Bruno Blu-ray Review
Bruno is presented in a 1080p transfer in the original theatrical ratio of 1.85:1. The best thing that can be said about this transfer is that it is an accurate representation of the source. Unfortunately, the source is not as immaculate as one might expect.
For that one person who hasn't seen Borat and therefore doesn't know how these films are made, there is a wild discrepancy in source material here. Some shots are taken from a standard definition TV source, some are taken from handheld miniature cameras, and some are shot with the latest high definition cameras. It goes without saying that the latter source presents an immaculate high definition image, with wonderful depth or field, accurate skin tones, and the three dimensional pop that we have come to expect.
Sadly, though, these shots are very much in the minority. The rest of the film is most certainly the definition of a mixed bag - but never does it impress. Grain fluctuates wildly, depending on the scene - but can be quite dreadful. Although the print is immaculate, artefacting from the source is often present. Likewise, colours can look washed out and facial detail can almost disappear in times.
The reality though is that the low mark I am giving the video is mainly because of the guerrilla style of film-making used. This kind of material is never going to show off your blu-ray deck to the best advantage, and the fact that most of the film looks no better than a standard definition disc is most definitely not a flaw of the transfer, but more a result of the process used to make the film.
The same problems that beset the picture also affect the DTS HD 5.1 sound mix that is presented on this disc. The way the film was shot means they often didn't have the facilities to get a proper sound recording set-up in place.
The first problem is that at reference levels I found the sound rather quiet. I found I had to dial the amp up quite a bit to hear the dialogue clearly. Once this little problem was rectified, the dialogue was generally much clearer although certainly not as clear as maybe it should be. I found myself straining at times to hear what was being said. This problem did tend to vary depending on which source was being used, and again is likely to be a fault of the source rather than the mix, but it should be mentioned.
The mix is very front biased, with the sound rarely daring to move to the surrounds. When it does, it heightens the viewers sense of immersion, but there are only one or two scenes where it does so. The front stereo separation is also rather lacking. Bass levels are possibly a little too high, overwhelming scenes where it seems un-necessary to have any LFE at all.
Overall, like the video I am going to have to give this a low mark - but it does accurately represent the source material. But in terms of giving your system a work out, this is never going to impress.
I have given low marks in all categories so far - reluctantly in some cases. But one area which deserves credit is the extras, and in particular the enhanced commentary track which I actually enjoyed more than the film. Sacha Baron Cohen and Larry Charles both present this and appear mainly on audio. However, at times they pause the film so they can discuss something in detail and at these points they appear in a video window. The overall length of the track with pauses is 26 minutes longer than the film. This is an endlessly fascinating track, although the two do have a slightly annoying habit of talking over each other. They cover many aspects of the production in detail and reveal some fascinating rationales between scenes. Even if you didn't enjoy the movie, you will find this enhancing your appreciation of what they were trying to do, and is highly recommended.
We then see some alternate scenes of the interviews and the sex tape scenes. These are in some cases funnier than what actually appears in the film - although in the case of the interview you can see why they went with Paula Abdul. In addition to this we have 40 minutes of deleted scenes which are certainly worth a watch - and to the true fan will stand up to repeated viewings.
Less successful than the above is 22 minutes of extended scenes which really did deserve to end up on the cutting room floor, and finally an interview with Lloyd Robinson which gives some interesting insight into the process of making a film like this.
Finally we have some pretty standard BD Live functionality, a digital copy, and some features that work with mobile blu. Mobile blu is a free application for the iPhone. I downloaded this to give it a try. If your player is connected to the same network as the iPhone then you can control the movie (pause, rewind, fast forward etc) with the iPhone. This is clunky though, and no replacement for the remote. Of more interest is downloadable content which is unlocked once the application is paired with a player on the network. These consist of short video segments, trailers, and a few short extra scenes. This functionality is a bit of a gimmick, but if you have an iPhone and want more Bruno then as it is free it is certainly worth doing.
I really did want to like Bruno but something about it just fell flat to me. Whether it was the fact that it was too similar to Borat, or whether it struggles to make the point it wishes to I am not sure but the film just didn't work for me. It is impossible to deny Baron Cohen's talent, or bravery - but sad to say that Bruno is quite simply not a patch on his second film.
If you are a fan, though - this is certainly the best version of the film to own. The AV quality of the disc may be weak due to the way the film was shot, but an excellent package of extras (many of which don't appear on the DVD) means that this is worthy of a place in your collection.
If you have not seen the film, though, you really should approach with caution.
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