Action Blu-ray Review

Blu-ray Review: The Interview

March 4, 2015Ben Mk


Spies like them...

It's the movie some thought might never see the light of day. You know, the one that very nearly triggered an international incident with one of the world's most dangerous nuclear superpowers. Of course, we're talking about the Seth Rogen/James Franco screwball comedy, The Interview. Abruptly shelved just days before its Christmas release date, only to receive a precedent-setting VOD rollout weeks later, The Interview has now arrived on Blu-ray. But was it worth all the controversy? More importantly, should anyone still care?

   

The Film Aaron Rapaport (Rogen) and Dave Skylark (Franco) are best friends who grew up together. Dave also happens to be the smug, egocentric host of a tabloid television show called "Skylark Tonight", and Aaron his long-suffering producer. But even though they've just celebrated their thousandth episode, the duo still can't manage to earn the respect of their peers in the international news community, prompting Aaron to seriously contemplate ways to rehabilitate their professional image and settle any doubts about their journalistic integrity. The solution? A major scoop, the likes of which no other news outlet has been able to get — a one-on-one with North Korean President Kim Jong-un.

Landing the interview of a lifetime proves surprisingly easy. But once word of their exclusive gets out, Aaron and Dave find two CIA agents — Agent Lacey (Lizzy Caplan) and her partner — literally at their doorstep, with a special request from good 'ol Uncle Sam. Before they know it, Aaron and Dave are en route to Pyongyang, on a mission to not only interview the Supreme Leader (Randall Park), but to assassinate him as well. Once there, however, they find both their friendship and their ability to complete the task at hand tested, as Aaron falls for an attractive North Korean military officer named Sook (Diana Bang), while Dave forms an unlikely bond with Kim.

The Interview marks Rogen and Evan Goldberg's first co-directorial effort since 2013's This is the End. And while it succeeds on some levels, smartly blending satire with spy action (à la Team America: World Police), they perhaps try a little too hard to nail the comedy. Park's unexpectedly brilliant take on Kim Jong-un notwithstanding (sorry, no spoilers), their efforts often devolve into a morass of crass, sophomoric humor, with much of the fault falling on Franco's tendency to ham it up at every opportunity. Of course, some members of the audience will have probably already seen this coming; after all, the movie does star the same two dudes from Pineapple Express. Still, it's slightly disappointing how events end up playing out, especially given all the commotion surrounding the film's theatrical release.

Audio/Visual Fidelity Ok, so the film itself may be something of a mixed bag, but what about its A/V presentation? Luckily, it fares substantially better, thanks to exceptionally crisp visuals, vibrant colors and strong contrast. The only caveat is the sometimes overwhelming presence of crushed blacks during darker scenes. Otherwise, this is one fine-looking Blu-ray transfer, especially when paired with an impressive DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 soundtrack such as the one we have here. Dialogue is well-balanced against the rest of the film's soundstage, and there's a healthy dose of LFE that lends appropriate heft to both the music and the action, which, by the way, really ramps up towards the end of the third act, drowning viewers in a cacophony of missile and machine gun fire, tank engines, helicopter blades and explosions.

Special Features Sony's "Freedom Edition" Blu-ray release boasts over 90 minutes of "Outrageous Extras". In addition to an UltraViolet digital copy, viewers will find 25 minutes of Deleted, Extended and Alternate Scenes, a 7-minute Gag Reel and 10 minutes of Line-O-Ramas, as well as 34 minutes of featurettes that provide behind-the-scenes glimpses at the filmmakers (Directors of this Movie), the cast (Spies Among Us), the jokes (Joking Around), the animal actors (Puppy Power and Here Kitty Kitty) and, of course, the movie's villain (Randall Park Audition Tape, Getting Into Character and Dating a Dictator). Seth Rogen and James Franco's hilarious 14-minute spoof of Discovery Channel's Naked & Afraid is also included for your viewing pleasure. And for your listening pleasure, Rogen and co-director Evan Goldberg have also recorded a rather enjoyable Director's Commentary, in which they provide minor insight into all aspects of the film's production, including its visual effects, music, cinematography and set design. It should be noted, however, that their commentary track was recorded prior to the film's originally scheduled theatrical release, so don't expect the pair to address the controversy surrounding the film.


The Bottom Line Although it qualifies as little more than a lowbrow comedy with satirical overtones, The Interview has become something of a rallying cry for patriotism and free speech. The question is, with the plethora of options available for streaming and viewing the film online, should viewers even bother with Sony's "Freedom Edition" Blu-ray release? If you dig special features and high quality audio and video, the answer is simply "F*** yeah."  Ben Mk

Disc Breakdown
The Film  —  
Audio/Visual Fidelity  —  
Special Features  —  





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