Filmed digitally in HDCam SR on location and Arri Alexa cameras in the studio and presented in 24fps 1.85:1, this movie belies its video roots. The picture looks no better than many American made high end dramas. Although the colour space is correct and the picture is of course very clean, the blacks look unnaturally crushed and shadow detail is all but not existent. Location shots look suitably busy and the illusion of huge crowds is well made. Some shots were green screened and these do stand out, as the lighting does not match the location shots. Grading is quite severe and there are black level issues, particularly in the hospital scenes, where the dark sky through the windows appears grey, no doubt due to the exposure level being lifted in post production. During another snow scene, the hands of one of the actors appear deathly pale, yet his head looks the right colour! All very odd. The depth of field is more video-like than filmic due to the use of zoom lenses instead of primes and again this does nothing for the production values of the film. There are some very wide shots and big sweeping camera moves that do look very impressive, but even here, detail and black level remain an issue. The more controlled studio shots generally look better, but the lighting is quite flat and boring doing little to create any excitement. There is nothing here to challenge or test your TV and the transfer is fine, but the old engineering adage of rubbish in, rubbish out holds true.
At last! Something better than average! The sound track is the main saviour of the movie, with a pleasant if forgettable score, but great, subtle surround with good effects placement and crisp dialogue. The orchestral swells highlight emotional scenes within the film very well without burying the dialogue. This is at least in part accomplished by moving the sound image back into the surrounds as the crescendos are reached, allowing for a natural rise in level without losing the focus of the main audio. Taxis and buses rattle by quite nicely, doors slam and off screen clutter is nicely reproduced. Again, there is very little to trouble your system, even if the overall balance is quite loud. Dynamic range is quite limited, but for a film predominantly to be viewed in the evening with a bottle of vino, this is to be expected.
Quite a nice set of extras, but ultimately short on content once you get into it a little. Forget about the Director’s commentary, it is boring and Gary Marshall waffles on at a superficial level. Apparently it is quite hard to get Jon bon Jovi to act and so we get a whole featurette to explore his involvement with the film. His musical interludes are more a distraction and the sound in the short is horribly distorted in places. We get to hear all about the hopes and dreams of the cast – probably to get offered better scripts if the truth be told and also a behind the scenes look at what makes New Year’s Eve in New York so special.
Gary Marshall introduces both the deleted scenes and gag reel. By his own admission he spends a lot of time on these sections, time maybe better spent earlier on getting a better film made to my mind. About half the deleted scenes should have remained in the movie in my opinion, it would certainly have made more sense. The gag reel contains footage from the end credits, but also contains what was probably going to be the end credits – a set of spoof interviews of New Yorkers discussing what they were looking forward to in the New Year. All a bit topsy turvy and smacking of studio control over the look and feel of the movie.
Language support is fairly good and the menus all work well, as does the resume feature.
A truly poor film and one to skip unless American over sentimentality and angst is your thing. A good cast have failed to drag this movie out of the mire and I think most will want to forget about it and move on. The script and direction are below standard and comparisons to decent large cast rom-coms like Love Actually show up the failings all too clearly.
Technically only the audio makes the grade. The picture looks too “TV” and is bettered by many made for TV dramas and movies. The main issue is the crushed blacks and poor grading, giving some scenes an unnatural hue. The use of equipment and lenses designed more for TV might have helped in the varying and uncontrolled lighting conditions on location, but does nothing in the quality stakes.
This really is one to avoid unless your partner insists on watching it and you are on a promise. It is sentimental rubbish, poorly made and over hyped.
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