PictureThe Invention of Lying comes to Blu-ray with a 1080p resolution encoded using the VC-1 coded and framed within a theatrically correct 1.85:1 aspect ratio.
As with most recent mainstream American comedies, the image we are presented with here is one that is capable but not stunning in any way. There is limited depth to the frame and at times it can appear distinctly two dimensional rather than having the ability to draw the eye into the picture. This cannot be entirely attributed to the transfer though, as it becomes clear that the cinematography plays probably the greatest part in this uninspiring look. Interior and exterior scenes vary by some degree, with some of the latter holding far more vibrant colours and being lit in a manner that allows for greater contrast. When inside, the drab palette and subdued nature of the image simply lacks the ability to spring from the screen.
The palette itself doesn't help matters, with colours shying away from the sort of punchy vibrancy one might associate with such frothy rom-com material. On the plus side, the colours themselves are stable and black levels, whilst not reference, are suitably dark. Skin tones remain consistent throughout, with only Gervais's slightly flush tones testing this disc's push for naturalistic competency in such areas. Texture detail doesn't excel, with the flat nature of the picture seemingly holding back a lot of fine detail as well. This though is somewhat counterbalanced by some very pleasing shadow detail.
The image may lack the crystal clear nature that high definition purists want, but that isn't to say that things somehow descend into fuzziness at any point, it's just that neither do they reach the height that we know the medium of Blu-ray can offer. Sharpness varies wildly at times from wide shot to close up, with the latter when well lit showing the best clarity. It is a stable and capable picture that was never likely to transcend the film's cinematography or artistic style, but it still has enough on offer to be considered a success, being that there are no signs of print damage or major indications of excessive digital processing techniques.
SoundThe Invention of Lying comes with only one audio option, that of an English DTS-HD Master Audio track.
As one would expect for a dialogue driven comedy film, the majority of the audio action is focussed on the front soundstage. Speech is kept well prioritised and natural sounding, with a nice balance being found between the vocals in comparison to the few sound effects that are on offer. In truth there is little that really shines here, with the mix never making full use of the speakers on offer to it. Surround channels are sparsely utilised, with a few scenes making light use of them to a reasonable degree. The noises ensuing help with a sense of directionality and the few pans that pop up are nicely handled.
If there was one area which is allowed room to breath it is that of the music. The film plays very safe with its choices of accompanying tunes, but it is always nice to hear a touch of Elvis Costello or Bob Dylan in a lossless format. The LFE aids the score by adding some much needed weight but never really wakes up. Other than the scene where Bellison first discovers the art of lying there is little here that is dynamic or goes above what one would expect for a dialogue heavy comedy film. The track handles the action well, but in truth there is little actual action for it to handle so it is a touch underwhelming.
ExtrasPrequel: The Dawn of Lying - 480p - 6:31
Narrated by Patrick Stewart, this was originally intended to be the pre credits opening which showed an early ancestor of Mark Bellison discovering lying which was supposed to explain why Bellison also later finds himself able to do so. It shows the cast as cavemen grunting their way through a scene about a giant beast terrorising their community, which doesn't really bring anything funny to the tale, other than a blink-and-you'll-miss-it cameo by Karl Pilkington.
Meet Karl Pilkington - 480p - 17:49
Now this is more like it! We follow Ricky's one time producer at XFM and fellow podcaster as he turns up for a mini video diary about why and how he came to be filming a cameo and his experiences on set. It is full of jibes about his perfectly spherical head and contains more than one funny, eminently quotable piece of Pilkington wisdom.
Ricky and Matt's video podcasts - 480p - 9:58
Four video podcasts; “Ricky at home in Boston” is a mock episode of MTV's Cribs show. “Office scouting” shows the pair mainly climbing in and out of cupboards as part of their search for office space in which to set up production HQ. “What's in the local paper?” has Gervais reading a news snippet from a small New England newspaper and finally “Jack Attack” shows Gervais and Robinson firing nerf guns at their assistant for fun. Anyone familiar with Gervais and Co's video podcasts will be at home with this style of on-the-fly comedy that doesn't strive to have any point to it, but I'm afraid it might be lost on some.
A truly “honest” making of featurette with Ricky Gervais - 1080p - 7:17
A funny alternative “making of....” that is full of corpsing and general mocking tones whereby the cast pretend they aren't enamoured with Gervais and the like. I'm not quite sure why this is in 1080p yet the original intro scene isn't but I'll take whatever HD content I can, thank you.
More laughter: corpsing and outtakes - 480p - 5:34
The usual mix of giggling actors and on set high jinks, this shows the camaraderie well and seems genuinely warm hearted.
Additional scenes - 480p - 7:12
Five extra scenes that didn't make it into the final cut; “on the way to the restaurant”, “Mark and Greg at the bar”, “post casino”, “the readers: invention of the fork” and “the readers: mathematics”. Their omission is no great loss as other than an extra insight into Anna's character there is little here that adds anything to the plot but the extra screen time for Louis C.K would have been nice.
VerdictI'm not quite sure where the market for The Invention of Lying is supposed to be. As a comedy it failed to raise a smile, the romantic angle falls fairly flat because of a lead female character that is rarely shown to be nice or charismatic, appearing instead as shallow and dense. Some may find value in the veiled mockery of the logic behind organised religions but I'm afraid I saw nothing there that hadn't been done better by Dave Allen, Monty Python, Father Ted et al up to decades beforehand.
The disc itself comes with perfunctory visual and audio quality that never leaps towards the heights we know the medium can reach. The extras don't fare any better, with material being thin other than the ever dependable comedy of Karl Pilkington. That all but one of the extras are in a pretty poor standard definition encode, including scenes actually shot for the film, is even more bewildering. I'm sure the content may divide opinions but I'm afraid I was underwhelmed by almost every aspect of this disc.
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