Waiting... Blu-ray Review
PictureLet me start by saying that my fully firmware updated Sony BDP-S1 had considerable difficulty in playing this disc. It finally loaded after about 10 long minutes and half way through the movie it locked up during a scene and returned to the beginning of the film. I eventually had to forward to the following scene to watch the film at all. Doing some research online showed this not to be an isolated case with other first generation players also having difficulties including the Panasonic BD10. The PS3 though appears to play this title ok. Just a word of warning to those contemplating purchasing this title! Now onto the review.
Presented in a widescreen TV friendly ratio of 1.78:1 and of course with 1080p using the AVC MPEG-4 codec, Waiting has never looked better and is a significant improvement over the artifact ridden standard DVD version. Considering this movie was made with a budget of just three million dollars, the pristine finish to the image is admirable. The image (unlike the movie) certainly doesn't have a budget feel.
Colours in particular have a very natural quality to them. Skin tones are nigh on perfect and the warmth of the restaurant and the contrasting chill of the kitchen are captured with aplomb. Detail levels are satisfactory without being exemplary. Close-ups show good detail, but there are occasionally noticeable softening and blocking of small areas of the background image. This is a form of macro blocking and is usually down to the compression algorithms used. Something you would not expect on a 50GB disc! It is by no means terrible, just something I noticed once or twice and because of an otherwise outstanding image, they stood out.
Shadow detail and black levels are also excellent. The restaurant is warmly lit and has a cosy atmosphere. This means there are areas of shade which could result in a loss of detail. Not in this case though as the retrieval of such things are text on the walls and decorations around the room stand out clearly. I also noticed a small amount of image grain, though again nothing excessive and probably to be expected when the setting is so shady. .
The cinematography is superb throughout and the different styles used including fast panning, static and handheld camera shots show a considerable amount of thought went into the way this movie should look and feel..
Here we have yet another example of how an average movie can take on a new lease of life given the improvements the format can offer. If you are a fan of the film, then this is the best it has ever looked. In fact, director Rob McKittrick stated that this Blu-Ray version had gone through some digital cleaning processes to remove print damage and it certainly shows!
SoundHaving an uncompressed PCM 7.1 surround soundtrack (48 kHz/6.1 Mbps) appears to be a case of overkill considering this movie's modest intentions. The film is almost entirely dialogue based and the audio is fixed mostly to the front three speakers. What rear surround sound there is seems limited to the restaurant ambience and its conversing customers. The makers should be congratulated on adding such an advanced audio option, but it does seem somewhat wasted on this movie.
Saying that, the dialogue certainly is crystal clear. Even Luiz Guzman's lines with his strong Puerto Rican accent are easy to follow! There is no bass worth mentioning...so I won't! Although voices do carry a rich warmth to them that seems lacking on the Dolby Digital EX 5.1(640kbps) also present
This is one of the few movies to carry a 7.1 uncompressed surround mix that I've seen but unfortunately it is never aloud to roll up its sleeves and throw its weight around. But having this option should certainly not count against a movie and for the subject matter, the audio is great. It's a bit like being given a Ferrari and then being told you can only drive it around Sainsbury's car park!.......But at the end of the day, who would complain about being given a Ferrari?
ExtrasThey certainly have gone to town on the extras for this disc. Not including the extended 'Telestrator' audio commentary which accompanies the movie and extends the run time to 2 hours and ten minutes not due to any extra movie material but because during key moments, director Rob McKittrick will pause the movie and discuss aspects of it, even circling points of interest on the screen, but like I said, not including this, the extras must run for close to 3 hours and are truly entertaining. In many ways more so than the movie itself.
The bulk of the extras are taken up by “The Works” which although is described as an 'Interactive Video Commentary' on the packaging, is really just a Making of Documentary split into chapters and features an interactive mode which when the 'Hot Dog' icon appears, allows you to jump to a more in depth interview with the member of the cast/crew featured in the current scene. “The Works” lasts for 85 minutes and gives a fascinating insight into this movie which in turn leads to a better appreciation of the film itself. Especially good is the section in this documentary titled 'The Fight' which features a heated argument between director Rob McKittrick and seasoned actor Luiz Guzman with an unexpected surprise ending.
Also included is a documentary with the Producer titled “That Little Extra” (19 minutes) which is more of a promo behind-the-scenes featurette, as well as “Going to the Movies with Rob and Andy” which takes us to the Waiting Premier with Rob McKittrick and actor Andy Milonakis who plays Nick in the film.
Next we have a selection of deleted scenes (6 minutes), Alternate Scenes (9 minutes) and Outtakes (5 minutes) which have limited appeal although the outtakes are quite amusing.
Finishing off the extras is the obligatory Trailer as well as several others including Crank, The Punisher, Lord of War and interestingly, The Invincible Iron Man which as far as I know has not been announced as a Blu-Ray release . Some of the extras are not in High Def but several of the video based extras are including the trailers.
Blu-Ray exclusive extras include an introduction by Rob McKittrick (3 minutes) where he tries to impart the benefits of the Blu-Ray format and congratulates you on your choice of disc, plus some Java based disc navigation options which allow such adjustments as menu audio volume, favourite scene book marking and storing your selected options even when the player is turned off.
There is also a cast and Crew audio commentary made exclusively for this Blu-Ray release. It features several of the cast including Rob Benedict, Vanessa Lengies, Anna Faris and the annoying Andy Milonakis who thinks he's the funniest man around... but isn't! Although the commentary is notable more for the absence of the leading cast members such as Ryan Reynolds, Justin Long and Luiz Guzman to name but a few rather than those actually present. Thankfully those that did attend do manage to give us a funny insight into the making of the movie.
VerdictWaiting should appeal to fans of 'Gross-Out' movies such as American Pie and those served up by The Wayans Brothers. It doesn't have the production values nor ultimately the appeal of its counterparts although there are a few genuinely funny moments. Unfortunately the majority of the movie is just plain vulgar and the bombardment of bad language becomes fatiguing after a very short time. Saying that, fans of Waiting are treated to a great picture, loads of extras and a superior audio soundtrack. Who's feeling hungry?
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