Kalifornia Blu-ray Review
‘Kalifornia’ is presented in widescreen 2.35:1 with MPEG-4 AVC 1080p coding.
For such a low budget and aging movie, I was not expecting anything stunning from this transfer. I have to admit that I was marginally impressed when I saw how clear and dirt free the image actually was but it’s most certainly no ‘Avatar’. There is a healthy dose of grain in some of the scenes and while at times it can be somewhat distracting, it’s mostly organic and unobtrusive.
The contrast ratio is strong for the most part but blacks can revert to a greyish tone during some of the night time portions. Shadow detail is spot on, exposing lots of detail through the gloom. The colour palette is slightly washed out but there are some scenes in which strong primaries shine through; Adele’s red shoes and rich crimson pools of blood (from some of the murder victims) spring to mind. Skin tones can vary from time to time but overall this is a solid transfer.
The movie really falls short in the definition department, with many of the scenes, especially the long shots, exposing the low budget filming process. While there is plenty of detail on show, it is just not as sharp as I have seen on other discs. Minute hairs on Adele’s legs, fabric on clothing and other such nuances are present but not to the level that we have come to expect from Blu-ray. Even facial close-ups barely scratch the surface of what BD is capable of but they are far and away the most impressive aspect of this presentation. That being said, at least there doesn’t seem to have been any DNR or EE applied. There are a couple of instances where the image slipped back into almost SD territory, with some distinctly blurry frames but thankfully these were few and far between.
Bad points aside, this is the best that I have ever seen this movie look but due to the limitations of the source material, this release falls well short of making it into the demo material category. A high six is awarded here.
‘Kalifornia’ comes with a 5.1 dts HD Master Audio surround track.
Recorded on a tight budget over seventeen years ago, you might not be surprised to hear that this track is largely front heavy. Although this means that the uncompressed track is somewhat wasted, the stereo separation is really impressive. Plenty of ambient effects can be heard meandering across the front soundstage for the duration. Vocals are always locked to the centre channel and are crystal clear and never difficult to follow, but on occasion they did crackle a little.
There are a couple of scant instants where the surrounds come to life, such as during the opening thunderstorm sequence and the nuclear village scene, but overall they are pretty much dormant. The same can be said for the sub, which, aside from a car crash, has pretty much gone fishing on this release. As a result, the track fails to really immerse the viewer in the movie.
The score is at times menacing and is certainly one of the more forceful components of the audio presentation and it certainly utilises the surrounds to a greater extent. The original compositions are suited to the imagery but overall it’s mostly forgettable. However, it still remains the strongest facet of the mix and is perfectly balanced.
Like the video presentation, the audio mix is most certainly limited by the source material and also earns a solid six.
Disappointingly, there are zero addition supplements on this disc, aside from a 1080p trailer. At least you also get a bonus region A DVD copy of the movie as well (even if it is cheaply manufactured!).
‘Kalifornia’ was released in 1993 and was directed by Dominic Sena. With a cast of up and coming young talent, Sena was poised to make his big break in Hollywood. The plot focuses on a young and hip couple (David Duchovny and Michelle Forbes) as they make their way across America on a trip to California. Looking to share the cost of the journey, the two meet with a trailer park couple (Brad Pitt and Juliette Lewis) and begin their epic adventure. Whilst the plot is a little one dimensional, the central performance from Pitt is worth the entrance admission alone. This is one of those movies that somehow works, despite its flaws, and so comes recommended.
Age has not been overly kind to this release and the limitations of the source material most certainly show. That being said, both the audio and video presentations are a leap from the DVD version and this BD is most certainly worth the upgrade. The extras portion comprises a lowly HD trailer of the feature presentation. This movie was always going to be a budget release and while it’s not the best disc on the market, everyone should see this movie at least once, so there’s no better time to pick it up.
Suggested retail price when reviewed: £15.49
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