Year One Blu-ray Review
'Year One' pratfalls on to Blu-ray with an excellent 1080p AVC MPEG-4 encoded transfer framed at 1.85:1. Why is it that poor films always seem to get the best looking transfers? Everything is well lit and sunny in the daytime shots so we are treated to vivid colours and warm Hollywood tan skin tones with gleaming white teeth - so you're never going to take it seriously as a prehistoric action movie about grubby cavemen.
Not only are the colours good, contrast is generally excellent and the picture has an amazing amount of depth. The clarity of the picture would be hard to beat and the amount of fine detail on show is immense. You could safely apply the term '3D like' to the picture quality. Everything is pin sharp yet I could see no evidence of ringing caused by excess use of the sharpening tool.
Even in night shots, detail was very good with an overall blue hue that looked very nice indeed. Blacks might not have been as deep as desired but this could almost be forgiven due to the overall pristine presentation.
Nice image, shame about the film.
The audio on 'Year One' comes in a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix which seems largely wasted on the movie. The focus is primarily on the front centre as you'd expect from a mainly dialogue driven piece such as this. Surrounds aren't used to any great effect, but I'd have hoped for a wider soundstage on crowd scenes at least. There is some sound there, but it is so laid back that it's hard to hear.
The only time I was aware of the rears being used was during the visit to the 'holiest of holies' where we get a hall like echo.
My subwoofer was only jogged now and again, mainly in moments where the music score kicked in but I wasn't really aware of the use of deep bass at any other times.
The sound is on a par with the movie - a bit of a disappointment.
'Year One' includes both the Theatrical (97min) and the Uncut (100min) versions of the movie, so you can choose to watch either. My review is based on the Uncut version.
- Audio Commentary
Here we have an extremely brave Harold Ramis, Jack Black, and Michael Cera discussing things like the original opening for the film in the Garden of Eden, the background of the cougar attack and the choice of character actors. Most of the time though, they describe what's on screen, telling us what they found funny. Pity it wasn't infectious. There are lengthy periods of silence between their laughter and they don't provide us with any real insight into the making of the film. For the case hardened Jack Black fans only.
- Alternate Ending (HD, 8 min)
This different ending takes the story full circle and ends on a more biblical note with the destruction of Sodom leaving Zed and Oh looking more like action heroes. I preferred it as it's funnier than the ending that was used in the movie. Best bit is seeing Vinnie Jones hit by a fireball.
- Deleted Scenes (HD, 4 min)
As with many movies, you can see why some footage was cut as it doesn't really add anything new to the overall production. In this collection we have scenes involving fights to the death, early interpretations of art and a pointless conversation between Zed and Cain.
- Extended and Alternate Scenes (HD, 13 min)
These extended scenes mostly feature new material such as musings on where the world ends, how to lift a curse, more on Zed's banishment, biblical passages extolled by Adam, crossing a desert in the style of Moses, and some cowardly capers.
- Line-O-Rama (HD, 5 min)
What we have here is a pile of ad-libs and alternate gags that revolve around the 'holy of holies' with many sexual connotations as well as rude phrases used within biblical speech. Includes jokes that couldn't be used as they were a bit too crude.
- Gag Reel (HD, 8 min)
Here we have the obligatory reel of accidents, mistakes and fluffed lines.
- 'Year One': The Journey Begins (HD, 18 min)
This is your actual 'Making of' featurette where we hear some funny production stories and japes as well as gain an insight from the cast and crew about costumes used in the film - as it had to take poetic licence with the timeline with several periods in history.
- Sodom's Got 'Em! (HD, 2 min)
An amusing advertisement for the city of Sodom, made to look like a cheap TV ad.
- Theatrical Trailer (HD, 2 min)
Fascinating to see how cunningly 'Year One' was sold to an unsuspecting world. Phrases involving silk purses and sow's ears come to mind.
- Trailers (HD, 10 mins)
Trailers for 'Paul Blart:Mall Cop', 'Angels & Demons', 'Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs', 'Julie & Julia', 'Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist'.
- Leeroy Jenkins: The Gates of Sodom (HD, 2 min)
This could only be described as a "comedic" battle between the Sodomites and the Jews with Vinnie Jones explaining his team strategy to his men. Should have been left in the movie as it's funny.
While there is no content specific to 'Year One' on BD Live, other features do use its functionality so that explains why it's there.
Your chance to chat to friends while watching the movie. You might as well as your attention will wander after 20 minutes of 'Year One'. It has a very user friendly interface.
Sony's new feature (some would say gimmick) full of information about the movie from anecdotes contained in a trivia track, to filmographies of the cast and crew, as well as soundtrack information. A bit like having IMDB on line during the film.
- The 'Year One' Cutting Room
This feature allows you to re-edit scenes from the movie to create new sequences, which you can then share with friends via BD-Live! Could be fun. Send them to Jack Black, he could really use some new material.
The Jack Black comedy vehicle 'Year One' stumbles on to Region free Blu-ray with an excellent 1080p AVC/MPEG-4 transfer framed at 1.85:1. Colours are vibrant, contrast is great in a sharp, detail filled image that looks truly wonderful.
The DTS-HD MA 5.1 surround audio is mainly front weighted for dialogue with little use of the surrounds or bass extension. A competent, if lazy mix.
As a movie, 'Year One' isn't the best comedy ever, joining the recent slew of forgettable outings that improve with the help of inebriation. The premise has a lot going for it with Black's caveman character Zed involved in many Biblical situations, but it fizzles out quickly rather than sparkles.
A fair selection of extras including an audio commentary by the director, Harold Ramis and the two stars (Black & Michael Cera) round off the package.
Suggested retail price when reviewed: £21.99
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- Audio Commentary