PictureNacho Libre comes to HD DVD complete with a solid 1080p High Definition video presentation in the movie's original theatrical 1.85:1 widescreen aspect ratio. Detail is generally quite good, but there is some light softness and a little negligible grain, normally during the indoor sequences. The colour scheme is quite broad and luscious, from the sun-drenched exteriors with vivid greens to the gaudy wrestling attire. Blacks are solid as well but the overall representation isn't always quite as good as I would have expected on HD. Sure, it has that 3D look and some scenes come across as pretty amazing but it can still be slightly disappointing. (It does not help that some of the scenes were shot night-for-day, messing up the contrast levels) Luckily, given the surreal, comedic, entertaining nature of the content, the picture quality never really gets in the way of your enjoyment of the movie.
SoundTo accompany the movie, we get a standard Dolby Digital 5.1 Plus track, which is always a slight disappointment when True HD would have been much preferred. Still, it is generally good and perfectly suited to the material. Dialogue is presented clearly and coherently, predominantly from across the fronts and centre channels, although there are one or two moments when the surrounds kick in - like when Nacho's 'backup' arrives during his first date, or during the wrestling confrontations, where the crowds cheer along. The effects tend to be dominated by the fights as well (although Nacho's motorbike is fairly noisy) with plenty of slapping blows and cracking bones. They use quite a lot of eagle noises for atmosphere during the exterior desert-orientated shots, and the effects are dominated by these kinds of background touches. The guitar-prevalent score is quite unusual, if perfectly apt with regard to the proceedings, and it certainly gets the most room to breathe on the track. There isn't as much bass action (all that there is comes from the score) as you would have liked, but overall it is still a decent and engaging presentation of this fun movie.
ExtrasFirst up we get an Audio Commentary by the Star Jack Black, as well as the Writer/Director Jared Hess and the Co-Writer Mike White, who all appear to be having dinner whilst giving this narration. There are lots of comical snaps about everything from the font chosen for the credits to the stunts done, but what everyone (including the two other commentators) is really waiting for is for Jack Black to take centre stage. He never truly gets into the swing of thing, but does offer plenty of amusing, sarcastic comments, some random, some related to the on-screen action, and some anecdotal with respect to on-set goings-on. Still, it is marginally disappointing considering the amount of energy I usually associate with the lead, and it does not offer much of anything even in the form of mundane trivia.
There are three Deleted Scenes, totalling an extra ten minutes of footage. The Way of the Eagle is quite a funny introduction (with a great house-made-of-cars set-piece and Jack Black covered in pigeons) to Peter Stormare's character and should have been left in to justify his name on the credits, Poem for Ramses is silly little poem from the girl who uses tunnels and Ramses gets Jumped is an unnecessary fight scene that gives Ramses a more heroic edge - hence its exclusion. Overall it's worth checking out the extra Peter Stormare sequence (it's also the longest deleted scene).
There are no less than seven Featurettes: Detras De La Camera, Jack Black Unmasked, Exterior - Hacienda - Night, Interior - Lucha Libre Ring - Night, Lucha Libre, Hecho En Mexico, and Moviefone Unscripted with Jack Black and Hector Jimenez. The first, Detras De La Camera, lasts nearly half an hour and varies from offering weird fish-eye-lens camcorder footage of Black on-set, prepping for scenes, to off-set interviews with the main cast and crew members. Although fairly disjointed and disorganised in nature, it is also much more interesting than perhaps many similar (but more fluffy) Making-Of Featurettes. The crew explain how the production came into existence and the cast talk about their character, with plenty of b-roll footage going on in the background. Watching Jack Black training for his wrestling is quite good, as is picking up on the extra scenes shown being shot that were not in the final cut. Even the musical montages are interesting, with the Featurette never lapsing into the realms of promotional fluff, and often being punctuated by funny offerings by Black (including background into how they did some of the particularly amusing shots). Even Peter Stormare pops up, talking even more here than he did in the movie itself.
Jack Black Unmasked takes 12 minutes to offer a slightly more promotional alternative (as produced by Nickolodeon), with interviews snippets from Jack Black, and plenty of final film footage (as well as a little behind the scenes footage, including amusing glimpses of Black's sarcastic film trailer video diary). Although it is quite funny, and very watchable, it is somewhat less substantial or genuine when compared to the previous making-of. Exterior - Hacienda - Night and Interior - Lucha Libre Ring - Night give us specific video-diary-style behind the scenes footage of these particular scenes being shot. Highlights for the first one include Jack Black's extended improvised song (from the party scene, and a different version from the one included later in the extras), with the second one taking a closer look at the antics within the wrestling ring. Both last over ten minutes.
The brief four-minute Lucha Libre Featurette takes a more general look at Mexican wrestling as a whole, with interviews from experts spliced with real wrestling footage and outtakes/b-roll/training for the movie itself. Hecho En Mexico is another brief Featurette, this time taking three minutes to look at shooting in Mexico with a largely Mexican cast. We get some brief interview snippets as well as lots of stills video footage showcasing the crew. Finally, at least in terms of Featurettes, Moviefone Unscripted sees Jack Black and Hector Jiminez talking about the movie, working together, training for the movie and so forth, through answering questions sent in from fans. It is quite an interesting, and often funny nine minutes (particularly the brief podcast segments).
Jack Sings gives you access to Behind the Scenes on the Making of the two Jack Black songs from the movie, La Cancion De Ramses and La Cancion De Encarnacion, including draft extended versions. Since both of these are pretty damn hilarious - possibly the funniest moments in the movie, these Featurettes (about three minutes each) are possibly the highlight of the disc. We also get three Promo Spots, a Photo Gallery split into: On Set, Luchadores and Nacho Especial, the Theatrical Trailer and the silly HD DVD promo reel.
VerdictNacho Libre reunites comedy/singer/all-out hero Jack Black with the writer of his other big successful vehicle, School of Rock. It is a fun, surreal affair, both light-hearted and feel-good without being sickly sweet in any way. Nothing heavyweight here, just a nice, original and thoroughly amusing Jack Black movie. You may not be rolling in your seat throughout, but it still has its laugh-out-loud classic Black moments, and on HD DVD we get video and audio superior to the DVD alternative, as well as all of the bountiful and amusing extras ported over. Jack Black fans should already be clicking this one into their shopping cart, newcomers should deem it - at the very least - a recommended rental.
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