PictureThis 1080p MPEG-4/AVC codec transfer whilst not setting any fires alight is still faithful to the 16mm filmed original theatrical release. Shot as a documentary, the Blu-ray disc adequately presents that look and feel. There's a lot of grain, especially in some of the darker scenes on or below stage. Black levels are pleasing with more apparent depth than earlier incarnations, especially when Spinal Tap are navigating the labyrinthine corridors on the way to the stage.
Whites are rarely pristine, fluctuating at times with some noise on show but in the main this almost adds to the look of the film; it certainly isn't a distraction. Flesh tones are spot on, the cold sores on Nigel and David's lips particularly unpleasant to look at now. Other colours are strong, contained but somewhat muted and again suiting the nature of the filming process itself.
The encoding is fine and apart from the noise mentioned earlier, enhancement and haloing can be seen in most of the scenes. Textures come across better in the Stonehenge 'model' the clothing and the grills on the Marshall amps but really we were never going to get a pristine image from this source. A faithful transfer then but nothing here to knock your socks off.
SoundIf the video doesn't grab you then the audio certainly will, those bass heavy heavy rock tracks now heard in all their glory on this DTS-HD MA 5.1 track. Bass goes deep and the higher tones are a joy to listen to especially Nigel's mandolin work, the violin on guitar and the dulcet tones of his piano piece.
It's loud so you don't need to go cranking your amp to 11 for this but there's no distortion in any of the sounds thumping their way from the speakers to your blood dripping ears. In the main this is a full on frontal assault with little in the surrounds for ambiance. That ambiance is used for some crowd or vehicle effects.
Each and every word of those famous songs can now be heard much more clearly, you'll find yourself singing along to them with gusto. If any Blu-ray release demanded air guitar then this is it. Earlier Tap material such as Listen to the Flower people have that same level of clarity. Other dialogue during the interview scenes is steady and precise with nothing lost in the mix. On the whole a massive step up from the earlier MGM released DVD.
- Commentary with David St. Hubbans, Nigel Tufnel & Derek Smalls.
Staying in charcter for this commentary, this is like watching a whole new film. David, Nigel and Derek look back on the filming process, feel they were stitched up by Marti and the record company. In the end it wasn't their fault that the tour seemed to collapse around them. All Tap fans must listen to this!
- Catching up with Marti DiBergi. - 0:05:01 - 480i/MPEG-2
A short interview with Marti who tells us what he has been doing since making his classic feature. It's obvious that he has a great affinity for the band, really wishing he was the sixth member. He's candid and honest indicating where things went wrong, what was misconstrued and the fact he never managed to get any sex on the road whilst the band seemd to have it every which way. The short includes some of the band members giving a press conference where they make it plain they feel DiBergi stitched them up and essentially made the film as a comedy. Sadly towards the end DiBergi makes a pitch to the studios indicating he's available for work.
- Rare Outtakes. - 1:07:51 - 480i/MPEG-2
Most of the same clips which were found on the MGM released DVD. However there is one difference... all of these clips can be played en masse or individually. Covering just over an hour, any and all of these so called outtakes could easily have been included in the final released version of the film. You're pretty much getting a whole new version of the film and is a definite must watch for all Tap fans. A stoned Tommy singing Sinatra is one of my all time favourites.
- Vintage Tap Materials. - 0:03:50 - 480i/MPEG-2
Two early appearances by David St Hubbans, Nigel Tufnel and Derek Smalls in the Flower People Press Conference and their appearance on The Joe Franklin Show. Like the outtakes this is more of the same, background fillers from Tap's history with the first Flower People conference particularly amusing, with St Hubbans determined to follow his own star!
- Music Videos. - 0:12:11 - 480i/MPEG-2
Videos for Tap songs, Gimme Some Money, (Listen to the) Flower People, Hell Hole and Big Bottom. A excellent way to sample these classic songs independently of the main feature. It's good to see their origins from the 60s with the use of psychedelic fly eye lenses through to the standard heavy music videos produced in the early 80s complete with stocking and bikini clad women, video effects and white casual jacket.
- Promotional Materials. - 0:04:56 - 480i/MPEG-2
Heavy Metal Memories promoting a new Heavy Metal Memories CD, a collection of Tap songs only available through this TV offer... class, Cheese Rolling Commercial in which Rob Reiner introduces this, mostly absurd, cheese rolling mini feature & 3 TV Spots for the film itself.
- Commercials. - 0:00:48 - 480i/MPEG-2
Spinal Tap members starring in these three commercials for a well known food manufacturer.
- 'Stonehenge' Performance at 2007 Live Earth Concert. - 0:06:55 - 480i/MPEG-2
Our beloved band members performing their iconic track at Live Earth 2007. At least they're doing their bit to save the planet. Whilst the Stonehenge prop is a little larger this time it still gives them some problems
- National Geographic Stonehenge Interview with Nigel Tufnel. - 0:08:15 - 480i/MPEG-2
Nigel giving his insight into the one man, Duncan or Duncca to his friends, who built Stonehenge all those years ago. The National Geographic interviewer seems a little perplexed with this theory but nonetheless takes it at face value.
This then is essentially the same set of extras which came with the black clad, Smell the Glove, cover from MGM a few years ago. The outtakes work better because of the play all feature it's just a pity that none of this has been upgraded for HD. Initially there were thoughts of including the already recorded cast commentary but I am glad they eventually dropped this, re-releasing the one in which they stay in character... it continues the joke they have been perpetrating for the last 25 years. The Live Earth and National Geographic / Tufnel interview are on a separate Region 1 encoded DVD. I'm more than happy that they have been included but I do wonder why they couldn't have gone on the first disc. Normally full marks for this but as the UK release is suspected to have more then I'll drop a single mark.
VerdictSpinal Tap has been a hoot from the start and to keep this one joke going through of 25 years is dedication above and beyond the pale. Live Earth, their ongoing world tours with them all in character and never once dropping their guard. Matured from a fledgling sketch to a full blown career you really have to give credit where it's due and if anywhere it's due to these three guys. Normally you would say they're flogging a dead horse but they still entertain and still rope in new generations of fans.
Their music could, and indeed has, been released and if you're not in the know then you might just think that they are a decent enough heavy metal band with all the right lyrics in all the right places. I know people who once did think they were a real bone fide rock band. Whilst this disc does them justice in the high def world the rumours of a Region B release later in the year with even more extras might have true multi region Tap fans looking to double dip sooner than later.
I would say pick this locked Region A release up now and be prepared to have the same advice in September. Video is a slight step up, the audio is now absolutely fantastic and the extras are a little easier to navigate. Listen to what the flower people say, get out of your hell hole and lay down the readies.
No one knows who they were or what they were doing
But their legacy remains
Hewn into the living rock... Of Stonehenge
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- Commentary with David St. Hubbans, Nigel Tufnel & Derek Smalls.