bad Santa flick had he had a better script and director to work with, but this bland, blunt offering gets boring within minutes and you'll barely make it to the end.
Picture QualityBad Santa 2 comes to Region B-locked UK Blu-ray courtesy of Entertainment One, who deliver it with a 1080p/AVC-encoded High Definition video presentation framed in the movie's original theatrical aspect ratio of 1.85:1 widescreen. The digitally shot feature, whilst neither matching up to the style of the original film, nor helping the sequel escape its distinctly low budget and unimaginative origins, does at least leave the picture hard to fault.
It's a good looking presentation, although it's never going to make for demo material
Detail is impressive, lapping up the slightly different tones of grey hair on Thornton and Bates, the wrinkles and textures of the Santa outfits, as well as the limited sets and locations. The colour scheme does the job, although it runs a tiny bit yellow at times, which is often what passes for style on these cheap digital pieces. Nevertheless, there are some nice primary tones, particularly on the street lighting and Christmas decorations, and black levels are strong and rich, allowing for decent shadowing, although the lowest level shots do lose a hint of detail and take on a little more noise. Overall it's a very good looking presentation, although it's never going to make for anybody's demo material.
Sound QualityA perfunctory audio accompaniment that does a solid job
The accompanying DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track is a solid and strong enough affair, although, much like the video, the lack of style or effort leaves it pretty unexceptional, despite the ostensible lack of technical defects. Dialogue gets keen enough frontal presentation, remaining clearly prioritised across the piece, whilst effects are mostly nominal and atmospheric, picking up honking horns and street traffic noises, and providing some bustle in more crowded scenes. The score is as generic as they come, but does at least give the track a little more life. It's a perfunctory accompaniment which does a solid audio job, but it's never going to make for demo material.
ExtrasAside from the three-minute longer 'extended cut too rude for the cinemas' there's also a salvo of bitty extra features which mostly dabble in additional comedy material and don't really offer any depth into the messy production, which perhaps speaks volumes itself.
There's a salvo of bitty extra features
There's a 2 minute look at what happened to the Thurman character between the movies, as well as a brief Original Animated Series of very short short episodes. There are a couple of Featurettes looking at the language and vulgar humour of the film, including one set to Jingle Bells; as well as a Gag Reel and some Deleted Scenes (including an Alternate Opening and Ending). The disc is rounded off by some Trailers.
Blu-ray VerdictThis bland, blunt offering gets boring within minutes and you'll barely make it to the end
Poor Billy Bob Thornton can't get a break. He does the magnificent Goliath, and follows it up with Bad Santa 2, not only rendering a worthless, unpleasant sequel to one of his stronger post-2000 efforts, but also damaging the credibility and good will associated with that film in the same breath.
This Region B-locked UK Blu-ray of Bad Santa 2 does what it can with fairly standard modern digital camerawork and design-by-numbers audio, but it can't elevate this from being a bland DTV-style affair in all but name. Fans of Bad Santa should steer clear to avoid ruining the memory, and fans of Billy Bob should hold out for the second season of Goliath if they want to see the man shine rather than slip up, on his own sick, in the gutter.
Suggested retail price when reviewed: £14.99
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