Norbit Blu-ray Review
PictureNorbit comes to us on Blu-ray with a gorgeous High Definition rendition in the movie's original theatrical widescreen aspect ratio of 1.85:1. Detail is generally good throughout, with very little softness indeed (except for, oddly enough, the scenes with Thandie Newton). There is also very little grain, and the presentation is largely lacking of transfer defects. The colours scheme is quite broad and vivid, mostly thanks to Rasputia's garish attire, with costumes, skin tones and settings all brought to life in an almost over-real comic-book fashion. Blacks are deep and solid, allowing for superior contrast and decent shadowing. I have read some complaints about Norbit's visual look, but I think this has less to do with the format and more to do with the intentional style of the production. Overall, in my opinion, this Blu-ray release provides a very good visual presentation of the movie.
SoundAll we get to accompany this comedy is a Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround track in the movie's original English language. It is a bit of a shame when considering what Blu-ray has to offer and, although it is not really a movie that warrants Uncompressed PCM, I am always still disappointed when I find new releases do not have such a track. It just seems a waste. The standard track is still reasonable capable, with dialogue coming across clearly and coherently throughout - from Murphy many different vocals to the screams and shouts of the crowds and kids. The scoring is quite quaint and scene specific, with some sequences getting livened up but most given a kind of 'fairytale' resonance which is particularly suited to the first act of the movie. There are actually quite a few effects, mostly related to Rasputia, from her snoring like a boar to her ploughing through everything in her way like the Hulk. Plenty of crashes and bangs ensue and offer the surrounds something other than the score to chew on. Nowhere near as dynamic or lively as you would have found with an Uncompressed PCM track, it is nonetheless sufficient enough not to detract from your enjoyment of the main feature. It just does little to enhance it.
ExtrasThe Making of Norbit runs at 22 minutes long, offering comments from the Director, the Producer and many of the stars, including Eddie Murphy (and his brother, who he co-wrote it with). They talk about how they came up with the idea itself, the different roles that Murphy plays, and why he is so drawn to multiple parts. We get plenty of behind the scenes footage of the movie being filmed, but also lots of clips from the main feature itself, thankfully normally narrated by one of the contributors. They go into a fair amount of detail on the clothes that Rasputia wears, the makeup used to bring the various personas to life and so forth. It is an interesting addition, with lots of nice cast comments (particularly from Murphy) that you're going to want to check out.
Man of a Thousand Faces is a brief 5 minute look at Murphy's versatility in his different roles, with contributions from the Special Make Up Effect Artist (the same guy Murphy worked with on Coming to America) talking about the intensive hours spent in the trailer trying to change Murphy into the various different characters. The most interesting parts are the fast-forward make-up videos where we get to see Murphy transformed into one of his alter-egos. It is quite remarkable.
The Stunts of Norbit takes 12 minutes to look at some of the more dramatic stunts used in the movie, with brief glimpses of the storyboards, contributions from the relevant crew members, and behind the scenes footage showing how the stunt was performed, with some of the more dramatic stunts having been done by a stuntman. In a strange way, although very informative, it is a little too revealing - sure, I know Murphy's not likely to be insured to do many of his own stunts, but perhaps this completely ruins any illusions.
There are also 14 Deleted Scenes, totalling some 10 minutes of extra footage. There are a few more childhood sequences, an interesting addition where Rasputia bullies Norbit into marrying her (which they should have left in), but most of it is pointless and rightfully removed, with lots of unnecessary scene extensions.
Power Tap is five-minute mock infomercial about the exercise video instructor and his 'art' Power Tap. Featuring Marlon Wayans in character it is nothing substantial, but worth checking out if you found the character amusing. Finally we get a Photo Gallery and Theatrical Trailer to round of the disc. Although none of the Extras are specifically Blu-ray exclusive, they are all presented in High Definition, which is a nice touch.
VerdictNorbit is an odd fish, that seems to have been promoted as a typical Eddie Murphy kid-friendly fluffy comedy, but in reality is a much darker, more adult affair - with some visual gags thrown into the mix. It is a shame because the odd style makes it difficult for the viewer to know what to expect, and I certainly would not recommend this for watching with your children. Which is funny, because it isn't really deserving of your attentions as an adult either. The video presentation is solid, with a slightly ordinary audio accompaniment, but a nice bucket of extras to round off the disc with. Although it once again showcases the multi-character talents of Murphy, Norbit comes recommended as a rental only. This one is very much down to taste, and many will not like it.
Suggested retail price when reviewed: £24.79
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