Sporadically funny, but seldom inspiredly so
Is this the end?Boasting the same, strange, dark humour that earned Pineapple Express a modest-though-dedicated following, but distinctly lacking the more effective and arguably more mainstream wit of hits Superbad and Knocked Up, the latest creation from the Rogen/Apatow gene pool certainly has the star appeal - with almost every current comedian making an appearance, however brief - but fails to provide the same satisfying laugh-out-loud freneticism of its aforementioned brethren. Indeed I dare say that, if you're not a fan of Pineapple, you may well find this a somewhat lacklustre effort, no matter how much you normally enjoy the work of the participants within.
In many ways America's answer to 2013's British apocalyptic ensemble comedy, World's End, you'd be forgiven for assuming this is just a rip-off, particularly since the cast spend so long discussing the unrealised Pineapple sequel they'd all like to make - and even shooting scenes for it - that it feels like This Is The End was the only way they could get a sequel off the ground: it's as if the Studios told Rogen and co that, if they wrapped their ideas up in the same currently-viral end-of-the-world premise, they'd get funding. Rogen and Jonah Hill are better than this, but Pineapple regulars James Franco and Danny McBride - aided by the gratingly hyper-neurotic Jay Baruchel - bring the tone down, despite the best efforts of The Office's Craig Robinson.
Sporadically funny, but seldom inspiredly so, This could have been so much better.
So what does the end of the world look and sound like?This Is The End comes to UK Blu-ray complete with what, at first instances, appears to be the same MPEG-4 AVC encoded 1080p High Definition video presentation as the earlier US release, again framed in the original aspect ratio of 2.39:1 widescreen. Unfortunately, despite rave reviews from overseas, I found this presentation to be particularly problematic, not least because it should have been perfect: it was, after all, shot in native 5K resolution on the Red Epic. Sure, the majority of the movie looks rather impressive indeed - particularly the exterior shots, which handle the skilful blend of apocalyptic visual effects and live action elements - but some of the interior shots look staggeringly unfocused. Check out the scene where the characters, one by one, start bunking down in the same bed together - there's rampant softness throughout, almost a blurring effect to the edges which leaves the image thoroughly disappointing. It's not the only instance either, and for as much as the rest of the proceedings look clinically excellent, these instances of problematic clarity and loss of image integrity threaten to pull you out of the film. I can't fault the apocalyptic stylisation, which suits the film fine, and, as stated, the Red Epic cinematography should have earned this presentation a demo rating, but the disappointing low level lighting sequences that pepper the middle act left me thoroughly underwhelmed, and sullied my impression of the presentation.
Flawed by unwanted softness.
The audio track, on the other hand, is a harder-to-fault DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track that promotes the material exceptionally well, expertly balancing the all-important dialogue, well-executed score elements and often surprisingly punchy effects. The dialogue gets clear and coherent presentation largely from across the fronts and centre channels, taking the reins wherever appropriate, which is more often than not in this dialogue-driven comedy. Surround usage is commonplace, however, with the full breadth of the apocalypse executing chaos across the stage, even through to the rears, with the LFE channel brought in for support too. The score isn’t particularly memorable, but also gets decent room to manoeuvre, and it’s surprising just how engulfing this track can get at times, nudging it into reference territory – an atypical accolade for a standard comedy.
Any bonus to the world ending?In terms of extras this UK release boasts the same bucket-load of standard tick-box comedy bonus material that the US release benefited from not long ago: headlining with an Audio Commentary before dipping into a number of interesting mini-Featurettes and a sizeable quantity of extra footage, taking the form of Deleted Scenes, Gag Reels and more Gag Reels and more Gag Reels. Funnily enough some of the alternate lines are actually funnier than the ones they picked for the film. Some promotional material rounds out the disc.
Is there a point?Given the cast involved, it's hard not to see This as a massive waste of potential. There are certainly laughs to be had, but not in the way - or quantity - you would have hoped for from these guys. The disc too has its flaws, with some issues when it comes to the video, but decent enough audio and a whole host of extras. Fans will probably forgive the video problems and lap up the release, but everybody else - even those who, like me, largely love the cast, should probably rent it instead. Unless you were hoping for Pineapple Express 2. In which case this is a blind buy.
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