Picture'In the Loop' is presented in widescreen 1.85:1 with MPEG-4 AVC 1080p coding.
Although obviously filmed under a restricted budget, Iannucci's decision to use HD cameras has produced a very clear and crisp image. There's plenty of detail on show throughout the various American and British political offices. The many documents and periodicals which adorn shelves everywhere are all clearly visible. There's also some nice definition on the many wooden floors, chandeliers and other regal and stately furnishings. Facial close-ups expose every pore and facial hair, as well as throbbing temple veins and greying locks. Clothing detail is also impressive at times and there are plenty of nice textures on display. The decadent halls of the government offices afford some depth to the image but that all important “3D Pop” factor is sadly absent and at times the presentation can seem a little flat. There is a healthy smattering of grain for the duration, which is more pronounced during the indoor segments.
The image is purposely washed out and the colour palette is distinctly muted. This was as the director intended and serves to accentuate the drab and dreary nature of the various government offices. This may allude to a distinct feeling of realism but it's no stunner by any stretch of the imagination. The contrast ratio is also overblown at times to highlight the fluorescent illuminations that office drones everywhere are all too familiar with. I also noted some digital noise during really dark portions of the presentation.
All in all this is not a bad transfer and is completely serviceable and adequate for the source material. A high seven is awarded and this release just falls short of an eight.
'In the Loop' comes with a 5.1 dts-HD Master Audio surround track.
Like the video presentation, serviceable is the best word to describe the audio presentation. In fact the track is basically a stereo track for the duration. The subwoofer and the surrounds are more or less dormant for the entire runtime. There are a few scenes that awaken the surrounds from their slumber with some ambient tinkling but the sub basically has a 105 minute respite. There are a few instances of good stereo reproduction but these are few and far between. In saying that, the all important vocals are locked to the centre channel, with every under-the-breath whisper and roaring bellow (from Malcolm of course) clearly audible. Even Gldofini's furious nasal breathing can be heard loud and clear!
This really is not a track to show off the awesome power of your surround system but it does its job. I was sorely disappointed that the cameo appearance by death metal band Cannibal Corpse was not afforded with a more meaty presence - it really seems as though an audio opportunity was wasted here. Still though, this track does its job with the limited source material, which doesn't even feature a score of any sort.
The extras package on this region A locked disc is somewhat lacklustre in comparison to the UK release. The commentary tracks, webisodes and a couple of other extras are absent on the US release. I suppose this stands to reason as many of our American cousins would not be familiar with the works of Ianucci but it seriously weakens the overall package.
Behind the Scenes (SD 3mins) - This feturette gives a brief look at the movie, with a few scant interviews from Iannucci and a few cast members. Pretty worthless and it focuses on the American actors completely.
Deleted Scenes (SD 28min) - What we have here is a lengthy and rather mishmash collection of deleted scenes. Some are extended/alternate scenes to the ones available in the finished product and some are brand new additions. All in all they're as hilarious as some of the content which Iannucci left in and this additional supplement is well worth a watch.
T V Spot - A standard definition TV Spot for the main feature.
Trailer - We have here, for your viewing pleasure, a high definition trailer for the movie.
'In the Loop' was written and directed by Armando Iannucci and was released in 2009. Although involved in television based comedy for the majority of his career, the success of his latest series, 'The Thick of It', inspired Iannucci to produce this feature length spin off. The cast contains many familiar favourites from the director's past projects. The plot follows Simon Foster, an inept politician, and his equally inept aide as they travel to Washington and become wrapped up in a secret war committee. Although the plot is relatively uneventful, the razor sharp dialogue and the excellent cast breathe life into this movie, which is packed to the gills with big laughs. This is quite simply the funniest movie (in my humble opinion) of 2009 and comes recommended.
The video presentation is crisp and clear but the muted palette and washed out colouring means that it falls short of top marks. The audio track is serviceable but basically this is a stereo presentation for the duration. The extras package is somewhat lacklustre and it seems that there are far more additional supplements available on the UK BD. All in all this is a reasonable package but fans of Iannucci's work may prefer the UK release over this one.
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