PictureThis Death at a Funeral remake comes to Blu-ray presented with a 1080p High Definition video rendition that is framed in the movie’s original theatrical aspect ratio of widescreen 2.4:1. Really, it’s a great image and arguably a lot better than this kind of material deserves (or than the budget should have allowed for). It’s a largely flawless presentation, detail fantastic throughout – on both the longer shots and the close-ups, whether on set or on location, with no noticeable digital defects or other apparent problems. Grain is almost non-existent, and whilst this does leave the movie feeling a little too perfect for classic cinematic renditions (which always favour a light sheen), it’s a minor quibble. The colour scheme is broad and accurately reproduced, with sumptuous mahogany browns, lush greens and solid, excellent blacks which allow for excellent shadowing and simply perfect black suits (of which there are plenty!). I can’t really complain about anything here, it’s a superior image for an inferior movie.
SoundThe Audio accompaniment for the 2010 Death at a Funeral remake comes with an equally decent DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track which certainly does its best with the material. This is a comedy, after all, and there aren’t any gunshots or explosions – or basically any noise that you wouldn’t expect from a film set during a largely indoor funeral service. Dialogue comes across clearly and coherently throughout, emanating almost entirely from the centre speaker, with some support from the fronts. The effects are, as aforementioned, quite limited, but what we do get creates a nice ambience and atmosphere for the most part. The score is totally in-line with the proceedings, but also utterly generic and forgettable, again mostly coming from the frontal array, but also dipping into the surrounds occasionally, and even allowing for a smidge of LFE action. This isn’t a Michael Bay production, and this is just about the best audio presentation that we were ever likely to get for this movie.
ExtrasThe disc is laden with a bunch of largely decent extras which should please all fans of the film.
First up we get a full-length Audio Commentary provided by the Director Neil LaBute (the guy behind the awful The Wicker Man remake with Nic Cage – man, this guy should stop doing remakes!) and lead actor Chris Rock. It’s a jovial, enjoyable track, which fans of the film will be happy to check out – providing you with plenty of technical information about the shoot, as well as lots of anecdotes surrounding the production (mostly provided by Rock). There is a fair amount of back-patting, and clearly these guys adore their creation – noting how different it is from the original (no, it isn’t), as well as some of the scenes that did not make the final cut.
Death at a Funeral: Last Rites, Dark Secrets takes 20 minutes to offer up some more visually-orientated background to the production. As usual, there are plenty of final film clips included in this fluffy offering amidst all of the behind the scenes shots, but with almost all of the cast and crew members involved in the production Featurette – giving interview soundbites into their experiences – few fans will be disappointed with what’s on offer. They talk about the original movie – comparing it to the remake, and talking about how because it was so unknown, it was worth remaking (?!); discuss the humour in this Americanised version, the ensemble cast that was put together, and the locations chosen.
Family Album is a 11-minute accompanying Featurette which follows on with the style of the main behind the scenes offering – having just as many final film clips to pad out the proceedings. This is mostly a cast-orientated piece, but with so many cast members they still all come across in fairly brief clips. There’s also Death for Real, a short 6-minute compilation of interview clips from the cast discussing their real-life experiences of death.
We get seven Deleted Scenes which amount to 7 minutes of extra footage. Amongst them in a slightly longer opening sequence, showing the other family who are missing the dead body, a funny little scene between Marsden and Zoe Saldana (which should have been left in) and a couple of other brief additions, but nothing to really write home about. Although they are largely just scene extensions, and aren’t exactly laugh-out-loud funny, if you enjoyed the movie, you will probably want to check them all out.
The Gag Reel lasts just 3 minutes and isn’t particularly funny (what’s with gag reels these days?). There are a few vaguely funny moments – and most of the humour revolves around Tracy Morgan (and his inability to put his Bluetooth headset on), so, again, I guess fans should check it out.
We also get Trailers for Armoured – Columbus Short’s first lead role, which was awful, The Bounty Hunter – another terrible, generic, totally un-funny rom-com from Jennifer Aniston, and Grown Ups, a very disappointing (also ensemble) comedy starring Adam Sandler and Chris Rock.
VerdictFrom the man who remade The Wicker Man comes another unnecessary remake, this time of another British film – only a much more recent one, 2007’s Death at a Funeral. The identically-titled clone is very, very similar, but for the swapping of all black and white roles, with an ensemble cast of top comedians – Chris Rock, Martin Lawrence and Tracy Morgan – and familiar faces – Danny Glover, Zoe Saldana, James Marsen, Luke Wilson – all coming together in an effort to appeal to a very broad audience. Frankly, I think it’s very disappointing. With all of the great talent on offer we are reduced to a movie about getting crap on your hands and then spraying it over your face, and beating up dwarves. Seriously? These guys have shown themselves to be funnier and faster than this, and it is one of those films – like the recent Pink Panther remakes – which just should not have been made. In other words, sure there are a few funny bits, but nothing to really justify watching it before (or after) you see the original.
On UK Region-Free Blu-ray the video and audio presentation is excellent, and the hefty assortment of largely decent extras should certainly please any fans and make this worthy of purchase. Newcomers should seriously consider what they want from their comedies, or at least just rent it – and go into it with low expectations! Disappointing.
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