PictureBunny and the Bull comes to Blu-ray with a 1080p resolution encoded using the AVC coded and framed within a 2.40:1 aspect ratio.
The first thing that may strike you about this transfer is the change in the image when the artistic style moves between reality and imagination. Those early moments spent in Stephen's flat are...well....flat. The tone in these instances is designed to evoke the drab, mundane and claustrophobic nature of his current lifestyle and the visuals help, but not always in an appropriate manner. The intentional magenta push which almost sepia tints proceedings also, when combined with the low level of lighting, drops the level of contrast. Blacks turn more greyish in shade and darker objects are stripped of much of their detail.
This could leave you fearing for the worst, but as soon as we take our first brief perambulation through Stephen's subconscious, everything becomes quite clear - literally. The change of lighting shows up a far greater contrast, with whites and blacks holding true. Colours have a greater punch to them, with reds in particular being vivid and rich. There is one instance of blooming, but again, I think this is more to do with the source and artistic intention than a flaw of this transfer. The grain remains even throughout, but due to the cinematographical process of utilising low and bright light, it is easier to spot in the former conditions. The real wonder of the film is brought to the fore with this Blu-ray as the multitude of inventive set creations are well realised and give the frame a remarkable amount of depth when in the realm of the imagination. There are some slight focal miscues but considering the budget and just how much they often intended to cram into the frame, this was always a real possibility.
This is very much a picture of two halves. Like the film itself, it is somewhat imbalanced and fractured, but the positives outweigh the negatives.
SoundAudio options for the disc are twofold - English Linear PCM 2.0 and English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1. For the sake of this review I opted to concentrate on the latter.
Clearly great work has gone into giving Bunny and the Bull a score to remember, and this disc certainly tries to highlight that effort. The high frequencies of bells that accompany moments of confusion are shrill and piercing. Similarly, the lower frequencies of the music, when stringed instruments come into play, reverberate nicely. The subwoofer isn't excessively used for moments of impact, understandable given that this is a character driven tragic-comedy, but it does often underpin the music and some instances with a much needed slow swell of bass. The problem with all this is not that there is anything wrong with one aspect, but rather that it simply doesn't marry terribly well together. There seems to be no universal level found for the high or low frequencies, leading to moments where the higher/lower pitches either fall limply or push far too hard into the audience's space.
Dialogue has a similar level of imbalance, with there being a wonderful resonance to the timbre of the narrator of the early scenes, yet the centre channel can sometimes find itself taxed. When given the task of delivering clear speech from characters with thick accents, it can be found wanting, with the aforementioned wavering levels of the score hardly helping matters. Just like the picture, this is a case of see-sawing levels, but whereas the former could be put down to the limitations of the artistic intentions of the director, this merely smacks of poor engineering. It has some of the most standout moments you will hear from a lossless score, but it just struggles to maintain a consistent level. At once both amazing and flawed, it shows fine examples of multilayered instrumental audio, but it simply lacks some of the subtlety that would have raised it to another grade.
Featuring writer/director Paul King, producer Mary Burke and lead actors Simon Farnaby and Edward Hogg. This is a jovial trip through the inspirations and working processes of the film's production, but it can't really be described as focussed. It perhaps represents the eclectic artistic style of King as thoughts bound from all angles, with humour often mixing with the dryer explanations of the production. It's a light hearted audio commentary, but King lacks the confidence to really stamp his authority and go into greater detail when necessary, preferring to hint at inspirations, his aims for the atmosphere and lauding the artists behind the set constructions.
Behind the scenes - 1080i - 13:04
Central figures from the cast and crew give some meaningful insight into the filming process and the characters' motivations in this brief but well condensed featurette. It is played for laughs at times, and if anything this becomes a deviation from the desire to truly go behind the scenes and discover in detail how the array of wonderful backdrops were created. It does highlight the filming method and ethos surrounding the production well, but a little more depth would have been nice.
Deleted scenes - 1080i - 4:-7
Four scenes in total, and ones which either were too long, add little in the way of story or seemed to prove detrimental to viewer empathy towards a character. It is strange that two of the four cuts involve Noel Fielding and Julian Barratt as one would expect a film being so heavily sold on the director's association with The Mighty Boosh to hold onto any such moments.
Bloopers - 1080i - 4:25
The usual array of fluffed lines, on-set high jinks and larking around.
Interview with Simon Farnaby and Edward Hogg - 1080i - 9:57
Very few questions are answered in this meandering interview which, though showing the affinity of the actors, becomes mired in the sort of prattle that smacks of two men having been sat in a press junket for days on end and having a now slender grip on their own sanities.
Interview with Paul King - 1080i - 7:34
Now this is a more meaningful example of an interview. King explains many of the inspirations for the characters and the atmosphere of the piece, as well as talking us through some of the challenges that faced him during production.
Empire featurette: The Paul King guide to Bunny and the Bull - 1080i - 20:24
Originally filmed for appearance on the Empire magazine website, this is merely a straight to camera piece featuring Paul King and an inventively decorated flip chart, the pages of which are filled with strange sketches, photos both old and new and all manner of imagery associated with the film and its production. King not only plays it for laughs, but also gives us a mini rundown of the genesis of his ideas and the chart actually proves to be quite useful in visualising the chaotic mesh of inspirations drawn upon for the film.
Competition winner video: Up Up and Away - 1080i - 1:36
A very poetic amateur video utilising stop motion animation, but as it isn't explained as to what the competition in the title of this feature actually was, it is hard to judge whether this is a startlingly brilliant realisation of an artistic remit or just a bit of fun.
Get the picture - 1080i - 3:56
A criminally short featurette that looks at some of the techniques used to bring the creative backdrops and stop motion animation to life. The bull fight, snow globe and newspaper flyover are all covered but the short run time means there is little in the way of detail required to fully appreciate the ingenuity.
A photo gallery of all the weird and absurd tourist attractions Paul King and James Medcraft went in search of during a one week trip around Europe. This is almost as surreal as the film itself as I struggle to comprehend who'll look at all the snaps featured here without falling into a coma. If however you've always wanted to see countless pictures of such tourist hotspots as The German Museum of Cutlery then you'll think Christmas has come early.
VerdictBunny and the Bull seems almost destined to attain cult status. With so many threads of the surrealistic television comic delight that is The Mighty Boosh running through it, the label seems not one likely to be simply gained but rather almost thrust upon it. Those who view it through the prism of that show's Dadaesque humour and expect nothing more than a feature length edition of the BBC show will be sorely disappointed. Paul King has stripped away many of the more frivolous elements that work so well within a smaller running time and replaced them with, similarly absurd, moments that actually pertain to the character of his creations. Some of these instances work, others don't but the layers of tragic-comedy that ensue make for a far more emotionally complex narrative.
The disc mirrors the imbalanced and segmental nature of the film perfectly, though often to its detriment. The picture shifts from flat and lifeless to deep and colourful, whilst the sound has some volume and balance issues that slightly mar a generally engaging experience. The extras will be liked by any Boosh fans keen to enjoy more of the eclecticism that type of production brings with it, but others looking for more substance, particularly regarding the wonderful set design, may be left wanting. The result is a package that comes “warts and all” to Blu-ray with a few flaws, but none that are startlingly major.
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