PictureWalk Hard is presented in a 2.40:1 ratio and encoded into 1080P using the AVC MPEG-4 codec. This high definition presentation though is a bit of a strange mixed bag I must say.
Firstly, it's a spotless transfer as you would expect from such a modern and recently shot movie. I could see no obvious grain, artefacts, pixilation or edge enhancement so that's another positive. In fact some of the natural shots are very cinematic in feel and uncompromising in high definition detail and can achieve what is in fact a good balance. The close-up shots of the singers on stage for example reveal a terrific level of detail in texture of skin and tone. It's not the best of what high-def can offer but it does the film enough.
The negatives come in two different flavours being colours and the blacks and contrast on offer. The colours go from the washed out look in the early 50's right through to the sickly and ridiculously oversaturated colours of the 70's. The movie has in general been very well produced so this attention to detail (or not) must I feel have been by design. I think this has been in vogue since Martin Scorsese used it in "The Aviator" where he wished for the movie to age as it spanned the decades it depicted. Well Judd Apatow and Jake Kasdan have used that approach here but unfortunately it all seems somewhat overcooked. The oversaturation in colours puts paid to natural and realistic skin tones.
The blacks and contrast levels also waver and at times appear very washed out. They can also swing the other way with contrast being overcooked. However, once again I think this has to be viewed in tandem with what the film was trying to depict. Film footage in that era was never the greatest and I will give the benefit of doubt to the fact that they were trying here to reproduce this film in a similar vein. Obviously lightening of the blacks can help slightly with improved shadow detail but strangely some of the darker scenes later in the film such as when The Temptations sing in a basement are quite punchy in blacks. The detail in their dinner jackets for example still comes shining through effectively well which goes to show that they really didn't have to muck about with all of this too much.
SoundWalk Hard is given the Dolby TrueHD 5.1 48Khz/24-bit treatment and if you're an English or French speaker you are certainly in luck.
To make a musical and not deliver on the audio side would be a travesty and thankfully the audio soundtrack here on this disc excels. Whilst the video elements of the movie were given the ageing treatment the music and audio aspects are bang on the money.
Dialogue is crisp and direct and the resolution in audio is wonderful across the whole spectrum. You will hear the crisp strumming of the strings on the guitar, the inhalation of breath between words and the femininely deep tones of Angela Correa's wonderful voice when she dubs "Let's Duet" for Jenna Fischer. Even the brr'ing of the lips will induce a tight punchy bass that is simply fantastic. The songs in the auditoriums will fill the rears with ambience and give you the presence of surround as equal as if you were in an expansive space.
The LFE is nothing but sensibly used and completely underpins everything with such powerful and controlled precision that it's a wonder to behold. I really enjoyed the audio soundtrack of this movie as did my set up. It gave the whole thing a wonderfully balanced work-over.
ExtrasSony have not disappointed at all with this 2-disc set. It's a feature laden and quality rich set of extras through and through. There's lots on show and it's all in 1080P. They've also not skimped on attention to detail and it's certainly a bumper filled set of goodies that deserves much praise.
Audio Commentary - Judd Apatow, Jake Kasdan, John C Reilly and Lew Morton contribute to the commentary. The four of them are in fine form and fettle and a pretty jovial conversation gets going amongst them. You'll be hard pressed to learn about any technical aspects of the movie though as it's not that type of commentary. Far more, it is quite a spontaneous affair that simply speaks about what led up to the movie, circumstantial events and expansion on the various tangents that the conversation takes. There's even a moment of distraction where someone's Blackberry goes off and it takes precedent over the commentary for a bit. Whether you watch the extended version or the theatrical cut the commentary is the same but in order to fit the extended cut it has been edited for pauses introduced into the inserted scenes.
Full Song Performances - HD - (44mins) As it says on the tin, this is a collection of 16 full length songs from the film. You get the full performance of each song and it's all presented in HD. This is my favourite extra of this disc as naturally, it's all about the music. The songs include: "Walk Hard," "Billy Don't be a Hero," "Dear Mr. President," "Gamblin' Man," "Guilty as Charged," "(I Hate You) Big Daddy," "A Life Without You," "Let's Duet," "The Mulatto Song," "Royal Jelly," "Hey Mr. Old Guy," "Farmer Glickstein," "(You Make Me So) Hard" and "Starman," as well as "My Girl" by The Temptations and an alternate version of "Walk Hard" by the All-Star Band).
Deleted & Extended Scenes - HD - (19mins 5secs) Offered up here are 9 deleted scenes from the film. If you watch the theatrical cut then having a quick gander of these will probably add to what you have just watched. If you've just watched the extended version then these scenes will feel like overkill. Anyhow the best scene once again remains for me the one with the Beatles. It made me laugh anyway.
Line-o-rama - HD - (6mins 15secs) A string of gags taken from all the key scenes in the film. It's quite repetitive and it's been edited such that the six minutes packs awful lots of one liners in. It began to drag half way through but nevertheless it offers a chuckle or two in places.
A Christmas Song from Dewey Cox - HD - (2mins 44secs) This is not a song taken from the film so it is an extra in that regard. “For Christmas the People want Cox” sounds a bit of a cross between a Bing Crosby, Perry Como and Elvis rendition of a Christmas song to address the people.
Cox Sausage Commercial with outtakes - HD - (2mins 22secs) An ageing Dewey Cox promotes his very own “Dewey Cox Hickory Smoked Sausages”. While the fake advert itself is hardly funny, the fake outtakes are hilarious. The banter and quips between Dewey and the director had me cracking up.
Song Demos - ( 39mins) This is a collection of 13 demo cuts featuring all of the original musical artists singing the tunes they wrote for the film. If you like the music of the movie you'll love these rough and ready tunes sung by the original artists. Fantastic stuff, though it's all played to a static screen and no video material. Artists include Marshall Crenshaw, Mike Viola, Dan Bern, Antonio Ortiz, Charlie Wadhams, and Reilly. The songs included are: "Walk Hard" and "Let's Duet," (two versions each), "Take My Hand," "Guilty As Charged," "There's a Change Happening," "Beautiful Ride," "Farmer Glickstein," "Your Eyes," "A Life Without You," "Guilty As Charged" and "Have You Heard the News - Dewey Cox Died."
Tyler Nilson : A Cockumentary -HD - (5mins 57secs) Well you get all sorts to get called up to play as extras in films like these. “Bert” is part of the hangers-on surrounding Dewey and is part of the Orgies that go on. Tyler Nilson's claim to fame is his call to stand up and reveal his manhood in all its glory for the camera. How they dragged this extra out for nearly six minutes is beyond me but they did!
Bull on the Loose - HD - (3mins 46secs) Conner Rayburn does an early scene in the film on the farm where he's being chased by a bull. Some of the production staff and stuntmen speak about how they filmed this scene and how the bull actually ran loose and tore through the production set completely wrecking it.
The Music of Walk Hard -HD - (16mins 37secs) A seriously welcome extra here for the music fans and a cracking inclusion. John C Reilly shows that his talents extend far from acting well into singing and playing guitar more than competently so. Marshal Crenshaw helped to pen the music for the film but John actually sang and played the part for himself. Unlike Jenna Fischer who had to be dubbed in “Let's Duet” by the wonderful voice of Angela Correa. You also get appearances by Lyle Lovett, Jackson Browne and the absolutely gorgeous Jewel. Oh and not forgetting rap fans, Ghostface Killah also drops in to lay down a few lyrics.
The Making of Walk Hard - HD - (15mins 5secs) This is the first of the extras that feels like the more normal type of fare that you usually get as an accompaniment. Kasdan, Apatow and Reilly talk onscreen as well as take you backstage on some of the sets. Most of the cast and crew also get to have a say as to what their input was. Lots of backstage footage keeps the variety going and the interest levels high.
The Real Dewey Cox - HD - (14min 04secs) You've simply got to hand it to the producers, cast and crew. They all do their best to convince you that Dewey Cox is a real person and if you didn't know any better you would be forgiven to believe that he was. A host of music stars step up to sung his praises including John Mayer, Sheryl Crow amongst others. My favourite line though is from Jewel “having my ass grabbed by Dewey Cox was a real thrill for me, I won't wash that cheap for quite a while”
The Last Word with John Hodgman - HD - (26mins) John Hodgman presents a mockumentary and fake interview with Dewey Cox. All the actors are in character and this is yet another spoof of an extra. It just doesn't stop and the satire remains prevalent. To be truthful it's very much more of the same and in the same vein as the movie but it feels very improvised. It remains highly impressive that Sony made sure that you get your pennies worth right through to the very last of the extras.
VerdictJudd Apatow tries to serve up the balance between what was achieved in the likes Knocked up and Superbad and what you got given in Talledega Nights and Anchorman. Whilst he achieves it in some measure, the results here always remain a little off the mark. Now that's a real shame as it is clear there has been so much effort gone into making this movie which in itself is worthy of higher praise. In fact it's quite frustrating as the movie constantly tries to break free and let rip as an out and out comedy but is continually reigned in by the overwhelming level of satire on offer. I have a suspicion that the responsibility for this falls more at the footsteps of Jake Kasdan's direction of the movie rather than with Apatow himself.
Walk Hard is certainly not a bad comedy and it will make you chuckle and grin. In all it is generally quite an entertaining watch but it's simply not side splitting stuff. The resultant humour will likely not be completely to everybody's taste. I would hazard a guess that it would also put paid to repeat viewings as you may not find the jokes repeatedly funny. I certainly wouldn't. That's not entirely a bad thing but when you have a movie that continually feels the need to underline the satire on offer then that does indeed become a little tiresome.
This US Blu-Ray 2-disc special edition set gives you two versions of the film, the Theatrical Cut and the Unbearably Long Self Indulgent Directors Cut as well as a roster of extras. The extended version has 24 minutes over the original version and I suspect that you may wish to watch each version once to appreciate the differences. The extra 24 minutes give you a bit more padding, a few more expletives and obscenities on offer but in truth add very little to the movie.
Whereas the video quality of this disc is rather disappointingly so-so, the audio on the other hand makes up for it and is very good. The extras on the supplementary disc are plentiful and it's a bumper filled ride. You've also got the 16 full length versions of the original songs made specifically for this movie to choose from.
As a prospective purchase this set offers good value for money. I guess if it's your bag you will want it no matter what, in which case this US release with all the extras is most definitely the one to get.
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