Passion Play Blu-ray Review
Passion Play comes pretty-much straight to home format (ok, so there was a very limited US theatrical run where the film bombed) with a Region A-locked US Blu-ray that offers up a 1080p High Definition rendition in the movie’s original aspect ratio of widescreen 2.4:1. Sometimes even the bad movies out there get decent enough video presentations, but Passion Play doesn’t even score points on that count. Detail is ok. That’s just about all I can say about it because, for some reason, whilst some of the scenes boast true HD-quality shots – long and close-ups – and benefit the 1080p format, other scenes are frankly awful, strangely blurry and pixelated, fuzzy to the point where you’re wondering whether you’ve suddenly dropped into SD-DVD territory. At one point or another during this movie’s you’ll notice just about everything you could possibly not want from a decent video presentation – edge enhancement, random noise, blurring, artefacts, you name it. It’s just a terribly unfinished product. And yet, strangely, the quality is good enough to make the bad effects in the movie itself stand out even more. Go figure. The colour scheme suffers as a result of all of this too – tones changing from scene to see, as incomplete effects intrude upon the palette that’s already been constructed. Blacks fall to the same fate and overall you will probably regard this as the antithesis of a demo-quality presentation. There’s little here that will make you proud of your home cinema equipment. You almost wish this had been made twenty years ago, during the Rourke ‘lost years’ – maybe it would look even worse and then you could not only excuse the shortcomings, but also forgive the less obviously bad effects. For a modern day film released in high definition, this is bad.
The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track that accompanies the movie thankfully doesn’t keep up the trend in poor quality, after the precedent set by the film itself and also its video presentation. It’s not a great mix by any measure, but at least it doesn’t take away from the experience, even occasionally adding to it. Dialogue comes across clearly and coherently throughout, effects are quite limited – especially given the material – but a couple of gunshots still ring out, and some car noises and breaking glass all add to what just about passes for atmosphere. Surrounds could do with more input, and so could the LFE channel, but, considering the movie as a whole package, I very seldom found the sound to be any kind of issue at all. Sure, I can’t even remember the score, and yes, it’s nowhere near good, but it’s also perfectly acceptable for this production.
Nothing, not even a trailer.
What went wrong here? Two Oscar-nominated comeback kings, the gorgeous Megan Fox trying to prove her acting worth, and an eager writer/director who has been planning this, his dream project, for two decades – surely there was some potential here? Well yes, underneath the messy, cheap and unfinished effects, and the jarringly edited, almost incoherent narrative, you can see something here could have worked. The remnants of what could have been are merely a smattering of quality Mickey Rourke moments, a dash of reliable Bill Murray and a hint of better acting from Fox – bookended by an interesting premise and a surprisingly ‘deep’ ending. Everything else needs a complete overhaul, and, in its current state, shouldn’t be recommended to anybody.
Hitting Region A-locked US Blu-ray after a very limited US theatrical run we get a pretty poor home format package, with inconsistent and occasionally downright bad video, merely acceptable audio, and simply no extras – not even a trailer – there isn’t anything about the release that I can recommend even to fans (if there truly are any) of the film. If you’re really curious, give it a cautious rent, but this baby really is for Mickey Rourke completists and even if you are one – like me – you’ll still find it hard to uncover the little good that there is in this irredeemable mess.
Suggested retail price when reviewed: £18.58
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