PictureComing to Blu-ray with a 1080p AVC/MPEG-4 transfer, the 2.40:1 image for Catch And Release is surprisingly vibrant and sharp. I say surprisingly because, given the nature of the film, you would hardly expect much in the way of visual panache. Yet, boasting a source print that is completely free from grain and is sparklingly clean to behold, Garner's comedy/drama foray is in absolutely tip-top condition.
Colours are nicely saturated and although the film features a predominantly earthy pallor, the image still retains a warmth and vitality that is very pleasing to the eye. Greens, especially, appear to radiate and this benefits the many scenes set in the woods or at the riverside. Blacks are great too, generating a textured depth that produces no fall-off to grey and can often lead to many instances of impressive shadow-play, although it must be stated that they can be a little too strong at times, denying some interior scenes a degree of detail in the darker areas of the screen. Skin-tones are certainly nice and natural looking, resisting the usual genre attempts to give everyone a lustrous, rosy sheen of nuclear health.
But it is the three-dimensionality that really takes this transfer out the norm. With ultra-clear and sharp edges, the wonderful exterior shots out on the streets of Boulder or up in the wilds exhibit a real sense of depth that, given the Blu-ray spec, is probably not all that surprising. But what is surprising, however, is the level of pop that the image displays throughout a lot of the interiors, as well. The transfer works wonders with John Lindley's exquisite compositions, pushing depth and objectivity around the picture with tremendously eye-catching verve. Of course it looks great when we have people strolling along the riverbank in a wide panoramic shot, but the disc also makes a shot of those same people just standing in a room talking look equally as rich and three-dimensional.
Detail afforded by the high-resolution is variable, though. Whilst information in the foreground is often excellent, things further back in the image have a tendency to soften and blur, which is a little disappointing considering the class act that has been made with the depth of field. Occasionally the storefronts over a character's shoulder lose definition and, more noticeably, the furnishings and accoutrements in the houses and apartments. Overall, though, Catch And Release provides a much better image than I had expected and is never less than a rewarding treat for the eyes.
SoundWell, although the PCM uncompressed 5.1 track is perfectly accomplished and is, no doubt, a pure reproduction of its original mastering, the sound design is still simple, slight and intimately presented. This is, though, hardly a film that has been conceived with wrap-around effects in mind. The drama is tight and close and the track is really only called upon to spread the verbals around the room and draw the listener into the rather conciliatory atmosphere that the film conjures. So, forget about the sub.
The track keeps dialogue nicely integrated and there is never an occasion when it becomes submerged or wrongly balanced. The film's score, soft country doodlings for the most part, is very well-treated and comes over with depth and warmth. When compared to the DD 5.1 track that is also on offer, the PCM comes across a bit fuller and more resonant and with ambience that sounds a little more convincing and clearer. Either way, Catch And Release reveals no flaws within its design that I noticed and is relatively enjoyable in a simple, undemanding fashion.
ExtrasBlu-ray treats Catch And Release slightly better than its R1 SD edition. Whilst it ports over the duo of commentary tracks, it then significantly extends to the package with a couple of character-based Deleted Scenes which don't really add much, a trio of Audition reels for Kevin Smith, Juliette Lewis and Sam Jaeger that are quite interesting to see, and a proper making of documentary called From Concept To Completion. This feature is presented in full 1080p video and runs for about 21 mins. Glitzy, fast-paced and with the emphasis primarily on self-promotion, this is nevertheless a worthy piece to expose the genesis of the project and the thought processes of the performers. Featuring interviews with Susannah Grant and producer Jenno Topping, who are refreshingly frank and sincere about the film and what they wanted to achieve with the story, as well as Garner, Smith, Lewis and Olyphant adding their observations on-set and after the production had wrapped, this is quite a fair stab at revealing the background to what is, when all said and done, a pretty obvious emotion-tugger. Better than a lot of standardised puff-pastry promo-pieces, though.
The first commentary features Susannah Grant and Kevin Smith. Now, whilst the temptation for Smith to steamroll over this chat with his own brand of inane observation and wry witticism must have been almost too much for him to bear, the track is often thoughtful, steeped with insight and full of an earnestness that is actually quite convincing. Grant clearly has a lot of love for her first directorial endeavour and her passion for the project comes over well. The relationships between the characters and the inevitable weaving towards Fritz that Grey makes may have been obvious to us all from the outset, but Grant somehow makes the twists and turns seem more cleverly constructed. A good track, folks.
The second chat track is nowhere near as rewarding, as cinematographer John Lindley focuses on the more technical aspects of the production. Grant does her best to keep things more free-flowing and interesting, but this track ultimately left me cold and keen to press the skip button.
So, overall, we have a slightly better selection of extras than the film may, perhaps, deserve. Although, if I'm honest, they do add a little more value to the film than I had expected, and this is mainly down to Susannah Grant, herself, whose honesty flies in the face of what would be nothing more than a commercial exercise for any studio.
VerdictAn interesting concept that, perhaps inevitably, slots back into the traditional rom-com notch after a brief spell of indie-style charm, Catch And Release still provides decent entertainment for its target market. Susannah Grant directs a great ensemble with competence and, even if the subject is not exactly my type of thing, there isn't really anything here to dislike. So, as the title quite aptly states, this is a movie that, once savoured, is hardly something to cling to.
It's Blu-ray transfer is dazzling, however. Great photography is given the high-resolution treatment it so richly deserves and the film often looks amazing, possibly the most cinematic chick-flick that I've seen. Extras-wise, there isn't a great deal on the list but a refusal to pander to the EPK-ethic is certainly commendable. Ultimately, Catch And Release has an audience out there who will lap it up. Others who don't relish schmaltzy dialogue and some fairly obvious life and love lessons should probably steer well clear.
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