Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
Two-Disc Blu-ray/DVD Combo in Blu-ray Packaging
Actors: Brad Pitt, David Milford
Genres: Drama, Mystery & Suspense
David Duchovny is a blocked author with a fascination for outlaw killers who hatches a plan to road trip through America's mass-murder landmarks to finish his book. He enlists his frustrated photographer girlfriend Mich... more »
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Underrated 90's thriller debuts on Blu-Ray, but is hampered
Hugo D. Hackenbush | Main Street, USA | 08/08/2010
(3 out of 5 stars)
"The film itself is three stars (out of five); lost in the mix between more prominent (and more financially successful) early 1990's serial killer flicks such as "Seven" and "Natural Born Killers", "Kailfornia" is an effective, if predictable suspense film which boasts an intriguing cast, including Brad Pitt, David Duchovny (X-Files), Michelle Forbes (Battlestar Galactica) and Juliette Lewis (Natural Born Killers). The standout is Brad Pitt, who seems to have a genuine knack for playing compellingly dangerous rednecks (see "The Assassination of Jesse James" & "Inglorious Basterds"); he's completely convincing (and completely creepy) as a particularly mangy sociopath. Lewis and Forbes are also effective in lesser roles, but Duchovny disappoints, as his pretty-boy blandness is charismatic-free and dull to watch in this film, akin to watching Christopher Reeve in "Street Smart", another otherwise-solid thriller that was taken down a notch by its flavorless lead performance. Still, for suspense (and Brad Pitt) fans, this is totally worth a rent, if not a buy.
Now, on to the Blu-Ray review: the 1080P widescreen picture quality of this Blu-Ray is a tremendous step-up from the non-anamorphic widescreen/fullscreen flipper DVD released several years back. Colors are stronger and sharpness is increased dramatically. There are no obvious signs of edge enhancement or DNR manipulation, which means that there is some noticeable grain from time to time, but nothing overly distracting; for the most part grain is minimal. However, the film does show its age a bit, as the picture never comes close to the sharpness of newer films; in fact, most of the time the picture quality is reminiscent of an exceptionally sharp upconverted DVD. That said, this is the best the film has ever looked on home video, and fans of the film will be pleased, especially if they are used to seeing the film via the crummy 2000 DVD flipper release.
The 5.1 DTS-HD soundtrack is less impressive, although still a step up from earlier DVD releases. Surround ambience is flat and mostly rare, while bass is sparingly used. On the other hand, dialogue from the center speaker is well-balanced and strong, a very important factor considering that this a dialogue-heavy film. Overall, it isn't demo-quality, but the audio is suitable enough, as it sounds good where it counts most.
As for the rest: MGM continues its desperate attempt to stay afloat and raise cash... at the expense of both the good will of its customer base and the reputation of future releases of its formidable library of catalog titles. As is the case with its recent release of "Escape From New York", the quality of this release reeks of cheapness in every sense of the word. No special features are on the Blu-Ray, outside of the film trailer. Also, only the unrated version of the film is included on the Blu-Ray.
The true "bonus" featured with this Blu-Ray release is the included flipper DVD. Unfortunately, the flipper consists of a non-anamorphic widescreen version of the film on one side of the disc and a fullscreen copy on the other; that's right, this is the same exact crappy ten-year-old DVD release that's been haunting DVD bargain bins (and MGM's storage warehouses) for the past decade. Really? Since when is a fullscreen/non-anamorphic widescreen flipper DVD considered to be a bonus feature in 2010? The DVD does hold the only true special features to be found on this combo set, namely the option to choose between the unrated and theatrical version of the film (in all their fullscreen/non-anamorphic widescreen glory!) and a completely uninformative five-minute making-of fluff piece.
Even the case that houses the Blu-Ray is a disappointment, as MGM didn't even bother to package it in the standard small Blu-Ray case, but rather opted to release the combo set in a larger-sized standard DVD case. This may seem like nitpicking to some, but I, with my large video library, appreciate the smaller size of the Blu-Ray case.
So, to sum up: for fans, the visual upgrade makes this Blu-Ray worth picking up... once the price drops down (and it absolutely will). For all others, this is a rental, at best. The fact is, when one considers the caliber of the film and what you get for the money, MGM's sticker price of 24.99 is ludicrous.
I understand that MGM is in a financial rut at the moment, but releasing this obvious cash-in at a sticker price of $24.99 is poor form, no matter how you cut it. Even Amazon's currently discounted asking price makes this Blu-Ray release too costly for all but the most die-hard fans. Seeing as how they just released "Escape From New York" in the exact same fashion, I'm going to think twice before making another MGM Blu-Ray purchase in the future, as I have no interest in supporting MGM's new trend of top-dollar, no-frills Blu-Ray catalog releases."